Last weekend, we took a trip to Colorado to see my sister and brother-in-law, Adele, and the mountains. And my goodness, it was everything we hoped it would be. I've had this love-hate relationship with Colorado since it took two of my favorite people five years ago. I could hardly enjoy trips out west because I knew I'd have to leave them again. Airport drop-offs aren't nearly as fun as pick-ups, is what I've learned. But after this trip, I think Kyle and I have a better understanding of why they chose to go and why they chose to stay. It's not just the mountain views. It's the air. The energy. The purity. The friendships. It's a bunch of little things, and they're all good. The only bad part about Colorado is the space, the miles, the states between it and the Midwest.
Our trip started off with a delayed flight out of Nashville and a late night arrival, then went right into a 5:00 a.m. drive to the mountains to snag a campsite on Turquoise Lake (no reservation campsites = cutthroat, crack-of-dawn site stalking), two nights of camping under the stars, a drive back to Denver to see Adele (!!!!), brunch at Snooze, rambling around town, an airport drop-off, another delayed flight, then a 3:00 a.m. arrival back home in Tennessee.
Phew. Did you get all that?
I haven't felt that free in a long time. The kind of free where you let your phone die and hang clothes to dry and lay in hammocks and pick wildflowers and wake up early just to watch the sun creep through the trees. I want that freedom more often. Life should be that free.
Above: Pearl, 4-year-old Newfoundland/Poodle mix
Below: Maverick, 10-year-old Yorkie/Poodle mix
They're good at ruffing it.
(Not a typo. Think about it. You're welcome. I'm sorry? It's late; I need to go to bed.)
Leadville, CO is the sweetest little mountain town. I wish we'd had time to peek in all the little shops, but we had outdoorsy things to do! If you ever find yourself in Leadville, stop by Tennessee Pass Cafe for a meal. Delicious!
Kyle forgot to pack his biking onesie.
Kyle doesn't have a biking onesie.
I'm not sure how well we fit in Colorado, but we love it anyway.
My contribution to camping food, purchased at the Leadville, CO Safeway.
BEST OREOS EVER.
Mallory & Cory's friends, Jamie & Skot, and their little boy, Cedar, camped with us the first night! We asked Cedar to show off all his tricks dozens of times ("Show us your muscles, Cedar!" pictured below) like you do with toddlers, and we fed him about 20 to many gummy worms, but how could you not?!
Cedar wasn't so sure about the whole fishing thing, but I'm sure those tiny Carhartts make for the cutest outfit you'll ever see!
Little kids in adult sunglasses kill me every time.
Watching the sun settle into the mountains that night, my breath caught in my chest. We tend to throw around the word "breathtaking" a lot, but it was a real adjective for me in that moment. Surroundings, memories, ideas, feelings - they all came crashing.
Up there in the mountains, life slowed to a pace I haven't felt since the 90's, when I was a kid without a cellphone who journaled in composition notebooks and collected rocks. I'm making it my mission to feel that more. To be that. To be her. I really liked her.
Way up there, tucked away from the world and the news and the Joneses, I breathed a little deeper and stopped worrying that people might figure out I don't have it all together. What a feeling. What a concept.
Oh, Cedar, you're just too cute.
I love you too, tree.
I just remembered, as I'm typing this, that there's a tree out there somewhere with my name carved in it. Or maybe my initials? It's in Cass County, somewhere by the river. Do teenagers in love still carve their names in trees?
The difference between my sister and me is that she makes chili over the fire, and I buy birthday cake Oreos. It takes all kinds of kinds, I guess.
My sister hates kissing pictures, but COME ONNNNNN. How cute is this?! ^^^
I can't tell you how happy I am that I picked a guy who gets along with the guy my sister picked.
Funny story about this photo. ^^^
I saw the pretty pink hue in the clouds from our campsite. Ran to the beach to snap a photo. Caught a man peeing in a bush, facing the mountains. Snapped photo of clouds. Man whipped around and thought I was photographing him.
End of story. Yikes.
Good morning, Colorado!
Good morning, Turquoise Lake!
We got up early to paddle board. Don't be fooled by my bare feet - it was FREEZING. (I'm not complaining one bit - sweatshirt weather is my absolute favorite!) It gets down in the 40's at night, and the water feels like an ice bath. I know this because I forced Mallory onto the paddle board with me one afternoon when the water was not this still, and we both managed to take a tumble into the lake, fully clothed.
Teeth chattering. Laughing until tears fell. Happy. Well, I was happy. No regrets here. ;)
Campfire coffee. Some of us needed it more than others.
She is just as witty and kind and hilarious and relatable as I hoped she would be.
We'll never forget our night with Adele!
See you soon, Denver!