We are at Chatfield State Park in Littleton, Colorado, at a very large, very popular lakeside campground. The campground is full, but the spaces are far enough apart that it doesn’t feel crowded. Our campsite in in the second ring from an uninterrupted view of the lake, but we have a fifty-foot wide open space between campers straight to the water.
And we are so glad to be here for nine days. We are ready for some stillness, some settling in. And yet, despite the bucolic rolling green hills and mountains, and the view of the clear blue lake, I can’t settle into the now, because I don’t know where we’re going from here.
I have only planned our route to this place, to be here to celebrate a friend’s Bat Mitzvah. After here, I know our direction – toward the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone State Parks – but I don’t know our route, or, more important, where we’ll be camping. Summer is high camping season and reservations are a must if I want to have electric hookups so that we can run the a/c.
And so, while I want to just lean in and be here, I feel a need to start looking at and planning the future.
This balancing of now vs next is something we all experience. How to appreciate and be with what is, while still visioning and planning and taking action to move forward. It can be especially challenging if the now is not comfortable or going the way we had hoped.
And it’s not just with big things, like camping reservations. Often, I find myself on a walk with the dogs, but instead of smelling the anise plants and noticing the variations of gray in the sky, I’m planning what time we need to leave in the morning to meet friends.
And that is why it is a balancing. Because I have to connect in both places to keep my momentum.
I can’t just not look ahead to our next destination, or we will not have a place to camp next weekend. And I can’t spend my entire day looking online for possible campsites and routes, because then I’m missing all that is here.
So this morning I sat outside in the early shade and scanned the sky over the lake for white pelicans, and marveled at how close the robins come to our campsite. We watched the black and white magpies scoop between the low juniper trees and delighted that the broad tailed hummingbird found Marika’s feeder. And we began the conversation about where we’d like to be next.
For me, weather is the biggest factor. I expected the mountains here at 5200’ elevation to be cooler, in the 70’s. These 80 and 90 degree afternoons keep us inside, with the windows closed and the shades down. By early evening a storm rolls around us and cools the air and we can walk around the park and play ball in our patch of grasses. But the nights don’t really cool down enough for comfortable sleeping without the a/c on.
Folks have suggested that we explore more of Colorado’s Rocky Mountain areas where it is cooler. But elevations over 6000’ make it hard for me to breathe, and I’m not a big fan of winding mountain roads and scenic overlooks.
So we will head toward the Grand Tetons at a faster pace than originally planned, where it’s still in the 70’s and low 80’s, so that we can be outside during the days to enjoy and explore these new places. I still haven’t picked our campgrounds, but the National Parks have a lot of no reservations spots, so if we get there early enough, we’ll be fine.
Now that I have the beginnings of a plan, I can relax and enjoy the rest of our time here. There is a river to explore, friends to visit with and today, I’m going to pump up my bike tires so I can peddle around the campground for tonight’s silver sunset.