Wham! Skidddd…. The heavy metal picnic table went grinding backwards. Moments ago as my wife was gone, I decided to move our truck real close to the table so the unloading-reloading process would easier. I got it there, and a new dent too. Oh well, just below the taillight, and the truck is already beat up. Could have been worse.
This camping, hiking, 4×4 trip to Colorado (that we are on right now) has been full of little moments just like this. My best intentions and pre-planning have produced baby disappointment while the happy accidents and favorable blessings are really what is making all the difference.
Even in the midst of this vacation I want to take the time out here to record some of my experiences and share with you.
As you read last week, I recently bought a beat up old truck to drive out on this trip. Before we left, I had only taken it for a twenty minute test drive. Needless to say, I was a little nervous that it wouldn’t make it across western Kansas. Luckily it did.
Then I was hoping it could handle the mountains okay. Luckily it did. And even yesterday we banged across, tumbled straight down, and crawled straight up, some seriously gnarly backcountry trails. All good right???
Well almost all good, almost all bad…
See, as we slowed down and entered our campground on the first day of this trip, I heard a reoccurring squeak. I jumped out and went to the driver’s side rear wheel. Sure enough, all the lug nuts were finger loose. Did I mention that this campground sits near the bottom side of the high altitude switchbacks of Independence Pass, that we had just drove over? This was after our trip through Leadville, and the I-70 mountain runs before that.
These are deadly places to lose a wheel.
Not by my power or prowess did we escape serious trouble. Some Angel held that thing on.
After I checked things out and we headed out for more fun, I just kept thinking about how lucky we got. Amazing.
Yesterday’s adventures included driving to the top of Aspen mountain, we took a guided hike tour with other folks, all of whom rode the gondola up there. We were told at the forestry station that Richmond Hill Road was impassable due to large snow drifts in the shady spots. We wanted a nice mountain top lunch spot so we figured we would drive till we couldn’t anymore, then stop and eat and turn around.
We did find a great spot for lunch with 360 degree panoramic views. Then we found mud holes where the snow drifts used to be. We found thousands upon thousands of baby boulders to bounce across. We even found some super steep loose rock washes that we had to climb.
One particular spot was a short steep switchback with almost no room to pass next to a big pile of icy snow, it was melting and the ground was slippery wet rocks and mud. On my second straightened-up-start the wheels spun then finally grabbed. I could hardly watch as I was driving the razors edge of a slimy cliff, with a several hundred feet drop off to the side. I really didn’t even think of praying to make it up. Just as we motored beside the snow pile and crested this little obstacle amongst many, I said out loud, “Stay calm, take it easy, don’t panic, don’t do anything stupid right now.”
And that is one of my big takeaways so far on this trip. It could help me in lots of moments of my life, to just remind myself of that…
Earlier I mentioned an angel. Well, during every one of these exhilaratingly terrifying moments, an angel has been sitting right beside me. My wife has been the number one best part of this trip. Better than the durable Toyota, better than the mountain top views, better than watching the sunrise from my hammock, better than the campfire burger at the end of the day. None of these things would have any of the rich value to me, without her.
It amazes me, that she is willing to let me take her to the top of the Rockies and back. Her trust is all my strength, period. As I am puckered up and wonderin’ if we will get out of these mountain roads in one piece, she is there too. When I ask if she is scared, she says she just closes her eyes. Even these times are important, she lets me work, she is hopeful, she stays calm, so I can too. She is the best partner I could ever have hoped for. She shows me, beyond love.
I am so good whenever she is with me, and when she is not, well… I run into picnic tables!
This beautiful Colorado day lies ahead of us. I can’t wait any longer to get out there and do it again with Her 🙂 oh, and Roxy too 🙂
From the Nichols family to you, I hope you have a wonderful week, wherever you are.