We picked up Aaron, Christine and our 4-year-old granddaughter, Aria in Denver on Sunday. They had flown in from Vermont the day before to join us and Aaron’s sister, Jessica and brother, Matthew in Steamboat Springs for 4 nights. We had dinner Sunday night in Denver with two of our grandchildren, Marissa and Sierra and their families. Marissa and Mandon live in Denver and Sierra with husband Micheal and our great-grandson, Maverick had driven down from North Dakota to join us in Steamboat and were staying the night in Denver also. The photo is all of us having dinner at Marissa and Mandon ‘s favorite Mexican restaurant.
We spent the night in Loveland and Monday morning got a really good breakfast at the Loveland Breakfast Club. Darlene and I shared a big skillet of eggs, ham, tomatoes and onions piled on some good hash browns, and then topped with cheese and pork green chile. After breakfast we headed west though Estes Park and then up to Rocky Mountain National Park on Trail Ridge Road toward Steamboat. Trail Ridge Road is 48 miles long, part of Highway 34, and traverses the Park east and west connecting the towns of Estes Park and Grand Lake. The road crosses the continental divide at an elevation of over 11,000 feet. It is a spectacular drive with 11 miles above timberline and views of peaks of over 12,000 ft in every direction. It is like driving along on top of the world.
As we left Estes Park and entered the National Park we told Aria to look for Bighorn Sheep and elk, and also that we would be driving up higher and higher to cross the Continental Divide. She started talking about the drive to the top and called it driving to “the highest of the high”. We stopped at the very interesting Park entrance visitor center. Aria loves animals and points out every dog, horse and cow as we drive along. She’s standing by a statue of a mule deer and fawn at the visitor’s center.
As the continental divide is reached there is a big parking lot and another visitor center. There is also a paved trail which rises an additional 800 elevation feet to a mountain top of 12,005 feet with big views in all directions. We walked the trail to the top as a couple of clouds rained and hailed a little on us. Here is a photo of Aaron, Christine and Aria taken at the top.
As one travels the Rocky Mountains of Colorado from Trinidad north through Denver to Ft Collins and west to Rangely and all the way southwest to Cortez the landscape wows over and over. Describing it becomes difficult without being trite and cliché. So, I won’t attempt words to describe Rocky Mountain National Park – but if you get a chance don’t miss it. Aria’s concept which formed in her mind of “the highest of the high” is close to saying all that can be said.
With us on this visit to Steamboat Springs were all 3 of our children, 4 of our grandchildren and both great-grandchildren along with their husbands and wives. Those husbands and wives are labeled in-laws in some circles, but in our family, they fit in so well we can’t distinguish any difference from them being just family. I’ve been looking forward to the trip since we got it planned over the winter. We are separated by so many miles and so gatherings are beyond special. Over the years we’ve gathered in small and big groups in places where families lived like Pagosa Springs and Grand Junction in Colorado and Easley, South Carolina and also in vacation spots like Daytona Beach, Branson, Flagstaff and Park City. This gathering in Steamboat Springs is turning out to be maybe the most special of all of them for me. Maybe it’s because of the two new members that are great-grandchildren. Darlene and I used to be the only grandfather and grandmother. Now our family has grandfathers and grandmothers everywhere you look. Whatever the reason I’m feeling especially fortunate right now. The Psalmist was close to speaking my feelings:
“But he lifted the needy out of their affliction
and increased their families like flocks.” Psalm 107:41 (NIV)
Maybe afflicted wasn’t particularly descriptive of the situation as Darlene and I married nearly 50 years ago, yet this family of mine that has grown over the years and is still growing meets a need and provides fulfillment like nothing else is be able to do. God continues to increase our numbers with marriages and births. We’re 20 strong now in this family of 4 generations. May God be with us and keep us in his care.