Monday, October 16, 2006

Mishaps, Mountains, & Memories (Part I)

“Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.”
~ Psalm 90:1,2 (NKJV)

Last week Keen and I took a road trip to Colorado to check out the area where we plan to host the Van Kirk Family Reunion next summer.
The month leading up to our vacation had been incredibly busy for Keen, so we were both looking forward to the well-timed trip. The day before we left, Keen sent me this note via email: (My response follows.)

Eileen: I left this morning without telling you that I love you. I think about you so much during the day. I am so happy, so satisfied, so glad that you love me. I am so excited about being with you for a whole week. I just couldn’t get started today without writing you a note this morning.

Have a great day!



Dear Keen,

You have no idea what your note meant to me this morning. I had a terrible dream; a frightening dream. So when I got up, I was hoping to find a note from you. I looked all over the house – in the bathroom and the kitchen. Then I turned on my computer and I could hardly believe my eyes. A note from the love of my life, my cherished husband of 28 years with the subject line: "I love you!" Has God blessed us with a wonderful union or what?

I love you, too, Keen, and I am pinching myself that we will be together - on a real vacation - for seven whole days. Rain or shine - I know it will be sublime, because I'll be with you and you'll be with me.

I love you, Keen.


After packing our suitcases and tying up several loose ends, we loaded our bicycles on the back of the Durango and began our long trek to Colorado. Along the way we passed the time by listening to the Kansas State Wildcats 31-27 win over Oklahoma State. After eating dinner at a truck stop where the food didn’t look anything like the pictures on the menu, we decided to take a “shorter” route to our destination, which left us out in the middle of nowhere by nightfall. We kept driving and driving, thinking that we would come upon a town with a population greater than 25, but that didn’t happen for much longer than we anticipated. So then we just started acting goofy and laughing while we sang off-key to the music on the radio. But Keen got the biggest laugh of the night at my expense. We were holding hands and be-bopping to the music when, without thinking, I decided to lean over and give Keen a kiss on his hand while it was still “be-bopping." This resulted in one or both of us effectively punching me right in the nose!

We finally reached civilization in Colorado Springs and checked into a hotel. Our second mishap occurred the next morning when I stepped out of the passenger seat and my digital camera fell off my lap and crashed on the ground. After examining the damage, we discovered that the most important feature of the camera still seemed to be operational. However, I could no longer view the pictures after I took them to verify whether it was really working or not. So I just kept taking pictures like normal, hoping that the clicking sound I heard meant that the picture actually took.

Our next stop was the Royal Gorge Canyon and Bridge in Cañon City, Colorado. The Royal Gorge Bridge is the highest suspension bridge in the world. Since Keen and I decided not to walk the quarter-mile bridge over the canyon, I just took some pictures of it from a distance.

Then we headed for our next destination – Mt. Princeton Hot Springs Resort in Nathrop, Colorado, which is where we plan to hold the family reunion. The resort is located halfway between Salida and Buena Vista, nestled in the majestic Sangre de Cristo Mountains near the San Isabel National Forest. Keen and I discovered Mt. Princeton last summer when we were on our way home from visiting my stepmom. That’s when Colorado became our second favorite state.

After checking into our cabin, we grabbed our walking sticks and set out to take our first hike in the mountains. We ended up on the Colorado Trail just up the road from Mt. Princeton and directly across from the beautiful Chalk Cliffs. There was a slight drizzle, but we didn’t let it stop us, although we did notice the difference in altitude as we both ran out of breath rather quickly. On the drive back we were excited to spot a large group of deer on the side of the road. They don’t dart away like they do in Kansas, so it was fun to be able to take lots of pictures from our vehicle.

Lastly, we stopped at the Chalk Creek falls and snapped a few more photos.

The next morning it was still raining, but Keen was merciless. “It’s no hill for a climber!” he said. So we bundled up and headed out for a bike ride in the rain. The ride downhill was a blast as we sailed like the wind, but the trip back up was sheer agony.

“Look at everything as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time. Then your time on earth will be filled with glory."

~ Betty Smith

To be continued . . .