This was, to say the least, a different summer in Rockies. No matter how well one can plan for time away, life still happens. Meshugganah!
After eight wonderful days in California with my son Adam and his family, we flew into Denver and then headed for my daughter Julie’s home in Summit County. While unpacking, I realized my Kindle was lost in transit. I wish I had been able to brush the loss off as a human error, but I spent too much time trying to track it down (no luck at Southwest Airlines, either airport, or Enterprise), deciding on whether to order a replacement (thank goodness for a well-timed Amazon Prime Days sale) and beating myself up for losing it in the first place.
Although Summit County normally experiences the monsoon season in late July, this year it started soon after we arrived. Two days were complete washouts, but “weather” came in most days in early afternoon. As a result, most evening outdoor concerts, a favorite summer activity we have done in the past with family and friends, were cancelled.
Meanwhile, as has happened throughout the country, this very contagious COVID variant hit Summit County hard—and close to home. On July 1, the day we moved into our rental, we stocked up on groceries at City Market, along with many other maskless vacationers. We brought home chicken, produce, ingredients for challah baking, and COVID. By July 3, Larry was feeling under the weather; by July 5, he tested positive.
My May encounter with the nasty virus somehow protected me from this variant, but Larry was not spared. He was down for the count for five days and, as he was still testing positive, isolated for five more. He missed out on our Mountain Girl’s birthday party, several trips to Main Street to get her mango bubble tea, and many games of Sorry! FaceTime may be a blessing when we are in Florida; it was a poor substitute when our rental was literally a stone’s throw from their house.
We also both passed on the planned weekend getaway with Sam’s family in Granby, Colorado. Sam’s parents, Marilyn and Bill, who are also our dear friends, cancelled their second attempt to see us when Larry was hit by a mean head cold.
Although I hiked almost every day during Larry’s illness by just walking out of our rental, we were able to take our first hike together two and half weeks into our stay. Outside of my taking another one of my famous pratfalls on one, Larry being attacked by mosquitos despite the bug spray on the second, our almost getting caught in a thunderstorm on the third; and encountering a snake on the fourth, we had finally were able to spend quality time together on the trail.
By this time, Larry was well past COVID and colds. On July 21, Marilyn and Bill drove up from Fort Collins with plans for the seven of us to attend the National Repertory Orchestra’s annual pop concert in nearby Breckinridge. An hour before we were supposed to leave, the Mountain Girl came home from the fourth day of science camp with a live jelly fish and a lively case of COVID. The four grandparents went to the concert while Julie and Sam stayed home. Wisely, Marilyn and Bill drove the two hours back home immediately following the concert to avoid further exposure. The parents, however, were not so lucky. All three—five if you include the dog and “Jelly”—were now in quarantine. Sigh! We are back to FaceTime visits.
Meanwhile, a funny thing happened on our way to the Lake Dillon Theater. Soon after the NRO family no-go, we got an email stating both musicals for which we had purchased tickets were cancelled due to a COVID outbreak among the cast and staff. Yes, any live indoor performances in any “forum” were just an “impossible dream.”
And yet, despite lost electronics; despite monsoons, despite curtailed concerts and cancelled curtain calls; despite pratfalls and pests and the pandemic, Larry and I remained focused on the positive (no pun intended). Several mornings, with the help of FaceTime, Larry and I followed the Tour de France with Adam (who loves cycling) and our grandson (who kept asking for Elmo on the “TV”). For eight nights, Larry and I watched historical wins at the World Track and Field Championships out of Eugene, Oregon (Go Sydney McLaughlin! Go Armand Duplantis!). I researched future stories, wrote, articles, worked on my fourth book, and updated my blog. One of the pictures I took on a hike was featured in a local newspaper, prompting a friend email with the subject line, “Thinking of you…as a photographer!”
Once healthy, Larry resumed playing pickleball with the Summit County Pickleball Club (“We play with an altitude!”), along with doing several more hikes with me. Thanks to the local library and my new Kindle, I read lots of books. And even though Southwest has yet to locate my old Kindle, I was assured by a lovely woman in the Denver office that as it is one of 9000 items accumulated by the central lost and found office, I have a good chance of it being recovered by Chanukah. (Chag Sameach, Larry! You have been regifted!)
By the time we left the mountains, all my family members had completed recovered from COVID. We were safe and in one piece. We did not have to cancel entire vacations due to illnesses, a fate that befell two close relatives. We are not grieving and traumatized like so many families in Buffalo, Ulvalde, Highland Park, and other sites of senseless violence. And no matter what the weather, we spent six weeks basking in the beauty and cooler temperatures of the Colorado Rockies.
Furthermore, as I have done since the beginning of the pandemic, I kept calm and bake challah.On a Sunday afternoon, as a torrential rain storm raged outside our balcony, I cooked up dinner for my quarantined family—chicken, rice, carrots, and two freshly baked braided loaves. I kneaded in prayers for their quick recovery and prayers of gratitude for all the joy and happiness and love we have experienced this very different summer.