9 Things I Learned From 8 Days in the Wilderness

I could’ve entitled this ‘how I spent my summer vacation’ but I thought that’d be a bit 3rd grade.  One of the things I do best in life is chronicle moments.  Not timelines.  Moments.  Like the night of my birthday  at the Elks Lodge in Creede, Colorado when Dennis took my breath away on the dance floor as we were surrounded by rednecks, dancin’ with the stars wannabees and cowboys who’d had a few too many.

We spent 8 days in Creede, Colorado with my mother and father in-law, my 26-year old daughter Candice and my 2-year old grandson Max.    We were supposed to have a 2-bedroom cabin but I don’t think you can count bedrooms if they don’t have doors.  The doors were curtains.  So much for privacy.  Grandma and Grandpa bunked in their fabulous RV.

I’ll share my moments…then I’ll share the lessons.  They’re both important.  Life has moments and lessons and we need both.

Wilderness highlights worth chronicling:  Decorating the ATV for the 4th of July parade, eating hamburgers at World Famous Freemon’s, throwing rocks in the river with Max, riding the ATV in the magical Creede 4th of July parade, taking the ATV over the mountain, hearing Jack’s entrepreneurial dream story at the Last Chance Mine, fishing at Love Lake and putting the worms on the hook, eating a funnel cake and foot long corn dog on the 4th of July, day trip to Lake City, feeding the tiny chipmunks, jeep trailing, the Rio Grand River, hot dog potluck, patriotic church service at Mountain View, ice cream cones at Cottonwood Cove, almost hitting a cow on the highway, seeing the sheep, buffaloe, elk, deer and fish, hanging in the cabin with Den/Candice & Bubby and spending a week with Grandma and Grandpa.

Lesson #1:  It takes a minimum of 5 days to ‘come down’ from life.  By the sixth day, I was finally feeling relaxed…not guilty like I should’ve been completing something or posting something or writing or washing something.  I felt free to simply be without my mind whirling a million miles a minute.

Lesson #2:  There is no better time than time spent with family.  It wasn’t where we were, it was who we were with.  It wasn’t the big moments that mattered, it was the silly simple ones…like watching my grandson put mardi gras beads on the dog or sitting quietly with him as he chunked hundreds of rocks from his 2-year old tiny fists into the Rio Grande river.   It was washing dishes side by side with my mother-in-law and attending a patriotic church service with the entire family on Sunday morning.

Lesson #3:  Nature is bigger than all of us put together.  The mountains.  The sky.  The river.   There is nothing….nothing, that can restore your soul better and faster than simply being in nature.

Lesson #4:  I miss wifi, fountain drinks and television.  I like these conveniences.  And I don’t apologize for doing so.

Lesson #5:  Dreams do come true.  I listened as Jack the proprietor of the Last Chance Mine on the Bachelor Loop told us about being a photographer who had a dream of owning a piece of Colorado.  He had come to Colorado to take pictures of the mines before they were totally gone and serendipity led him to the family who owned the Last Chance Mine.   The property was worth over $250,000.  They sold it to him for $2,900 because of his vision for restoring and preserving the 13 levels of mines.

Lesson #6:  A parade is good for your soul.  Parades have no age limits.  You can be a one-year old in the arms of your Mom or you can be 87 sitting in your lawn chair.  And children like to wave as much as they like getting candy.

Lesson #7:    Go somewhere you’ve never been before.  We ended up on the 4th of July at the Elks Lodge complete with elkheads and rednecks.   In the middle of the dancing, they tolled the bell and dimmed the lights at 11:00 pm to remember the Elk members who’ve passed on.  It was mostly locals but you could tell there were a few of us who’d wandered in off the street.  People watching is fascinating.

Lesson #8:   Teaching someone else something you know is therapeutic.  I hadn’t baited a fish on a hook since I was 12.  I hadn’t cast a fishing pole since then either.   Frankly, I think fishing is boring.  Yet as I kneeled beside my sweet baby Max to teach him how to do it…it all came rushing back to me.  Time spent with my Dad watching the bobber bob, the excitement of snagging a real floppy fish, the quiet of the lake.

Lesson #9:   Be grateful for the life you have.   I love vacations.  I love getting away and being able to escape the day-to-day rhythm…the appointments…the telephone.   Despite the irritations, the disappointments and the frustration of being human, I thank God for the things he’s blessed me with.  My husband and his family.  My health.  My precious daughters.  My son and grandson.  My  enthusiasm and energy.   And as much as I love getting away, I love going home even more.


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