We’ve driven by Rocky Mountain National Park so many times in our lives that we really have no valid excuses as to why we haven’t visited before. On our trip home this spring, we decided to finally take the plunge and visit the park. Most of the hotels in Estes Park were either full or didn’t allow pets, so we stayed a bit further away in Loveland for the night.
I have to admit, my family has a history in Fort Collins, Colorado. My great grandparents and great-uncle are buried there, my father spent several years there as a child, and my grandfather’s ashes were spread there after he died, almost a year and a half ago now.
When my grandfather died, I was quite unhappy. There was a distance between us I had sought unsuccessfully to remove in the years since I’ve met the Other Half; we only lived a few hours apart, but it could have been lifetimes. We couldn’t hold a conversation on the phone, we never seemed to be able to connect over anything as we grew up. Our only common link was my father; short of that, we knew each other as well as any two strangers on the street.
I hadn’t really come to terms with his death until I reached Fort Collins. A walk along the Cache La Poudre where he was laid to his final rest helped me clear my head and remember some of the memories I have of my grandfather when I was young.
My most profound memory of him was when we were at my grandfather’s house setting off pop bottle rockets into a cornfield. My uncle, my dad, and my grandpa would adjust the height of our make-shift launchpads so that my siblings and I got just the perfect arc on them. Something about lighting the punks at nightfall while the fireflies danced around us has just stuck with me.
I learned about gardening first from my grandfather. He used to grow rhubarb just so he could boil the leaves to keep the ants away from his other plants. I remember he had a veritable library of plant books, and I still have the one he gifted to me.
And you know, my best memory of my grandfather isn’t actually of my grandfather. It’s the sight of my dad with the biggest, goofiest grin on his face because his dad called to see how he was doing. And you know, anyone that can make my dad smile and be happy has to be okay by me.
As a veterinary student, I get a number of weeks to travel to different universities or veterinary clinics to broaden my experiences prior to graduating. So of course I spent 2/3 of them traveling to programs in different states (Colorado, Ohio, and New York). It was an exciting time that unfortunately overlapped with my anniversary with the Other Half; through a wonderful gift from some of our very good friends, we were able to spend that time together in Colorado for what we called ‘Operation Swanky Date Night.’ We went to a nice dinner, booked a nice hotel, and woke up with the crack of dawn to complete our date with some wildlife-watching just outside of Denver.