If you looked on our calendar this weekend, youd see todays slot marked adventurously with hike to hobo cave. But if you peered in our house this afternoon, youd see Col and Rose affixed to the living room floor, bright plastic shapes blooming from their fingers like an affliction.
Youre going to love this cave, Dan says, reading from the script of Enthusiastic and Persuasive Dads, but were all suddenly underwater and Dans words bounce back to him while Col snaps another Lego on his helicopter in slow motion.
You can bring flashlights, Dan announces. The kids perk up and I find myself uttering its gonna be awesome! annoyingly, every time they shuffle closer to the front door.
Some dads discover excellent kid-friendly restaurants or half-price family day at the ski hill, and well, some suss out hobo caves. Dan tells us how the last sunlight slants smack between two ponderosa pines, broadcasting onto the orange sandstone a perfect rectangle of light.
We suit up in snow gear and drive 10 minutes before parking on a Forest Service road.
There it is, just a little bushwhacking and were there, Dan says like a flight attendant waving away a round of turbulence. He points straight up a ridge choked with oakbrush.
The kids are good little hikers, doing the underbrush scoot and slipping easily under the limbo bar of an oak branch that pins my hair. I like this kind of hiking, where all your limbs are engaged and theres no place for your mind to wander because, whoa! prickly pear cactus at your left handhold.
We pass skull rock with its hollowed out eye sockets, and the kids gawk with the pleasant spookiness akin to realizing that every Scooby-Doo episode follows the same storyline.
We arrive. The sun is hot on our backs. The color blue is heretofore renamed: Colorado sky. The south-facing slope were on is bright and dry, while across the valley the north-facing slope is blue with icy snow: the yin-yang of mountain spring. The cave is wide enough for a family of four to pass the night, and its clear from the six candle stubs and a desiccated Durango Herald (dateless, save for the archival comic strip 40 acres and a modem) someones beaten us to it. Indians? Col wonders.
The kids get busy scurrying around the sandy ledge and forging into the cave with flashlights while Dan and I get busy cracking pre-sunset beers.
You know why I bring you guys to these hobo camps? Dan asks the kids. They turn their tender faces toward him, ready to absorb his every word. Its so you always know that nature is your home. Hmm. I want to add that if the kids ever find themselves in a bind, in addition to caves, our house will also be open to them.
I like this stone a lot. Its good to pound, Col pontificates while doing just that. Rose scoops some snow onto an oak leaf for the fairies, and we settle in to watch the sunset.
Reach Rachel Turiel at email@example.com.Visit her blog, 6512 and growing, on raising children, chickens and other messy, rewarding endeavors at 6,512 feet.