This stream of consciousness is intended to be an unfiltered account of my journey to fight my way to a healthier, happier life. One day at a time, one step at a time, one organically-grown-emotionally-raw blog post at a time…
Anytime I’m traveling away from my home base, it’s an adventure.
A well seasoned patty cooked to perfection (which translates to cooked as requested by the person ordering it).
A toasted bun is a must.
Don’t skimp on the cheese. (Or sauce If that’s part of the deal.)
Other toppings as desired, also prepared according to advertised specifications. And also not so much that it overpowers the taste of the burger.
Everything is hot and fresh, looks great and tastes juicy and delicious.
That’s it. That’s a solid 4.5 cheeseburger. That’s what Deno’s mountain bistro, in Winter Park Colorado, has to offer (almost).
They did all the aforementioned things great! It was also impressive as a to-go order as packaging everything for take-away can be tricky. The bun can get soggy and toppings intended to be crisp like lettuce, tomato, and pickle can go limp. Nobody likes limp lettuce yo. but they left the top bun on the side inside the container which worked well.
Notice however that I gave the burger a 4.0 and not 4.5. It was downgraded slightly due to the fact that I ordered it medium and it came out pink all the way through, teetering on red in the middle. I also feel like they did skimp on the cheese (and sauce) a bit. The sauce was delish and it’s a good thing Jim got his on the side cuz I ended up using that as a dipper.
I’m really on the fence about fries being a part of the total equation, but then I realize while it’s tough to keep a burger from losing something in transport, it’s truly impossible with fries in a closed container. They go soft and soggy in their own heat. I think Deno’s fries might have been good, but after spending time inside the package, they were not good.
Perhaps they absorbed the moisture from the steaming burger. Taking one for the team, as it were. If that’s the case. Good job fries!
So that answers one of the questions I posed yesterday but did not have time to elaborate on during our 9 hour drive home.
What were the other questions?…
Yes, we did the hot tub working but it refused to get any hotter than 99 so it was kind of a bummer. Especially since it was so chilly out. Still, we must have soaked and chatted for like an hour. As we sat there, the sky cleared a bit and we could see the stars.
Living inside the city, you forget just how many stars are out there. It was really neat.
And yes… I did down some more margs through that hot tub session. But not sure what time I went to bed. Fitbit says I fell asleep at 10:30 MST, which is actually 11:30 CST, so super late based on current SugarCookie standards. 😜
So I gave Deno’s a 4 out of 5 and described how to hit 4.5. Which invites the question.. what is the criteria for a 5.0?
5 is perfection. Perfection is elusive. And reserved for like the best burger you had in your life.
The hunt continues…. ~Miss SugarCookie
Featured Image photo was lifted off yelp. Fairly certain it was taken by the business owner.
I woke before the sun again today. 5AM I think. I’m afflicted with the inability to sleep.. in. I mean, I’ve been able to, in the early days of my life and in more recent years if I’ve taken something to help me sleep. But not now. And certainly not here, in a bed that is far away from my own. It’s ok though. It gives me quiet time, with my own thoughts and time to write and wonder about things.
The difference between waking up early yesterday and today is that today I don’t have a headache to contend with. It means my body is acclimating to the altitude here. I mean, I certainly indulged in the same evening activities as the night before (and perhaps more so) and I feel great!
Our air-b-and-b is on the side of a steep hill. To make the most of the space the town has to offer, buildings are constructed more vertically. This one is 3 stories. A basement that walks out the back of the condo to a covered patio where the hot tub is. A main floor that has a garage at street level in the front and living and dining areas with lots of windows in the back that have a great view of the surrounding foothills. Are they foothills here or mountains? I am not sure.
The master bedroom and bath are up another flight of stairs on the second story. With this setup, a person starts to pay attention to where they leave something and when they might need it next. Going up those two flights of stairs reminds me I’m in Colorado. Which is to say, I can’t make it all with one go. I’ve got to stop in the middle to catch my breath. How sad is that?
It’s probably partially due to my age and partially due to the fact that I’m just not acclimated to the altitude here. We went on another hike yesterday and opted to go on one tagged as “easy.” Easy for a flatlander translates to moderate. Moderate translates to difficult. Difficult translates to, “you gonna die if you go on this hike yo.” So one has to do the conversion before making a decision.
The hike we chose yesterday was called “Viewpoint.” It was about a 40 minute drive north from Winter Park to the trailhead. The opposite direction of the hike we went the day before. We drove the now somewhat familiar road of highway 40 to highway 34 which leads through Rocky Mountain National Park to Estes Park. The turnout for the road that leads to the trailhead was just shy of the entrance to RMNP. Which, in case you did not know, you have to have a reservation to visit these days. Crazy times!
Highway 34 on this side of the park hugs Grand Lake which I had not been to before. It’s massive (compared to lakes I’m used to). The hike was on a trail that was well established but, like the one the day before, there was not another human in sight. It was all walking and no climbing and we wound our way gently through a young grove of pine trees that had sprung up to replace what appeared to be a burned out section of forest.
This is kind of what I was talking about yesterday. This is evidence that nature just takes care of itself. There is no way humans planted the hundreds of adolescent pine trees we walked through. It’s just a part of the cycle of forest life. The aspens were pretty sparse on the trail and most were about done for the season, but every once and awhile there were pops of yellow and gold that looked incredible against a backdrop of green and brown.
The undergrowth in the area were fine shades of yellow and gold and red as well. We were just in awe of the colors. And the top of the trail was like a little mini-peak with a 360 view of the area. RMNP to the north/northeast and the valley of Grand Lake/Grand County to the west and south, with mountains rising up in every direction.
There were a few fallen logs situated just so at the top of the trail which made a lovely spot for sitting and looking out (and maybe having a puff or two of Colorado’s finest, if you are into that sort of thing). We spied on a red tail hawk in a nearby tree (whose presence was made known to us because of the screech he issued forth). We watched him until he took flight and soared away in quite a majestic fashion.
The hike back down was lovely too. The sun was kind of getting low in the sky and the way it hit the trees and the adjacent hillside caused the colors to pop. The shadows cast by the trees across the path felt like we were getting to witness something special. A rare treat.
Just about the time we were back at the trailhead and getting in our car, we were reminded we had not eaten since breakfast. I’d already professed that it would be a good day for cheeseburgers. The only renaming question was where.
Though truth be told.. I’d already researched where and my mind was made up. I had our call in order for Randy’s Irish Pub ready to go as soon as we were closer to home base. But then my call could not be completed as the receiver was busy.
I called a second time and then a third from Jim’s phone. No dice. We decided to just get back to the condo and decide from there what to do. Passing by Randy’s, the parking lot was empty. Go figure.
Would I be denied a cheeseburger on vacation? Would we get that hot tub working? Would round 2 with the perfect margaritas land me in bed again by 9pm?
Answers to all this and more in part two of day two… coming to a SugarCookie blog near you soon (gotta get rolling on the road).
I’m waking up on my second day here in Winter Park Colorado— before the sun and with a fairly healthy headache. It might be a hangover, you know, because at this altitude it only takes a few cocktails to affect a person. Despite reminding each other numerous times last night, we still did not alter our intake of perfect margaritas. But wait, there’s a lot more to the story of our day than just that. Rewind.
After a lovely breakfast yesterday I took my sweet time showering and getting ready for a day out exploring while Jim did research on good hiking trails nearby. That was our first objective of the day, to get the body moving and get lost a little bit in the wilderness. He picked a great little spot that was at a turn-off on mile marker 241 on highway 40, about 10 miles back the way we came in.
It was perfect for several reasons. First, there was a larger turn-off on mile marker 240, just one mile before the one we wanted which had a ton of cars. The perfect carrot for all the wanna-be hikers in the area. So I think most people stopped there. But we went the extra mile to the other turn-off that only had two other cars. The description of the hike in the book that Jim found on the ottoman in the living room of our air-b-n-b (Hiking Grand County Colorado), describes the hike as moderate. The name of it is “Current Creek Loop.”
There’s a description in the book too, on which way to go and where on the trail, but good luck with that. We followed the creek up the hill, on the right side as instructed but with no markings, and no discernible trail, completely lost it near the first junction where we were to “take a right at the ’t’.” We were not sure we were at a T but went right anyhow. It sort of felt like just traipsing off into the wilderness with no clue where to go. But that was OK. We were not really there to follow directions, we just wanted to get the heart pumping and enjoy the sights and sounds.
Lemme tell you, after less than 24 hours, the lung of the Nebraska traveler is no where near ready for the lack of oxygen that hiking causes. That was OK too, though, as we were in no hurry to get anywhere. I mean, the hike promised an aqueduct and a pond at various points, but we had all day and nowhere else to be. That’s the best part of being out here. Freedom.
So we kept going right up the side of the mountain— due north, past a boulder field and through the trees (where the supposed pond would be), but all we found was more slope, boulders, and trees. Each time we went further up, it looked as though we were on the right track but then we would get to the top to find more of the same. We climbed pretty high and I daresay we turned the moderate hike into a more difficult one, but we’re pretty inexperienced so we don’t even know the difference. At a few points it was pretty steep, but for the most part, not really that treacherous.
Finally we declared a final time, “get to the top of this ridge and then that’s it. If there’s no pond, it will be time to turn back.” Surprise, surprise, there was no pond, but the view was pretty badass. And somehow it felt as though we were in the right spot because the top of that ridge line had a trail that looked as though it had been blazed by human beings. We had traveled almost due north to get to that spot so I was sure all we had to do was go due south to get back. But Jim had other ideas. He wanted to walk the ridgline for a bit.
We did that for a while, until I started getting antsy about having gone too far in the “wrong” direction. At that point we began gradually to descent on a path of least resistance. The way we descended was completely different and there were large clearings with only grasses. That looked like a nice flat area to walk across, but the ground was mush. My guess is that perhaps that was the pond at one point and it had grown over with grass since that book was printed. In any case, there was no crossing that so we went around it.
Down and down, meeting up again with the stream and following that back to the trailhead. I’m not sure how long we were out there, but we never saw another person the entire time, which was glorious. The same two other cars were there at the turnout when we arrived back. I took a ton of snaps and coaxed Jim into taking a few couples selfies along the way. It was a good hike.
It was also good to get back in the car and head back toward Winter Park. By then, I had worked up quite an appetite. Neither of us were in the mood to cook so we hunted for takeout instead. I wanted a cheeseburger and Jim wanted tacos. There’s lots of options here which is nice. The place we got take out from was in Fraser and it was called “Azteca” (you can guess who got their way on that one). Doesn’t matter, food cooked by someone else is always delicious.
It was actually the perfect compliment to the margaritas we were planning to have. That has kind of been our thing lately. The margs. We’ve perfected our recipe and brought all the necessary supplies with us— glasses, marg salt, limes, a jigger, simply lime, and of course, the tequila (Patron Silver).
So we nommed on our Mexican food and sipped our drinks and chatted about what else might be in store for our day. With the goal being R and R, we had no plans to leave anywhere else that afternoon/evening. And the less we were exposed to other people and potential virus, the better. Our options were hot tub or Netflix. I brought a deck of cards hoping to entice Jim into playing something with me. I miss playing cards, but I don’t know too many two person games.
We ended up watching one show, which was terrible. And so sipped some more. Then we tried warming the hot tub up, but were unsuccessful, so we sipped some more. I showed Jim a game of solitaire I played when I was a kid and he said it looked like I was making the rules up as I went along. Then we sipped some more until we sauntered up to the bedroom to crash hard.
Which brings me back to the beginning and the lovely hangover I’ve tried very hard to type my way out of this morning. I did pause briefly to take a picture of the sunrise. I imagine with all the fires in the area, the smoke has made for some neat sunrises. Sometimes I think that the main problem with fires isn’t the fires themselves, but the human beings that feel inclined to stop them. Yes, lives are at stake, so they have to try, but forest fires are natures way of cleansing the land. Right? I dunno, perhaps I just heard that somewhere and want to use that to profess that we should just leave it alone and let nature takes its course.
Not sure what today has in store for us. We’re for sure going to fiddle with the hot tub some more to see if we can get that working. Soaking in 99 degree water sounds very relaxing. Maybe we’ll go for another hike. Maybe I’ll try reading one of the many books I brought with me. Maybe we’ll just lay around all day doing nothing but chat. For sure I’ll insist on finding a place that serves cheeseburgers.
It’s nice— the fact that it can be whatever we want. We just need to decide what that is.
Cheers to All That (and a bag of chips), ~Miss SugarCookie
Yesterday was a loooonnnnng day. We did not get on the road until about 6PM as Jim had a full day of work in CB. They say Denver is a 7 hour drive from Omaha, but I believe that’s only possible if you 1) Have a serious fire behind you and 2) Aren’t afraid to break the law a little bit with regard to speed (being good at Mario Cart with the road construction helps here too) and 3) Have a bladder that can hold out for the entire duration of the trip.
To be fair, Winter Park is a hot minute beyond Denver proper and once you hit the mountains the driving slows considerably. All in all, it took us 9 hours and we did not arrive until just before 2AM (that’s with the shift in time zone). But it was worth it. Since it was quite dark when we arrived we could see nada. So when we woke this morning and came down the stair of our air B and B to the front picture window in the living room, it was incredible. We’re at a condo in the town, but nestled on a hill and can see healthy foothills all around. The pines rise up as far as the eyes can see, and it looks like we hit the tail end of autumn glory from the aspens.
I did peek out the window of our bedroom before I came down the stairs and saw one aspen with about 3 yellow leaves left on it. I said “looks like we missed the boat with the aspens. Good news is, we didn’t come here for that.”
It’s true. We didn’t. That would have been icing on the cake, you know, if you are into cake. But since we’re not, it’s all good. We really came to get away from our normal lives. Jim with work and the kids and house and me with the house and kids also but in a way, just doing a bit of fast-forward on my transition away from work. So the main plan is to have a couple of really balanced days, hiking to get our bodies in motion and then retreating back to our lovely home away from home for some super chill time together.
We brought all our own food and I made breakfast as usual which we sat and ate looking out those front picture windows. It was lovely. Jim’s already researched where we could go exploring today which includes a stop to Frasier so we can acquire more of what Colorado has to offer for the weekend. As I sit here now, with my laptop at the kitchen island, I can see the dirty breakfast dishes piled next to the sink. I’m NOT doing those dishes (if I can help it). You don’t pay a 200 cleaning deposit for nothing in these places.
I’m a little torn about not reaching out to friends and family in the area. Feel like I should, but going to try to resist doing that too. We only have the weekend so our time here is limited.
On that note, we’re going to pack up and get out the door.
Peace and Love from a Mile Above, ~Miss SugarCookie
I woke up this morning with more vigor than I’ve had in a while. And when breakfast was over I bounded toward my treadmill with a little more spring in my step. The primary reason for this energy comes from the fact that today I’m going to be getting in my car for a weekend road trip to Colorado.
I love road trips. It’s no secret. Road trips are in my top ten list, right up there in my bio next to gardening and hunting for the perfect cheeseburger. So far this year I haven’t been able to get my fix like I normally would have. I did go on one trip with my Z earlier this year which was a substitute for the original adventure we had planned for her graduation. That was also to Colorado.
I was talking with my friend Steph yesterday about how Colorado is the perfect quick getaway for those of us who live just to the east in the flatland. The driving is pretty boring, admittedly, until one gets away from the monotony of Rolling farmland, unless of course an alternate route through the Sandhills is chosen.
The Sandhills and northwest Nebraska are beautiful and often overlooked, but if the goal is Colorado and you are limited on time like we are this weekend, then the scenic route is not really a good option.
Nope. The goal for us will be to get to the mountains as quickly as possible which means it will be I-80 west across the length of Nebraska.
Steph lives in southern Texas and was thinking they need to discover their perfect road-trip getaway. New Mexico maybe? I’ve never been but would like to visit sometime. I’d love to visit all 50 states. I should keep track of those I’ve visited and make a point to go to new places.
As it is now I often frequent the same spots. Mostly because of the people I’m visiting or, like this weekend, proximity. Who knows when air travel will be ok again so I’ll take what I can get!
This will also be the first time since my honeymoon in February that I’ve gotten to go anywhere alone with my love. The last bit of time off we both had we elected to try “staycationing.” We planned a week when no kids would be at the house. Just us, you know.
And then Jim’s adult son decided he was going to come stay for that entire week. And then his other son decided he was going to be over too, with friends, so it did not turn out quite as we had planned. So this road trip is also a welcome departure from the kids and house and chores and adult responsibility.
Normally we would reach out to family and friends who live near Denver and try and schedule a meet-up. But not this time. We will be short on time anyway, so all that we have will be dedicated to just us. Jim said, “I’m packing stuff for hiking but we might not even do that.”
By contrast, were bringing three swimsuits for the hot tub at our air B and B. Plus lounge clothes and food to sustain us for the duration. That’s it.
My prime directive today is to get the car packed up while Jim is at work. Other than that, I’m planning on chipping away at that list of stuff I’ve been procrastinating. This includes sorting through mail, paying bills, and cleaning. But probably I’ll end up working on the GLR or putting together manuscripts for submissions. Goodness knows I’d rather do the latter any day of the week, which is probably why the procrastination happens. I mean, who wants to scrub toilets anyway?! Not this girl!
Perhaps if I just pack the car really slowly I won’t have to do anything else. 😜
In any case.. I feel the rest of the day calling now and should prolly move along.
We arrived home from our Colorado road trip late afternoon Sunday. It’s now Tuesday. That’s what happens. And.. if I don’t take the time To reflect reflected on our trip, it will start to slip away…
At the very least, I’d like to capture the highlights so I don’t forget them. Pictures are worth a thousand words, as they say, so maybe that’s the way….
Day 1 (Wednesday): We get one the road about 2PM and drive straight through to Denver with just a few stops for restrooms, gas, food AND a stop in Kearny to visit my friend Tre who I haven’t seen since the wedding. That was definitely my highlight of the day. Z was so grumpy the whole way, which is not something I’m typically want to remember, but the emotions we both had were part of the overall experience.
We arrived in Denver at about 11 and after 2 failed stops at gas stations (hunting for Ben and Jerry’s) we gave up and went to my sisters apartment. We chatted briefly and then crashed out in her spare bedroom.
Day 2 (Thursday): We had take out brunch in the park with my sister before she had to go to work. Z was still tired and grumpy after that so I let her go back to sleep while I caught up on emails on the couch with the two cats.
When we finally got moving we drove south to Colorado Springs where we had reservations to stay the night at Glen Eyrie Castle. We explored the castle and the grounds and then headed out to resume our quest for Ben and Jerry’s and visit Cheyenne canyon.
The quest took us on a bit of a detour and we ended up at the great Wolf Lodge which presumably has a Ben & Jerry’s inside but it was closed because of the pandemic. It took two more stops but we finally found the coveted ice cream darling daughter was craving at a 7-Eleven. Huzzah!! She had her ice cream while we drove to Cheyenne canyon and proceeded to explore that whole area. By car.
Most of the stops were too packed with people and, being weary about social distancing, we opted to stay in the car most of the way at the canyon. We finally got out at the top and walked on a dirt road along the Ridgeline.
After that we made our way back to the Castle for the evening. It was great to take a shower and just relax and chat. Z did her own thing and I spent time mostly researching activities for us to do. Not sure what time I fell asleep.
Day 3 (Friday): We had a lazy morning once again and didn’t get moving until about eleven. That’s when we checked out and made our way to the Academy Riding Stables where we embarked on a 2 hour horseback ride. It was a tour up and around the garden of the gods and as hot as it was, it was a great choice. I would not have wanted to hike through there on foot.
Riding the horses was fun (a favorite activity of my Z) and it helped us keep our distance from the people. We were at the back of the line and several times hung way back so we could engage the horses to trot and catch up. It was a good little refresher, but boy were we both sore that night!
After that we drove through Manatu Springs and elected not to get out of the car (almost no one wearing masks) and also skipped the drive up Pikes peak (we have both been up to the top on previous trips) and were sort of just driving around looking for a good cell signal so we could figure out what to do.
Just about that time a healthy storm started to roll in and so we drove back to Colorado Springs proper and got a room at a Holiday Inn express. I would say we waited out the storm there, but we did get hungry for dinner so we ventured out in the pouring rain in search of fast food.
There is no Del taco in Omaha so I jumped at the chance to get that fix and my pudding pie had one of her favorites—raising canes (3 finger combo with extra crispy fries, toast buttered on both sides, and a Dr Pepper with light ice (she’s so high maintenance!) 😜
We had a pretty chill evening in the hotel and watched a B movie from the bed. Then she did her own thing again while I again researched activities for us to do the next day. Once I had a solid plan, I crashed out. Not sure how long she was awake after that but she sure likes to stay up late and sleep in.
Day 4 (Saturday): Surprise, surprise.. we get a late checkout again! 😏 After packing everything into the car AGAIN, we drove another hour south west to hit the Royal Gorge. Despite the pandemic the place was packed! Again, it felt like the wild Wild West with very few people wearing masks, and it was quite annoying how disrespectful people were getting too close in the queue to get inside the park.
The bridge is super cool and it was crazy windy. We struggled to get good pictures because the hair situation was just bonkers. I think it was a combination of factors but most the attractions were closed. No gondola ride, no theatre, no sky-coaster (though we did see that run at least once while we were up at the top of the hill on the opposite side of the bridge.
It actually worked out perfectly because we had just enough time to explore around before jumping back in the car to hit our scheduled Zip-line adventure.
It was 9 lines through the Colorado high desert outside of Canyon City. A really great hike and the Zip-lining was super fun. It’s the kind of thing Z is really into. She likes thrill rides. She asked me at one point if I would go skydiving with her. Uhhhhh, “maybe” I said and then dropped that topic like a hot potato.
After the zip line we were both super hungry and about an hour plus away from real civilization. I mean there were places to eat in canyon city but again, it did not look like they had any rules in place for protecting customers so we opted to drive back to Colorado city and get food from A Texas roadhouse.
My original plan was to drive home on Saturday but it was super late in the day so we just had to plan to go as far as we could and then stop again one more night. The way things work out, Sterling was not far enough for us and Ogallala had no rooms at my preferred hotel. So we ended up driving all the way to North Platte and arrived there around 2 AM. Yikes!
Day 5 (Sunday): waking up in North Platte was actually nice, knowing that we only had about four hours to get home. We drove most of the way through but took a detour in Lincoln so we could drive around University of Nebraska campus where Z it’s going to be a freshman in the fall. She wanted to see where all the dorm rooms were and get a first look at what’s in her future.
From there, home is only about 45 minutes away. Which is really good for so many reasons.
Arriving back home was a relief! It was a good trip but, you know, it always feels great to be in your own space again and sleep in your own bed (and spend time with those you have been missing while away).
I think the time together was super valuable and the time away was great for our mental health, even if I’m paying the price now trying to catch up on work (not to mention the inherent risks in so much exposure outside the home).
Wowza! That was a long session on the treadmill. I’m already at 10k steps today!! Definitely enough for now.
Somewhere along the way I’ve gotten messed up on what day it is. That happens when you miss accounting some days and double up on others. What I have been keeping track of on my handy-dandy paper calendar is the following:
What my Lorazepam dose is
What week it is in my plan to come down off that evil drug
How much caffeine I’m having
What time my nasty head symptoms present each day
And if I wake with a headache
As always, my sleep and my steps get recorded by my FitBit but I’m not watching that too closely for any connections. Perhaps I should, given the inherent connections, but I’m just focusing on how I feel, mind and body, and the chemicals I’m ingesting.
The abstinence from alcohol has been easy-peasy. I don’t really miss it. I think that when I’m done with this initial cleanse, I can just keep that up, except for the occasional happy hour. I’m also wearing my reading glasses more reliably than I was before and that’s probably helping too.
My original plan was to go for 15 days cutting the benzodiazepines, caffeine, and alcohol. My plan was thwarted on like day or 3 when I experienced a crash from withdrawal. At that point i saw a physician, had some tests, and got put on a better plan. Now it’s been another week and a few days and I’m following the prescribed plan as best as I can.
Even with the change in plans, I’m already feeling a ton better than I was two weeks ago. I’d go so far as to say I’m rediscovering what healthy feels like. I’ve been here before so I know what healthy feels like.
The strange thing is, I don’t know when I lost it (the healthy feeling) or why. In 2017 I was a wreck and had to take drastic action to put myself right again. So when did it slip out of my grasp again?
I mean, I’m in a great relationship. My kids are doing well, I get regular exercise and do several things for myself to feed my need for interaction and to flex the creative part of my brain.
Was it just too much change too fast? Moving, marriage, integration of households? Is it my job.. Too much stress? Could it be the pandemic and all the chaos and uncertainty in the world? Could it be politics and the divided shambles America has become? The constant dose of insanity and stupidity from our president. Can we get a step down plan for that hot mess too?
And how is it that in 2020, cops are still killing black people? And that the vicious cycle only perpetuates itself. And then here we are again, nearing the end of June and the daily news is waxing once again with the pandemic and politics. These serious and impactful events that shape our lives get swept under other news du-jour.
Sometimes I say everything is connected. Most of the time I’m talking about internally. Like the body and mind and soul. But it’s bigger than me. It’s all the external stimulus too. The ecosystem of the earth, the economy of the world, social and political constructs of civilization. It’s everything from the dwindling numbers of honeybees and the escalating conflicts between north and South Korea.
It’s a person making a choice to not to wear a mask in public.
It’s a parent who doesn’t teach their child about what’s right and wrong, or talk to them about current events, or lay down the law when they make mistakes. Or worse yet, teach them through their bad behaviors that lack compassion and sensibility. It’s kinda hard to witness. It’s also hard to hold inside and hold my tongue. But it’s complicated.
I’m not perfect and I’ve made mistakes and part of my angst, which I am sure contributes to my health, is the worry that I’m not doing all I should be.
This is probably enough wandering for one Saturday. I’ve got my sweet daughter sleeping in a room three floors above me in this hotel in the middle of Colorado and it’s time to make my words meet my own actions. We’ve got a fairly solid plan for today and my goal is to satisfy the thrill seeker inside her. So it’s off to the Royal Gorge we go!
Today is almost over. The more time my daughter and I spend alone together, the more we come to understand each other better. I mean, we live together but sometimes, we are too busy just getting through each day that we don’t even really talk and that’s a shame. Tonight she told me she was not prepared for this trip because she didn’t think I was serious about going. She thought it was just a passing thought and now here we are, 3rd night of a Colorado road-trip. Guess I was serious. We both wanted this Llama in our respective stories and as day turns into night, we realize we did not just want the Llama—we NEEDED it.
Now that adequate sleep has been had and the restoration is in full swing, we are finally getting to the good conversations. I mean, sometimes I talk and talk and it ends up feeling like a one sided story or a mom lecture, but now, it’s a two way street. She’s talking and coming out of her shell a little bit. I’ve learned some things about her in the past couple days that I did not know before. I think maybe it is because I’ve been open and freely sharing stories from my life so she’s opening up too.
We’ve also veered into some uncomfortable territory today and it’s good to have a dialogue where I can just listen to what she thinks and feels and knows about herself and life in general. It won’t be long until we are packing her up for her college dorm. It won’t be long until she starts to experience some new things and I want to make sure she’s prepared. Or as prepared as one can be for life, since it is often unexpected. I won’t be able to just pop up to her room when she texts “mama, I need you.”
I dunno. I kinda want to memorialize this moment. Her and I sharing a bed at a Holiday Inn Express in North Colorado Springs. Flipping through random cable channels, watching the end of Aquaman and lamenting about what a bad show it is. And deciding to go out in the pouring rain to get dinner in our pajamas. And just a little bit ago, we were huddled together researching potential adventures for tomorrow. It’s just nice to be in this moment.
Of course that moment has passed and now she’s resumed her typical teenage before-bed-screen-time with her peeps and I’m.. well.. doing this. It’s past 10PM now and we did indeed find some cool things to do for tomorrow so I’d better get to sleep.
My daughter and I have different styles for vacations and road trips. Or perhaps years of experience has shaped my style into being more rigid and regimented. At this juncture, I think it’s important to note that sometimes life is better when you let go of what you have learned and just accept the day as it comes. It’s better to be free of expectation. It’s better to not care that time is short and even though you want to get the most out of life that you can, it’s not great to try and do too much. It is, in a way, freedom, to be on a road trip and sleep until 1PM and give your body the restoration it is craving.
It is my way to try and pack a day full of activities and sites. To worry about how long it takes to get from here to there and to always be on-time. It is my way to get frustrated if there is not a solid plan and what I am learning from my daughter is that sometimes the best memories happen when there is no plan and you just go with the flow of the moment.
Yes, I researched all kinds of things to do in Colorado Springs. We had a nice visit with my sister yesterday and took a brunch out to a park and sat on blankets in the shade. She gave me all kinds of suggestions on where to go from there and when we had to pack up and get going (because she had to go to work), we went back to her apartment and I started preparing to leave.
Z, on the other hand, laid back down in the bed and proceeded to fall asleep. 10AM and she crashed out in the spare bed in my sisters spare bedroom and there I was, rushing to get on with the day. I let her sleep. She was so grumpy the day before on our drive and I kind of knew it was what she needed. I probably should have followed suit and climbed back into the bed too but I knew I would just lay there thinking about stuff.
Instead, I did a bit of this and that on my laptop. Responded to emails. Had a work call. Accepted another call directly from my PM and did just enough to feel good about where things were at. I’m behind schedule on a task and, in prioritizing this trip, knew it was not going to get done by the time they wanted it to be done. It is atypical for me, and I struggle with the balance on a daily basis, but it is necessary.
Anyway, once she did wake up, we really had no plan for the day other than to make our way south to Colorado Springs. We had booked a room at a castle (of all places) and only had a little list in our heads of where else we could go. It was really hot out, and hiking seemed very unappealing. Hiking, in general is unappealing for my pudding pie. She’d rather just drive and watch the scenery from the car and maybe every once and a while get out and take a snap.
One of the things she’s been craving is Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream. We had stopped at two gas stations thus far looking for those little single serving containers (which generally contain 2.5 servings). One was a Circle K and the Other was a Loves. We did not meet with success on those tries.
Once we got to Colorado Springs it was time to check into our Castle and so we did that after which we wandered around the grounds with a little map looking for the points of interest: the rose garden, the eagles nest, and the trust course. The scenery here at Glen Erie Castle is pretty cool, but those points of interest were quite underwhelming. With the Garden of the Gods a short car ride away, it felt like folly to spend any more time at all here. So we jumped in the car to head out again.
But she did not want to go to the garden of the gods. She said she wanted to do that tomorrow. We decided to go to Cheyenne Canyon instead. But the quest for Icre Cream took priority. No, Haagendaz was not an option, and nether was whatever generic brand each gas station was sporting. We googled “Ben and Jerry’s” and found one on the map that was 20 minutes north. So we headed that way.
When we arrived at the sprawling plaza of eateries, dentist offices, liquor stores and movie theaters there was no Ben and Jerries to be found. Google maps wanted us to go down a parking lot road that was completely closed off and the giant building before us turned out to be a Great Wolf Lodge (closed due to the pandemic). The whole lot was vacant. Near as we could guess, the Ben and Jerries was inside the GWL and so we were foiled again.
We stopped at a nearby Kum and Go and had no luck there either. Then across the way we spotted a Sinclair gas station and as we crossed the main thoroughfare, the 7-eleven came into focus. We stopped in and much to my surprise – Waaalaaa – there it was. The freezer with a great selection of Ben and Jerry’s. I was doing a little happy dance inside because this would make her so satisfied. She grabbed her “Brownie Chunk” (and a set of plastic spoons), and we made away like bandits with our treasure.
Now, now we could finally, at 6PM hit some scenery that Colorado Springs is known for. We drove to and up Cheyenne Canyon. We stopped at one of the more popular stops with a waterfall and watched for a bit as other human beings passed by and frolicked around the water. She does not like crowds and either do I. We would have walked up and around the falls but there were too many people and there was very little social distancing going on (let alone masks). It felt very inconsiderate.
We drove to the top of the canyon and parked at another lot there and walked a wide gravel and dirt trail for about 30 minutes. It was nice just to walk and talk and I would say that was more important than the scenery. I took a few pics but the best ones were of her. I discovered in telling to her that these scenic adventures don’t do much for her unless there are animals involved.
She was excited to tell me about a time she saw a bear in Yellowstone with her dad and once when there was an Elk right outside her tent and even a Giant horse fly they thought had a huge stinger and a couple of silk worms that hitched a ride from A to B on one of their trips.
Yesterday we saw a female deer in town, and a wild turkey, and several species of birds we had not seem before. We saw a pretty good sized lizard in the rose garden at the castle and she named him “Joe”.
I said “oh, Joe. That’s my new internal medicine doctor. What a coincidence!”. We both laughed.
Right now as I type this, she is still sleeping. I could not sleep much past 6 and now it is almost 8. I wandered out of the room and got ice water from the machine down the hall. I wandered into an area labeled as private because the sign said “Great Hall” and I kind of wanted to know what a “Great Hall” looked like. It was big, and kind of ornate, but maybe like the rest of this castle, a little over promised and under-delivered.
I’m going to wrap now and check to see if breakfast is open yet. It’s included with our stay but a “grab and go” kind of a situation”. I’d really like to have a coffee. I know part of my substance cleanse includes minimizing caffeine but I’m going to give myself a little wiggle room on that for a few days.
First it was 2 out of 3 aint bad and now it’s 1 out of 3 is good enough. I’m in the final 3rd of this “Take Back the City tour” as of today and will be looking to finish out this month feeling better mentally and physically than when I started.
I am doing the very best that I can and that is all I can ask of myself at this point.
Cheers to Another Day of Unplanned Adventure, ~Miss SugarCookie
What do llamas and road trips across Nebraska have in common?…
They are both great at injecting interest into a story.
Yesterday was a mighty long, but satisfying day. I woke up in my own bed as usual and did the morning routine but there was no time for the treadmill as I had to make quick work to both get my chores done and pack up a bag for a much needed getaway.
I did work for an hour or two AND I had a Telehealth visit with my son and his endocrinologist before my daughter and I loaded up the car with snacks and supplies and skipped town. The goal was to slice our way west straight through the middle of Nebraska and be in Denver Colorado before the end of the day.
Yes we brought a set of masks (which we decorated with sharpies the night before) and a healthy supply of hand sanitizer so we could try and keep ourselves and other safe along the way. It did not take long to realize that the trip was not only good for a change of scenery, but will likely do wonders for our mental health (well mine anyway). I miss road trips and visiting people. I miss people in general.
On the up-side, we were plugged in to Zs phone and got to listen to her playlist as we made our way on I-80 and did not hesitate to indulge in all things road trip. You know, munching on chips and popcorn in the car, having too much sugar by way of soda and coffee, and gratuitous stops along the way just because.
One of the stops was in Kearny Nebraska where I met up with a friend of mine, Tre, where we sat at a patio outside and caught up a little on life in general. I have not seen her since my wedding in February and honestly, 1 hour is not enough time to really catch up. I’m a huggie person and I wanted to hug her so badly. I abstained at first but when we parted ways, I just couldn’t help it (we were being good and wearing our masks).
That’s a real shitty part of this Coronavirus is the lack of human contact. You don’t realize how much it means to you until you miss it. I can’t imagine living alone. I’m so grateful to have Jim and the kids and I just need to remember that.
On the downside of this road trip is the expectation I have of how things will be with my daughter. It is rare for us to get to spend this much time alone and my hope is that we would talk and talk and start to get into conversations that are both helpful and necessary right before she embarks on this next adventure of her life. In about 6 weeks she’s moving into a dorm room and so our days of summer are numbered.
I was frustrated that she was in a grumpy mood to start with and tired and all she wanted to do was sit on her phone and communicate with her long-distance friends. I kept trying to engage her in conversation but she was annoyed with that and just wanted to not talk. What am I supposed to do with that?
As we crossed the border from Nebraska into Colorado the sun started going down and I could see a massive mess of clouds in the distance. The road twisted and turned and this mass of clouds switched sides of the road and eventually we were swallowed in it. There was no sunset to be had. Nearing the outskirts of Denver, there was a break in the clouds an I saw several really cool sky to ground lightning strikes cut through the sliver of daylight that was left. I tried to get her to look up from her phone and watch with me, but she wouldn’t have it. It made me feel very alone.
Part of the fun of road trips is making memories with people and I could not help but have high expectations. I thought about taking her phone away today, but then I’m the mean mom and not the cool mom. Tough to know what the right thing to do is.
We arrived in Denver at my sisters apartment about 10:30MT (which is actually 11:30PM for us). We chatted for a bit and then snuggled into the bed in her spare bedroom. I crashed hard and slept ok until about 6AM.
Now it’s 7:45 and I’m alone in the living room with the cats on the couch. There is no wifi that I can connect to so posting this will have to happen later. It’s probably a good thing that there is no wifi or I would be tempted to try and get some work done. What is wrong with my stupid brain?
In a little bit, folks will start getting up and we plan to go to breakfast at some place my sister knows that has a patio overlooking a lake. That sounds lovely. She has to work today and there’s no reason to overstay our welcome so we’ll be moving south to Colorado Springs this afternoon. I have not done much research about what we could do there, but I hear there is just a ton of outdoor places to explore. Where can you go when you want to stay away from crowds of people but also get to see cool stuff? That’s the question.
I’m trying hard to embrace my substance cleanse and also let go of worry about work, and the kids, and the virus. I’m still holding a great deal of anxiety inside and I can feel it. Now that the Llama of my story has made an appearance, I’m going to see what I can get out of it.
I need to release myself, forgive myself, and be good to myself. That’s part of the big picture of living a healthy and satisfying life, you know? Time now to see of my darling daughter is waking up yet.