Never Look a Gift Horse in the Shaft

horse

Pull up a chair, grab a snack, and get ready to enjoy a true story about our adventures while visiting our own heavenly haven, the Willard Hotel, in Washington, D.C. Our tale features six glasses of Malbec, extreme noise, ants, evening hallway prowls in our pajamas, missing luggage, imaginary gifts, a generous drunk guy in the hotel bar (which may be related to the six Malbecs), and a $40 invisible breakfast.

Before we begin, let me assure you that I know that you know that I know this is not a tale about real problems. I have had a few in my life, and these aren’t those.

We planned a beautiful Easter weekend visiting Son 1, with reservations at our favorite D.C. hotel. Last stay, we had some minor inconveniences, which resulted in a four star, rather than five star TripAdvisor review.

Well, when someone offers to make amends, I take them up on it. I contacted the Willard, and attached said review and the hotel’s response. We were offered an upgrade to a suite. Sweet! The regular rooms we stay in are large and luxurious, so this would be a real treat …

Upon check-in, the person at the front desk was hard-selling our suite, “best views” “wonderful room.” My Spidey senses were activated. We went to said suite, and, well, it was weird. It was a split-level configuration where you walk into the sitting room, then down a few steps to the sleeping area. It was large, and also dark and stark. Who cares, really. They gave us a bottle of wine (Washington State Cab, not some yellow-tailed, barefooty stuff) and a tray of delicious chocolates. Hubs walked down into the sleeping area and noticed a problem. We were not just “next to” the elevator, the bedroom actually wraps around the elevator shaft. It was noisy, but, that’s why God invented noise-cancelling phone apps.

Off to dinner with Son 1, then back “home” for a good night’s sleep after a long travel day. We turn on white noise, snuggle down, and … nope. You know that part in the movie Grease, when Cha Cha is getting ready to drop the flag for the drag race, and Danny and Craterface are revving their engines? Yeah, like that. Hubs calls down to front desk and talks to Mark. He tells us there are only two rooms left, no suites. Sure, we’ll take one. Please note: First time ever in Hags history we have requested a room change.

Sleepus interruptus is not my thing. It’s not as ugly as when I’m hangry, but it does invoke images of wet wasps. I rebelliously decide to stay in my jammies while transferring rooms. I did, however, don supportive undergear, I am not a savage!

Our second room was tiny, and weirdly arranged, with the television on one side of the bed, instead of by the foot, but this did allow Hubs to do his best representation of the old Burt Reynolds centerfold side pose, so there is that. We left the half-eaten chocolate treats in the first room, boo. We remembered to grab the wine, yay! A good night’s sleep was had by all.

The next morning we discussed moving back to a suite, as we were promised, but decided it was too much of a hassle, and we would stay. That is until I got out of the shower and finally put on my glasses. The ants go marching one by one, hurrah! The bathroom was teeming with the little guys. Now, I am a mountain girl, and critters don’t really bother me, but these weren’t  my ants, and I didn’t want them prancing around in my things.

So, we pack up everything again, leaving the luggage on the bed, and go back to the front desk to arrange for yet another room (3). We receive deep apologies from hotel personnel, with assurance that we will get another room, and the hotel will take care of moving our luggage.

A day of more sightseeing, then back to the good old Willard. We have a nice front desk chat with Mark, the guy we spoke to the previous evening, who switched us to the ant room (2). We tell him that the suite (1) we had would be fine if they put the sitting room next to the elevator, instead of the bedroom. He agreed, and said they had talked to engineering about this. So, they know the bedroom is a problem, and give us this suite anyway? I’m sure most suite guests, paying suite prices, would not be happy with this room, so they use it as a giveaway to placate the proletariats?

Anyway, he again apologizes, and wants to send up a bottle of wine to us. He asks our preference; red, white or bubbly. We choose white.

We are given our new room (3), and it is exactly the type of room we booked in the first place, the kind we always stay in; roomy, light, luxurious, wonderful. Except our promised luggage is nowhere to be found. We call down, and they have someone retrieve it from the ant room (2) and bring it up.

Out to dinner and … come back to room (3), no promised wine. No surprise. We did get a fruit bowl and a letter stating they were sorry for our issues, and would take $100 off our bill. Okay, that’s worth more than a bottle of wine. But it bothers me when someone promises something and then doesn’t follow through. I am crazily literal, so if someone says, “I will send you up a bottle of wine,” I think, “Hmm, they are sending up a bottle of wine.”

Or if they say we will be staying in a suite, and the first one wasn’t habitable, they would do everything in their power to give us another suite.

Easter! A full day of brunch, exploring, National Mall walking, people watching, then back to the hotel bar for a drink before dinner. It’s packed with Easter revelers who certainly fully embraced Sunday Funday, including a man who could barely stand, his shirt unbuttoned over his distended belly, tie askew, sweatily offering to buy drinks for everyone. No, thanks. Dinner is at Son 1’s favorite pizza place, then a final, peaceful sleep.

We leave our room Monday morning to check out. I forget to take the note offering the $100 credit with me. Hubs, the irritatingly eternal optimist, says, “We don’t need it, they’ll have it already on our bill.” I laughed and laughed. Well, of course they didn’t, but were quick to subtract the money when we mentioned it. Then we noticed a charge from the bar on Sunday night for six glasses of Malbec, while we were out eating pizza. Now I’m thinking perhaps Disheveled Man was generously buying drinks for all because we were actually buying the drinks. And everyone knows that Son 1 hates Malbec … They removed this charge.

A second scrutiny of the bill found a $40 breakfast charge, which we evidently enjoyed right before going out to brunch with Son 1. This was also removed. The rather flustered front desk agent mumbled something about, “It’s probably because you moved rooms so many times.” Oh, so sorry.

It was quite the escapade, and I frankly don’t really know how to process it all. I love the Willard, but was so shockingly disappointed. I might even give them a three star review on TripAdvisor, an extremely aggressive/negative rating for a Midwesterner like myself.

It also got me thinking. Every good story needs a moral. Perhaps the moral to this story is that upgrades, like fancy hotel suites, bigger houses, pricier sports cars or younger second wives, often turn out to be more trouble than they are worth. Perhaps the known, safe and comfy classic you know and love is really the best choice.

 

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Is That a Skunk?

“Good God, woman, you’re almost 80 years old.”

My mom was one of my favorite people, and I loved making her laugh … a lot. She was a bit vain, and did not wholly embrace the beauty of the aging process. Because of this, I always enjoyed rounding up and adding seven or eight or 12 years to her actual age. I reveled in catching her doing something somewhat age inappropriate, swooping in, taking a heavy wheelbarrow or the lawnmower away from her, and using the above sentence, when she was maybe 68.

It must be an inherited thing, as Son 1 always calls on my birthday, and taking advantage of my well-known math “skills,” usually is able to convince me, at least for a few minutes, that I am a year or two older than I actually am.

Last fall, I called him to wish him a “Happy 29th birthday” on his 28th. He didn’t get the joke, and logically assumed I just couldn’t do the math, even though he was nice enough to be born in 1990, making the calculation a bit easier for me.

So here I stand, on the cusp of 58, telling myself, “Good God, woman, you’re almost 65 years old.” This got me thinking … I have never been overly concerned about appearance, as I believe the most attractive parts of people are always on the inside, and they don’t diminish as we get wrinkly, stooped, grey, or perhaps a bit fluffy. I would not get any type of elective surgery to look “better,” I think Botox masks beauty, fat should be dealt with the old-fashioned diet and exercise way, and we should all embrace our life lines, wrinkles and scars. I also don’t care if you feel or act differently; you do you. Let’s all celebrate, in our own unique ways, where we are in our journeys.

So why I have been dying my hair so long I don’t even know what color it really is/was is a bit of an enigma. I guess, to me, and, let’s be honest, to society, grey equals “old,” and I didn’t want to go there. (Unless you are one of those millennials who dye their hair grey because you think it’s cool. Don’t worry, kids, someday you will have it naturally, if you are lucky enough to live that long.)

I know, I know, this follicular façade doesn’t support my stated life’s philosophy, so … I’m going “natural.”

My grey hair is a bit weird. It’s not fairy-sprinkled evenly throughout; it’s more like a yarmulke, which I guess makes sense now that I found out through a DNA test that I’m Jewish.  If I was really true to myself, I would just let things happen naturally, and struggle through the “skunk” phase until I get what I get.

Nope, I guess I really am a bit vain. I am going grey with help.  Being the rebel I am, I actually had more grey put into my hair, to accelerate the process and diminish the stripe of shame.

I also decided that, with only about one month left until beach vacation, I will just accept who I am, and maybe buy one of those skirted, “I’ve Just Given Up” swimsuits that Son 2 helpfully named and recommended.

 

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Can’t You Read the Sign?

ramp

My first dog in a string of furbabies was Sammie the Wonderlab. Unfortunately, she somehow didn’t get the “lab” memo. She hated other dogs, couldn’t swim, and frankly, wasn’t very bright. Oh, she did enjoy a few labbie things, like wading pools, playing in the sprinkler, and her personal favorite daily activity: running outside in the morning to retrieve our newspaper, and usually a few neighbors’ papers, as well.  Her second favorite activity was bounding through our electric fence to chase squirrels. She never learned the “come” command, so our neighbors would be continuously amused by me driving around in my soccer-mom van, door ajar, calling, “Sammie, CHEESE.” Don’t judge; it worked. I usually could round up Son 2 this way, as well.

As Sammie got older, her forays afield slowed as her arthritis progressed. Eventually we would let her out in the morning, help her down the stairs, walk her out to the newspaper, put it in her mouth and help her back inside, adaptivity at its finest.

Soon we realized, after carrying her 65 pound self down the deck stairs multiple times a day, that we needed a solution to help her still enjoy her own backyard. Hubs came up with the brilliant idea of building a ramp. Oh, it was a beauty! Edges so she wouldn’t slip off, artificial grass to prevent slippage, a gentle angle to ease the descent.

Hubs was justifiably proud … until we realized that no amount of cajoling or cheese curds would get that girl to use said ramp. Eventually she did partake of it, albeit while being snuggled safely in our arms. If we were not immediately accessible to her, she would choose the other set of stairs and tumble down them.

We now live in the Colorado mountains, Sammie is in heaven chasing squirrels and stealing newspapers, and HRH Lily is our constant canine companion. Lily is perhaps a smidge brighter than Sammie, but since she is afraid of plastic bags, the refrigerator and her reflection, I’m guessing she wouldn’t  use a ramp, either.

Recently I heard that the Colorado Department of Transportation is considering building an animal crossing over or under I-70. This is the main access to Colorado’s most popular ski areas, and along with rock slides, avalanches, blizzards and out-of-staters, wildlife/car collisions are an increasing problem. Some areas of Colorado have already built similar wildlife crossings. I tried to read the scientific data regarding their efficacy, but I got distracted thinking about the definition of ungulates vs. carnivores, and if there are any carnivorous ungulates … Basically my skimpy research seems to conclude that those who build them think they are peachy keen, and usage has a lot to do with how they are designed, the chances of human encounters, and accompanying fencing.

I do wonder how we get the animals to actually use these designated crossings. I can’t help thinking about poor Sammie and her rampway. Although she probably wasn’t in any way smarter than the average bear, I think her refusal to participate in the manmade easement is typical animal behavior.

Perhaps we could design snazzy signs to encourage animal participation and point them in the right direction? Employ a wave of friendly crossing guards? A social media blitz? T-shirts and other free stuff given to the first 500 ungulates to cross the road?

Call me crazy, but I think the money could be better spent by directing funds toward a light rail system to get folks safely off the roads and to the Summit County ski resorts. I’m sure the ungulates and carnivores would thank us.

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Home is Where the House Is

Funny American Black Bear_3

I’ve been off my blog for a few months. Usually this is a sign of stress, trauma, drama and a touch of seasonal depression. Yep. Two family deaths around the holidays, my darling father and wonderful father-in-law, just about wrecked me. (Father-in-law was actually a “step,” but since he served as a father figure to Hubs for as long as I have known him, the step is removed to honor the relationship and the man.) Weirdly, my dad’s death makes me miss my mom more deeply. Plus I am now officially an orphan, although at 57, it’s not quite as socially acceptable to feel sorry for oneself, and I don’t think anyone will likely adopt me.

So I slogged through, and, as usual, find myself peeking my head out on the other side. I have come to understand, in my maturity, that most years, viewed from the aggregate, are much the same. There are triumphs and tragedies, some years more eventful in good ways or bad, but time passes like the sea. It ebbs and flows, there are violent storms, and beautiful dawns, and treasures washed up at your feet, if you are smart enough to look for them.

Almost one year into our big move to Estes Park, Colorado, it does not yet feel completely like “home.” I miss some dear friends and family desperately, but I am content. I find myself having to become much more extroverted, joining groups and saying, “yes!” to many things I did not in my past. I think it’s probably a bit like the middle-aged dating some of my friends are suffering through. It can be a bit uncomfortable, but necessary if you don’t want to becoming a reclusive crazy cat lady. This week includes a group cooking class, a bit of work, and coffee with a new friend. I changed my email moniker to cherihagnauer2.0 for a reason!

Leaving your hometown of 56 years is a big change, and change is hard. But I wake up every day to the stunning views of the mountains, Hubs and Her Royal Highness Lily Dog by my side; one son lives only an hour and a handful away, and most people here (Estes Parkians? Estesites? Estesers? Estes Parkers?) are generally friendly and welcoming, if you make the effort. Rocky Mountain National Park is now my playground.

Other benefits to living in Estes Park:

Every day, in every way, going into the kitchen provides continual “snake in a can” moments of practical joke excitement. The altitude affects packaging of everything. Of course you expect the soda to spurt, and chip bags are so filled with extra air that we have learned to stab them before opening to avoid a confetti cannon of carbs. Meal preparation is always an adventure, as you open the cottage cheese container and get a dairy facial, or unleash Mt. Vesuvius as you release the cap on a bottle of salad dressing.

Estes has toughened me to the elements of nature. Chicagoans are babies. Windy City, my Aunt Fanny! Our winters consist of many nights of 40 m.p.h. winds, with gusts hurricaning in around 80 or so. Our deck grill is trussed up with bungee cords, and we keep our outdoor furniture mostly indoors. Lily often gives us her “You must be crazy!” look as we try to tempt her into the backyard for her last evening relief mission. Springtime has a different definition up here. Any day above 40 degrees, you will see the Estes kids cavorting on the playground in shorts and t-shirts. It’s also considered prime picnic weather. The reality that we are not always the highest on the food chain, and must be aware of mountain lions and bears (oh my!) is eye opening, as well.

I have observed that people are people, and small towns are small towns. Everything that happens in Estes Park happened in my old hometown of Kirkwood, Missouri. There are building and zoning issues, those pro and against the mayor and the council, the contrarians against everything faction, the change and grow because we can groups, and the don’t ever change anything brigade.  There are curmudgeons and crabs, the cool kids, and people so nice you can’t believe they are for real. There are the lifers who think the newcomers should have no say, and the newcomers who think the town they chose should now change to better fit their needs. There are the volunteers that keep the community running, and the sideliners who do nothing but complain.

I have come to realize that where one lives has its good and bad, funny and fractious, and it is really all about your view. My view from Estes is amazing, and my mission is to remember and appreciate it.

 

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My Life as a Sprinter

grandma2

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me innumerable times, shame on Hubs.

I love to travel. It excites and rejuvenates me, expanding both my knowledge and my waistline. It also allows me to experience the full range of my emotions, usually due to the airlines.

I am a salty/sweet type of person. I don’t think you can fully appreciate joy without sorrow, success without struggle, or holidays without travel woes. I can’t recall a foray out of the country where I have actually arrived when scheduled and gotten home when expected. Until this time … kind of …

We are travelling from Barcelona to London, then London to Denver. The first thing I do on a travel day is wake up and check the flight status. It’s 7 a.m. Barcelona time, our plane, coming in from London,  has not yet left, and is already scheduled to be a half hour late. Not panicked, as we have a two hour plus layover, plenty of time. We arrive at the airport, breeze through security and passport check, chuckling about what Hubs will answer when they ask him, “A donde va?” He’s been having a little language difficulty this trip, once even receiving a German menu!

No gate assigned yet, not a good sign. Oh, well. But true to their word, we board the plane just 30 minutes past schedule. Okay, I think we’re going to make it! Wait, the pilot has just come on to announce we will be at the gate another 35 minutes, as we lost our space in line when the plane arrived late (due to bad weather, which there was none). Okay, panic time. Son 2 insists he will get home today, even if he has to fly to Reykjavik, Ontario, Dallas, New York, Las Vegas then home. I am most upset because I have not done due diligence on where to stay and what to do in London.

We are finally in the air, and it now looks like we will have about 45 minutes to catch our next flight. We ask our flight attendant about gate information to see if it is possible. She says she cannot find out for us. Okay, thanks.

As soon as we land, we get on our phone and find out that we are arriving at gate 4, our next plane is gate 1, same terminal. Hurray! Feasible and maybe even likely? Our helpful flight attendant gives us our gate number we already knew as we deplaned, telling us it’s “right next door,” and we should make it! She forgot to mention we have to go through security again. We now have 30 minutes.

We run down the terminal and are stopped by an airline employee handing out orange priority security passes. She did not have us listed, as they assumed we would not make the connection. She gave us passes, anyway, to try. Hubs gets to security first, I get behind a group of tourists that somehow, even though we are at a transfer security point in the middle of the airport, have not ever in their lives encountered such a thing. What, I have to take off my belt? Oh, this wallet? Sorry. My phone? Okay. We wave Hubs on to run to the next gate, for if anyone is to charm personnel into holding the doors, it is Hubs. I wait for the congealment of tourists to ooze through, then gather my belongings.  I watch Son 2 get his usual extra screening due to his nefarious looks and threatening aura. He grabs his stuff and whooshes by, yelling, “See ya on the other side!”

I begin to run. And I don’t run. I have about five minutes left. Through the shops, down the long halls, dropping occasional naughty words and then … I see the gate, at the end of the long, long terminal,  I’m almost there, jiggling and jostling in my c-string bra, as I anticipated about 15 hours of sitting, not a half-mile sprint. I’m on the last moving sidewalk gauntlet and find myself  blocked by three cherubs playing ring-around- the-mommy. “Excuse me!” Nothing. “Scusa!” Nope.  “Perdon!” Nada. “Beep Beep!” That works.

Hubs, meanwhile, is watching the show while chatting with the gate agents. One asks, “Is she the one wearing black?” Um, it’s Europe, everyone is in black. “Well, she’s the one running,” he replies. Have you seen those good sportsmanship videos where someone comes and puts an arm around a faltering runner, pushing, pulling and dragging them across the finish line? That’s what Hubs does for me. Where is Son 2? Every man for himself; he is already ensconced in his seat on the plane, has been for quite some time.

All three make it! We are drenched in sweat, out of breath, laughing and high-fiving while tissuing off the rivulets of sweat. The head flight attendant comes on and says, “Welcome to your British Airways flight with non-stop service to Seattle.” Normally this would be funny, not today.

In conclusion, I must state that although British Airlines personnel sound so friendly and polite, with their cute little accents and English humor, the flight experience, as a whole, still sucked. Isn’t it possible that anywhere along the way, an employee could have radioed ahead that we were on our way? Called for a golf cart?  Any bit of help at all for a problem that was not ours in the making? I often wonder if airline employees just make people run for their own amusement. I would.

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Goodbye, Old Friend

skypond3

I had a nice, long visit with an old friend yesterday. I am not sure we will ever see each other again.

She has been with me throughout most of my life. She has always been challenging, and even a bit dangerous, which is probably why I am so attracted to her. Of course, as a child, I didn’t realize how associating with her could put me in jeopardy. After all, don’t we all think we are immortal when young?

It’s been about two years since I had last seen her. As usual, I went to great lengths, even a bit of pain, to spend more time with her.

You see, this old friend is one of my most personally challenging hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park… Sky Pond. It’s not the distance, (about 10 miles round trip) or even the elevation gain (1780 feet). The problem is the roadblock she has created, right after her first gauntlet, an endless stairway ever upwards, that has already zapped all possible energy and breath. Then you meet up with the waterfall. The only way to reach Sky Pond is to climb through it, over boulders just a bit too large for those vertically challenged. Add in a healthy dose of fear of heights with accompanying vertigo, and you have one heck of a panic soup.

Last time I climbed it, I had Hubs in front lending a helping hand, and a nice strong young man behind me (niece’s accommodating boyfriend) to catch me if (when) I fell. I don’t know why, but knowing if I fall, someone else will fall with me, is somehow comforting.

This time, it was only Hubs. Now this man is a mountain goat. He loves jumping from boulder to boulder, standing on precarious perches, and generally showing off. Hate him. I decided I would feel more confident if he lead the way, me following. This worked for approximately 10 feet, then I got stuck. I looked down, the fear took over, and I froze. I did not like the looks of his chosen path. I stood on a thin ledge, hugging a boulder. I wanted to go back down, but I couldn’t do that, either. I contemplated, and crabbed, for a good two minutes, until I saw people at the top of the waterfall waiting to come down. I had to move, as I blocked their descent. I sucked it up, moved a couple of feet more across the diminishing ledge, and made my way to a spot where I could pull myself up, with a big assist from my soon-to-be ex-husband.

We made our way carefully up and over. Yes! I can’t truly describe the feeling of exhilaration both in pushing your body to its limits and conquering your fears. I would have danced the last 1/4 mile to Sky Pond, but my legs were rubber.

I chuckle at the people who reach the first lake up from the waterfall, assume it is Sky Pond, and don’t continue. That’s Lake of Glass or Glass Lake, depending on who is describing it. Sky Pond is much more enchanting, mountains and spirals, a glacier, crisp, clear water rippling with trout, and weirdly, this year, a white buoy floating in the center?

skypond2

We made it! Too tired to eat much of the packed lunch, I lay down to rest, a bit concerned how I would get back up. Too soon, clouds rolled in and it was time to race the rain back down the mountain.

The brisk walk back to the waterfall was filled with fear. In my memories, the only thing scarier than climbing up the waterfall was going down. I don’t know why, maybe it was because I was so exhilarated/exhausted, but the journey back was not bad.

I did spend a good bit of the return trip down the waterfall on my rather cushy posterior, but hey, whatever works, a wet tushy is a small price to pay for a visit with my old friend.

Fear now gone, I was able to enjoy the trail on the way down. We heard pikas, saw a bird I had never seen before (white-crowned sparrow), and heard an elk bugle in the distance. Wildflowers are still blooming.  At one point, Hubs asked, “How are you doing, Fatty?” but luckily for him, before I could reply, I spied a chubby marmot he surely was addressing, hiding in his den, popping out now and then to view the tourists invading his home.

One of the perks of working at the Estes Park Visitor Center (even though I would name it the Estes Park Visitors’ Center, but that’s just me) is running into guests at places I have recommended. The night before the hike, a personable young man came in asking about Sky Pond. I gave him the information, and told him I would see him tomorrow on the trail. I jokingly asked if he would wait for me at the waterfall, as I could use his assistance.

Not to brag, but we were on our way down as he was coming up.  At first he did not recognize me, as I do look a bit different after a day of traumatic hiking rather than a few hours at work. I said, “I’m the lady from the Visitor Center,” and he grinned with recognition, perhaps a bit of shock, and gave me a high-five. “What, did you think I was too old to make it?” I asked. He pointed to his hiking companion, substantially older than I am, and said, “Nope!” We all had a good laugh.

The rain finally caught up with us, but we didn’t care. We both could use a little refresh. At the trailhead, a shuttle bus pulled up, already stuffed with passengers. I knew we would be standing and bus surfing for the ride down. I briefly thought there should be an algorithm created to confirm seat usage, something along the lines of age x distance hiked, but that’s math, so I had to stop.

Later that evening, after a good long soak in the hot tub, we found ourselves in bed. Okay, it was 9 p.m., don’t judge. As I was trying to grab the phone charger cord with my toes, (as I didn’t want to either bend over or get out of bed) I asked Hubs to get up and close the window. He replied, “No, not going to happen. But will you get up and turn on the fan?”  “No way,” I replied. We quickly dissolved into uncontrollable giggles and pronounced we were some kind of idiots to consistently try to exceed our physical and age limits yet again.

So Sky Pond, my old, dear friend, I am afraid I will not see you again. Until next year.

skypond1

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10 Things I Never Said …

mountain lion

Things are a bit different living in a small mountain town. There are mostly positives in my wonderful new hometown of Estes Park, Colorado, a few minor negatives, and some necessary lifestyle adjustments. One the plus side, I find myself saying rather surprising things, never once uttered on the paved pathways of suburban St. Louis, Missouri.

Here are my top 10 new utterances from my mountaintop hideaway:

  1. Sorry I’m late, I got caught in a turkey jam.
  2. I hope that’s the wind, and not a bear.
  3. Did you strap down the barbecue grill?
  4. Is that a bobcat or a mountain lion?
  5. 83 degrees? It is so HOT!
  6. Don’t step in the elk poop.
  7. It’s an easy walk, less than six miles.
  8. To get to our house, take the gravel road that looks like you’re driving off the side of the mountain.
  9. Is that a moose on our neighbor’s deck? (Yes, it was.)
  10. Did you remember to freeze the garbage? (Bears are drawn to trash like people to McDonalds. Like our love of fast food, the bears probably know it’s not good for them, but sometimes they can’t resist. They will break into garages, cars, houses, anywhere they smell enticing leftovers. We put our oddments in the freezer, and take them out on trash day, which is whatever day we decided to drive down to the town dump.)*

*Another reason I loves Estes? The town would like us all to call the dump by its official name, the Transfer Station.  No one does.

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