Thursday, June 14

Mama Kat Prompt Day: The Trip to Colorado

Today's prompt is:
"Share a lesson you learned from your Father that still sticks with you to this day."

   Set the way-back machine for the early 70's. Make me about 16 and my sisters 13 and 10ish respectively. It's summer and our parents have decided we're taking a two week driving and camping trip to Durango, Colorado to ride the narrow-gauge train to the historic mining town of Silverton. My Dad asks me to plan our camping stops from Indiana to Durango!  
     I'd never been entrusted with such an important mission before!
     I remember scouring over the road-atlas maps, calculating the mileage and driving time, then selecting State Parks at the appropriate stopping points. The neat thing was, my Dad used my plan. The places I picked, were the places we stopped. I distinctly remember choosing a park in Iowa and very likely also selected the The Great Dunes National Park, which was on the way to Durango.
We only stayed one night at the Great Dunes, but it stands out in my memory as spectacular. It's this giant pile of sand with an ankle deep, icy cold stream separating it from the campground. It's so big, people look like tiny stick figures on it and the sand slides back with every step, so you never feel like your making any upwards progress!
     We left Dunes in the morning and a few hours later, arrived in Durango, where we camped outside of town. I don't remember if I planned the trip back---things didn't go the way my folks hoped with train ride, so the trip back evolved into a different plan!

      We did get on the train, but we didn't make it to Silverton. Our engine broke down about half-way and we were stuck. For hours. That train in the picture is going back down to Durango---and our train was going up. I know this because I remember  that sheer-drop view of the river being on the right and the solid cliff wall, on the left. So, here we were, multiple cars full of people, stuck on a side of a mountain. No where to go and nothing to eat or drink. None of us anticipated we should've packed snacks. We were supposed to eat lunch at Silverton, had we reached it. Neither was the snack car prepared---their meager supply of rather pricey candy bars and soda-pop was snapped up in a wink. Of course, they informed us we were waiting for the other train to come fetch us and tow us back down. It was a terribly boring wait, aside from the brief amusement of a high school class in our car deciding they wanted to make a home-movie of a train-robbery with their 8mm camera, which we all went along with, arms raised, the works. Eventually, the other train did arrive and dragged us back down to Durango, so we never did make it to Silverton!

     The train company did offer us rain-check tickets for a couple days later, but---unfortunately, our vacation was strictly a cash business and my folks couldn't afford to wait around to do that. It just wasn't in the budget. So, the next day we packed up and traveled on to another fascinating National Park just a bit further west of Durango called Mesa Verde, ancient home of Indian cliff-dwellers.
      We stayed there one night, then headed back to Indiana via northern New Mexico and Texas. I distinctly remember the campground in Texas. It had the nastiest hard water I'd ever put in my mouth! It tasted sort of---oily. Go figure.

      We got home okay, albeit slightly dissatisfied that we never got to see Silverton, and the fantastic places we saw, like Dunes and Mesa Verde stand in my memory, but most of all, I remember my Dad trusting me to plan our camping stops! It's not so much that he taught me how to plan as he had the insight to recognize I had the ability to organize such details that makes it a special memory!



1 comment:

Jennifer Worrell said...

What a cool dad to create such a wonderful experience for you! Great post!

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