Friday, November 12, 2010


The kids had a fall break from school a few weeks ago we so decided to head into the mountains.  We crossed several mountain passes, a splendid drive that brought to mind Romans 1:20.

"For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities
 - His eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen,
 being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse."

Our destination was a cabin in Durango that we had visited several times when we lived here before.  The usually bustling campground was in its last week of the season, the temperatures were cool and it was deserted and quiet except for a few hunters in for elk season.
The kids had fun exploring the campground. They were so excited to unroll their sleeping bags and bunk together in the loft.  We had declared this vacation technology free so although the cabin had a television, it never once was turned on.  No games were played on the iphone either.  We brought board games, a puzzle and lots of good books.  
The cabin next door had a group of hunters that we saw coming and going in the dusk and dawn, outfitted in camouflage and carrying menacing weapons.  One morning the kids peaked through the checked curtains to see them obviously butchering something on the deck.   I could hear a horror soundtrack playing in my head.  We were disgusted yet fascinated at the same time!  

Little did we know, we would need those hunters and perhaps they were not as menacing as we imagined.

The kids really wanted to enjoy a campfire so we purchased, hot dogs, and goodies for smore-making, a bundle of firewood and a starter block.  E.J.  set to using his cub scout knowledge and got a roaring fire going with Daddy.
 The temperatures were cool but the skies were clear and the fire warm.
As often happens in the mountains the clouds started rolling off the mountains and in a matter of minutes our once clear skies were looking ominous.  As we moved onto the smores course we were beginning to see snowflakes.
We laughed that we were enjoying this summertime tradition in a snowstorm.  It was the first snow we had seen this season and the kids were thrilled dancing around the fire...until...
Someone just locked us out of the cabin!
And now the snow is really falling, and the fire is dying, and the night is coming.
Now it's not so fun!

We looked over at the cabin next door.  The hunters.  Tim went to borrow their cell phone to call the campground manager.  A few minutes later these good old boys were insisting,  "Ya'll get in here!  It's too cold to have them kids outside."  Now I grew up in Texas and Oklahoma.  I went to college in Arkansas.  I am no stranger to a southern drawl.   But when these men from the West Virginia mountains spoke, I really had to pay attention to understand what they were saying.

We all crowded into their cabin.  Dinner was on the stove, drinks and pictures of the cook's grandchildren were passed around.  And then the hunting stories commenced. We learned that they were here to hunt elk and that they were lucky enough to get one their first day out.  And unlucky enough to have shot it 3 miles off the trail.  They had to cut it into quarters and carry it out. That morning they "got smart" and had hired a local ranch hand to go in with his horse and pack out the rest.  I asked how they insured that the portion left overnight didn't get eaten by other animals.  "You don't." was the answer.

Then show and tell began and we learned about field bags and hunting licenses, and we gazed at the rack, still a little bloody, that was hanging in the loft.  We exchanged stories of bear sightings in New Hampshire and the Great Smoky Mountains.  We had seen moose, they had seen mountain lion.  

Dinnertime!  We were offered fresh sauteed elk meat (the very same we had seen butchered that morning).  Some were more eager than others to try.  It was certainly the freshest meat we had ever eaten and pretty tasty.

Finally the camp manager showed up and we said our thanks and goodbyes.  It was now dark and our cozy cabin was waiting.  This was not the evening we expected but it was an evening to remember and we learned a lesson about first impressions!  I just wish I had taken pictures of our hosts.


Nancy said...

Love, love, love Durango--though I've never done the town as rustically as you. Done the Durango/Silverton train several times. Those mountains--SO impressive and majestic, bearing witness to the Creator's hand. Snow on s'mores! Getting locked out! Sharing stories and fresh elk with the hunters! Your kids will remember this forever and always. Good stuff here.

Graceful said...

This is a great, great story -- and a good lesson about judgment. I am so quick to judge other sometimes -- this is a wonderful story and a good Sunday lesson for me today.

Awesome pictures, too.