Bits of Berthoud Pass

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Throwing questions of legality and vehicular safety to the wind, I stopped on the side of US-40 near the peak of Berthoud Pass and picked up a piece of a mountain. Falling rocks roar and tumble past small trees, over mountain grasses, and careen and crash onto the roads, whenever they feel like it. That day in 2010, I was on a mission with my inlaws to collect a piece of the mountain to take back with us to our flatland homes in Missouri. To this day, to see it and step on it, is to remember moments of God’s goodness and movement at Crooked Creek Ranch, Young Life’s Frisco valley property.
This past Labor day weekend, as in the 3 days prior to my penning this post, I was back on Berthoud Pass and brought pieces of it home with me once again. Drew and I took our family to the road Thursday morning and sailed across I-70- landing in Denver by dinner time. We ate with Maama that night and slept comfortably in the cooler Colorado temps in our cozy beds.
We awoke for adventure early Friday morning. The plan: camping near Winter Park-  reservations not accepted, tents, food totes and firewood required! Drew was the lone guy heading up with us and shouldered the load solidly. We loaded the van with sleeping bags, air filled sleeping pads, pots, pans, games, books, and headlamps. I rode up with Nat- candid conversation much needed between sisters who connect far too seldom. What a gift to listen to her life.
Idlewild campground was open and welcoming in the bottom of the Fraser Valley. Just past the entrance to Winter Park Resort, Idlewild sits nestled in trees, blanketed in green forest growth and alongside the Fraser River- a live sound machine. We would come to hear the train often and highway trucks occasionally- the chorus of civilization coming into the natural noise. We added our cheers, thanks, attention, and 1 (29)
Site 15 gave Eli and Andi  immediate and large amount of space to play, climb on logs, run up and down the mountain, meet new friend Christopher, and imagine a world in the woods. Oakley took to the dirt, the tents, and the always-outside with a smile and a nap by 1pm. We were set up long before lunch and relaxed all afternoon. Ahhh- bliss. The temperatures dropped markedly after the sun went to sleep. We huddled around the fire and then snuggled deep in too-light of sleeping bags. Kids needed more blankets despite sleeping in their sweat or ski pants! Missouri-mom fail. I did not pack enough warm clothes!!!
John joined the party Saturday morning and we took our smelly selves into town. We could walk the Fraser River trail .5 mile into downtown Winter Park. Skate park, play ground, grassy hills for cartwheels and rolling, and flushing toilets! We each found our little piece of indulgence: Eli’s in the skate park bowls, Andi with a dog, an aunt, and a Maama to play with, Oakley on a small concrete drainage path through the grass that he could run back and forth on with Aunt Nat right behind. The sun was warm and we had very little to do but be right 2 (30)photo 4 (20)
We hiked back to the camp site and our car for adventure number two! We drove to Winter Park mountain base and did the alpine slide. I do not want Oaks to grow out of being a baby and bemoan his adorable, personable and awesome speaking abilities because it means he is growing up very fast. However, when we learned he had to be two to ride the slide, I was ready to round up- just this once!
Oaks rode with me, Andi held her own, and Drew followed Eli as he leaned into the turns and never let up on that forward push. “I was really fast Mom. It was awesome. What was your favorite turn? What did you like the best? How do you think they built it? Those bumps are called Ripples, Maama. I can’t believe we can only do it once. I want to do it over and over. Even if it was raining, I never would have stopped.” Eli LOVED it and relived it for the rest of the 1 (30)
We got to play giant tumbling towers in the village, and then got to rent bikes and ride a pump track for free. Finally we flew over the parking lots in a bucket lift. I went to the bathroom 4 times in a flushing toilet during a day of “camping”. I agree with Eli, it was epic on many 1 (28) photo 3 (24) photo 2 (29)
Great food. Fun family. Lots of relaxing. New blankets from John. We enjoyed the rest of our camping trip in earnest, with story sharing, and s’more specialties. Turns out Nat is a bit of a s’more snob and no one was going to let her live it down.
Sunday was party day. We were showered and napped and ready to celebrate the wedding of Dad and Judy. Married in private in March, they were inviting the community to celebrate and acknowledge their marriage. We were glad we could come be a part and enjoy such a great party. The food was great, meeting family and seeing old friends was special. A new piece of family is growing.
The fun never stops. Monday morning was teeth cleaning time. Thanks to Maama for working on a day off! We checked out cavity free and packed up with ease. Per tradition, 7 years strong!- we stopped by Lakeside Amusement park for rides and memories with Nat, John, and Grandpa. There are just some things that an 108 year old park with a 74 year old coaster and duct taped doors on the spinning flipping ride, can offer that no where else can. Oaks joined the fear-free ranks of his siblings and rode the roller coaster, cars, boats, and the adult flying airplanes with me!photo 2 (31) photo 3 (25)photo (51)
Today is let-down, transition, discover that our tire went flat in the car at home in our garage while we were traipsing around mountains in our van, day. I am picking the bits of Berthoud out of our lives in smaller portions than a boulder. I vacuumed dirt and pine needles out of the van and shook wood chips out of the dryer lint collector. Seems we wanted to keep a little bit of the beauty, the better-than-a-pine-candle-smell, and the memories of a mountain weekend in our pockets. We will settle for it’s imprint on our hearts.

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