Hi everyone! I am still alive and well, and still in Colorado.
The tides have turned here at the father in-law's house in Denver, and I am sorry to say that my food blog is turning out to be incredibly boring, by no fault of my own. You see, every time we've come here to visit in the past, we have eaten every meal out, as previously mentioned. For some reason, the one time I chose to document the whole thing, the tradition ended--with no warning! After a strong start on the first day with three restaurant meals, the rest of the meals here have mostly been eaten at home. I believe this is due, in part, to the fact that they were preparing for a giant party they have every year, so we didn't have time to go out to eat. Then, when the party was over, there were lots of leftovers that had to be consumed, so we didn't dare waste them. Anyway, I did make a valiant effort, and I will continue to take food pictures until we leave, but I'm just warning you all that the post will not be nearly as calorie and fat-filled as I'd once hoped. I'm sorry to those of you who were looking forward to that sort of food porn experience.
So, yesterday we headed up to Estes Park and to Lily Lake for a little light hiking. We would have gone for the rock climbing, but I didn't think that would be very responsible parenting and, besides, Lily Lake has become something of a tradition when we visit here. This time, we were joined not only by my father in-law, but also by my sister in-law, her husband, her daughter, and her daughter's BFF.
The day was beautiful and the trip up the mountain serene. The higher elevation did not amount only to more labored breathing this time around, but actually seemed to offer a bit of inner peace that I didn't realize was missing. The air was clean and fresh, the snow-capped mountains absolutely gorgeous.
As soon as we arrived at Lily Lake, the kid wanted to throw rocks into the water. This seems to be his favorite water activity: not swimming, fishing, or boating, but throwing rocks. There's something about the *plop* sound that is inherently satisfying to his toddler brain, and who am I to judge what makes the kid happy? At least he wasn't throwing turtles.
As he gathered up some good medium-sized stones to toss, we noticed a chipmunk watching from nearby. The animal kept creeping closer and closer, until he was perched on a boulder, face-to-waist with the kid. It was a stare-down. The chipmunk stared coldly into the kid's eyes, and the kid stared back, unable to move out of a combination of fear and curiosity. The next thing we knew, the chipmunk made his move: he jumped onto the kid's shoulder, inspected the blue fleece of his sweatshirt for a few seconds, then scampered down his back. My poor child was paralyzed with fear as we all watched on, cackling with laughter, pulling our cameras out, our mouths agape in disbelief. DID THAT SERIOUSLY JUST HAPPEN?
Actually, it did. My sister in-law was fast with her camera, and she managed to document the moment. Here's a close-up of the poor kid:
After the offending mammal jumped down, I ran over to make sure that the kid was ok--he was just a little shaken, saying in his sad little voice, "I don't like that!". We all circled around him, laughing uncontrollably and comforting him at the same time, when a park ranger made a beeline towards our jovial group to deliver some somber news. It went something like this:
"Now, the ground squirrels here are infested with fleas, and they are also known to carry the plague. So watch your kid real closely, and if he starts to develop a fever or any flu-like symptoms, you need to take that very seriously."
Visions of my child with blood oozing out of his ears and eyes and every possible orifice suddenly began to overtake my motherly brain. What the hell was I doing laughing at a PLAGUE-RIDDEN RODENT attacking my son? What kind of mother am I????? We hurried up the mountain trail, trying to scare the offending chipmunk away, who was, consequently, still following us. Shouldn't there be signs or something, alerting one to the fact that you are amongst scarily-diseased wildlife? I think so.
Luckily, the kid acted normally for the rest of the hike and even ate a granola bar along the way. We ended our walk back where we began, and didn't run into any more overly-friendly rodents. Here is some photographic evidence that my kid is not dead or sick, and actually had a pretty great time despite his brush with certain death:
I am happy to report that, a whole day later, he seems to be perfectly healthy...but I'll still be watching him like a hawk.
4 weeks ago