It was Mother’s Day. I asked Laura what she wanted to do for ‘our’ day. “Take a hike!” came the reply. Which I took to mean with me rather than telling me to get lost. We planned to drive Big Truck up to Pike’s Peak to experience America’s Mountain. After that, lunch and a visit to the U.S. Air Force Academy.
We loaded into Big Truck and hit the road. At the entrance to Pike’s Peak we waited in line. I noticed that all the other RV’s either in line or parked were not nearly as big as Big Truck. Surely that wouldn’t be a problem … but it was. Big Truck was Too Big. 12 feet too long to park, and too big to take the scenic drive up the mountain. The gate with its snobby attendant was the closest we would get to America’s Mountain. No hike, no scenic drive. But at least we could say we had been there.
Laura invoked Plan B to go to Cheyenne Mountain, “America’s Fortress” – a command post inside the mountain home to various US intelligence and security agencies. Inside the hiking section visitors center was a friendly, non-snobby, welcoming lady. We chose Zook Loop Trail and set off. The kids did great, Alex walked much of the way, and while the girls got tired toward the end it was a great hike. Mountain flowers, birds, and winding paths that offered shade.
After conquering Cheyenne Mountain, we climbed into the Big Truck for the trip back to our lodge. Molly was in the mood for cards so I agreed to Crazy Heights, best 3 out of 5. She beat me so bad the first two games I didn’t want to play anymore. But she said, “Wait a carrot-pickin’ minute! You promised best 3 out of 5.” And I had. She cleaned my clock at Crazy Eights.
Back at the lodge, Alex was back on schedule and ready for a nap. As part of our Mother’s Day gift to Laura, Grandpa and I decided to take the girls to USAFA with us and let Mom get a nap too. As we approached the entrance, two cadets in full camo uniforms including loaded weapon made their way to the driver’s side of the RV. Emily and Molly stood right behind Grandpa, curious. The armed officer checked Grandpa’s ID. He was respectful but his face and bearing showed he was thoroughly committed to doing his job. He informed Grandpa that he would have to do an inspection of the inside of the vehicle.
I turned to face the back and saw Molly’s eyes, big and serious. She turned and high tailed it back to her berth in the back of Big Truck, pulling the privacy curtain completely to a close. The officer opened the RV cabin door, performed a routine visual inspection. Emily sat calmly with us, but Molly was holed up. I couldn’t help but wonder what made her think she should hide, but it was kind of fun to see her intimidated for once.
At USAFA, we saw a film about the cadet experience, various military planes, then walked over to the chapel. It is unlike any chapel I’ve ever seen, beautiful and magnificent. The aluminum glass and steel structure has 17 spires, its ceiling 99 feet high. Stained glass windows form ribbons of color, the liturgical colors of Advent to Easter. The altarpiece was the shape of the arms of God ready to receive anyone who goes there in prayer. Semiprecious stones and marble from Italy adorn the inside. Truly a place to worship and feel the presence of God.
When it was time to leave, Grandpa let Molly ride shotgun and navigate us off the property. She loved the way Grandpa insisted she say “10 4” and “clear”. Communication must be a navigator’s trade, and she performed brilliantly. Apparently she had adapted quite nicely to military style authority.