And then we were onto the Lego store for Jackson.
After that it is entirely possible I lost myself in the biggest Forever 21 I've ever visited (while Josh kept the kids entertained riding up and down the escalator . . .).
Next stop Ikea. I've never been to an Ikea before and I must say what an overwhelming experience! That store is a small city within itself! One could easily spend all day (or perhaps several days) wandering it. With the shopping fix out of the way we set off for our hotel. Our evening was low-key, I had planned a supper to eat in our hotel room and then swimming.
(Pardon the garish elevator lighting . . .)
The next morning we set off for Dillon, mainly so the kids could see more of the mountains, drive through the Eisenhower Tunnel, etc. We lunched at a Pizza Hut and then visited the Nike "Outlet" (I just don't feel like a $300 lightweight jacket clearanced down to $100 is all that great of a deal--even with a cool swoosh). We happened to run into some gals we knew from our Lincoln church while there, so that was fun!
Leaving Dillon, we set off retracing our journey, only taking a detour up to Winter Park so the kids could take advantage of a sledding hill where sleds were provided free of charge (after packing all the boots and snow gear it was quite nice to not have to worry about sleds too!).
They had a blast! I hung out for awhile snapping a few pictures, but seeing as Josh had it all under control (and I was a bit chilled) I returned to the van to lose myself in this--
(Ohhhhh is this a great book!! I found myself reading parts aloud to Josh, and if I went too far without giving him an update he would ask to be filled in on what had happened--that might be the first time he has ever been curious about what I'm reading). ;o)
With the sledding done it was time to head back to the hotel. Here is where I tell you I don't do mountainous roads well. It isn't for lack of experience. Every summer from age six to eighteen (or thereabouts), my family took a summer trip to Colorado. My dad loves the mountains, and I think at some point or another I've traveled every treacherous road Colorado has to offer. Mt. Evans, Pikes Peak, Independence Pass, Rocky Mountain National Park . . . and I'm sure others whose names I no longer recall. Most often I could be found huddled in the back of the van, hiding under a blanket. As I've gotten older and become a mother and lost a balance nerve my fear of heights and tumbling off mountain roads has increased perhaps a hundred-fold. Truth be told, it borders on highly irrational. I become the worst back-seat driver ever, utterly in a panic, screeching at Josh if he exceeds 20 mph, white-knuckled and totally riding my imaginary gas-pedal. It's not a pretty thing. I envision our deaths a million different ways.
So, that is what Josh has to work with. And you can only imagine my extreme horror to discover that upon our descent we developed a flat tire.
That would be the tire, flat.
On the bright side of things we had a good place to be flat at--not balanced precariously on the edge of a road, we had a full-sized spare, and my hubby knew what he was doing. I felt bad for him, out in the cold and light snow, but figured we had about a half hour delay and we'd be up and going again. I pulled out my book and instructed the kids to hang tight.
Unfortunately, he got all but the last lug nut off before his lug wrench cracked, rendering it useless. A setback yes, but onto Plan B . . . we have AAA back-up. So, Josh calls, and through spotty reception and fading phone batteries (due to roaming) we ascertain our location and request assistance. We figure we'll be sitting there another 1/2 hour or so. Somebody stops to help us, Josh borrows their lug wrench only to have that one crack too. I take a call from the AAA dispatcher she says she can't find anyone to come out and help us. I inform her there are five children and we are from out of state. She offers to send a state trooper, I say, yes, please.
Another guy stops. We ruin his tool too. After sitting on the side of the mountain for about two hours the state trooper arrives. At this point we have our phone plugged into the laptop to steal the battery juice from it. We remembered "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" is in Josh's laptop so the kids are happily watching a movie and taking turns answering nature's "call" in the snow. We try the state trooper's tool--it strips out. That lug was not coming off.
Enter Plan C. The AAA dispatcher is still unable to locate anybody to come help us out, so they decide to contract out and send up the first available tow truck they can find. The state trooper waits with us until *finally* Keith and his big truck arrive (cue an angel chorus). Here's the thing though, it's not towing like I think of towing, but more we're-going-to-drive-your-van-up-on-my-truck-bed-strap-it-down-real-good-and-get-you-down-this-mountain. And the "good news"--we can just stay seated in the van and enjoy the ride, because once the van is strapped down all snug it becomes "part of the truck" making it a perfectly legal and viable travel option. After sitting on the mountain for three hours, snow falling, temperatures falling, and wind rising, who was I to argue?
I will liken this experience to bad airplane turbulence. Being strapped to a tow truck does not afford the smoothest ride. And did I mention the wind, and all the flashing signs of warning for "high-profile" vehicles--which we now were? I was just bracing myself for the snap of tethering devices and there would go my family, bouncing down the mountain. I have to say I'm thankful God kept us stuck until nightfall and I really couldn't SEE the scenery anymore because it's possible I may have been certifiable at that point.
But Keith got us down the mountain intact. He took us to Idaho Springs where he completed the tire change and we enjoyed a very late supper at Carl's Jr.
Keith pointed out to Josh several AAA tow trucks that could have responded--one only four miles from where we were stranded--but it being a Saturday night they obviously had better things to do than rescue a family of seven from the side of a mountain. Not that I'm bitter or anything . . . *ahem*
Thankfully, the $247 ride will be picked up by AAA. We got back to our hotel room around 10:30 pm, the whole experience from start to finish taking about six hours. The kids truly did great (although Isabella shared my thoughts on being strapped to a truck . . . Marissa thought it glorious).
Sunday was much more low-key. We swam, we packed, we ate out for lunch, and then set off for home. Whenever things go wrong I always wonder what could God want me to learn from this. I'm starting to wonder if He doesn't just try to keep me in good writing material, because really, who wants to read about shopping, swimming, and eating out, you know? ;o) Whatever the case, this trip will not soon be forgotten, and I realize good stories are not made by things always going right. My life would be downright boring if I were writing it myself--there would definitely be no mountainous terrain--literally or figuratively!! ;o) But for now, I'm rather glad to be back on flat land again.