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Colorado Livin' / Family Travel

Summer in the San Luis Valley: there’s no place like home (for three weeks)

Summer in the San Luis Valley: there’s no place like home (for three weeks)

Fact: The San Luis Valley is the largest alpine valley in the world, surrounded by mountains in all directions.
Fact: Our average growing season is a whopping 90 days.
Fact: July and August are generally the only frost-free months out of the entire year.

In case I’m being vague here, this place is in a perpetual state of COLD.

That is, until now. My favorite time of the year used to be fall with its turkeys and piles of yellow leaves and Labor Day sales. That was when I was a southern New Mexican, back when fall was a tall glass of ice-cold beer after weathering the climactic equivalent of scalding-hot lemonade for five solid months.

But now that I’m living in a satellite of the Arctic Circle, SUMMER is my new season of choice. The heck with soaring gas prices ’cause this is the time of year when I am totally committed to NOT traveling. I’m telling you, come July, THE SLV is the place to be.

sanluisSo in an effort to maximize our short stint with Mr. Sun, my children and I are ignoring our allergies and electronic addictions to go HIKING.

We are reading trashy novels under shade trees. We are picking cottonwood seeds out from our cold drinks and hair. We are quickly harvesting flowers and doing our best to ignore the weeds. We are fixing flat bicycle tires, falling asleep at outdoor concerts, getting low-maintenance haircuts, and barbequing foods that are bad for us. We are painting our neglected toenails, trying to shave our legs regularly, and planting tomatoes in vain.

Our windows are perpetually open and our house perpetually buzzing with flying things. At dusk, we are breaking out with the blankets and sitting outside to watch the bats take over where the robins left off. We are burning citronella and keeping the camphor nearby. We are examining constellations while searching the sky for UFOs.

We have a lot of recreating to do before August when the nights will, AGAIN, start to drop in temperature, driving The Wimps back indoors. Here’s hoping the price of gas has also dropped by then. That’s about the time I feel a strong pull towards the equator, my body saying, “NOOOO. IT’S TOO EARLY TO GIVE UP SUMMER.”

-Catherine Dix

Mile High Mamas
Author: Mile High Mamas

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  1. We work at home, so we use a bit of gas on the weekends to do some hiking in them thar hills. Does that offset the fumes and waste of petroleum? Hmm…

    I hear ya on the summer activities. Now that we are parents, going out and doing things (especially FREE things) seem even more important. Family bonding and all, ya know?

    – Sarah

  2. You and I have the opposite approach, dearie. I LOATHE Denver’s hot temperatures so my summer is all about heading to the hills or back home to Canada for the cooler climes!

  3. Amber, I’ve been doing my Happy Cold Dance every day this summer! After 12 years in Phoenix, Denver’s temperatures are WONDERFUL – though I’m thinking I’d prefer it up in the mountains, where there’s frost almost all year long!

    And I’m a SAHM with a Toyota – we don’t worry about gas prices.

  4. The price of gas here on the other side of the world has always been high enough to make one find all the nice things right out in the backyard ($9.48/gallon at the moment). And as I married on of those very important farming types, and gave him three children in the space of 37 months, summer is always a season of ‘Please God, just let me make it through another day”. That’s not to say we don’t enjoy the odd out-doorsy thing, but considering it gets dark between 10:30 and 11PM, I do keep the monkeys from UFO watch. I do indulge in it myself, most often with a bottle of cold rosé at hand. Wonder if that explains all those odd lights….
    I say bring on fall–you can always find a way of keeping warm, right?

  5. Actually it has. We got a book from Barnes and Nobles that is one day hikes here in Colorado.

    My best guy friend and I were gonna go and do these hikes, but, the gas prices has halted us from going up there. It’s sad really, because it would be so wonderful to get out of the heat in Denver, I hate it!

  6. The gas prices have affected our travel plans…I refuse to add the Thule on top of our car because I’m sure it makes it less aerodynamic (???). But we have bravely continued on with our trips to Utah, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Idaho. I’d rather eat ramen noodles for the next 6 months than stop travelling with my family!

  7. See, all I have to do to quit feeling sorry for myself at the gas pump is to talk with Doc. $9.48/gal??? HOLY. CRAP. France be expensive!! Thank goodness for all that free health care, huh?!

  8. FREE healthcare? Can I send you my tax bills?

  9. Touché!
    Please, no tax bills!! I’m hoping for some of my own next presidency.

  10. You don’t like cold sports with your kids? Why not? The pile of clothes you have to put on then peel off to let them go to the bathroom one hundred times. All the mittens drying on the wood stove, the boot inserts, etc.

    I grew up in Canada where snow would pile up to the second level of our home.

    I now live in Carbondale and I am not sure I like the amount of snow here. I lived in New York City for many years and I miss it.
    Any other family out there missing New York city but also living the outdoor life that Colorado offers.

  11. I forgot to answer your gas question.

    Oh, my yes. My husband and I are both Canadian and teachers. We have the summer off and we are staying here in Colorado. We could not afford the airline tickets or the thought of the gas bill after five days of driving to the east coast with a two year old.

    We are even doing less driving around Colorado to save money but also to have less of an impact on our planet.

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