Everyday Joy: Day Trip To Aspen
October is one of those months for our family that we usually end up forgetting. The kids are too big for dressing up for Halloween and sports fill every free weekend and most of the weeknights.
While the rest of the world takes a bow to the changing of the seasons, the Andrews fam barely gives it a nod in between drives to the soccer field.
As I study more about personality types, there is something about mine that I have internally known, but never felt safe in verbalizing. If I feel as if there are only limited options, I panic. It can be as simple as dinner choices, but if I am about to get pigeonholed, I revolt. This is a hallmark of what makes me the world’s worst soccer mom.
It is not that I do not like watching my kids play, or that I rebel against the values team sports can teach, but it is because of the limitations it places on my family’s schedule. I have been trying to get us to a pumpkin patch for the last two weeks. And yet the pumpkins will probably be dead before we take a thirty minute drive to the local pumpkin patch.
I have been itching to just jump in the car and drive aimlessly for awhile.
A few weeks ago, I got the chance.
Colorado Springs is one of our favorite destinations. Not only because of the scenery and the mountain air, but also because some of our favorite people live there. When several schools in the area asked me to come visit and share about my first children’s book, I Walk For Water, I said yes without checking our family’s schedule first.
It ended up that I had to go alone because of all the other commitments our family had at the time. I drove, mostly because of my fear of flying. I spent the week talking to kids about the global water crisis and the importance of clean water in the lives of everyone.
Day Trip To Aspen
I had a full 36 hours between school visits and as my friend, Amy and I looked at each other one night she asked:
“Have you ever been to Aspen, Colorado?”
When I said no, we started daydreaming about going. About a four hour drive between Colorado Springs and Aspen, there were so many reasons to say not this time. Her work, kids schedules, and the sheer ridiculous thought of driving several hours just to turn around and come back.
But here’s the thing: it was the perfect time of year to go. Once a year, for only a few weeks, the trees set themselves on fire with color in Aspen. It is one of the true delights God placed inside the mountains during the fall.
We debated back and forth about just leaving from my last school on Tuesday, driving and then turning around and coming home.
It was when her husband said “Girls, just go and stay the night. Lindsey doesn’t have another school until Thursday. You will have all of Wednesday too. I got this here.”
We packed in 5 minutes.
What was supposed to take a little over three hours, took us more than five! We stopped at almost every scenic turn off on the highway. The trees were in the middle of turning gold, so they were in various stages of showing off. I think we only said “Wow”, “Oh” and “Yes” for most of the drive.
The majesty of seeing the world dance was incredible and it sent us into full blown worship mode. We rolled down the windows and sang “It Is Well With My Soul” at the top of our lungs. In our rush to get out of town, I forgot that snow appears at higher altitudes. You can check out my picture of wedges entrenched in snow, here.
We never got tired of driving. One more curve only meant more beauty, more gasps, more joy in what we were seeing. But neither of us was prepared for the last thirty minutes, swerving into Aspen. The sun was setting and the light was everywhere. If the trees looked liked they were on fire at 2 in the afternoon, by 5 they look ready to ignite the whole world.
The highway we took is closed in the winter and for good reason. I cannot imagine being on that highway with snow on the ground. We saw mountain goats and a family of deer taking a stroll across the highway.
We arrived a little before dinnertime and we decided to stay the night. We found a cheap motel in the middle of town and walked around. All of the travel guides said we had to hike Maroon Bells and we were up for the task.
The next morning we set out to catch the tram that would take us to the entrance of the wildlife refuge. It was one of the best mornings ever.
Maroon Bells Lake is one of the most photographed lakes in all of Colorado and it was easy to see why. But it wasn’t only the lake that was showing off for us that day. We hiked to the other side of the lake and found the most quaint little creek, flowing from the mountain. It was one of those trails that keep questioning your spirit. “Can you keep going?”
I did not need to find myself or even have a spiritual awakening from our day trip to Aspen. I didn’t need a break from my life. My soul was just craving an adventure.
I didn’t need a break from my life.
My soul was just craving an adventure.
It wasn’t just the drive, or the company of one of my life’s most treasured souls, or even the ability to keep driving. It was all of it, combined into a fall fantasyscape that the Almighty had laid out before us. And it felt as though it was all for the two of us worn out, wearied mamas. Why? Because it was!
How often do I forget that what is in front of me is meant to be celebrated, treasured and to say “thanks” for! I am always guilty of searching for everyday joy, only to miss it when my soul is telling me how to find it.
I read something about John Muir that made me say “me too”! He would hit a literal depression if he did not roam in the mountains every so often. It is what led to him exploring Alaska for the first time.
So the next time you are feeling like there is an adventure you need to take-take it. Because your heart know what you need, often before your heard is able to admit it. You might just get all the fuel your soul needs for the rest of the year.