My family took a great vacation when I was 6 that is one of the greatest memories I have from my childhood. My brother was still pretty young and my Granny took care of him while my mom, dad and I went to Colorado. Intially, the plan was to drive all the way to the redwoods in California but by the time we hit Colorado, my mom was anxious to get out of the van and I probably was too. I just can’t get over them thinking they could drive all the way to Northern California from Texas and back in a week.
Funny what we remember and what we don’t. I remember entering Hot Springs,CO as if it only happened yesterday. There is nothing signifigant about this memory but for one reason or the other I can still hear Achey Breakey Heart by Billy Ray Cyrus coming on the radio. I was laying in the floor of the van, singing along while my parent’s discussed stopping at a hot spring and leaving me in the van while they soaked.
We always camped on vacations and putting up the tent was always a long bickering process involving my parent’s. I had learned at a very early age to disappear when the tent was being errected but to reappear when it was time to secure the tent with the stakes in the bottom loops. That was considered my job. I’m not sure exactly where we camped but pretty positive it was a campground near the Rockie Mountains. There were awesome trails to hike.
My mom and dad took me on a hike together and there are lots of pictures from that adventure but the hike that I actually remember has no pictures. My dad woke up before the sun came up and was slipping out of the tent when I sat up and asked him where he was going. He told me “shhh” and motioned with his hand for me to come. This was a secret adventure!
We walked hand in hand out of the camp ground towards one of the trails. By this time the sun was coming up but the trees were tall and thick and it was dark under their cover. He carefully pointed his flash light on the path and we slowly made our way a long. Little by little you would catch glimpses of the sleepy sun peeking through the tree branches. My dad pointed at the shadows the sun was casting on the ground. He pointed up in the trees at the birds and told me what kind they were. He stopped me in mid step and told me to be very quiet and listen. Somewhere close you could hear branches breaking and even though I didn’t know what animal it was I felt safe with my dad and I knew that we were not alone in those woods.
He picked up pretty rocks and told me what kind they were, if he didn’t the know the name of the rock he would tell me “Looks like a metamorphic rock of some sort” and when I asked what metamorphic meant he carefully explained how rocks are created.
His vision was excellent. He could spot a lizard hiding in moss on a tree from 500 yards back it seemed. He would point and ask do you see it? I didn’t wear glasses yet and couldn’t ever see what he was pointing at until I was right on top of it.
That hike is one of the sweetest memories I have with my dad and it has always reassured me that deep down he has a good heart.
When the hike was over, we began to head back to the campsite. He has a great sense of direction so we abandoned the trail for a short cut through the woods. He pulled apart the branches for me to pass through, he lifted me over the thorn bushes and eventually we could see colorful tents on the other side of the trees. He noticed something covered with dead leaves and it was a pair of these huge tacky purple sunglasses. He handed them to me, (naturally) and I strolled back to our campsite with a treasure from the forest adorning my face and protecting my eyes from the gentle morning sun.
When we got back to camp, mom was up. She was at the picnic table drinking her coffee. She smiled at me with my silly sunglasses. “You guys want some breakfast?” I wanted scrambled eggs like always and my dad decided that morning, there with the little propane stovetop and the cast iron skillet was an excellent time for me to learn how to cook.
He turned on the burner and instructed me that an adult always did that part. Never to touch it. Next came the butter and in about 10 minutes I was standing there hand on one hip, spatchula in the other with my big tacky purple sunglasses scrambeling eggs. There is a picture of this at my mom’s house and everytime I come across it, I remember the day that in my father-daughter history book was one of the best days of my life.