When he was a child, LCB and his family stayed at the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park while attending a conference. LCB had come away with fond memories, so when we decided we’d be traveling through Estes Park on this trip, he was determined to take us back there.
I was mostly fine with this; the campus seemed large and filled with many amenities and activities. I said mostly, however; secretly, I was hoping it wouldn’t be like one of those spa “vacations” where they actually make you do stuff, like waking you up at the crack of dawn to do a few rounds of downward-facing dog and the plow pose by the side of the mountain, all in the name of relaxation. Because you know what relaxes me? Not being woken up at the crack of dawn when there’s perfectly good sleep to be had. Also, I’m now at the age where it’s possible to get stuck doing those sorts of things.
It’s true. I had visions of college students dressed like park rangers dragging me from bed or from perfectly good meals that involved chocolate to go explore “healthy living and social responsibility” (part of YMCA’s tag line) with activities like hiking while trash collecting (“Lunge and grab the unidentified waste, campers, and then pop back up and smile at the bear!”) and rock climbing with recycled gear.
These are just not things I do when I’m on vacation with a chance at sleep and/or chocolate.
But as happens from time to time, I was wrong. They do have a smorgasbord of activities (although no bear smiling or recycled gear as far as I know), but they are all completely voluntary and really, none of the college students looked like park rangers. Pretty much, they just looked young and more prone toward five a.m. adventures than I’ll ever be, but they weren’t overly in-your-face about their exuberance.
Some activities and amenities are included with your room rate, like mini-golf, the pool, the game room, certain sporting activities, the playground, campfires, and so forth. Others are offered for an extra fee.
One of Baby-girl’s favorite places, for instance, was the craft center, where you could choose from any number of different types of crafts.
The first day she chose to paint a ceramic horse.
The second day she made a small jewelry box with a mosaic top.
On the second day, LCB and the small people decided to try rock climbing. They began with a short lesson and then gave participants an hour or so to try out three different walls.
Naturally, my people all insisted on trying the hardest of the three walls for their climbs,
with only one climbing exception. The rain made the walls slippery, but everyone embraced the challenge.
Later that day, we all went horseback riding, along with maybe a dozen other riders. Not including pony rides and such, it was the first time riding for the small people, so there was a little learning that took place the first few minutes of the ride for them. LCB and I had the great good fortune, however, of riding right in front of a know-it-all kid who liked to verbalize his knowledge. The lad, eager to share his inner thought life with the entire group, kept saying things like “I’m really good at this,” and “This is only my second time riding and I can totally control my horse.” Is it bad to mention that oblivion was clearly his natural state, just as docile was clearly his horse’s?
I debated about whether or not to say this next part. First, I’d like to point out that generally I avoid negative reviews. But I do love y’all and care about your well-being. Second, it’s important to note that I loved staying at the YMCA and I loved all their activities. I would highly recommend it to everyone. But for the love of all that is good and decent and if you hold your taste buds and your digestive system in any sort of regard at all, do not order pizza through their cafe. Seriously. As a former Chicagoan, I’m particular about my pizza, but this is not what this is about. This is about that pizza not being food. Seriously, we’re a “clean your plate” type of family, so ordering a large put us in a serious quandary until I offered a quasi-solution: Gag down the pieces we’d already “committed to” and then ditch the rest in the community fridge at our lodging in hopes some of the always-hungry teenagers staying there might have at it.
My apologies to the teenagers and to the community.
The morning we left, LCB and I decided to try our hands at archery. It’d been many a year since I’d roamed
my high school campus the lands with bow and arrow at the ready, so I was eager to try again.
Legolas here had better aim on the range, but I feel that in a battle situation I would have proved the greater victor. (I find hubris is best in hypothetical situations that will probably never happen – what are the odds that, in today’s day and age, I’ll ever be in a battle situation alongside LCB where bow and arrows will be the weapons of choice?)
After our lesson, we were ready to hit the road again, headed this time for South Dakota, home of the wonders of Mt. Rushmore, the Black Hills, Wall Drugs, and the Badlands (as well as one more chance to face my fears).