So much is happening these days that I want to wrap up this narrative lest I continue to other things and never come back to it. Allow me to begin then, when we arrived in Vail at the end of a rainshower and a 13 hour drive taking us through lush farmland, desolate scrubland, and finally the amazingly gorgeous mountains.
It was nice to be at the final destination of our westward excursion, but as Haus Meister was technically ‘back to work,’ we almost felt that the most exciting part of the trip was now behind us. We also felt rather uncomfortably like fish out of water, like country cousins visiting the great metropolis. This isn’t to sound ungrateful, it’s just how we felt. Some factors contributing to this —
- The only other people driving vans like ours were janitors
- Our stroller is a nearly 7yrold model bought at Target. The other strollers on the walking path were new high end strollers not bought at Target, pushed by people who looked as if Target were the Dollar Store.
- We were probably the only folks at the resort with five children, or at least that’s what I assume from some of the looks we received.
- Such looks were received during moments like the one which found me prising Princess’ fingers from the railing of the third floor balcony amidst her screams because she would try to climb on it.
- So, after this I paranoically tried to keep the kids’ noise down beyond the range of human hearing, all the while afraid that management was going to call with a complaint.
- Trooper was shunned at a playground by boys in his peer group because he wasn’t normal (on the plus side, Trooper tried to engage them in play and showed us there’s nothing wrong with his social skills).
- I kept trying to remember who I was supposed to tip and when.
- The cleaning lady was shocked that I was loading the in-room dishwasher myself.
Other than that, Vail was great.
The first rooms we had upon our arrival were actually not perfect. Shocker! Apparently the plush digs were actually on the market and the owner or realtor had removed a set of bunkbeds without telling management. However, we needed the bunkbeds. Haus Meister notified the front desk and was told management would get back to us in the morning (it was 8pm) and would probably send over a trundle bed or something. They did better; they sent us to a child-friendly larger condo without charging the company anything extra. We celebrated our new perfect arrangement by making a perfect batch of cookies.
We also made many excursions to Gore Creek (not named for the global warming enthusiast/former Vice President). While there were many fly fishermen present, we didn’t see anyone actually catch something. We tried to pick wading spots far from their sport so as not to interfere, and we had a marvelous time dipping our feet in, picking up rocks, building sand castles, and enjoying the fresh mountain air. This part was perfect.
The highlight of the trip was the ride up the Eagle Bahn Gondola to the top of the mountain. 5 kids, 2 parents, a stroller, and a wagon. The wagon could not fit so it was sent up in its own enclosed car (haha), a practice used by bicyclers as well. Only they send up bikes, obviously, not wagons. The ride was spectacular, although I tried to keep from showing my nervousness by sounding cheerfully shrill as I replied to the childrens’ questions. Trooper loved it; he could have ridden up and down all day long. The other boys enjoyed it, too, and pretended we were riding in Harold the Helicopter. Princess was pretty nervous on the way up but fell asleep on the way down. Sunshine slept through most of it.
At the top there was a restaurant, a disc golf course, some horseback riding, and walking trails. Had we brought along our double jogging stroller, we could have navigated the paths just like we did at Yellowstone and the Tetons four years ago. However, we wouldn’t have had room for the wagon, and we needed that, too. Our walking was thus restricted to the paved trail, which wasn’t incredibly long, but still, absolutely breathtaking…..
Down we went, then, for more creek stomping before heading out to the grocery store to get the last provisions for our whirlwind trip back East. We chose a decent little spot with a small “beach” by the creek, uninhabited by fishermen for the moment. Haus Meister, Trooper and I were able to walk down the bank–I held Sunshine in her carrier and Princess by the hand. It was a little steep for Rascal and the Dinosaur, who preferred to slide. We had a glorious hour by the water and then packed up to return, shaking sand out of our shoes (and me reminding myself of why I really don’t want a sandbox in the back yard, despite its apparent inevitability 😉 ). As we organized the children at the top of the bank, putting Sunshine’s carrier in the stroller and deciding who’d ride in a wagon, a family of three came to our spot with fishing poles. We had a chummy conversation and then the father and daughter manuevered their way down the bank to the water. The mother stood skeptically at the top of the bank.
“I think I’ll stay here,” she said. “I’m afraid I’ll fall if I try to go down.”
“It’s okay,” our Rascal chimed in. “We went down on our bottoms!”
And that was the final impression we left at Vail!
We made the journey back in four days. The next morning we left early, driving thirteen hours (including stops) to Topeka, Kansas. The second day saw us driving back to my parents’ house, where Hobbit Dog would be waiting for us. On this day I almost had had enough of the driving. We were in Missouri and it seemed for the moment that we would never, absolutely never reach the border and the Mississippi River. I told this to Haus Meister, who soothingly told me that if the day got long, we could always stop and get a hotel room. That cured me in an instant. Anything to NOT be in a hotel, after more than a week of them! My morale improved significantly and I got us to my parents house in eleven hours. We stayed there two nights, happy to enjoy a day off the road.
Seventeen days after the start of our trip, we were finally going home! On our way we decided to make a quick stop at a place we had always wanted to visit…
So, there you have it. The tale is now told, more or less. Thanks for sticking with us through the narrative and stay tuned for current events!