June 11, 2010 Frontier Family
The frontier is not a forgiving place. It takes just as quickly as it gives it seems. You can strike it rich, but then have your mine collapse on you. You can build a town, but then have it burn down. You can find water, but then have your horse break its leg. It all appears so random, so meaningless. Even still, I have to wonder if there isn’t some blueprint to be found or some karma at work. The mountain wilderness is just more dramatic and rugged. It is more intense and less tamable. It is also incredibly beautiful in grandeur despite often being so cruel. Having the Gilkison Reunion in the mountains somehow feels fitting.
At 2:30pm we headed South on I-25 to Colorado Springs and then onto Cripple Creek. Jason and I chatted with Mary. The 3hr drive wasn’t too bad, except toward the end. Sebastian took off his diaper and was climbing out of his car seat.
We arrived at the Blue A-Frame on a dirt road named Yorktown at dinnertime. Dad, Lana, Ashley and Andrew greeted us as did Carol, Sam, Lynda and David. After only talking for a few minutes, we were off to Norm’s cabin on the other side of Cripple Creek. It was about a twenty minutes drive.
Once there we ate hamburgers and hot dogs that Norm cooked on the grill he brought. Ana played with not only Mary’s granddaughter Olivia, but Nichelle’s daughters Katie and Faith. It was chaotic trying to keep track of Ana and Sebastian as they explored three floors of the cabin and outside. I tried to visit with everyone, but it wasn’t easy. I managed to only make a few comments or ask a few questions.
That night we returned to Dad and Lana’s cabin exhausted. We set up the camper to sleep in. Jason was too large and couldn’t fit in. Sebastian took a while to settle down, but even then I couldn’t get comfortable. My head and neck were stiff and sore. I was getting a migraine.
Wednesday, we woke up early. I hardly had any time to eat before Carol, Mary and Lynda arrived. We were all going to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs. Jason stayed behind to go to Auto Zone with my Dad. Dad bought a replacement battery for us even though we weren’t sure that was why it was acting up on the way down there. Ana rode with Olivia and Aunt Mary, so it was just Ashley, Sebastian and I in the Highlander. Sebastian fell asleep, so Ashley and I had plenty of time to talk on the hour drive.
All of us took the tram to the top of the zoo, as it is built on the side of a mountain. The tram goes up a bunch of switch-backs that our lined with cages and displays. Once at the top, we made our way down. The kids fed the giraffes, got to ride a pony and enjoyed the carrousel. Ashley, Oliva, Anastasia, Sebastian, Norm and I rode the sky lift. Norm spoke to me briefly as we took in the awesome view. He said he was glad I could put the past behind me and came to the reunion. He was personally happy to see me and meet my family. And he knew Dad was thrilled that we came as well. “Family is important, especially when you are older and don’t know how much time you have left,” he stated.
We went to the gift shop after the sky-lift. Mary bought Ana a stuffed Otter and Sebastian a stuffed snake. Sebastian kept trying to ride the snake on the gift shop floor much to everyone’s amusement. The ride home to the cabins was a bit more stressful. Sebastian was wide awake and demanding the window down, but as soon as Ashley put it down, he put it would put it right back up. Ana whined until she eventually took a nap. Sebastian snacked. We rested briefly at the cabins before going to Norm’s cabin for steaks! Ana and my Dad bounced a ball around.
Anyway, we devoured our delicious dinner and returned to the cabins. Jason, Ana, Sebastian and I slept up in the loft this time. Andrew slept in the camper and Ashley slept at Carol, Mary and Lynda’s cabin. We slept a little better that night.
Thursday we ride the Cripple Creek train. It is a 45 minute excursion down an old mine route. It is a coal driven train that comes with the history of Cripple Creek. Millions and millions of dollars in gold has been found in the area. The town was built in the mid-1800s, but all the wooden structures soon burnt to the ground. It was rebuilt entirely in brick in 1869. It has a very colorful wild-west past. The kids loved the train ride. When the ride was over we got ice cream downtown.
Dad and Ashley returned to the cabin. Jason and I took the kids to a park. Ana was thirsty and Sebastian was ready for a nap, so we didn’t stay long. Jason took a mountain bike ride while Sebastian napped back at the cabin. I had Ana take a bath. Sebastian got up and we ate a late lunch and then took a hike up Rattlesnake Road. Jason came back and then took his shower. Dad and Lana returned from doing laundry at the nearest laundromat, which was an hour away in Woodlawn Park.
Dad then showed us to Carol, Mary and Lynda’s cabin. Jason and I visited with them until 4:30pm or so while Ana played some more with Olivia. Everyone arrived for our last dinner together and we took a group photograph. Then we at Uncle Sam’s spaghetti for dinner, which was delicious! After dinner, the kids amused themselves by sliding down the carpeted stairs on their butts and sometimes even on their stomachs. Then they went outside to see if their screams would echo across the valley below. Nope. I got a chance to visit a bit more while chasing the kids around. I gave Nichelle my new address and hugged everyone goodbye. Ana was sad to see the evening end.
Again, we slept in the loft of the A-Frame. We got up around 7:30am, ate and began packing up our suburban again. Mary and Olivia left even earlier than us though, as they had an early flight to catch back to Ohio. We hugged everyone goodbye—Dad, Lana, Andrew and Ashley—and left at 9:30 am. We expect to be home by 12:30pm.