We had four young men as our guests this week. My nephew Paul brought three of his friends for a graduation celebration trip. All four have graduated from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. That is something of an accomplishment nowadays. I know a lot of young people struggle with college, many start and stop several times before they get through the process. I give them all a lot of credit.
But many don’t even try. They are too busy getting high and sleeping until 2:00 in the afternoon to even think about college and their future. And some are in a minimum wage job because they are waiting on a court hearing to find out if they are going to jail or not. Several of my friend’s kids are in this situation. These are kids that have been brought up right. Their parents are successful, moral people. It’s like their kids get a big ole dose of stupid somewhere between age 12 and 14 and they are going to completely submerge themselves in stupid for a couple of years. Some of them never get out of it.
But “the boys” as Keely called them are good kids. These are young men that any parent would be proud of. They were polite. They thanked me after every meal that I cooked. They told me that they loved our house. They told me Keely was really cute and really smart. They told me they thought I was in my mid 40’s. They cleaned up their own mess. They listened when I got Steve to talk about some of his war stories from work and show them pictures. In other words, they did everything right. Paul didn’t even say anything when I was driving his 2WDrive Jeep on rocky paths that weren’t even roads trying to find our way out of Red Canyon. He did hold his breath a lot though.
Their first day I took them to Red Canyon. It gave them a chance to see some awesome scenery and adjust to the altitude. We climbed on some rocks and hiked a bit, then went into town to eat at “The Owl”. A drive on Skyline Drive and then we headed home. Dinner on the deck, then they cleaned up and went into Canon City to check out the nightlife. Evidently there is some nightlife, because they didn’t get in until 3am.
They went whitewater rafting on Thursday. They had met a “river rat” in Canon City the night before so they decided to go with him. Evidently Dominic decided to see just how cold the Arkansas River is and went head first into the water. Paul helped pull him back in and they all got really wet. Steve took them up in the plane that evening so they got to see the Royal Gorge from the air as well as rafting under it. They came home to a spectacular sunset. It was great sitting out on the deck that night listening to them talk all over each other describing how awesome it all was.
Friday we took the top off the jeep, loaded up our friend Boris and one of “the boys” into the jeep. The other guys took the 4WD truck with no air conditioning or radio. We piled tents, sleeping bags, leftover brisket and baked beans and lots of bottles of water into the bed of the truck. Then we took off for the Great Sand Dunes National Park.
We went up to Westcliffe, then over to State 559. Then we went off road into the San Isabel Forest and later the Sand Dunes National Forest. It took us about four hours to go 30 miles.
The weather was perfect, and the guys had never done anything like that road before. We drove over rocks, went splashing through streams, bounced all over the place in the vehicles and just had a blast.
We got to the Dunes, the boys dropped off their camping stuff, and then we drove to Alamosa. We discovered Calvillos Mexican Restaurant on our last trip. They serve a buffet. I’m not usually a fan of buffets, but this one is really unusual. They have dishes made out of cactus that I can’t begin to pronounce. All I know is that it was all really good and you can have all the sopapillas and honey that you can eat. Now you have to understand, Steve is not a “foodie”. He always rates what I cook on a scale of 1 to 4. Mostly I get 3’s and 4’s. If he gives something a 2 that recipe goes in the trash. He raved about the food at this place, even took pictures of it and posted about it on Face book. He has never done that before. So of course we all had the buffet. Boris, who is from Guatemala, said he was going to be coming back real soon. He also found out that the chef is Guatemalan, so maybe that is the difference with the food. It’s not the typical Tex/Mex that we are used to that’s for sure.
Sunday morning we had breakfast and then they all piled into the jeep for the 12 hour ride home. Lots of hugs. I’m going to miss them.