Warm as the Mountain Sunshine!

Dear Maia and Isaac,

It is Memorial Day, so I headed to my grandma’s house for the weekend.  This place, Pearl Lake State Park, is where I spent summers when I was a kid.  Grandma’s house (it got moved up the road to a guest ranch several years ago) was always full of aunts, cousins, and laughter.

Our tent with Hahns Peak in the background

But, before I tell you about grandma, I want to let you know that I hit a deer near a town called Meeker.  It was kind of frightening – although my car didn’t get hurt too badly (needs a new fender) and the deer ran off into the woods with the other deer.  I have never hit a deer before . . . so, take that off the bucket list.

Highway 13 where I hit the deer near Meeker, CO

We camped at Steamboat Lake because I was too late to get a reservation at Pearl Lake – but they are all part of the same State Park.  We got there late because of the deer, so our adventure was limited to Saturday (the storm came in Monday).

Sand Mountain at dusk

It was a good day, though.  We started with a hike called Tombstone that was at Steamboat Lake.  I have never taken this trail . . . they call it a nature hike but it took us almost 2 hours (partially cause there was still snow in some places).  It was really pretty from up on top of the hill.  There are tombs up there of a family who knew my family.  They wrote a book called “On God’s Mountain” which has a lot of information about my family and theirs.  It was sunny and nice.

Steamboat Lake with Sand Mountain in the distance
Kachina, Maizzy, and Sazy with Hahns Peak in the background

I ate lunch on the porch at the Outfitters and the wind started to blow in.   After lunch, we went to the museum because so much of my family’s stuff is there.  Mostly, I love my great granddad’s hat.  There is info on my grandparents and their sheep ranch, called Cow Creek, too.  After that, we ran up to the Columbine Store about 5 miles away – my granddad used to stop there on his way from Wyoming.

My great-grandfather’s hat
Various stuff from my granddad’s sheep company

After that, we went to Pearl Lake to hike.  Wow – the weather had changed.  It was dark and cloudy.  I didn’t even put Doggles on Maizzy.  Sazi had to ride, too, because of her back.  Last time she hiked, she broke both back nails off because her gait was off.

Pearl Lake with Mount Farwell in the background

It is a spiritual place for me . . . so many memories.  I can almost hear the laughter from my grandma’s house walking along the shore.  Maizzy’s sport sack became lighter as I walked.

Maizzy in her K9 Sport Sack

Life always felt lighter at grandma’s house.  It was my safe harbor.  When I grew up, my dad got angry too often.  He always had to be in control.  I grew-up with a lot of trauma.  He would beat my sister and he tried to strangle mom once . . . always in my presence.  I wanted to stop it so bad, but I was powerless against him.  I felt that way one time that your dad was yelling about a doll sock and told me not to say a word.  I see it because I lived it . . . and it is too hard to watch and still act like everything is OK.  Yelling and hitting both wound kids deeply and change how we process our world.  We all need to speak our truth.

Pearl Lake with the storm moving in.

The time at grandma’s was time away from dad – and mom never drank there.  Oh, sure, my family had issues like all families do.  But, not like around dad.  And, I feel grateful every time I visit because summers at grandma’s gave me a sense of optimism that the world could be a better place than what I knew.  I wonder how different my life would be if I never had these breaks from my dad.  I wonder if I would have ever figured out how abnormal things were if I never was away from it during the summer?

Sazi, Maizzy, and Kachina on the Pearl Lake Dam

Anyway, we headed back toward camp when we were done.  I warmed soup and it rained a little.  It was cold, but the new sleeping bag kept us all warm.  This AM, we packed up and drove home just as the snow started to arrive on Hahns Peak.

The storm moving in as we drove back to the campground

I hope you had a good Memorial Day!

Snowing on Hahns Peak

Love, Grandma Hartt


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