Making Memories When Grandkids Are Young
It has been 22 years ago today that I lost a brother to Cancer and 21 years ago today that I had my heart attack. While thinking back on my 60 plus years on this earth I look forward to a new chapter beginning with the 70s.
We have lived in Colorado Springs continually since late 1984 and all too soon the girls were married and had children of their own. I soon found myself being called papa by four little tykes. Soon after I had my heart attack in 1998 I was hospitalized for 3 days. The grandkids were brought up to the cardiac unit and one leaned over and asked “Papa did they take out your heart?” I told him, “Yes so don’t mess with me,” (I don’t think he really believed me).
I began stressing to my daughters the importance of creating moments that will last with their children.
When the grandkids were old enough I began taking them to the mountain town of Cripple Creek where they ran a narrow-gage railroad and had a museum in nearby Victor. Since then things have changed as Cripple Creek has an entirely different purpose since casinos were brought into certain cities in Colorado.
Normally our travels would take us to McDonalds or someplace with a play area. Happy Meals and an indoor playground were all that was needed to keep them happy. There was a time or two that I rescued at least one of the grandkids from certain terror at the top of the slide tunnel.
We would sometimes go first into the visitor’s center at Bear Creek Park to learn about wild animals native to the area and begin walking through the park looking for animal tracks. One time we found signs of a carpenter bear when I spotted a rusty nail lying in the snowy trail. There were the apple trees where we would pick apples to eat as we walked. Often we would see deer, ground squirrels and rabbits along the trail. We would follow up with a trip to Patsy’s Candy to watch taffy was being made and enjoy the samples. Other times we might go to Palmer Park and climb the rocks or just follow trails.
Road trips were especially fun (at times) like the trip to Disneyland, by way of Boise Idaho with a stopover at Grandma and Grandpa Idaho’s (my folks). We spent the 4th of July visiting and watching the fireworks. We headed due West through Central Oregon, passing a huge field of Elk, before reaching the Pacific Ocean. Driving south along the coast we saw seals and sea lions and even stopped at an aquarium where they petted live sharks. We crossed the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco then down to Monterey where we began driving along Highway 1 through Big Sur and all the way to Los Angeles and reaching Disneyland. We spent a full day going through at Disneyland, riding the rides yet it seemed the kids wanted to play in the swimming pool back at the motel. We then headed to Las Vegas and swam in the pool, saw a magic show before headed back to Colorado Springs where we conveniently deposited the kids with their respective parents.
Another road trip was with the two older ones (cousins) to a reunion in Newport News, Virginia by way of Wichita, Kansas where we watched a crop duster spraying crops and then on to St. Roberts, Missouri (Fort Leonard Wood) where we visited with a friend. Next we drove through Tennessee, West Virginia and on to Virginia, after a missed turn that almost took us into Washington DC we made it to Newport News (Ft. Eustis) and the reunion where we did the bus tour to Washington DC and the Mall where we walked among the monuments and around the Lincoln Memorial and the Vietnam Memorial Wall. We drove through the under the Hampton Roads bridge on I-64 where we visited with friends in Norfolk before driving back to Colorado.
There were numerous road trips to Boise, Idaho to visit family and each had their special moments around Grandma and Grandpa Idaho’s place where it was always an adventure with undiscovered treasures. Instead of a snipe hunt we went on a skunk hunt and ended up at the neighborhood gas station with a huge Stinker (skunk) sign. Other times we went out to my brother’s homes in nearby Ola where they had dogs, horses and chickens. Sometimes we saw eagles along the river and had to dodge numerous wild deer that darted across the highway.
A little closer to home was a trip out to Peterson AFB to see Air Force One during a George W. Bush visit to the Air Force Academy graduation. The kids loved to watch the movie and I thought it would be special to see the real one in person. Fat chance, they began bickering with each other and it had captured their attention so they did not notice when I parked facing the huge aircraft. With secret service all around I decided to leave before the president arrived back from the graduation ceremony. We almost made it before they blocked all traffic at the north gate and the presidential motorcade barreled to the flight line. The kids didn’t even notice.
These are just a few of the memories with the grandkids, now grown and with kids of their own. I’m still papa, but in reality I’m great-grandpa (I really am great, ask me). – The Real Truckmaster!