A week ago David and I celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary in Rocky Mountain National Park, where we’ve gone each spring since getting married there. Each year we’ve been learning how to simplify the trip a little more so that we can really make our wedding anniversary celebrations work for us. It’s something that David loves as much as I do. The picture above was on our first anniversary, eating year-old wedding cake that friends had made for us.
Kawuneeche Valley is on the other side of the continental divide, a little less than 3 hours away. It means “valley of the coyotes” in Arapaho.
David drives, which is one of the little things that makes such a great escape possible. It’s a vast improvement from 5 years ago when I couldn’t sit up long enough to go anywhere, even as a passenger. Hurray for the little gifts.
The views of the Continental Divide when we drive over Trail Ridge Road are magnificent.
Going through the mountains takes us to a whole other world. That alone helps it feel like a real vacation in so many ways.
Last year it was raining when we arrived but it was heavenly to be out in nature and to revisit the spot where we said our vows to one another. We saw a coyote earlier on the day of our wedding and walked out with the elk as our witnesses.
One of our favorite experiences is seeing moose with their new calves. We’ve been lucky enough to see at least one every year. Some years they’re been right by the roadside.
In our first couple years we rented cabins and spent an entire week near the park but after a few major disappointments with places that failed to meet their online photo descriptions, we started staying at a local hotel. Our latest recipe has been to go for just one night. Simple has turned out to be amazingly satisfying.
We’ve also made some changes to our food plan after making some great meals together in the first couple years.
As my food limitations have increased, I’ve just started bringing all my meals. It’s easy, no stress, and it means we can hike a little ways out into the valley and enjoy the views and the solitude.
This year we brought our meals with us and had supper in one of the meadows at dusk. No more trying to hurry through a dinner I couldn’t really eat during the best hour of the day when all the wildlife is beginning to emerge.
The elk are curious and calm, and they are everywhere.
This year we also saw a bear, sandhill cranes, and two moose with their young calves on our evening walk. This was our third sighting of a pair. They were out in the middle of the day near where we had lunch and were the best send off as we headed back home.
Getting away, even for 24 hours – gives me a sense of gratitude.
For the sights and smells of spring.
For the surprises we find in the forest … like these fairy slippers.
And for the annual sitings of (more) baby moose.
I feel gratitude for the views. The abundance and the beauty. The gentle breeze on my cheek.
The puffy clouds and distant mountain ranges.
I appreciate the fact that I can walk a little farther each year.
I feel thankful for my health, just as it is. For being able to sit now instead of needing to lie down when I rest during our walks.
And, most tender and life-changing of all, I feel gratitude for having David in my life.
In the little everyday kind of ways – someone to make supper-plans-in-the-meadow-at-dusk with. Someone to learn how to negotiate and explore conflict with. A fellow traveler to keep practicing daily life with. Sometimes this means sitting and recuperating at my snail’s pace with a view of the mountains while he takes a more rugged hike. Other days it’s about making our way together as he finds how to have his life force and vitality while I learn to go at my fairy-slippers-doing-their-jig-in-a-glacier-like pace.
I treasure the experience of being in relationship – slowly and gradually, I am learning what it feels like to be “coming home.”
This relationship journey is a precious experience. Sharing some of the joy with you that comes with this part of my life is a sweet and tender bonus.
Here’s to the things in your life that bring you an ounce and more of happiness and contentment. A moment of peacefulness. A breath more of space to be able to be with things as they are. Wishing you iotas of respite in the midst of your chronic illness life.
And just one little tidbit more. We discovered that there’s a webcam at one end of Kawuneeche Valley, which is managed by the national park service. We got married about 10 miles up the valley from where this picture gets taken (it refreshes every 5 minutes). We get to look at our meadow any day of the year, year round. Sometimes there are even elk hanging out in from of the camera. How’s that for a resource?