Monday, October 11, 2010

Luke at the lake (Grand Lake part 2)

Grand Lake 10-2010 425 Before Grand Lake, any hikes longer than three miles with Luke included a guaranteed five minutes of crying. These crying spells were especially painful for Erik whose ears would be fixed just a few short inches from Luke’s wailing lungs! We continued to take the babe on hikes, knowing that each crying spell could only last so long and then our child would resign himself to the hiking pack, fall asleep, or we’d reach our destination. But they still felt awfully long, and we always felt bad for the other hikers who had planned a quiet afternoon amidst nature only to encounter a Lukan soundtrack!

You can imagine our delight when the little boy transitioned to an enthusiastic hiking companion during our Grand Lake vacation! The many chipmunks, squirrels and birds that we encountered captivated our little naturalist. He spent most of our hikes sitting straight up in the backpack, with his eyes wide and his pointer finger ready, looking around for his forest friends. Hearing their calls would elicit his own happy squeals, and the few times he started to whimper, all it took to shush him was the reminder that his crying would scare away the animals. Then when we stopped for breaks he’d gleefully pursue his forest friends himself:Grand Lake 10-2010 558 On Monday we took a leisurely hike along the Colorado River Trail and reveled in the happy spirits of our budding hiker. Then on Tuesday we chose a more ambitious trip, an almost ten-mile loop that passed by several mountain lakes and waterfalls. We had hiked a variation on this loop five years earlier on our honeymoon, and remembered it fondly as our favorite trek of that trip. To our surprise, Luke thoroughly enjoyed the entire hike! He loved stopping at lakes to throw in stones and scramble over rocks. And he continued to be entertained by the wildlife provided that we pointed out animals to him and handed him a leaf or stick to hold from time to time. He delighted everyone else on the trail as well by waving and sweetly saying ‘hi’. Then he peacefully drifted off to sleep in the pack without any fuss at all. Two days later he made more forest friends and then slept blissfully on a seven-mile hike to Cascade Falls. What a transformation!Grand Lake 10-2010 759 The other major Luke development on our trip was leash-training! We fit in perfectly with all the dog walkers in Grand Lake by strapping a baby leash onto our little boy whenever we went out to stroll the town or lake.  He complained a little when we pulled it over his head, but once it was on he seemed to enjoy walking on his own. We maintained the hand-holding rule for crossing streets and appreciated the leash’s security and ease. Here Luke waves ‘hi’ to a fellow leash-wearer:

Grand Lake 10-2010 695

We also found the leash to be a handy way to keep the little guy from taking a swim.Grand Lake 10-2010 775pspWe came to Grand Lake expecting pretty rivers and gorgeous mountains, but a wonder we didn’t anticipate was their fire station open house! After seeing it advertised in the town square, we decide to stop by for the benefit of our little fire truck enthusiast. He had a terrific time sitting behind the wheel in the trucks (video here) and getting a fireman hat, but I don’t think he could fully appreciate the fire station Shangri-La that Grand Lake holds. Not only did they have an enormous hook and ladder truck, a regular truck, and an ambulance, they also had an impressive fire boat, a mountain rescue truck, and a forest fire fighting truck! All that plus Smokey the Bear and a Dalmation! What more could a little boy ask for. Grand Lake 10-2010 820 We happened upon another unanticipated treat during our trip back to Albuquerque. In a very remote part of southern Colorado, we found ourselves driving by a National Historic Monument, the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Station! We were intrigued and Luke was getting antsy, so we pulled in, strapped on his leash, and let him marvel at the enormous steam trains moving slowly through the train yard. At first, he was brimming with excitement and delight, waving furiously and trying to approach the trains as closely as we would permit. Grand Lake 10-2010 844 But then one started moving a little more quickly and making very loud noises, which didn’t sound anything like the ‘chug-a-chug-chug, choo choo!’ that he’s accustomed to in storybooks (see video). After that he was ready for a little more distance from the trains and enjoyed checking out the decorations by the gift shop. He’d been so well-behaved for the trip that we decided we couldn’t leave without a little forest friend for our nature lover. He was thrilled, and here you see him playing with his chipmunk back at home. He seems to remember that chipmunks typically live outdoors and keeps trying to smuggle it out when he goes in the backyard. Or maybe he’s been listening closely to the lyrics of Raffi’s Joshua Giraffe song…

Grand Lake 10-2010 791

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