Tuesday, November 7, 2017

A Cabin in the Woods

A cabin in the woods
My family has a tradition of heading up to the mountains right after Thanksgiving to spend a little quiet "family time" in a cabin in the woods.

It was something that just developed naturally after moving to Colorado.  We'd take drives along Boulder creek and the canyon, into the forests of Rocky Mountain National Park, and on the high mountain roads before they closed for the season, and notice isolated little cabins tucked away in-between the trees all along our route.

Back in town, the glass from the windows would twinkle and wink back at us from high in the foothills, as we stood on the front porches of our houses wondering who lived in them.

Turned out that cabins came in all shapes and sizes, from lean-to's to sprawling, luxurious mountain homes.  And while living in town made more practical sense to us city kids who had moved out west, the allure of a little mountain retreat every now and then was pretty irresistible.

Luckily, there are many of these cabins available for rent year-round, any time we just want to get-away for the weekend (or a week or two!).  It's a chance to get away from it all, to retreat into peace and quiet, to soak in the natural beauty of the natural landscape, and to commune with nature since the deer and elk are never too far away.

There's always good reason to head up into the mountains in the fall:

September is the perfect time to go see all of the amazing fall foliage or attend the Scottish Highland Festival in Estes Park.

September and October are the height of the elk bugling season which should definitely be experienced if you're in the state during those months.  October is also a wonderful time to head up to the Stanley Hotel (the inspiration for "The Shining" and where the tv series was filmed) for a ghost tour or simply to enjoy a rocking chair on the porch and take in the gorgeous vistas while the elk idly amble by (but do keep your distance).

We highly recommend a trip to the mountains this time of year!

Some elk on the grounds of the Stanley Hotel
But the cabins are just as enjoyable in the summer, as well, taking advantage of the long days to hike, mountain bike, kayak, go white-water rafting, or fish along the rivers and streams.

In fact, there's no bad season or reason to go immerse yourself in nature and get away from it all in the peace and quiet of the woods.  And any cabins near the ski resorts will always go fast in the winter.  Anything less than a short snow-mobile ride away from a ski town is prime real estate.

Although we've enjoyed these cabins in the woods all year long, my favorite time to go is still right after Thanksgiving.  It gives us a chance to retreat to the peace and quiet of nature after all of that cooking, and before the real hustle-and-bustle of the Christmas season hits.

We pack up all of our delicious leftovers and head up to the mountains for some quiet family time before the hectic Holiday rush sets in.  We get to enjoy the magnificent views, visits from deer, hot chocolate and s'mores in front of a crackling fireplace, and spend evenings playing games, laughing and telling stories.

During the day, we might head into the park to take in more of the fabulous scenery and see the animals at the watering holes, enjoy the babbling of an almost-frozen brook, or stroll around and pick up some quaint Christmas gifts found within the charming little shops in the small mountain towns along the way.

In the evening, we may catch the local Christmas Parade and festivities in town, or even a sleigh ride!

Back at the cabin, we may do some reading or writing in front of the fire, jot down our thoughts or plans or "to do" lists for the days ahead, or dedicate and address our Christmas cards while we have a quiet moment to do so.

My niece's husband will often set-up his high-powered telescope to take advantage of the dark nights, away from all the city lights, so he can capture some spectacular views of the heavens.

There is nothing quite like the breathtaking sight of the Milky Way from the cabin porch -- our cheeks ruddy and our breaths hanging frozen in the frigid night air -- as we gaze upon it from our little corner of the galaxy!

Sometimes we'll take the dogs with us, and enjoy their friskiness as they play and frolick, and take them for long walks in the brisk mountain air.  (Always on a leash, lest they get the idea to catch themselves a bear or a moose they spotted along the way.)

Sometimes there's snow on the ground, sometimes there's not ... but either way, there's always the nip of the season in the crisp, clean air.  It is one of the most enjoyable "quality-time" getaways we can spend with each other.

I think I enjoy it so much this time of the year because it truly allows the spirit of thanksgiving, gratitude and appreciation to enter our hearts.  Tucked away in the tranquility and enchantment of nature, surrounded by views that never get old and never fail to inspire, makes it very easy to feel blessed in the world.  Everyone is content and relaxed, dressed in their warmest, most cozy and snuggly duds, and just feeling satisfied and happy.

Most of all, this little time away gives us a chance to reflect ... on the closing of another year, the highlights and milestones of our lives, and our hopes and dreams for the future.  It's our last chance to take a little time for ourselves before the Holiday mad-dash begins.  Before the parties and get-togethers, before racing to shop, wrap gifts and meet shipping deadlines, before running around to Holiday plays and concerts, we have a little bit of time to center ourselves.  It gives us the opportunity to prepare our minds and hearts to be in the joy of the season, to take a meditative breath and catch up with ourselves first, and to put everything into perspective.

The Holidays are my favorite time of year, but this little pause before the end-of-the-year rush gives me a chance to reset and align my energy first.

Vacations are always nice, but a quick little retreat ... whether to the woods, the mountains, the beach, or wherever you find your peace ... anytime you need some time for yourself, is just plain good for the soul.  Be sure to take some time out this Holiday Season.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Enjoy previous seasonal blog posts:

Those Who Served
On Veterans Day and every day, this special group of people have much to give.
In Honor of Veterans Day
The suicide rate among our Veterans is sky high.  We can do something about that.
A Difficult Anniversary
A few years ago we lost our Mom.  It feels like it was just yesterday.  The anniversary of a great loss is always hard.
It's All About Family
Giving thanks and honoring those who came before.
Pumpkin Pie
Have you ever made a pie from fresh pumpkin instead of canned?  Do it!  It's not difficult and so worth it!
Can't stay out of the kitchen on Thanksgiving!
Counting our blessings ... may they always be plentiful and abundant.
Caring for Holiday Guests
Breakfast burritos can make you a winning host!
Black Friday
It's not just about shopping.  If you do it right, it can be about connecting, too.
Brandied Fruit
Time to put up your Brandied Fruit to marinate and mellow in time for the Holidays.
Christmas Notes
There's always time to bake Christmas cookies!
Cookie Trays!
Our most popular gift and party tray, it's the perfect way to spread the Holiday cheer!
It's Baking Season!
On your marks, get set ... go!!
We're Jammin'
When the harvest is bountiful!
Collecting Recipes
Fall is the season for cooking ... time to collect some new recipes for the season!
Bucket List for Fall
Taking advantage of everything fall has to offer!
Fall Has Arrived
And we've got apples!
October Planning
Time to make lists ... menus, recipes, family reunions, Christmas cards, Christmas gifts, parties, special events, & carving time on the calendar.
Back to the Farm
Fall is the time to head to the farm to pick pumpkins, visit the animals, go on a hayride, and sip hot cocoa by a bonfire.
A Rustic Tart for Fall
A free-form tart or galette with layered wine-poached pears is a perfect dessert for fall.

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