by Carol Dunn
HUERFANO– Once you move to the beautiful Spanish Peaks region, you find out just how many relatives you have. They come out of the woodwork from all over the country. Cousins you have not heard from in twenty years will rediscover you and realize they have been dying to take a vacation to visit you. These visits usually encompass staying at your house, eating your food, driving your car and changing your radio settings, or allowing you to chauffer them around to things you’ve already seen a dozen times. Of course, before you can enjoy any of this activity, you will need to pick up your long-lost relatives at the airport in Denver or Colorado Springs. Trouble with this is, you may not recognize cousin Henry– after all, the last time you saw him was in sixth grade. Take along a sign with his name written on it. You’re old friends now. Better stock up on beer, and make it Coors.
If your visitors are older, say aunts and uncles, be sure they have unimpeded access to their own bathroom. If you only have one bathroom, for the duration of their stay, it will be theirs. Just a warning.
Some travelers from the east coast have misgivings about visiting the west. There is an undercurrent of belief that people still shoot each other every week over water rights. That is a black lie. As far as I’m aware, that has not happened for at least two months. Another fallacy is that we have dangerous thunderstorms. What storms? It hasn’t rained here (I mean a real bridge washer) for decades. The only storms we really have regularly are those at the airports– and don’t ask me why they build airports where the heaviest storms happen. Just coincidence I guess. I know of a traveler who boarded a plane on the east coast, heard midflight about a storm in the Denver area, got off the plane at the first stop and flew back home. This is someone who lives in the hurricane zone! This traveler obviously isn’t aware that the Denver area has a storm every day during the summer. Pilots know what to do.
While they are recovering from altitude sickness, your visitors will try to help out around the house. They mean well, but do you really want them folding your underwear? They will put your dishes away in places you would never have thought of. For months you’ll be finding cereal bowls stowed behind bags of flour and pasta. How about the little nephew feeding your dog scraps from the table? Barbeque rib bones are always popular with our dog. He doesn’t remember that the last time he ate them he barfed all over the back yard.
One thing that can make you walk seven steps ahead is some of the outfits these folks will choose to inflict upon the world while they are hanging out with you. You know what I’m talking about– big, stiff cowboy hat, shiny purple and tan boots and a starchy bandana that juts forward at an unnatural angle. They wouldn’t dream of dressing like that back home.
Something else they would never do at home is take pictures out the window of a moving vehicle. We had a relative who had about fifty pictures of the Spanish Peaks with a blurred guardrail at the bottom of every one. How about mooing at cattle as you drive by. Who does that? And why? Ok, and everyone’s favorite, driving to a rotten snowfield and throwing iceballs at each other.
And if you take your guests hiking, before you can stop them, someone will invariably drink from a spring-fed mountain stream (in which case, no matter what their age, they will need unimpeded access to their own bathroom for the rest of the visit).
Face it, you can pick your friends and you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your relatives.