Family vacation. Day 1. 39 degrees. Sunny.
Devil’s Thumb Ranch, outside of Fraser, Colorado.
Today we learned that I don’t know how to say the word “altitude.” I pronounce the “a” as in “alternative” when it turns out to rhyme with the name “Al.” I don’t know any Als. This does not help me. I continue to mispronounce the word. My family now says it both ways to make fun of me and I don’t know when they are saying it correctly.
My mother debates the rest of the car about whether the skyscrapers in the distance from the Denver airport are, in fact, Denver. She thinks not, because they’re on the wrong side of the car. Everyone else thinks yes, because: skyscrapers. The road turns and everyone’s worldview is preserved.
We learn that my grandather’s picture and those of three of his brothers are hanging in the Denver medical center. They all graduated from school there.
My brother-in-law points out a crop duster to my sister until she acknowledges and verifies that she has seen it. Crop dusters are important, apparently. I had no idea.
My mom makes my sister find the mountain emoji for her so she can text it to someone (unidentified). My mom texts in the car for the next hour. Notably, the three young people in the back of the car (myself, my sister, and my brother-in-law) only use our phones to give our father directions.
My dad drives carefully through the mountains, trying not to make me motion sick. We all reminisce about when I threw up in the back of my mom’s old Honda, some of us more fondly than others. There was an entire Dick’s milkshake involved. It was on the hills into our neighborhood. My dad claims it was so bad we had to sell the car. I think we held onto it, because I remember my sister making me sit on the “throw-up side” for the next several years. My sister also remembers this, rather unnecessarily proudly, in my opinion.
My mom has brought two individual bags of grapes, sealed in a larger ziploc bag. One is for her and my father. One is for “the kids.” We are told to share.
My brother-in-law and I carefully sample all three kinds of barbecue sauce at lunch before selecting. My sister watches our method and then just goes for the same one.
Despite the menu being less than 20 feet away, we have a very long and confusing conversation about whether the St. Louis style ribs or the baby back ribs were more expensive. Some people at the table appear to be talking about the full racks. Others are talking about the half racks. Someone might be talking about the sandwich option. We can’t reach agreement. For some reason, $12.99 and $7.99 and $16.99 aren’t easily sorted into order. No one gets up to look at the menu. We leave the restaurant without checking. We will never know.
We drive through a light snowstorm over Berthaud Pass. I regret leaving my snowboots at home. No one sympathizes. Tough crowd.
My brother-in-law wants to go mountain biking. He will go alone. We are not a mountain biking family. He is on his own.
The woman checking us in tells us that there are daily paddleboard yoga lessons in the pond. It is 39 degrees.
We can’t find our rooms, all of us pulling rolling bags and duffels this way and that, peering into the windows of locked doors and putting in key cards the wrong direction. Everyone has packed too much of the wrong kind of clothing. Maybe. Maybe not. Now it is sunny.
The lodge is beautiful. Wrought iron chandeliers and tall beds heaped with blankets and pillows. Rolling hills and a pond and snow capping the mountains. Big-beamed plank ceilings and showers lined with river rock.
We’re going fly fishing in the morning. No one is my family is what you might call an “activities” person with the exception of my brother-in-law. Not really joiners, or summer campers, or even organized sports players. I feel I will be an excellent fisherman. Or not.