Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Road to Colorado: Part One

My love affair with Colorado first began many years ago.  As a fourth or fifth grader at Stone Creek--bright eyed, enthusiastic, and talkative, of course--I was given an assignment to create a presentation about one of our great 50 states.  As soon as the teacher announced it, I knew exactly the state I wanted to choose--Colorado.  A number of things had led me to be interested in the Centennial State; we had family friends who lived there (and still do), my older brother resided there as well, and I thought it was just beautiful, with the mountains and the gorgeous scenery.  I hoped that no one would pick it before I could, and when the teacher came to my name, I ended up lucky enough to get my first choice pick.

I traced the outline of the state onto a piece of white posterboard and checked out a few books at the library to learn everything that I could.  The capital of Colorado is Denver.  Colorado joined the Union on August 1, 1876.  It is known as the Centennial State.  The state tree is the Colorado Blue Spruce.  The state flower is the Rocky Mountain Columbine.  I was fascinated.  There was no doubt in my mind… someday, I would travel to Colorado and see it for myself.  I only hoped that day would come sooner rather than later.

A couple of years later, I got my wish.   My parents planned a road trip to Colorado to stay in a condo belonging to our family friends and to go sightseeing around various parts of the state.  I was so very excited.  I also remember this vacation quite distinctly because less than a week beforehand, I got braces.  That whole experience was rather unpleasant, but I was still looking forward to the trip.  My brother and I kept ourselves occupied on the long drive by books, our Game Boy Colors, and our CD players.

On the first night of our road trip, we stayed in Nebraska and left early the next morning.  When we finally crossed the state lines and when I finally laid my eyes on the Rockies, I was hooked.  Later on that day, we reached our destination--the Denver Metro area--and spent one night in Golden before making the drive up to Silver Creek.  My brother and I slept in the living room/second bedroom, separate from my parents (which made me feel really cool) and I really enjoyed staying in the condo.  There was a kitchenette, and a balcony with a beautiful view, and a cool swimming pool that was half inside, half outside.  I can remember my dad making us breakfast with chocolate milk before the day’s adventures began.

We spent that week adventuring all over… riding the alpine slide in Winter Park…  going to a music festival in Evergreen on a gorgeously sunny day, way up in the mountains… driving through Rocky Mountain National Park.   I took a ton of pictures and soaked it all in.  The surroundings I was experiencing were so different from the ones I saw back home, and I felt legitimately sad when it was time to leave and head for home.  I remember staring out the back window of the car, watching the mountains get smaller and smaller as we drove on eastward, hoping and wishing I might be able to come back soon.

It would be almost eight years before I made my return.

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