For the first time since arriving in CO, we went camping this past weekend.  What a great time we had!!  Friends own a plot of ranch land high up in the mountains.  They don’t live there yet, but have built a tiny cabin in which they stay when they visit.  They were planning a visit, so they invited us to join them.  We jumped at the chance, and drove the roughly 2 hours to the ranch.  We had been forewarned that the last 15 miles of the trip was dirt and gravel roads.  Man, what a trip that was!  And with the sharp inclines, steep edges, and windy mountainous terrain, it was also not a trip for the faint of heart! 

We arrived to find a mountain paradise.  Their piece of land is situated perfectly on the top of a mountain, and the cabin/camp site is tucked into a “saddle” between the peaks.  Once we got our tent set up, we hiked to the top of the nearest peak for a 360 degree, sunset view of the surrounding ranch.

The view overlooking the Sangre de Cristo mountain range, complete with snow-capped peaks.

Looking back down at our camp site, tucked neatly into the saddle between peaks. If you look closely, you can see our tent.

 The first night, I had a bit of trouble sleeping.  In the 24 hours before our arrival, they had spotted a mountain lion about 1/2 mile or so away and a bear less than 50 feet from our tent site.  As a result, upon our arrival, they had armed us with bear-deterent spray, and we had been very careful to let nothing fragrant or food related enter our tent. Needless to say, I was full of mommy-fears, and awoke to every little noise outside my tent.   As the night drug on, I heard a myriad of sounds, not limited to countless coyotes yapping around us. It had its perks, too, though, as I awoke at sunrise to 2 bull-elk bugling their greetings (or warnings as it may be) nearby. Nonetheless, we arose the next morning, eager to explore the ranch further. We hiked down the wash to the lower meadows of the ranch. 

A learning the thrills of hiking new terrain. He was a bit unsure at first, but hiked a long way with only limited assistance.

Taking a little break in the meadow, by the creek.

Another view of the surrounding skyline.

Where there is water, kids and dogs will play! It is an absolute miracle no children wound up soaking wet, though we all got thoroughly splashed by the dogs' constant shaking off their wet fur!

After a good day's mountain adventures, there is really only one decent way to get small children clean....the nearby utility sink, hooked to a solar-heated water hose!

N having an absolute blast in the "bath," as A looks on, patiently awaiting his turn.

Finally, after a thorough cleaning, we all headed into the nearest little mountain town for some ice cream and July 4th fireworks.  Unfortunately, after we arrived in the town, we realized all the stores were already closed.  Eventually, we found a little supermarket still open (they closed while I was inside), so I ran in and bought the first 6-pack of ice cream bars I could find.  It’s pretty easy to please our kids! 

I had to sample one of the ice cream treats......only to ensure they were safe for the children, of course!

After dessert, we headed out to a lake for the fireworks show.  As we waited for the sun to set and the show to start, we were entertained by a very unexpected, HUGE, squall line of thunderstorms in the distance.  They were flashing more lightning than even the firework display could compete with.  As the night wore on, we feared the thunder cells were headed to our little camp on the mountain top, which made us a bit nervous, so we discussed the option of piling into the cabin with our friends if it became necessary for safety.  Eventually, we headed back, keeping a close eye on the lightning as we drove. 

After little sleep the previous night, and a busy day of physical activity, I am happy to report, we all slept soundly in our tent that night.  The cells by-passed our area, but we found out the next morning that they had caused a great deal of damage in the form of 6-inch hail balls all over eastern and northern Colorado.  So much, in fact, they had to bring out snow plows, and even had to close I-70 for a period of time until it could all be cleaned up.  Thank the Lord we didn’t get hit by that while staying in a tent!!

The next morning, we all packed up our things to head in our individual directions. 

Packing up the tent.

 We had an absolutely wonderful time, and this kind of camping was SOOOOOO much more enjoyable than staying in a public camp-ground with the sights, sounds, and smells that come with it.  I love being out in nature, feeling totally secluded.  Somehow, it almost makes me feel closer to God in some respects, being out there among His creation, enjoying the beauty of this land He has given us.  S actually brought his guitar on the trip, so we were able to sit around the campfire and sing praises to our Heavenly Father, and read his word together on several occasions.  What an amazing experience!