We made it back from a very… “not as expected” trip to Colorado. Let me start at the beginning…
We left Corvallis at 3:45am (yes, 3:45) on Monday and drove up to Portland to catch our 7:30am flight.
Everything was easy peasy at the airport and we made it to our connecting flight in Salt Lake City without a hitch. From Salt Lake City, we flew in to Denver and hopped on the Colorado Mountain Express to Frisco. The CME is basically just a shuttle from the airport to the mountains. You can imagine that in poor weather, it is absolutely a godsend.
Once we made it to Frisco after about an hour and a half in the shuttle, Steve’s brother Jeff picked us up and we headed in to Breckenridge, where Jeff works, so Jeff could finish up work for the day. In the meantime, Steve and I wandered around Breck (one of my favorite Colorado places) enjoying the snow and the shops.
We were pretty much exhausted at this point. When Jeff finished work, he drove us from Breckenridge to Fairplay, a small town about 30 minutes outside Breck. Fun fact: Fairplay’s other name is South Park and it was the inspiration for a certain TV show… I bet you can’t guess which one! 🙂
Jeff dropped us off at Steve’s mom, Marlene’s house where we said our hellos and then set off to Steve’s Grandma’s house to pick up her air mattress. Now, here’s where we veer from the plan a bit…
Steve’s Grandma was diagnosed with cancer about a year and a half ago. I had met her three times before and she was about the sweetest woman you could ever meet. She was truly a quintessential Grandma with the kisses and hugs and baking. Steve had spoken to her on the phone about a week before we came out and said that she seemed very aware, just tired. When we arrived at her house, she was doing much worse than any of us expected. I guess her health had really taken a turn for the worse over the past few days. It was really difficult to see her like that. She did manage to wake up to see Steve, but it was all very heart breaking. After we collected ourselves, we went back to Marlene’s house and just passed out from exhaustion.
Tuesday morning we woke up very excited to see Steve’s nephews. Nathan will be two in April and Erik is about 11 weeks old. The last time we saw Nate, he was pulling himself around on his belly and was quite an expert at pointing. This was the first time we had seen Erik, except in photos. Steve quickly got over his baby shyness and spent about 2 hours playing with Nathan. I think he is officially dubbed “cool Uncle Steve”. For as many times as Steve has told me that kids are just “alright”, he was pretty darn infatuated with Nate and was quite a pro at holding Erik, if I may say so. I used to work at a preschool so I have seen all sorts of kids from the ones that I swear are devil-spawn to the ones that I just want to steal, and Nate and Erik are seriously two of the sweetest, most well-behaved kids I have ever met. Not to mention that they are freaking adorable.
We reluctantly left the scene of the cuteness in the name of Christmas shopping. Don’t tell Nate and Erik, but they are getting a basketball hoop for Christmas… *shh!*
After eating diner at Eric’s in Breckenridge, which is a totally bomb pizza place that I somehow managed to get zero photos of, we went to visit Steve’s Grandma again. She seemed to be doing a little bit better, but still not very well. She wasn’t able to talk, but both Steve and I were able to give her our love and kisses before she fell asleep. Afterward we came home and settled on to the couch to watch Inception. Steve and I saw it in theaters, but Marlene hadn’t seen it yet. If you have only seen it once, I would definitely recommend seeing it again! We picked up so many little nuances that we didn’t catch the first time around!
On Wednesday morning, Steve and I woke up bright and early to head back out to Breck to meet up with Jeff. Jeff runs a rental shop at the base of the slopes and we usually take one day to go snowboarding, or, in my case, fall on my butt repeatedly. I opted out of butt-falling this time because of my knee problems. I know that one wrong twist of the board and I will be off my knee for another two months. No thanks! Instead, I walked around Breck finishing up Christmas shopping and then, when it got too cold, sitting in Starbucks reading.
At around 1:00, I got a call from Steve saying that his he had just found out that his Grandma had just passed away. I think everyone was ready for it, but it wasn’t any less gut-wrenching. I really wish I had been able to get to know her better, but in the four times I met her, she treated me with so much love and she was filled with so much joy. She will be dearly missed.
When we got the call, we raced back to Fairplay. Marlene runs a day-care business and she needed Steve and I to watch the kids while she went and took care of affairs with the coroner. It is really tough to watch 8 kids when you only know two of their names (Nate and Erik). We managed to control the chaos, though. A major shout out to my lovely boyfriend who continues to surprise me with how good he is with kids. Does anyone else out there melt a little when you see your boyfriend/fiance/hubby play with kids? It just made my heart want to explode. I spent the whole time holding baby Erik, smelling his sweet baby smell, plotting ways to steal him, and successfully changing a diaper.
If you have ever lost someone due to a lengthy illness, maybe you know the feeling of… well, really it is almost relief. My Grandma died of Alzheimer’s, my Grandpa of Lou Gehrig’s disease, and my other Grandpa of persistent health problems. In the case of all of them, watching them suffer was so horrible that by the time we actually lost them, it was truly a relief. No one wants to see someone you love suffer when there is nothing you can do about it. No one. We all spent the rest of the day is a state of relief knowing that she was no longer suffering and that she was at peace.
We passed out pretty early again and woke up on Thursday feeling quite refreshed. Marlene really wanted to go soak in the hot springs and Steve was game was I have been have a “vacation stomach ache”. You know, it’s when your food and exercise and sleep and everything gets thrown off of schedule and your body rebels. I feel like everyone has experienced this at one point or another! I decided to stay behind and work on feeling better while they went to the hot springs. I ended up having a very nice afternoon attempting to bake cookies at 10,000 feet. It is not easy. The cookies I made are normally fluffy and chewy, but here they ended up crunchy and flat. It’s kind of frustrating, but hey, what can you do? I also ran a mile barefoot on the treadmill, which felt really nice. I didn’t want to go much further due to the complete lack of oxygen up here. I also spent the vast majority of the afternoon cuddling with Figaro and missing my little kitten child.
We spent the evening visiting with Steve’s Uncles and watching The A-Team, which was actually really good! Go rent it!
On Friday morning we woke up nice and early and drove in to Breck for breakfast before we caught the CME back to Denver. The rest of the day was completely uneventful, consisting of flying and driving… until we got home. When we finally made it to our front door at 9pm, we realized that Steve’s house keys had fallen out of his pocket at his Mom’s house… in Colorado. So, feeling completely exhausted and just wanting to go home, we made the 25 minute drive out to our petsitter’s house to pick up the key we had given her. We finally made it home around 10:30pm, crammed food in to our faces and passed out.
It was an… interesting trip, to say the least. I am incredibly happy to be home! Now it’s time to go run a ton of errands because we are having a very special visitor tomorrow 🙂