Summer in Colorado proved to be an awesome experience and all of us were ready to embark on the next leg of the journey. We drove a respectable 10 hours on Friday and made it to Salt Lake City, UT. Pulling that trailer slows things down a lot-leave it to Ryan to pack so many heavy books. The drive was uneventful. Seriously. Have you ever driven through Idaho and Utah? Our plan was to spend the night near the Washington border, have a relaxing evening in a 2 star hotel and then get up and leisurely drive to the farm on Sunday morning.
Plans change. We were making a pit stop at a McDonald’s when Ryan mentioned that we were only about 5 hours away from the farm and one hour from the hotel. We gained two hours crossing into Pacific Time so the clock read only 4pm-early. Keith, casually eating his ice cream cone, responded somewhat indignantly, “5 hours? Commit soilder. Let’s just get her done.” It was a direct threat and I saw the light go off in Ryan’s head (he realized that he would not have to pay for a hotel if we plowed on). I knew we were going all the way. This was fine with me because while I enjoy watching my kids swim in hotel pools littered with band aids and teenagers, I could live without a fresh memory of it. Besides, as relaxed as Ryan is, it unsettles him a bit to sit idly by while I keep a steady driving pace of 55mph meaning I was off the hook and free to read or sleep or mess up the scarf I am still knitting. The trip went very well but please do remember that we left Salt Lake City at 6am and we had already been driving 13 hours. If you have ever seen an episode of Sponge Bob you will appreciate this: “18 Hours Later” we arrive at the Farm. The kids long asleep, we pull up past midnight greeted by cows, sheep, and a hoard of chickens. I did not have a lot of expectation for the lodging which was advertised as being a “fully equipped and furnished home” . But if pressed, I would say that “clean” would have been at the top of my priority list. Well, clean it was not. With sleeping kids draping off my body, I pulled back the covers of the first bed. Lindsey was coherent enough to notice the “issues” with the sheets. I just yanked them back up and covered the bed with our own blankets (we come prepared). The master bed downstairs was worse so Ryan and I made our way back upstairs to another room. There were no dirty sheets, thankfully, but there were also no sheets at all. A quote I had noted from Pinterest made its way into my foggy head: “Keep calm and get to Target”. Did I mention that Washington was experiencing unprecedented heat? Because it was and most homes in the Pacific Northwest have no need for AC. So, we reacquainted over selves with the humidity and pressing heat we thought we had escaped and drifted to sleep swatting remarkably large, persistent flies. I reflected, lying there, that it was a little creepy but certainly not tragic. We were all safe, together and surrounded by lots and lots of cows. What else could go wrong? Mice, spiders, mildew and layers of dust and dirt, that’s what. Also, a refrigerator brimming to over flow with old food including 24 mason jars of molding animal fat (? No clue what that was about. I tossed it all) and dozens of eggs long past “farm fresh”. I spent the next day cleaning and the kids exploring. Ryan, who booked our abode, stayed out of sight. Later that evening, the owners of the farm drove up to feed to the animals. The heat had broken and the evening was perfect. Mr. and Mrs. Brown* turned out to be two of the nicest people we have had the pleasure of meeting. Within 10 minutes, Mr. Brown had encouraged Keith to drive the tractor and haul the ‘food” out to the pasture to feed the cattle. It was not just a photo shoot-he completely empowered Keith to do the work and get the cows fed.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Brown showed the girls how to collect the fresh eggs and feed the baby turkeys. The kids found and named a bunch of kittens in the barn. There are 6 in total and they follow the kids everywhere. We have not seen an Itouch , DS or been asked to watch TV in over two weeks.
I meanwhile made it to Target and bought some fresh sheets and basics (and enough scented candles to light a church on Christmas Eve). Living in Colorado was a change but beyond leaving good friends and family it was not a stretch in terms of comfort zones-Keystone, CO is a resort for Pete’s sake. The farm has been much different than our Circle C bubble, but, as I set my mouse traps, I realized that is the reason we left home base in the first place. We opted not to ask Mr. and Mrs. Brown to deduct a cleaning charge from our monthly rent-one of the ideas for recompense that we came up with while sweltering on a sheet-less bed that first night. It just didn’t feel right. The house might have been dirty (ok, filthy) but there was true beauty and unique opportunity in the farm and the way it engaged our kids and slowed us down.
I mean, we weren’t signing up for perfect-we were trying to give our family a new perspective: things aren’t always the same but that does not make them bad. To my children’s great annoyance, I am always offering unsolicited yet sage advice: “what you focus on expands so choose what you think wisely”, “A tree that is inflexible breaks in a storm so learn to bend”, “More often than not, it is better to be kind than right”, “You may not be able to control what happens but you can choose how to react.”. You get the picture. Completely annoying mom stuff. So at some point during those first few days while I was internally fretting about the mice, manure, and mildew I realized that I needed to take my own advice and focus on the beauty instead. (And get to Target ASAP)