Forget heat and humidity; let’s talk altitude.

7 Jul

We wake at 9,500 ft and 36-39 degrees each morning (that’s F not C, Paola).  The cabin we are staying in is not insulated and the temperature dips and rises accordingly.  It is hard to convince myself to climb out from under the covers, but slowly and inevitably I do and the morning chaos begins.  We work to shower, stop Castor from climbing off the back of the couch, change diapers, stop Moon from dragging Pollux across the carpet, get everyone dressed, stop Pollux from putting cat food in his mouth, and open the curtains.

There, we find earnest young Marmot researchers, standing in our yard and gazing with binoculars and clipboards ready at the round rodents waddling about the hill.  We also find that once again, Marmots have climbed into the wheel hubs on our Forester and need to be removed.  The beep of the car lock is no longer enough to dissuade them; we will have to walk outside.  The Magnesium Chloride that is sprayed on the dirt roads to control the dust leaves a delicious salty residue on the hoses, tires, and other bits of car — things can be chewed through if we are not careful.

Stepping outside as the screen door squeeks the sun has made it warmer.  Looking up, we see cliff swallows have been building a small cave in the eaves of the cabin, their calls and chittering noises a quiet sort of cacophony.  Just down the hill, a mother Marmot spots us and begins her alarm calls to her young.  Seven babies scurry back into the burrow; an eighth keeps meandering on.  Mom calls louder, baby continues on his or her merry way, and I sympathize.

We make our way to the cabin of my husband’s parents, my children’s grandparents.  It sits on a Lupine-covered hill, overlooking the road and the valley.  We see deer and hummingbirds right next to the cabin windows, and watch elk through a scope as they clamber up the heights of Gothic Mountain.  We have breakfast (“Oatmeal with maple syrup!” Moon insists), the boys settle into the (now rare) morning nap, and after Moon has coerced her grandma into yet another game of Ponies, it’s somehow time for lunch.


Fresh rolls (some sort of homemade bread) is generally featured, and a selection of fruit from the farmer’s market or straight from the garden outside (covered to protect it from those foraging deer we see).  Lunch is eaten, laundry is taken off the line outside, and we watch the clouds to see if a storm is blowing up valley in the afternoon (a small one has been the usual occurrence).   It’s around 70 degrees out now, with a nice breeze, but the altitude means the sun is intense.  Hats, sunscreen, and more sunscreen are required here (and ouch! the inevitable missed spots!).  We make our way down for a walk in the late afternoon, after the boys have napped, when the intensity of the sun seems to wane a bit.  Maybe we make our way to throw stones in the East River, or perhaps we head up valley to Emerald Lake, where pockets of snow let the adventurous of us sled in June and July.  Perhaps we see a doe with her two spotted fauns, or stop to sample the delicious rocks and dirt.  As 6:00 approaches, the sun has dipped behind the mountains, leaving light but giving us some relief.  Now we can see baby foxes playing on the hill behind the lab, pouncing each other between the monument plants while their mother eyes us warily.  We make our way back to the in-laws cabin for dinner, more fresh bread and fresh vegetables, as well as some Elk that Moon’s grandfather hunted.

If we’re lucky, dessert includes fresh Rhubarb from the garden.  Moon hopes for whipping cream to ‘help’ with, and shares her Grandfather’s love of ice cream.  Bellies full, we slowly clambor back to the cabin for bedtime.  A rush of pajamas, brushing teeth, and then story time (we’re onto “How to Train Your Dragon” now) before lights go out.  Quiet, calm.

Life here would seem relatively peaceful and idyllic if it weren’t for that nagging feeling of procrastination; that constant unscratched itch that says we need to keep going and our move isn’t done.  Regardless, it has been a beautiful and amazing reprieve.  We’ll be on the road again only too soon.

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2 Responses to “Forget heat and humidity; let’s talk altitude.”

  1. brendanjw July 7, 2010 at 3:43 pm #

    What an adventure!

  2. Paola July 14, 2010 at 8:36 pm #

    I appreciate the clarification 🙂

    And that last picture is beautiful.

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