Earlier this year as we waited out the cold winter months, we sat down one day to plan our vacation. We try to go somewhere as a family every year, whether it's a favorite spot or exploring somewhere new with our kids. Growing up the daughter of a farmer/truck driver, I'd traveled to nearly all the lower 48 states by the time I graduated high school. Travel is in my blood…. and I think it's safe to say that it's in my boys' blood too, especially Jacob who has a list a mile long of places he wants to go next. When we started thinking about where we wanted to go, it seemed like we all had the same goal in mind…. We just wanted something simple, some place we could relax. For us that place was Colorado. Once we knew what we really wanted, that's when we found Mountain View Chalet; it was as though it was meant to be from the get go.
None of us were quite sure what to expect; we'd read that if you visit the Chalet in the winter months, you for sure need AWD or 4WD. Traveling back a gravel road and then a mile or two back a private drive, we finally arrived at our little cabin in the woods. It was dark, and by dark I mean pitch black, not another soul around. The little gas burning stove in the kitchen was going, and the cabin quickly warmed as we got settled. Though it was dark when we arrived and we were a little cranky at the point of exhaustion, the next morning we woke up to what words can't even describe…. beauty beyond words. Windows and a skylight lit up the cabin, and I couldn't help but enjoy the view from every single window.
While the cabin itself had Wi-Fi, good cell coverage, and satellite tv, we were miles from anyone else, and the quiet was almost surreal. Oh sure, I'd sit outside in my favorite spot and listen to the train far off in the distance, and occasionally, I'd hear the purr of a chain saw…. but it was so quiet and peaceful.
We got quite comfy in our little cabin, with Dan and I in the loft and the boys on the futon bed below. Critters walked around outside at night, and the first night there, I may have accidentally scared Jaden with the thought of Sasquatch (bad mama). We had to conserve and watch our consumption of both electricity and water, as the cabin was off the grid with solar power and a water cistern, along with gas. It was actually really good for us to think about these things, and I think we brought home a few new habits from that experience…. good, conserving, money saving habits.
Instead of rushing through breakfast, a picnic table afforded us a spectacular mountain view as we ate. In the distance we could see an old mine (there were mines everywhere, so fascinating), snowy mountains, Devil's Thumb sticking up off the side of a mountain, other cabins, and miles upon miles of trees. Just about every morning, I'd head out to my favorite spot on the bench or hammock swing (they really had thought of everything when they built this cabin), and I'd gaze out over the mountains. I can still feel the breeze blowing through the aspens, blowing through my hair; I can still hear the click-click-click of the grasshoppers, the squirrels chattering; I can still smell the wonderful scent of pines.
Our boys had the run of the land, exploring to their hearts' content, playing checkers with stones on the outdoor checker board.
About a half mile walk away lay an old pioneer cemetery. All around were pinecones to pick up, trails and forest to explore. A fire pit lay just up the hill, and of course, we couldn't not have a camp fire complete with hot dogs and s'mores. The stars…. Oh my goodness, the stars! While we can see the stars really well from where we live now, there's just something beautiful about viewing the stars from 9,000 feet in elevation, in complete and utter darkness with no lights around. We stood huddled together (either because we love each other or because we were skeered of the dark), pointing out the Space Station, constellations, and planets.
Each day was a gift in and of itself. Each day we'd get up and decide then and there what we wanted to do that day. No plans, no reservations…. just us and the Rocky Mountains. We went fishing at Snowline Lake, free fishing permits provided at 2 fish/day. We spent time exploring old cemeteries, 'cause we're weird like that. We explored the little mountain town of Nederland, pretty much falling in love with its quirkiness and small town feel, making little trips into town here and there, whether to the little mountain grocery store, the Mountain People's Co-Op for fresh fruit, the book shop, or the bakery. We traveled up Mount Evans, where I proceeded to get sick as a dog with altitude sickness (altitude sickness is real, people!). We took old dirt roads up through the mountains, driving through old abandoned mining towns, old mines everywhere. We went into Hidee Gold Mine and mined for gold (which we got to carry out with us). We hiked in Rocky Mountain National Park. We spent lazy mornings in the hammock.
We perused the book shelf in the cabin, and I had the fleeting thought that I think I could actually get into birding….
There are so many other things I can't wait to write about, but for now, let me just say this…. A simple vacation is the best vacation. One day at a time, complete and utter simplicity, a little cabin in the woods, a mountain town nearby…. Simple was everything to us this year.
I could write more of a review of our cabin, but reflecting on the simplicity this cabin brought to our vacation means so much more. As I sifted through photos picking out the ones I wanted to share, Jaden walked by and exclaimed that this was our cabin in Colorado! He started to get a little sad, and frankly, so did I. I can't really explain it because even though the cabin isn't ours, I feel a little homesick for it. I'm homesick for a Mountain View Chalet in the middle of nowhere in the Colorado Rockies. Homesick for that precious time we had as a family.
As we were getting ready to leave, I took out the guest book to leave a note, and I felt like I couldn't thank the owners enough. They've created something very special in this hand-crafted cabin, and they're sharing this special place with so many others. It's not just a family retreat for them…. it's the means to a simple vacation for so many others who come to the mountains for a quiet retreat. It's simplicity at its best…. beauty in all its splendor.
Get all the deets on Mountain View Chalet…. you may find yourself enjoying a simple vacation very soon.