We tagged along with Mom this week to Colorado Springs where’s she’s got a conference. With a whole day, a rental Sonata and unlimited mileage, Lil Lady and I decided to make a day of it. I’ve been finding in the first two months of stay-at-home dadding that, where I used to set goals, set my sights on destinations and create (and sometimes finish) ambitious to-do lists, now with me and Amelia, I just pick a direction and see how far we get. Sometimes that means I mow a quarter of the yard, or we drive all the way to the lumber yard to get materials to build a canoe seat but then turnaround and come home without going in because Lil Lady is hungry and I forgot a bottle. So the goal is a direction and today, the direction is west to the big mountains.
In fact, here’s a little film by the Lil Lady to get you in the spirit of the adventure:
And so we hit Highway 24 going west at 9:30 a.m. packed to the gills with the big stroller, bottles, formula, diapers, wipes, burp rags, you name it. No plan, curious about a place called San Isabel National Forest but also interested in finding some dirt roads to drive on and hopeful that we can get high enough into the mountains to get the Lil Lady her first snowball. And in the backseat, the Lil Lady is out cold with the nook half out of her mouth, and periodically grunting in her dreams.
I get that Amelia’s only four months old and will never remember this day and I understand that I’m the one who actually benefits from this because it sure beats the alternative of being cooped up all day at a stuffy resort so I guess maybe I’m being selfish flannel dad, but whatever. If Amelia sees a picture someday of she and I with a bottle of formula in a field full of cows at the base of a mountain, I hope it’ll just be one more reminder of how much she loves her life.
And so we roll on, past Woodland Park, and Divide, and Florissant and Lake George. Strip malls and fast food joints, antique shops and rusted-out tourist traps and even a fence made out of old vintage bicycles. And then nothing much. Ranches and barbwire and cows and skeletons of deserted log cabins all with the mountains rising up on the horizon like clouds. We see some pronghorn and bison but we keep moving and the Lil Lady keeps sleeping.
Another hour maybe and we’re off the high plains and back in the trees and hills with some fun windy roads. I see a couple of dirt roads that look tempting, but keep going since the Lil Lady is still sleeping. Then I see the one–our dirt road–disappearing down the embankment and running alongside a little mountain brook. We take it on a whim and follow it 8 miles through open-range cattle lands to a fork, take another rockier, narrower road for another few miles weaving around cows and rocks here and there, turn off again and finally come up against a dip in the road that I can’t navigate with the Sonata. I stop the car, it’s noon, and the Lil Lady is awake and looking for lunch.
I throw a bottle together and we get out for a feeding and a walkabout. The cows don’t seem to mind. We walk up and check out a camp site nearby and stop and smell some sage. We come back to the car and get the Lil Lady into a dry diaper and she’s giggling and happy to be out of her car seat. We sit for awhile on the front seat together and listen to the cows moo. We walk around a little more to go look at some aspen trees that look burnt but are still living and while we’re walking the Lil Lady takes out Flannel Dad’s flannel with a little spit up down the collar. It’s all right though and we head back to the car just ahead of a sudden squall of cold rain that came out of nowhere. I get her in the car seat before she can get wet and we move on.
I don’t know if we’ll get a snowball and I think we might actually be in San Isabel right now, but I’ve already got everything I want out of this day, except a dry flannel.
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