I’ve been off the grid for most of the past two months, but for a good reason. My husband and I took this summer to travel. We spent a week in Ohio with two of his kids. They are so grown up with busy lives of their own, so having them carve out time from work for us was special. Our first evening was spent enjoying a nice dinner prepared by their mom and finishing the evening having dessert where my stepdaughter works. Our first day adventure took us hiking up a mountain so my stepson could show us his rock climbing abilities. It was intense watching him repel off a cliff at a 90-degree angle. I did my best to capture the moments on camera, truly amazed at how fast he came down the mountainside. The humidity was high, something we are not used to in Colorado, so between the hiking and sweating…or glowing, as my mother would say, it’s possible I even shed a pound or two. Of course, that is likely wishful thinking on my part.
The following day was his daughter’s idea and a day of photos for sure. We ventured to Bridal Falls…wow, talk about taking my breath away. Another great hike and well worth the stairs. A few more days were spent with nice walks and fun visiting. All in all, my two Ohio step-kids have full lives and are doing great.
Then it was off to a small town close to Cadillac, Michigan for a night with a dear old friend of Dan’s – which included an evening of great stories that continued through breakfast. At almost eighty years old and a recent widow, his open heart tore at my understanding of love. Time slips away; people age and their lives are filled with memories worth listening to…some happy, and some filled with tears.
Next stop was Escanaba, Michigan (where Dan was born and raised) for a family reunion and many laughs. We stayed on our river property and were able to get some worked carved out…okay, so Dan worked while I took pictures and sat by the river – all the time giving the mosquitoes some of my sweet blood…grrrrrrr. We spent a week there, and were joined by my husband’s oldest daughter and her husband from Denver, with family time and helping Dan’s brother with heating projects in preparation for winter, time ran out fast. Next stop was to Wisconsin for an overnight stay with Dan’s oldest sister and family. Then a two night stay with friends a couple hours west, but still in Wisconsin. After saying good-bye, we headed back to Denver for a three-day layover before heading to Washington for my side of the family. Our first main stop heading west was Seaside Oregon, a favorite haunt of mine. Of course, when you are trying to impress someone with your love of the ocean, why wouldn’t millions of anchovies get caught in the creek and die leaving a smell like…well, let’s just say it was AWFUL. Thankfully the closer to the ocean we got the smell disappeared. An overnight stay at my favorite hotel and walks along the beach filled me with peace as always.
The next day we made the final four-hour drive to where my daughter, her boyfriend and my two granddaughters live. Greeted with mounds of hugs from my two granddaughters was the best start to our visit. We stayed with them for three nights, though my daughter and boyfriend had to work, my granddaughters were on summer break and ready for some adventures. Our first day was spent at the zoo, checking out the new zoo member, a cheetah. After a few hours enjoying the animals, a stop for ice cream and a visit to the gift shop, we headed home. I have yet to show the girls the pictures I took of them fast asleep in the back seat…lol…they are good shots. The next day we took a ferry ride to Friday Harbor, which also included ice cream…can you see me smiling? We spent time collecting a few shells as we ventured the length of the beach. On the ferry ride back we had the opportunity to see jelly fish…lots of them as they floated by us in the water. Their neon colors we not visible to me until I reviewed the pictures I took…wow, pretty amazing. Our evenings were spent enjoying dinner, games and chatting with the girls, my daughter and boyfriend, who I hope someday to call son-in-law…oops, did I say that out loud???
On Thursday we headed to one of my sisters, so we could ride with her and our brother-in-law to the wedding event of the year for my niece, and it was beautiful. The date held significance to me because it was one day shy of the ninth anniversary of her mother, my sister Cathy’s passing. My niece and her new husband took one of my saddest memories and created a memory in the celebration of life…of my sister’s and a new journey of two lives. I know my sister was there to watch over the special day because I caught sight of a dragonfly among us. When I need to know my sister is there, I’ll always have a dragonfly near. I know she was beaming with pride at the beauty and love shared with family and friends.
The next couple days included hanging out with most of my family, including a game night with nieces and their families, which entailed endless laughter. My daughter’s boyfriend had gone crabbing in the morning and between him and my husband removing all the yummy meat from the shell for us to enjoy my tummy was happy, happy, happy.
Next on our list of adventures was Canada, to another sister and her family in Chilliwack where Dan was able to try his hand at a different fishing technique called flossing. My sister and I dropped him off at the Frasier river, and were not disappointed three hours later when we picked him up, and the 27″ Coho he caught. We enjoyed the first half with our Canadian family and took the other half back with us to my daughters for another feast.
Sadly there were family members we didn’t get to visit, there are never enough days. Before I knew it we had to leave for the final leg of our adventure…our long awaited honeymoon. Dan and I have been Mr. and Mrs. for three and a half years but had not taken a honeymoon because work came first; at least for my husband…I am retired and make my schedule…lol. Now Dan is retired…YAY…so off to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons we went. For the next three days we saw beautiful herds of elk, including baby elk as cute as could be as they romp next to mom. One baby was lagging behind, letting me enjoy mom calling him to her. It is a great sound I believe is called “cowing”…but don’t hold me to that fact. We watched bisons as they made their way down the side of the road only inches from our truck. Though that was the limit to the wild animals of the park, we were just as excited with our opportunity to experience the glaciers, waterfalls, and mountains peaks. The parks have views that will have you thanking God for his creation. My camera went crazy as I filled memory cards with magnificent views. A few thousand pictures later we arrived at our last stop in Cheyenne, Wyoming to stay with a friend for the night. In the morning we made that final trek home.
To sum up life this summer, I would simply say a blessing…days filled with love of family, special occasions, beauty of nature and the chance to enjoy it all with my husband. Now as I begin reviewing photos taken I find myself laughing, smiling and at times shedding a few tears, because I miss my family daily, I miss having my sister Cathy being at her daughters’ wedding, I miss my other siblings who have passed on…and because my life is so rich it overwhelms me at times. I look at the views I captured and think about a quote our Cheyenne friend heard once – “pictures are wonderful, but they aren’t alive” – and that is so true. I can capture a moment in time with a click of my camera, but the real memories are alive in my heart…right where they belong.