Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Less Is More

We learned an important lesson on our first full day in Colorado: oftentimes less is more. Let me explain...we woke to a beautiful morning and were still grappling with how to spend our next few hours. We had rock climbing scheduled with a local friend at 2 p.m., so we had six hours. Since this was Tim and the boys' first visit to Colorado Springs, we felt compelled to visit the iconic Pikes Peak. I don't think any of us really cared about going (given our indecision about whether to drive to the top or ride the Cog Railroad), but we were in Colorado Springs, so it felt like a must.

We rushed to the railroad and barely made the train before departure, even bantering back and forth as we bought the tickets whether this was something we really wanted to do. We got aboard, though, and within minutes of the climb, I think Tim and I both realized we had made a mistake. Seth looked utterly bored, and Reed looked sleepy. Once you're on your way to the top, however, you're committed.

We reached Pikes Peak to discover the incredible views but also to find that the altitude did not agree with the boys. We found a table inside the snack bar/souvenir shop where they could rest while Tim trudge through snow and ice to enjoy the sight. As our twenty minute stop ticked by every so slowly, the boys felt increasingly worse and...let's just say, Seth's souvenir t-shirt would read, "I puked on Pikes Peak."

Poor guy. We returned to the train to wait it out, and once we began our descent, both boys fell asleep in our laps and earned the compassionate looks of our fellow passengers.

Thankfully we walked away from Pikes Peak with a valuable takeaway for the rest of our vacation (and for vacations to come): Less Is More. Sure, we came to Colorado to explore and adventure together. But we also came in need of rest, restoration, peace, and quiet. We needed to allow room for "Ahhhh..." in all of the adventure. So, we loosened the reins for the rest of the week. We moved out of desire instead of duty and curiosity rather than compulsion. I believe this change made all of the difference in the week that we enjoyed.

While we still saw a lot and did a lot on our trip, something in our spirits settled and we experienced the trip as a gift rather than something of our own making. And what an extraordinary gift it was!

On Monday afternoon the boys had fully recovered from their Pikes Peak trauma and were ready to climb some lesser heights. Our friend Alex took us to CityRock, an indoor climbing center in Colorado Springs, where we each scaled some of the highest indoor climbing walls in the state. Here you can see Tim belay Seth (orange shirt on the wall) while Reed (green shirt) watches.

On Tuesday we spent our morning at the Garden of the Gods. These stunning rock formations are situated in a rich landscape that are a feast for the eyes. We meandered along the pathways, explored the rocks, and enjoyed the coolness of the mountain air on an overcast day. After we left Garden of the Gods, we drove south out of Colorado Springs headed to the Great Sand Dunes National Park.

We reached the dunes that afternoon and were awestruck by their beauty nestled in front of the stunning Sangre de Christo mountain range. This 30-square-mile stretch of sand boasts the largest dunes in North America. Once you park your vehicle, you set off across a stretch of sand and keep walking. Of course, there are no trails, so in the distance you can see tiny specks on the dunes...hikers further on their journey.

Reed and I quickly shed our shoes to help us trudge through the sand, and the boys were the first to resort to their hands and knees climbing higher and higher on the dunes. We never made it to the top of the highest (it's about a 2-3 hour climb), but we made it high enough for the boys to run, roll, slip, and slide. It's safe to say we had sand in every pocket, fold, crack, and crevice, but it was a great time.

Tuesday night we ended our day in the small town of Alamosa, where the boys enjoyed an indoor pool at our hotel. I'm sure they left more than their share of sand behind! By the time we tucked in that night, any thoughts of Pikes Peak felt like a distant memory.

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