"Say what you have to say, and not what you ought."
~ Henry David Thoreau

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Family Fun and the 4th of July

My well-worn road atlas marked up by my dad from the 1st time
I drove to Colorado alone.
If I had to guess the number of times I've traveled from Utah to Colorado via I-80 through Wyoming I think it would be in the hundreds. I've been making the 600-mile trek to Colorado Springs since before I can remember. I made my most recent journey there from Utah  to spend the 4th of July holiday at my mom's. I was anxious to get to Colorado to see family and friends since it had already been 14 months since my last visit there. Pieces of my heart live in Colorado and after I've been gone too long they draw me back. It's definitely my second home--where I go to find the soothing my heart and soul sometimes needs and where I'm reminded of my history and my roots. It's my touchstone in life. It's 'home' to me even though I've never really lived there. 

Stopping for $.75 cones at Little America.
Gillian and my niece Regan came along on my summer road trip. This was our second road trip to Colorado together. I think we make a pretty good traveling team. Having travel partners always makes a long road trip better, and having these two in the car with me makes me especially happy. I love listening to their happy chatter and giggling. They remind me of summers and time spent traveling the roads of Colorado with my cousin Michelle. Just like Gillian and Regan we're also 9 months apart in age. Summer vacation time with Michelle was always special and something I still look forward to. I'm so glad Gillian and Regan are getting to create the same kind of special memories together. 

My brother Jon, sister-in-law Sam, and nephew Atticus were also visiting Colorado while I was there. I couldn't wait to see them! It had been a year since I'd last seen Jon and nearly three years since I'd seen all three of them together. Jon suffered a nearly fatal accident late last year and I've been longing to see and connect with him since. Gillian had also been anxious to see her favorite Uncle Jon again. We were both very happy girls when we finally got to hug Jon, Sam and Atticus and enjoy time with some of our favorite people!

We spent our first night in Erie at my sister Amy's. My nephew Mason was spending the holiday with friends, but the cousins went to visit him at his dad's Outback Steakhouse where he was just getting off work. They spent a few minutes talking and catching up before Mason headed off on his trip. Here's a picture from the last time we spent the 4th of July in Colorado. Can you believe how much our babies have grown up since then?
Mason, Hannah and Gillian - 2008.
Cousins 2015 - Regan, Mason, Hannah and Gillian.
Hannah made the trip from Erie to Colorado Springs with us to spend a couple of nights at grandma's. Gone are the days when the back seat was full of whiny, crying kids that made car trips to grandma's a dreaded undertaking. Now those same kids entertain themselves and me, laughing, talking and just enjoying their cousin time together making memories  they'll treasure for the rest of their lives. 
Off to grandma's - Regan, Gillian and Hannah.
We celebrated the 4th with a barbecue at my mom's followed by a walk through the foothills looking for the bear that had been seen near her house. We didn't see any bears, but we did learn what to do in case we ever do encounter one. Did you know you're supposed to talk softly to bears? I didn't. Since we didn't find any bears we headed up the hill to the Mt. St. Francis grounds in search of more adventure.
Regan showing off her gymnast moves.

We found mystery, adventure and lots of animal bones on the convent grounds of what used to be a tuberculosis sanatorium. Uncle Jon was the ringleader with all of the kids enthusiastically joining him in studying the many animal bones they found in the dry canal bed that runs along the grounds. A summer storm with dark clouds rapidly moving in, the many old buildings, a graveyard, church bells tolling and religious symbols everywhere added to the ominous sense of mystery that afternoon. Gillian took most of the pictures below as she documented our bear hunt turned CSI outing.
The rest of the trip was spent visiting family, showing the girls the landmarks of Colorado Spings, telling old family stories and visiting the Fine Arts Center to see a Georgia O'Keefe exhibit. The girls drug out grandma's old scrap books and family photo albums. I loved listening to them ask questions about everything they were looking at, interested in learning about their family history. They stayed up late into the night talking and laughing. They even dug through the guest room closet and tried on some of the clothes they found there. Gillian fits perfectly in her Aunt Julie's old high school Prom dresses. Seeing her in them breaks my heart and makes me smile at the same time. 

Looking at old photo albums and grandma's high school scrapbooks.

I always like to look at the family pictures my mom keeps on her shelves.
Baby Gillian and Mason are in the black & white picture. Weren't they cute?

Only Jon can get away with flashing gang signs with mom looking at him adoringly.
Ice cream at Josh and John's.
Uncle Jon discussing the fine points of street art with the next generation.
Leaving their mark on cousin Diana's office window. 
Visiting my 2nd cousin, children's book author Dian Curtis Regan.
When I got to my mom's and took my bags to my room I saw this sign in the guest room waiting to be hung up. I didn't realize it when I set out on my trip to Colorado, but these are some of the many things I'd been needing. My heart had been yearning for home and this is why.