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September 23, 2001
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Grand Lake

8:15pm: Jet was astonishingly good today. He spent nearly six hours in the car, traveled really well, had a lot of time outside that he normally doesn't get, and is now up at over 8000 feet and doing quite well with that.

The morning was a bit of a scramble. Some of it was that Jet was up four times last night, though only three of those after we'd gone to sleep and at the first one he actually put himself back to sleep before we could get up to this room. He was a bit later with both of his feedings, though, at 1 and 5 instead of midnight and four. A little unexpected, but I did get a longer sleep to start which was very nice.

We had breakfast, packed the Baby Buggy, and got everything together by 9. I fed Jet one more times at 8:30 and we were off. Jet fell asleep pretty quickly, I took a bit longer, but on the straight freeways it was easy and I slept pretty well as we headed towards the mountains. It was when we started hitting the really curving roads in the mountains that both Jet and I woke up. Jet because his head was getting moved from side to side. I woke up because my whole body was being shifted back and forth with the force of some of those turns.

It was the mountains. We were up in the evergreens and there were stands of alder and aspen here and there and a lot of them were starting to turn yellow. As we got further and further up there was more and more yellow, gold, and orange. The quacking aspen has an interesting aspect, the leaves of the tree tremble in every breeze, fluttering so that they almost looked like they sparkled with light.

So there were stands of glittering gold set amid the forest velvet of thick stands of fir trees. Straight lodge pole pines that grew so straight and smooth it was easy to see why they'd be great building material. They were nearly branchless for the first twenty feet. Also, since the roads usually followed the paths of least resistance, there was nearly always a stream, river, or waterbed running alongside the road. Often the waterway would open up on to vistas of mountains cloaked in green with streaks of gold and red along its flanks. In many ways all those trees, mountains and streams were very much alike; but they were also all individual.

It was really fun to just drive and see all the individual bits of beauty. Up on top of the world, amid the mountains, we came upon North Park, which is a vast plain up in the mountains. There's enough flat space up here for huge ranches, farms, and even towns and people. Yes, South Park is named for one of the 'parks' up here in Colorado. It amuses me. The 'park' was dry and desolate looking. It is high plains and looks like nothing more than the epitome of the dusty Old West settings for old time Westerns.

We stopped at Walden for lunch. A little town with a postage stamp park that didn't have a picnic table. There was a ranger station on the edge of town and since it was Sunday, the rangers weren't there, so we appropriated their picnic table for our lunch. There was a little bit of grass and a tree next to the table, so we set Jet down on the dry, green grass in the shade of the tree, and let him play there while we ate.

Isabel had been really cool and packed sandwiches to order for everyone. We also had chips, baby carrots, both Sun Chips and Cheetos, fresh Italian plums, and sweet red seedless grapes. It was quite a wonderful lunch. The sun was pretty harsh this far up, but the weather itself was very cool, easily in the 70's, though it felt warmer in the sun.

Jet was mildly dubious about the grass at first, but eventually he got into it. He bounced around on it, pulled up handfuls of it to try and taste the blades. He picked up leaves and tried to put them in this mouth, and basically had a great time. We gave him a few toys as well, and he really liked chasing them across the grass. He isn't really doing formal mobility, yet, but he is lunging, rolling, and stretching, and he's also starting to push himself, fairly steadily, backwards with his arms.

Jet had his lunch while everyone was starting to eat theirs, and then played with everyone while I ate. That seemed a good tradeoff. Then we all went to the local gas station to use the restrooms. While I was out in the car with Jet, I thought about getting an ice cream sandwich. George finished first and came to spell me, and as I went in I saw that John had bought everyone an ice cream sandwich from the freezer! It's great when my husband can actually read my mind like that. They were wonderful, thick and creamy and cool against the warmth of the sunny day.

From there we did the last hour or so to get to Grand Lake. We actually came across real lakes in Colorado up here. Grand Lake and the three other lakes it connects with are the head waters of the Colorado River, and they constitute, together, the largest body of water in Colorado. It was fun to drive by large bodies of water and marvel at actual ground water up here. It was a good thirty minutes from one end to the end we were wanting to get at. Jet wanted to be entertained for part of it, and we found that he liked being handed Cheerios. He'd handle them and gradually get them to his mouth and eat them when he could get them there. He'd drop some of them, but he'd also get a surprising number into his mouth. Also, it surprised me how good his motor control skills have gotten because I could hold a Cheerio between my thumb and forefinger and he would actually run his hand along my forefinger and then close his thumb and forefinger on the Cheerio. He got it in a pincer grip and could easily put it in his mouth from that.

Jet had quite a lot more difficulty if the cereal piece was on someone's flat palm. He'd have to go through all the work of picking it up in the first place. But he'd do it, and when we were eating meals, it was prime entertainment for him, but he'd end up with about as many Cheerios on the floor as in his stomach.

The little town of Grand Lake is an Old West town turned towards tourism. It has all the little shops, the small restaurants, and all the little strip hotels. There was a fair going on in the main town square, and it looks like this weekend is the last of the summer season and since this is a lake resort, it's really a summer season place. It closes down for most of the winter.

Given that lake activities are probably not as fun and the Rocky Mountain National Park is closed for a good portion of the winter as the high passes close from snow, it makes sense that the livelihood of this little town would slow down or stop.

We drove in, wandered through town and went all the way back to where we came in to see our little hotel. We checked in, I fed Jet, and we then went walking to find our dinner. The hotel was at one end of the main drag, and we weren't quite sure what we wanted to have for dinner, so we walked all the way through town, peering at all the shops along the way as we did it. Quite a few of them were either closed or having a moving sale. Seems like there was one huge, after season sale and shuffle of all the stores in town. I think we counted over a dozen "We're moving too" sales, including a sports equipment store that had racks and racks of stuff out front.

One thing we missed was the little town fair we'd seen from the car when we'd driven through. They were taking down all the tents and there were only event people left in bright pink t-shirts. It was their end of summer celebration and the end of the fattest part of the tourist season. The passes through the Rocky Mountain National Park were going to close soon because of snow, and that would be the end of their season. The ski season would only be profitable further west.

The lake was one street away, and after surveying the possibilities for dinner, we headed that way and had fun watching the sun over the water. There was a pier with benches out on it, and the five of us headed out there. Jet watched the lapping water with that intense gaze he gives everything new, and we had him well shaded by the top of his stroller. The sun up here was really, really intense. It's just that much harder on the eyes and skin, and is nearly indescribable unless one's experienced it because it's not so much an increase in warmth as an increase in the abrasiveness of the light.

A woman and her dog came while we were sitting there. The dog had a life vest on, bright orange. John and I talked about how it wouldn't have been as useful on Fezzik as part of the vest was the handle on the back for hauling the dog out of the water. With Fezzik it would have taken both of us anyway and we'd be in danger of tipping the boat, and he had swum so well all his life it would have been harder to get him out than get him to go to the shore from the pier. It turned out, however, that a boat pulled up and the lady got on and had to drag the dog into the boat. Poor pup didn't want to be out on the water, and I could see why a life vest would have been a necessity, then. Out in the middle of a lake with a fear of water would be bad.

We left when the sun had gotten far enough down that Jet's shade was nearly useless. The water was reflecting the light as well, and it was so bright down there it almost hurt; but it was gorgeous, too. A sight we don't see that often, the sun setting over the rippling waters of the lake with trees all around and the mountain tops ranged around us. The evergreens covered most of the slopes, but here and there were the swathes of color from aspens and other deciduous trees. We breathed the scent of water and finally walked away. There was a nice little park from the lake to the main road and that took us up and out right where the restaurant we wanted was.

It was a BBQ place. Dad and Mom had been here when they went to the park, had pulled BBQ pork sandwiches, and it was the only BBQ place left in town. The prices were good, the meals sounded interesting, so we went in. Jet charmed the waitress completely by craning his neck to look up at her and give her a big grin. She fell in love with him immediately, and was really great about getting us a good table with plenty of space for all the paraphernalia that always comes with a baby. We got Jet set up in his high chair, ordered, got our drinks and began the adventure of feeding Jet while feeding ourselves as well.

There were do-it-yourself combinations platters, and I ended up with a quarter of a chicken and a small portion of ribs. They offered a mustard BBQ sauce as well as a 'normal' BBQ sauce and I debated terribly before settling on the local, herbal based mustard sauce. I figured that I really should eat the local stuff if I was going to be here; but there was some part of me that thought it might be safer to have the 'regular' sauce. I was wrong. The mustard sauce was really lovely, sweet, tangy, complexly herbal and there was that bite of mustard that goes so well with most meats. The meats themselves had been done beautifully, they were moist, tender, and the ribs just fell off the bone and all of them were really tasty and smoky with good grilling technique as well as that caramelization of good grilling.

We ate heartily. Jet watched everything, and was taking everything in, though he was pretty tired already from the day. He was still going a mile a minute and once he was comfortable, he started talking. He got gradually louder and louder and when folks tried to feed him, he was so excited he wouldn't eat. He also seemed to be avoiding the spoon, as if contact with it was hurting, and he didn't want to do that. Finally, just in idle curiosity, I fed him just a little bit of my Sprite through a straw. Just an inch of straw capacity. He loved it. So I thought a bit and drew about an inch's worth of baby food into the straw and offered that to him. He sucked that down. I gradually started drawing more and more into the straw and he ate more and more out of it. Eventually, I was drawing nearly a whole straw's worth of food, and he would just suck all the length of that down in quick draws off his end of it. He ate nearly a jar's worth of baby food that way, finally getting a bit too much air when I was getting air near the bottom of the jar.

I had to clean him up and then burp him and he was a very happy, full little baby, who needed a change. John was gracious enough to take him, since I'd been doing the feeding parts. When he came back, we were all paid up and ready to go again.

We'd had a relatively early dinner. And when we went back down to the water, the sun had already gone down; but there was still plenty of twilight to see by and the street lights were really good about coming on as soon as the sky got dark. We found ourselves a patch of clean grass by the water, and the five of us settled onto it. Jet was less dubious about the grass this time, and immediately latched onto a game of find the leaves and try to eat them. The area got cleared pretty quickly, and then Jet found that the grassy ground was really good for getting down into and rolling around on. So we cheerfully watched him and cheered him on and played with him.

Two ladies walked by, one younger, the other older, and the elder one stopped to tell us, "Now *this* is grandparent paradise."

I think she was right.

After a good long stretch there, and Jet getting tired enough that he couldn't sit up easily on his own anymore, though he was still in a good mood, we settled him back in his stroller and went back up to the main street and a candy and ice cream parlor we'd seen. They had quite a few homemade chocolates and candies as well as their own ice cream. We all got single dip cones and ate them contentedly, even as the night started to get really cold, on our way back to the hotel. We peered into closed stores, pointed out the one grocery store, and wandered the whole way back in the dark.

When we got there, Jet was fast asleep in his stroller. On getting there, however, he woke up as we got into the room. With just that brief rest, he was playing again, this time on the floor of the hotel room. He was really content to play with everything and anything, chasing toys, backwards, across the room. Actually, I guess he was really trying to go forwards. He's see a toy, grunt with effort and move limbs and find that he was moving further away from that toy, get frustrated, move faster, and then bump, backwards, into a different toy. The toy would give him enough traction to sit up and play with it, or get in his way as he would be trying to sit up so that he'd roll over right there, and then he'd be off again.

It was pretty obvious that he was really trying hard to sit up from being on his front, but the motions he was making were all causing him to move instead of being quite enough to get him far enough up to balance. He was, however, rolling at will and found that he could dive, headfirst, forward, for anything he really, truly wanted. And he was just going for some thing, especially the orange lizard with the ruff around its head. Jet really loved to dive for the tail of the lizard and he sucked on it until it was just soggy. Then when he'd caught the lizard or another toy, he's growl happily as he wrestled with it and chewed on ears, tails, or toes.

Jet was great. He was having so much fun. Then it was time to sleep, and I just took him and nursed him while John got ready for bed. Then, when he was done, like usual, I went to get ready for bed. After all the running water of me brushing my teeth, pulling my eyes, and getting ready, the flushing of the toilet sent a mostly asleep Jet into screams of rage. It might not have just been the noise. He was pretty darned tired, and he'd had a really long day, and we don't know if he was teething as well or not. But whatever it was, picking him up and holding him was making him even madder, which is really, really unusual for him.

On the really bad nights, the worst thing that happens is that Jet can't go to sleep if we lay him down. If we hold him, he sleeps just fine on us; but this time even holding him was making him even more angry. Finally, I just set him down and hummed, really low, to him. He cried and wriggled and squirmed on his strange crib, and I was worried that the strangeness of it, itself, was part of the problem; but finally, he started to slow down, to listen to my humming, and his breathing started to ease and his sobs of outrage gradually slowed down and evened out. And then he was asleep.

I crept to bed and tried not to make any sounds. The problem was that the hotel beds had flatter pillows than I normally am used to, and I finally had to get up to get another pillow. Jet woke up and started screaming in earnest. Again, holding him was only making him more angry. So after trying everything, we finally gave him a dose of Tylenol. He went out like a light. We blinked at each other in relief and went back to bed and whenever John started to snore, I'd wake him up to get him to stop. This went on until about 2 am, when I was finally so tired and so full of milk that I just didn't care anymore, and, sure enough, as soon as John got a good snore going, Jet woke up.

It wasn't the screaming, though, thank goodness. He actually settled in for nursing, just a short 15 minute session and he dropped off and I put him back down in the crib and he just went back to sleep. I went to bed this time and was so tired, I just dropped off. When Jet woke up again, it was 7.

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Copyright 2001 Liralen Li. All Rights Reserved.