Cross-Country, COVID-19, and Sweet Lemonade
Part 3: Colorado
By Christina Fain
As we entered Colorado and approached Denver, we could see the land begin to boil up with rolling hills capped by bursts of lush green trees. It was time to kill the WiFi and make the kids enjoy the scenery.
The Rocky Mountains erupted onto the horizon as though they had sensed our arrival and were stepping up to meet us. We rounded a curve and felt warmly greeted with a display of open blue skies, dark-green pines, deep blues, all giving us a glimpse of the magnificent mountains. A pristine white capped all of these colors, confirming we were close to the majestic mountain ranges of The Rockies.
We witnessed this ancient landscape come alive before us. The mountains teased us with their incredible magnitude and undeniable splendor. We still had a long drive before we reached our destination, but one thing was for sure: we were not in Kansas anymore.
Our destination was Littleton, Colorado, a suburb of Denver. Driving through that town was like watching the perfect hometown unfold. Beautiful homes, recreational parks with vast lawns, equestrian stables, and, most importantly, that mountain view was gracing the skyline at every turn.
We arrived to be welcomed by a family reunion and hamburgers on the grill, feeling like this leg of our long journey was a success.
Within two hours, though, altitude sickness descended upon us, giving us churning stomachs, massive headaches, and strangely chapped lips.
That night we settled into an eclectic Airbnb called the Box Car Inn ready to tackle four days of Colorado splendor—but only after bottles of water and a few Tylenol.
In Colorado, a “park” can mean anything from a child’s playground to an open field of green to a mountain requiring enough huffing and puffing to blow the house down. On day two, after driving thirty minutes up a mountain road, we parked near a cliff alerting us of the elevation. The kids ran ahead as we two ladies huffed and puffed ourselves up to Echo Park Lake, elevation 10,600 feet.
We soon realized the twenty-degree temperature change would require an impromptu wardrobe change, and we needed to find sweatshirts and jackets to throw on the kids, who were dressed for the seventy-degree weather down below.
There is no high-definition camera, postcard, or jigsaw puzzle in the world that could capture what we saw. Spilling out in front of our eyes was a beautiful lake reflecting the snow-capped mountains, blue sky, remnant snowdrifts, and groves of trees wrapping their inviting branches around its visitors.
We sat on boulders, skipped rocks, and watched mallards play in the water. Even though there were people fishing and dipping toes around us, the serenity of the lake is what rests within me still.
We trailed green mossy paths with quiet, blooming flowers. We sat on slabs of rocks warmed by the sun and watched the kids play in snow up to their knees.
That day we encountered more people than we had on our entire trip thus far. We can only imagine their masked smiles reflected the awe we felt. We spent three hours on this mountain, and it was simply not enough time to take in everything.
On day three, we learned a local phrase about Colorado weather: “drive thirty miles or wait thirty minutes.” The morning started drizzly and then turned just sunny and warm enough to tease us outside. We drove thirty miles to an outdoor museum only to encounter an icy, rainy afternoon.
Luckily the ride up the mountainside was in a covered bus and—properly socially distanced—so we had the guide to ourselves. On this tour, we gathered a wealth of information about the dinosaurs that once roamed through the area. One day, I suspect my daughter will be reporting on dinosaurs, showing pictures of her foot inside a cast of a Tyrannosaurus’s foot, and explaining how the Colorado area was once underwater, much like our beaches are today. (Parenting Win No. 1!).
Colorado offered not only mountains, but various botanical gardens filled with bold, bright colors. There was a canvas of greens against reds, reds against yellows, and yellows against white-flowered lily pads holding water drop reflecting the cloudy blue sky.
We visited parks with acres of green manicured lawns perfect for napping, skateboard parks for skating, and many steep hills for eight-year-olds (and forty-seven-year-olds) to roll down.
Littleton and the surrounding area were energetic. The residents rode bikes, backpacked, hiked with their dogs, and generally lived life.
We spent four days in Colorado. To describe each scene or each moment would take hours. To take accurate photographs would be impossible, but to remember it all will be remarkable. We were there in the middle of a pandemic, but for a few days we did not let ourselves dwell on it. Like the locals, we lived life and let mother nature be our best medicine. (Parenting Win No. 2).
Photo credit by Peter Pryharski @meteorphoto
Tina began creative writing at a young age. Professionally, she has written for legal professionals spanning more than 20 years. As an over-thinker, mother of two, she draws her inspiration from her adult son and much younger daughter, as well as her personal experiences trying to navigate life’s beautiful complications. When not writing, she spends her time reading, hiking with her family and planning her next travel adventure.