The good news is that we're still going to try and make our trip...The bad news is we have to wait for the bodyshop to get the van fixed before we can leave. Hopefully, it will be done on Friday but I'm not holding my breath. We'll get out of Denver when we can and we'll do what we've always done and make the best out of our vacation. We've had hang ups like this before on vacations and what I've learned is that you can't really 'plan' a vacation. What I mean is that they never end up like the preconceived vision you built before you left. I like to think that vacations are not necessarily about relaxing but more about building life experiences. Let me give you some examples:
Summer 2005 - Wyoming
I was changing jobs and we decided to spend a couple of weeks in one of my favorite areas, NW Wyoming. The trip started out great, we did some camping and backpacking in the Bridger Wilderness (it was Aspen's first time backpacking) and then decided to head to Jackson to lay the ashes of my beloved dog, Maggie, to rest at a spot we had grown to love in the foothills overlooking Teton Valley. Maggie was the one that 'introduced' me to my wife many years back when I was at a low point in my life. I was calling my mom back in Ohio to wire me money because I was broke, didn't have a job, living out of a tent, and no plates on my truck. Misty agreed to hold on to my puppy while I talked on the phone (I didn't even know her name at that point). This was right on the main square in Jackson. Anyways, back to the story...We got up to the campsite, set up the tent, and headed back down the mountain to get something to eat...We still hadn't gotten Maggie laid to rest yet...Right in front of where we met, the car died...Coincidence or fate? I'd like to believe it was Maggie telling us we needed to spend a couple of unplanned days in Jackson on foot. Rather than wallow in our misfortune, we made the best of the unexpected time to explore Jackson with Aspen on foot.
January 2006 - Jamaica
A friend of mine from Montana Tech had decided to join the Peace Corps and was stationed in Jamaica. We decided to take a week and go visit him. We get to the airport to find out United's computer system was down. The lines were horrendous, we were destined to miss our flight to Chicago. Somehow we were able to weasel our way onto a flight but our luggage didn't make it and we had to sleep on the benches outside of ticketing at O'Hare. At some point in the night, Aspen threw up and the janitor had to come by and clean it up. The next morning we're getting our tickets when the agent tells Misty that her birth certificate is not valid for travel...WHAT?!?...Yep, we still need to get passports...Anyways, Misty could not get on the flight and being the considerate and caring person that she is, she suggested that Aspen and I continue on with our vacation and she'll fly back to Denver. That decision was hard enough on Aspen and I but we could only imagine how hard of a decision that must have been for Misty to make.
We made it to Jamaica but first I got lectured by the customs lady for not having a certified letter from my wife stating I was allowed to travel with my daughter out of country (I later found out that they could've taken Aspen into custody until I could produce the letter). My friend was in utter disbelief that Misty wasn't there. He kept waiting for her to pop out from around the corner and say 'surprise'! Still didn't have any luggage except for our carry-on bags (and mine contained mostly stuff for him and the kids he taught--4 microbrews, chocolate bars, crayons, coloring books, a change of underwear, and a toothbrush). We talk to Misty and find out that she's going to try and get a valid birth certificate and she plans on being on the island in a couple of days. Aspen was excited to be there and really wanted to go to the beach. We tried to convince her to wait until we got to our final destination--half way across the island. She was a real trooper while driving the 'no rules' roads full of pot-holes and quick swerves by only getting sick once (and she gave me plent of warning so there wasn't a mess in the car). We get all the way to our destination in Boston Bay only to be stopped a few hundred yards short of Great Huts. My friend tells us to go ahead that it's just a little ways up the road so Aspen and I head down the dirt road. We pass by the first wooden fence but I believe we need to go to the next gate. Aspen disagrees with me and says we went too far and should wait for Brian. We start approaching it and a pack of dogs stands on the other side of the open gate barking and growling at us. Within a couple of seconds, the dogs charge us. One goes for my ankle but misses and rips my pants. Another one gets around me and goes after Aspen. She turns to run and it grabs her by the calf and shakes her to the ground with her shoe flying off in the process. I will NEVER forget the image of her running and being shaken to the ground nor will I forget the feeling of dispair because I was not able to save her from this trauma. I quickly picked her up and we got away from the dogs. By this time my friend had arrived and people from Great Huts came out after hearing all the screaming and barking. The puncture wounds weren't bad but there was massive bruising. The manager at Great Huts said that we needed to get her to the hospital. I was sweating bullets...She got cleaned up by the nurse and I found out that there is no rabies on the island so I didn't have to worry about that, but I still had trouble sleeping that night. The next day I went to pick up Misty while Aspen stayed with Brian and a local boy her age. She ended up having a great trip (it's me who's still overly cautious around dogs I don't know) and talks about Jamaica all the time.