The year was 1998 – just a year after my dad died and something unexpected happened.  My first-ever Rocky Mountain adventure.  Looking back, I’m not sure how I navigated the high hurdles with my mixed-up mom so that I could go. Selective amnesia can be a good thing…some memories belong at the curb, not in the heart.  When the opportunity came to escape…just a little…for a work trip to Denver, I was ecstatic and so were my conference-presenting partners.  On a whim, we’d written a proposal to present at a research-oriented annual convening and truth-be-told, no one was more surprised than moi when we received our acceptance notification. Okay, then…off to Denver we went!

When you’re a mom of a toddler and you’ve got extraneous, dangling family duties of other sorts (crazy mother, disabled sister, and a plate too full of professional aspirations) the notion of flying the coop into a four-day adult experience is both thrilling and fearsome. Added into the milieu was the timing…flying to Denver in November, in a year when Mother Nature chose to bring substantial snow – early snow — to the Rockies.  Dare devils, we were.  Dare devils…of the fluff ball variety. Not a single one amongst us was any sort of risk-taker.

But we went and it was fun, fun, fun.  So much fun that we decided a little escapism was in order.  Only one in our crew had ever been to Estes Park and the allure of the Stanley Hotel was powerful.  Honestly, the appeal of visiting the venue associated with “The Shining” gave us shivers, just thinking about.  Unrelated to the weather. 

The prospect of daring to ditch the conference (only after we’d presented, of course) made us giddy like a bunch of teenagers. We rented a car and made a road trip of it and silly me…I was more excited about stepping foot in The Stanley than the beautiful drive from Denver and the picturesque qualities of Estes Park itself.  You see…that year, I was a mountain novice.  Other than a trip once or twice to the Smokey Mountains…driving thru to get elsewhere, mountain magic eluded me.

Spoiler about “The Stanley”.  Ho hum, ho hum.  Smaller than expected and no weird willy moments.  Nada.  Except for the stellar group pic from the front porch (snipped in above), visiting the supposed inspiration for Stephen King’s super spooktacular “The Shining” was boring.  So, we decided to split up, do some exploring elsewhere in Estes Park.  Trinket stores and fudge shops were everywhere and the opportunity for do-it-yourselfer walking tours sounded great.  Fresh air…and time for a few of us to reboot our introverted souls with a bit of solitude.

Me?  I ambled down some side streets and realized one was a dead end…delivering pedestrians to a park and a hiking gateway.  I’m no hiker, and as you can see from the pic, my version of ‘adventure wear’ was an Icelandic-looking reindeer sweater.  A favorite from Eddie Bauer that I wore to shreds…so comfy…but still, not hiking gear. 

I had time before the meet-up with my friends, so I followed the path, and without another soul in sight, I happened upon a hollowed-out tree, turned into a bench and a resting spot.  The weather up until then had been overcast, but stunning glimpses of the elevations around Estes Park were slightly visible but obscured by clouds.  As I sat on the bench, I enjoyed the solitude and unexpectedly, the clouds shifted, providing me with a stunning peek of a peak.

I’d forgotten about the high altitude in Estes Park, given the cloud cover, and after my short baby-hike, I unknowingly ventured higher than I imagined.  (Thank goodness for gradual grades on a path, right?  So gradual I didn’t know I was ascending.)  As I sat and took in the view, my breath escaped from my body – one big outflow in a way that I cannot describe. Not just a ‘take your breath away’ moment but a full body shiver and shake.  Like I was in the presence of something…requiring my full attention.  The something?  That blessed peak in front of me.

I didn’t know how far away I was from it, in reality, but to my eye, if I extended my arms, my fingertips would’ve touched the snow cap.  So close.  When the sun added a glimmer, enough to make me squint, I realized I was crying.  My dad’s nickname was “Sonny” because his mother always referred to him as her ‘little sunshine’ and in that moment, my papa who’d passed – about 18 months before – was right there with me.  I felt overwhelmed and the only thought in my head was “mountain magic” and then his voice saying, “Remember there’s magic in the mountains”. 

I’m still not sure what to make of that experience but it’s a keeper.  When I rejoined my friends my bestie Linda could tell I was ‘off’.  She and our other pals stocked up on treats for the ride back to Denver – tons of fudge and some mixed nuts – and as we walked back to the car she just asked, “Are you okay?” and then “Where’d you go?  My answer was pretty cloaked because I wasn’t sure what to say.  What I recall thinking…but I don’t know if it came out of my mouth…was this: “I think I found magic in the mountains.”

Thanks so much for reading.  It’s Thanksgiving today in the U.S. and this memory…of my moment in the mountains…was the first thing I thought of when I woke up this morning.  I figured it was my dad’s way of saying hello.  So, from him…and from me…sending hugs and reminders to look for magic…it might be right in front of you.

Vicki 😊

16 thoughts on “Mountain Magic

  1. And THiS is why I positively cannot wait to read your book! I’m soloing it right now, but still had vowed not to be on my phone until everything was done. Then… I saw your post, and well, once I’d started, I couldn’t put it down.

    I felt like I was right there with you. From juggling responsibilities to excitement to solitude to the magical moment itself. Absolutely beautiful! Thank you for sharing this memory with us! 🫶🏼

    On a semi-related note, when is your book coming out? 👏🏼

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh no… I’m pulling you off task! Thanks so much for your enthusiasm, Kendra! I’m glad you liked the post…it was an easy one to write…all right there when I woke up. I love when that happens. Hmm…benefit of aging…more stories tucked away inside! 😀 As for the book…my publisher says ‘early 2023’ but we’ll see what happens when he actually gets his hands on the updated draft. You’re so kind…and please know your encouragement means so much. Truly. And now…get your Thanksgiving tasks back on track (she said…also speaking to herself!).
      xo! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m easily sidetracked, thus the reason for my post this morning. 😜 But reading this was so worth it!! Thank you for the book update as well. I’ll continue looking forward to it!! And now, for real, I’m going to get back to it. 😃😘

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, I love, love, love this post. First of all because I love the magic in the mountains. But mostly of course because of the magic of your dad coming to say hello. What an incredible moment and you write it so well.

    There is a particular kind of light that comes in through the windows now and again and I know its my dad and Biscuit coming to visit. Doesn’t matter how – I just feel it. We are blessed when they come to say, “hi”

    Beautiful post, wonderful writing, momentous magic!! XOXO

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love the imagery of Biscuit and your papa popping in…as you said, the how isn’t the point…but boy, what a feeling, right?! I’ve wanted to write about the Estes Park story for a while…especially thinking about you, my real, true ‘mountain girl’ and all that you’ve shared about your fantastic adventures. Awe-struck, I am. I’m sure there’s a story or two behind your mountaineering adventures and how the peaks…so many peaks have called to you. If you’ve written about that, I’ve missed it…so refresh my memory, when you have time. LOL!
      This morning it was easy to write about my mountain moment because my papa brought it in… full force…in a memory. So delightful. All the ‘mountain magic’ you bring is just another reason why I adore you, Wynne. 😘

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I love that your dad is still bringing it 25 years after his passing. They never leave us, do they? I find that to be so comforting.

        What an interesting question about how the mountains called. I’ve got to think about that on a different level because I’ve never wondered that before. But they’ve each had their own merit and moment. Hmm.. You’re so right about mountain magic.

        I adore you too!! XOXO!!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Oh — yippee! I’ve given you something to mull over…like you need one more thing – wink! 😉 But really — will you? Mull, that is.
          And yes to your observation and experience about our papas. Our beloveds might be gone…in the literal, physical sense, but if we pay close attention, they are oh-so near. xo! ❤

          Like

  3. What a beautiful and powerful experience, Vicki. I think it was your Dad all right. And I agree … magic is all around us, and it’s important to be receptive to those moments and thankful for them. Happy Thanksgiving!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I agree with An Audience of One. Can’t wait to read your book. A powerful, touching story for Thanksgiving. Like you, I’m not sure I would know what to make of it . . . but maybe that’s the beauty of it. You needed a break. The nature. The solitude. The mountains in the distance. The glimmering sun. No matter what, you felt your father’s presence and that’s what counts. Love too that the memory comes back to what. Hope you had a wonderful thanksgiving too!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I was thinking more about your blog last night. I thought of an experience I had a few years ago after I visited my mother. My father had been dead for a few years, but a lot of old memories had come up in the short visit. Before I left for home, I decided to go for a quick hike on an old trail that my friends and I used to hike. It’s a steep old trail that quarry workers built in the 30s. It’s very steep. Anyway, it was a brisk fall day. I got to the top and was amazed at how out of breath I was. I sat down on an old log and, as I was sitting there, I got to thinking about my dad and our relationship, I felt a warmth come over me. I wasn’t sure what to make of it, I still don’t. My faith comes and goes, but I prefer to think it was God and my father’s presence. It didn’t get rid of my feelings, but I felt confidence that everything would work out. I was able to get past some of the garbage and see love and caring and see things much more positively. It’s a happy memory for me. Thanks so much for the reminder! Thought you’d appreciate knowing it helped remind me of the experience.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Wowza! That’s a wallop of a wonderful memory! Thank you so much for sharing…I bet there’s a beautiful blog post that you might write – based on that powerful experience! ❤️😉❤️

          Like

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