Anyway a long time ago, Nathan's parents told us that since they weren't going to have the opportunity to use their time share this season, they wanted to offer it to us for our 10th anniversary. We were blown away and so thankful right off the bat. We had been trying to be good sports about the fact that on our first honeymoon to Curacao, we had promised each other we would return there for our 10 year anniversary, having no idea that we would be in a time of transition and doing our best to eek out as much as we can from loans. Of course, I'm not complaining because we are very fortunate in so many ways. We were able to just laugh it off mostly but it was just a really wonderful treat to be able to accept such a generous gift and spoil ourselves this year. Not only did they offer their time share, but they also offered to come to OUR apartment while we were gone and watch OUR kids for us. Amazing. I still can't get over it and am not sure I'll ever be able to adequately thank them for what they did for us.
Nathan and I planned the trip to Steamboat Springs, CO together, but he had been telling me for a couple of weeks that there was a surprise in store for me on the way there. I think I can honestly say that the only time I've been fully surprised was when Zoe was born and I was convinced a doctor had "given away" the fact that the baby was a boy. I had wanted to be surprised so badly and when she "let it slip" a week before I gave birth, I cried harder than I'd ever cried in my whole life. I'd half heartedly told myself to believe the doctor when she said she really didn't know and had just said "he" because that's what she tends to say....I didn't really buy it deep down. I had dreamed of having a daughter my whole life and at the time thought this was my only shot at it. During the pregnancy, I didn't feel like I "knew" she was a girl, but once in a while I'd get vague flashes of walking along holding hands with a little girl...braiding hair....of course, that probably had more to do with the fact that I WANTED a girl but still...I had hoped it was intuition...I wasn't disappointed to be having a boy, but...well, you know. So, when I gave birth and found out the baby was a girl? Man, so so awesome. We didn't find out beforehand whether Owen was a boy or a girl but I had felt strongly that he was a boy so I didn't feel as shocked.
So, when Nathan first told me there was a "big surprise" and that I'd "never guess" what it was well, of course I had to start doing some research to see if I could figure it out (this is why I'm never surprised...I can't just let it be--have to think of every single possibility so that when the surprise is revealed I've inevitably considered the possibility in my head already). Then finally, for the first time in my life I think, told myself to stop trying to figure it out and just let it be a surprise. So I somehow mostly put it out of my head (enough to stop obsessing about figuring it out anyway) and let the day of our departure come. We started driving towards Denver and Nathan finally told me that we were going to.....the Becoming Van Gogh exibition at the Denver Art Museum! Such a great surprise for me. I love Van Gogh and although we didn't spend a ton of time in museums pre-kids it's definitely something we did MORE before we had them in our lives. I wouldn't say we talk about missing doing stuff like that, but in a way that made this surprise that much sweeter. It was something I didn't realize I missed doing and we got to see this once in a lifetime (for us) exhibition. It was a lovely start to the vacation. Plus, I realized that Zoe would love going to this museum so I'm excited for one of us to take her there before we move away.
After that, we got to enjoy the beautiful 3-4 hour drive to Steamboat Springs. Towards the end of the trip, on our way up a mountain we came really, really close to running out of gas but I'm happy to say that didn't end up being part of the adventure. We were biting our nails and cursing a bit though. It was close.
When we got to our suite, we were so excited we literally didn't know where to look first. We spent a few minutes giggling and aimlessly looking around the place like we'd never been anywhere remotely nice before. We've stayed in a lot of hotels (we were on tour for a few months once) and the nicest place we've ever stayed in (just the two of us) was probably a Radisson and the worst place was...I don't remember the name but I remember sleeping with all of my clothes on (including shoes) on top of the covers just long enough to be able to see the road again. Anyway, all that to say we're no strangers to hotels and such but after the hard work we've both been putting in since moving out here....anyway, we were beside ourselves. Here is the view from our living room:
That night we went to see Les Miserables, which I'd been dying to see. I loved it so much....Nathan thought it was okay but I don't think he's been quite so in love with the show as a whole like I have been since I was in Jr. High so that probably had a lot to do with it.
On our first full day there we went to Strawberry Park Hot Springs, the reason this location got my vote when we were deciding where to go on vacation. This time of year, if you don't have chains on your tires you're not allowed to bring your car up so we took a shuttle up for the morning. It did not disappoint. On the way up we saw some caribou just hanging out. I couldn't get a good picture so it'll have to live on in our memories.
|Just a cool cabin we saw on the way back..|
Anyway, as we were walking around looking for the ice castle, I suddenly realized that we HAD to go skiing. We would be complete DUMMIES if we didn't go skiing while we were there, staying only a mile or so from the base with a free shuttle from our resort and no kids to wrangle. I told this to Nathan, he agreed immediately and we decided to rent some gear and buy a half day pass for the next day. We enjoyed the ice castle and then went home with a really fun nervous excitement as we anticipated the adventure ahead:
In the morning as we got ready for the day of skiing, I started to feel really nervous and the nerves stayed with me as we got our gear and awkwardly boarded the gondola. We got to the top, put our skis on and headed straight for the easiest trail available. My legs felt a little funny at first but it didn't take long to get the feel of it again after all those years, and I suddenly felt so liberated and free. Once in a while I'd look up to check out the view and may or may not have thrown my arms up in the air and shouted with pure joy a couple of times. It was so beautiful and wonderful and I can't believe I resisted it for so long. I'm telling you now with 100% certainty that I love love love skiing. Everything about it...the freedom, the (relative) speed, the views, the quiet, the breaks in the lodge for hot chocolate and french fries....I hope hope hope we can find a way to do it more while we are out here, and I especially hope we can introduce the kids to that world. They would have a blast. I realized that, much like the time I finally (after several years of living there) drove my car in Manhattan and had the sensation that THAT was the moment I fully lived in New York City, I at long last feel like I REALLY live here. Nathan was so awesome and loved it too. He was in terrible pain much of the time but he was able to work through the pain and enjoy the wonderful parts about it. I couldn't believe it was only his second time skiing. He was really brave and patient the whole time and was able to feel like he had improved by the end of the experience. We both had such a blast that we decided to spend the rest of our vacation money (and then some...somehow) on another full day pass. I don't think either one of us regrets that in the least.
We were sad to go today, but so glad to see the kids. The drive home was beautiful too, of course and the kids happy to see us. I went to get Owen from his nap and he stood up in his crib and said "I so happy you guys are here!". Thanks to Gary and Sandi for allowing us to experience all of that and to have some time together. The kids had a blast while we were gone and it made it all that more enjoyable to know they were at home in your loving care.