HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
July 2, 2007, Herald Journal

A family trip to the mountains

By JENNIFER GALLUS

My family and I just got back from a trip to the Rocky Mountains. It was part of a birthday celebration for my mom, and included my sister’s family as well.

We opted to drive to Colorado, which provided some good sightseeing, especially of unusual bumper stickers and highway signs.

One semi-truck had a bumper sticker that read, “In God we truck.” I thought that was a nice change of bumper-sticker scenery.

A highway sign that got me laughing read, “State penitentiary ahead, do not pick up hitchhikers.”

One sign in the mountains read, “In case of flood, climb to safety.” That sign was obviously intended for the not-so-bright population.

Overall, the drive to and from our destination went pretty smooth. Our “planned” rest stops were at Cabela’s (an outdoor store), which is our favorite store. Well, Macy’s is my very favorite, then Cabela’s.

Each day, we drove from our cabin, which was minutes from Rocky Mountain National Park, into the park and spent the days hiking, as well as driving scenic routes.

We did some fishing, but didn’t catch one fish. We (actually one of my boys) managed to indefinitely entangle two fishing poles within a 10-minute time frame.

As my husband intently tried fixing one of the poles while sitting in a weedy area, some little critter scampered across his foot, which freaked him out, and made for good humor. I’m a nice wife, huh?

I enrolled the boys in the Junior Ranger program, which they and I enjoyed. They were each given a little packet that they needed to complete in order to earn a badge.

One of the requirements was for each of them to find 10 pieces of garbage at the park and pick it up. After they found their garbage, my 6-year-old took it a step further.

Anywhere we went, in the park or in town, he would find garbage and pick it up. One day, it took 10 minutes just to get him to walk about 50 feet to our truck as we were leaving a go-cart track because he kept finding garbage.

How can you discipline a kid for doing a good deed? My brain was on overdrive just trying to think of a way to commend him, yet stop him.

We worked on the Junior Ranger packet for about three days, and when it was complete, we tracked down a park ranger, which isn’t hard to do, who sat down with the boys and quizzed them.

It was pretty cute. The boys sat on either side of the ranger, who looked to be in his 70s, and answered all of his questions.

Then the ranger stood up and made an announcement at the visitor center that the boys had earned their badge to which they were applauded as the ranger placed the badges on them. All these picture-perfect opportunities and no camera in hand.

Besides nature-seeking activities, we did a good amount of go-carting and mini-golfing, as well.

The boys aren’t old enough to drive a go-cart themselves so my husband and I would each take one of them. I tried to go as fast as dad so that the child that was with me didn’t feel like a loser.

I managed to pass dad a couple times, but usually came in second. The boys were good about it. They wouldn’t want to hurt my feelings so they would blame it on the engine of the go-cart and not me.

Our favorite mini-golf course was super cheap and looked like something out of a movie. It was old, yet fun, and had huge hanging lights strung around the perimeter. It reminded me of a place that you’d come across in a desert.

Vacations are always fun, but we were all ready to come home. We take for granted the comforts of home until we’re gone from it.

Kid-isms

While on vacation, my 10-year-old niece asked, “What will we do if we see a bear?” Before an adult could answer, my 6-year-old nephew yelled, “Panic!”