Colorado Or Bust: Day 5
Colorado or Bust! Loading up the ‘ol Family Truckster to drive 16 hours there, 16 hours back, for a grand total of 32 hours in the car with three small children. Will we survive?
Day 5….better known as the day that I begin to research permanent birth control. It started off fine. We had settled into a pleasant morning routine of coffee, cozy fires, and cinnamon rolls. We were up even earlier than usual this morning, as we had to catch a train. A cog train. A train that would carry us 14,000 feet to the summit of Pike’s Peak, inspiration for “America the Beautiful”.
We had originally planned on driving Pike’s Peak Highway up to the summit, only to be asked by many people, “Are you crazy?!”. The reactions should have tipped us off, but we decided to look into it ourselves. Reading that the hour long drive was a two-lane highway sans guardrail was the clincher. Cog Train, here we come!
We drove into the train depot in Manitou Springs with the morning sun at our backs, excited to begin our adventure. Until, of course, the girls had to potty. And so did Skunkarella (L’s new skunk friend that travelled with us EVERYWHERE since her purchase). I assumed that TL (my husband) and A would wait for us outside of the bathrooms….but no. We came out, Skunkarella in tow, to find my husband and youngest daughter missing. We searched the bathrooms. We searched the gift shop. We searched the sidewalk in front of the train.
They had vanished.
My catastrophic mindset went into overdrive. Were they abducted by backwoods mountaineers a la “Deliverance”? Had they accidentally stepped in front of a train? Had a bear attacked? WHERE WERE THEY!?!?!?!
It turns out that they were in the coffee shop. Buying me coffee. Still, I was annoyed for undergoing an unnecessary panic attack (though to be fair, most of my panic attacks are unnecessary) and felt churlish towards TL. This was exacerbated by the fact that I, being the type “A”, Monica from “Friends” kind of gal that I am, like to be early. To everything. Including trains.
TL is of the mind set that the less time that we had to spend on a small train with our three small children, the better.
In hind sight, he was probably right. However, I insisted on getting on the train at the earliest possible chance to ensure that we would not be left behind. The big girls and I boarded, while TL and A played around the depot. Another panic attacked ensued, with visions of L, C, and I riding to Pike’s Peak by ourselves while the other half of our family was left abandoned in a train depot. And what’s worse, that was the half that had the camera!
But I needn’t have worried. Shortly before the train whistle blew, TL and A boarded the train. TL plopped into the seat with a smug, “I told you so” grin that did not improve my mood.
Finally, we were off! Wearing hats and cozy winter clothes, we left our windows open to breathe in the cool mountain air. The tour guide began her schpiel, and we began our descent.
And that’s where the trouble began.
L and C were content to look at the scenery for the first few minutes, but then boredom set in. Being the overly prepared person that I strive to be, I delved into my backpack for the sticker books that I had packed. They quickly and happily set to work.
And then A started.
Whining. Crying. Fussing. Generally being discontent.
I read a book to her. Which she threw. I got out a coloring book for her. Which she threw. I got out a Leapster for her. Which she threw. I got a snack for her. Which she threw. As a last resort I took out my iPhone and played an episode of “Mickey Mouse”, which she loves.
Which she threw.
And then the crying REALLY began. She writhed and twisted in my lap, screeching. It was like trying to hold onto an ornery octopus. I passed her to TL in exasperation, but she was having none of it. The second her bottom left my lap, the wails of “Mama” began in earnest. The childless passengers to our right were beginning to stare.
I took her back and tried to interest her in our surroundings, singing songs about choo choos and what not, but she was not having it. Not. One. Bit.
And so this continued. For over an hour. Up 14,000 feet.
We finally arrived at the Summit with relief. We piled out of the train as quickly as possible, ready to escape it’s confines. We stood in line to take our picture with the Summit sign, and then began to explore. The girls were happy, because there was an abundance of rocks at the top of the mountain to play with and collect (they like rocks). Mama was not, because of the abundance of un-guarded drop offs. Mama wasn’t having it. Not. One. Bit.
Still, I figured that with one hand firmly on A, we could let the other girls stand about twenty feet away from the drop off without me going into total panic mode. TL disagreed – he thought that going a little closer for pictures would be fine. This led to further churlish behavior on the part of yours truly, who could not get the picture of my sweet little babies plummeting to the earth below out of my brain. Suffice it to say, drama ensued. We were no longer speaking to each other by the time we went inside the shop to buy hot chocolate and high-altitude doughnuts.
The hot chocolate and doughnuts were tasty, but C was displeased because they did not have chocolate doughnuts . And she let that displeasure be known. Loudly.
In exasperation I took the girls to wander the shop, and took my aggression out on my husband by purchasing an eight dollar magnet.
All too soon it was time to get back on the train, and we began our descent. A was crying. L and C were bored. TL and I weren’t speaking.
About five minutes away from the station, A got happy. She looked out the windows, she flirted with passengers. She morphed back into the sweet baby that I know her to be. TL and I nodded at each other, silently agreeing to a truce.
We drove back “home” in silence, and decided to take a detour to the town of Green Mountain Falls. There’s not much there beside a gorgeous park and a FANTASTIC restaurant called “The Pantry”. They’re known for their cinnamon raisin bread and cinnamon roll French toast, so how could we go wrong? TL opted for the cinnamon roll French toast, which was amazing, but I opted for the green chili burger – because I refused to leave Colorado without eating as much green chili as possible.
And with that, peace was restored to our family. We climbed a mountain with three small children. And we survived.
Up next is Day 6, where we have a close encounter of the chipmunk kind, a zoo trip, and become witnesses for at least two drug deals. Stay tuned!