Friday, September 27, 2013

Somehow, it wasn't a total disaster, or, how I paid $98 for two stickers for my kids

Last month we went on our final camping trip of the summer.  We went to a place called State Forest State Park, up in the north-central part of the state.  It's a very rugged part of the state, with jagged peaks and moose and lakes full of fish. 

Because we're us, the trip, like every other camping trip we've taken this summer, started out disastrously.

The drive is beautiful, taking you through truly rocky mountains.*

Everything was fine until about a minute before we pulled into our campsite, when it clouded up and started to drizzle.  As soon as we got there, J and I quickly set to work setting up the tent in the rain, which was falling harder and harder with every passing minute.  By the time we were done, it was pouring.  "Torrential downpour" seems like such an overused term, but truly, nothing else describes it.  Plus it was thundering and lightening.  We sat for about 10 minutes in the tent, but there was no sign of any abatement in the storm.  Water was getting into the tent because the wind was whipping so hard, we were already soaked from the tent-assembly process, and it was dinnertime.  We had no fire, and thus no food.

I said, "this is crazy.  Let's drive up to the next town and get some dinner.  Maybe after a while the rain will ease up."

We drove to Walden and had burgers (me and J), grilled cheese (the kids), and wine (me) at the Moose Creek Cafe (it's very moose-y up there).

J and Zeke hug it out at dinner. 
It was still raining buckets by the time it was getting dark.

"Motel?"  I offered to J.


So we slept the night at a local inn that looked like a log cabin and offered us 2 bedrooms and a kitchen for $79. We enjoyed hot showers and watched some TV and the kids bounced on the beds and giggled.

We went back to the campsite the next day and found the tent to have a little bit of water in it, but nothing terrible.  We proceeded to have a lovely day doing camp-y things.

We checked out a wildlife preserve.

We went to the Moose Visitor Center.

We aired out the tent and its contents.

 We built a fire.

 There was a little amphitheater near our site, so the kids put on a show.

We saw an eagle.

We went exploring in the woods.

We found a beautiful lake.

Zeke made a friend who let him help with some fishing.

Muscles were flexed.

Jagged peaks were admired.

This part of the Rockies is famous for its wildlife, so we were hoping to see some moose.  The campsite host told us that the best time to look was right around dusk, and told us some of the spots where they tend to be seen.  He warned us, though, that they tend to keep to themselves and it's not unusual to go looking for them and come up empty.

Well, we hadn't made it 5 minutes up the road when we saw some hanging out in a field.

 Pretty freaking cool.  And then the next morning, J and I were up before the kids and enjoying a cup of coffee when we spotted another one in a meadow right near our campsite.

It was magical.

We had some stuff to do back in Denver, so we packed up early and hit the road (it was about a 3 hour drive).  I drove.  The bulk of the drive is spent on a county road winding through the mountains until you hit the interstate, and the posted speed limit is 40.  On parts of the road, you really need to go slowly because of the steep turns, but on other parts, driving that slowly was painful to me.  I bragged to J about how I hadn't gotten a speeding ticket in over 20 years.

And then was pulled over for speeding.

The cop was really nice, and I fully admitted that I had been going too fast, and apologized.  He chatted with the kids and then wrote me a ticket for a full 15 MPH slower than I was going, so I wouldn't get too many points on my license.  My fine would be $98. I thanked him, and he asked if the kids wanted some stickers.  I said, "sure, who doesn't love a sticker?"

J pointed out that since we were getting two of them, it was only $49 apiece.  We told that to the cop and he cracked up, and then we all went on our way (at the speed limit).

The stickers are now displayed on our fridge, reminders of a lovely weekend that could have been a fiasco, but somehow wasn't.

*This road is actually now closed due to damage from the recent flooding.  :(

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