Leg #2 - CSM, Mom and a respite from the storm

After hugging Daddy goodbye, and stopping at the local kennel to pick up Lily, we headed out again. 

 Lily survived kennel #2, but was more than ready to jump back into the car with us and Rudy, her woobie toy that Mona sent with her when we bought her. We treat Rudy with respect since Lily has had him longer than us. We might have written our phone number on Rudy, just in case he gets left behind.....

Nice to be in country where we see coal trains again. They're becoming less and less frequent. Coal trains kept us housed and fed for CS's entire career. We're big fans of burning electricity!

Does anyone else look at old, decrepid farms and wonder about the lives lived out there? I can visualize some prairie woman hanging out laundry to dry in the hot wind, or children playing in the yard, dogs and cats and chickens scurrying about the yard. Then they're gone and this is all that's left behind. Every time I pass a place like this, I want to pull out the Little House on the Prairie books and reread them.

 I not only have no fear whatsoever of bridges, I absolutely love them! Love the lines of them, the people crossing back and forth so high up, the view one gets of rivers and valleys and such as you cross, and even considering the mechanical work that went into building them.

This 'M' is on the side of a mountain in Golden, Colorado where Cub Sweetheart went to college. He did not personally have to whitewash the 'M' as he was older than most of the other freshmen who were enrolled there, it being his second degree, but every time we see it, it feels like home to us. We're thankful for the great education he got at Colorado School of Mines. He's so modest, but I'm also proud of the fact that he graduated Mining Engineering Student of the Year and was given the Old Timer's Award. He won't brag, but I will. If you ask him what he did for a living, he'll usually answer 'I was a coal miner'. I love that about him.

What is not to love about this photo? Mountains, aspen just waiting to turn gold, and beautiful sculpture.

One of the buildings on the campus. I love that every time we're anywhere near, he drives me through and points out every building. I love his brainyness, but love his modesty more.

We spent two days with my Mom, separated out by a day with Don's family. Mom was surprised to see me, but knew me immediately, something I wasn't completely sure about. Her frame seemed to take up less space than I'm used to. Frail. But she was quick to smile, and when I was able to get her to talk about something that made us all laugh out loud, that moment was gold. The first day we just visited, she showed us around the place, and I got to meet her roommate, Elizabeth. We showed up with a slice of sweet, red watermelon, and I'm not sure if it was my face or that melon that made her smile bigger.

The next day we went to Estes Park with Don's family, and did not see a single elk - something Estes Park is famous for. It was warmer than usual, so we decided they must have headed back up to the hills. We did manage to eat lunch at a great restaurant, and sit outside for big ice cream cones while we people watched and spied a few last-remaining hummingbirds sipping nectar from the mountain flowers still blooming. I left feeling filled up with goodness, in spite of the lack of elk-sightings. Don's brother and sister-in-law gave us a much needed emotional break between visits with my mother. They fed us, housed us, poured us wine, lit the outdoor fire pit, and let us sleep in. Manna for our souls. Thank you Tim and Nola.

The next day we went back to see Mom again, and took her out for a drive around Red Rocks, near where she lives. She'd had lunch so we stopped for ice cream and some duck watching. Decisions were hard for her, and she wasn't able to eat as fast as the ice cream wanted to melt, but we had fun. Back at her place, we had an incident with her roommate and I was struck by how quickly someone with dementia can be confused, overwhelmed, and emotions can flare and a situation can go from okay to not so much. As we got ready to leave, she hung onto my hand, telling me she didn't want to let me go, didn't want to say goodbye, and it was about as hard as I expected it to be. But I assured her we'd see each again soon, and of course we'd talk. It is always, always, always so hard for me to look at those light blue eyes, filled with confusion, concern but more love, and say goodbye.

I'm wondering if I can find a way for the two of us to face-time, with the use of an iPad maybe? I know she'd do so much better talking to me if she could just see me, rather than try to talk into a phone. I'm going to work on that.

I tried to talk to her about past trips we'd taken, and she just could not remember them. But I do. I hope I will forever.

After three days of being in Denver and Golden, we again grabbed Lily from kennel #3 and headed out. This time we were headed to Grand Junction, via the mountains, via Glenwood, via that beautiful drive up and over that we so love. I was thankful for a part of a day to soak up the past two visits with my parents, have some time to regroup before we would arrive at the door of our next stop.

Next up: leg #3, driving through the beautiful mountains of western Colorado, and on into Utah. 


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