The nice thing about living on a school-year schedule is the built-in vacations. With Spring Break upon us, Brodie, Margot and I boarded a Northwest Airlines flight on March 1 to Colorado. Thus began a week-long binge on junk food for Min, starting with the chocolate Teddy Grahams I offered her on the airplane to coerce her cooperation.
Either those Teddy Grahams worked really well or we didn’t need them at all. The Min flew like a champ. This wasn’t her first flight, but it was her first as a mobile toddler (during last winter’s trip to British Colombia she only crawled). Strapped comfortably into her carseat next to the window, Margot ecstatically exclaimed, “Margot flying! Mommy flying! Daddy flying!” as the ground disappeared beneath us. After 30 minutes of reading the flight safety card in the seat back, she slept soundly.
By the way, whoever drew the safety instruction card did a pretty good job of making it very basic – even Margot could figure out the plot. “Fire very, very hot,” said Min looking at one of the photos. “Don’t touch it.” Then “Slide! Slide! Slide off airplane!” at the pictures of people evacuating on slides. So even a two-year-old can understand what to do, although I find it unlikely that she can open one of the exit doors.
We arrived in Denver after a short layover in Detroit and piled into our rental car. A few short hours later we arrived in Vail and met with a group of 10 college friends – this was the Min’s time to shine. After a little shyness, she started hamming it up with smiles and conversation. It’s hard to be the only couple in a group of friends with a child, but everyone accommodates Margot and she eats up the attention. It makes things easy on Brodie on me that everyone wants to play with her; bringing her along on group trips is hardly work at all. Of course, our evenings are usually spent at home but let’s face it: we’re not really kids anymore and we’re just as happy now to drink some beer around a fireplace as we were ten years ago standing shoulder-to-shoulder in a bar where drinks were six bucks each.
Brodie and others disappeared early most days to snowboard, but Min and I shopped around Vail Village. One day we even drove out to Leadville and visited the Mining Museum; Min really enjoyed it, as did I. There was one coal mining exhibit that frightened her (think of her first petting zoo visit or the Dickens Christmas exhibit), but there was also a quartz mine exhibit that enchanted her with all the sparkling rock. The drive out to Leadville was incredible – wonderful tight switchbacks with soaring mountain views and “Avalanche Warning” signs everywhere. My Kia Sedonia and I had a great time, while Margot listened to a little Laurie Berkner in the backseat.
In the afternoons, Margot and I would join the boarders and skiers in our group at Garfinkles, a bar at the foot of the Lionshead gondola. (One thing I love about the U.S. is that babies are allowed in bars – when we visited British Columbia last year, Margot was not even allowed to sit at a table if beer was served in the establishment.) We all sat outside in the fading sunlight and Margot and I drank hot chocolates while everyone else could enjoy their Blue Moons or Guinnesses. (Is that the plural of Guinness?)
Margot and Brodie had a great time sledding and building snow blobs, too.
After five days in Vail, Brodie, Margot, and I headed back to Vail and then an hour further East into the plains, where we visited Brodie’s uncle’s ranch.
Fueled by a Caillou episode in which he visits a ranch, Margot was fearless and very, very excited. For days, she’d been talking about seeing the “forses” and maybe even riding one. (Note: I like to think that Margot purposefully calls them ‘forses’ because in her head she is spelling it ‘forces,’ as in horses spawned the idea of horsepower, but it’s probably just one of those cute toddler word mix-ups.)
The wide-open space and big sky freed something within Margot. Or maybe it was the warm temperatures – it reached 60-something degrees while we stayed at the ranch. At any rate, Min became instantly brave and ran and ran by herself, a huge crooked-tooth grin on her face, without looking back to see if anyone was watching. Luckily it’s not yet rattlesnake season and we could let her enjoy the space.
Alas, we’re now home in Philadelphia where the weather promises of spring but the weather forecasters promise more winter. Margot can’t run and run here because of the broken glass on the sidewalks and the fact that Philadelphians act Parisian in their handling of dog poop. But Margot was happy to come home nonetheless: when she entered her room for the first time and saw her Curious George monkeys in her crib she immediately exclaimed, “My favorite friends!” and jumped in to give them big bear (monkey) hugs.
Home is where the heart is, I guess.