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I looked out my window on Saturday and saw a familiar sight I had never seen before. And while the scenery was nearly breathtakingly beautiful, there was a slight sadness brought on by visions of a place I saw differently long ago.
I spent my 10th birthday and parts of subsequent summer weeks with my family visiting Trappers Lake, and while I had not made it all the way into Trappers Lake Lodge since I moved here, I had made it half way down the road into the area twice, only to be turned around by tremendous downpours.
I have been wanting to visit the lodge and lake area since I moved here, and I finally made it on Saturday, had a good lunch at the lodge and had time to do a little driving around the area and enjoy the scenery from the lookout above Trappers Lake and Scott Lake.
With my father being in charge of development for Colorado Interstate Gas in the late 1950s and up to the late 1960s, his travels would take the family for summer trips up through this part of the state and up through Wyoming, checking on various gas facilities for CIG.
Each year, the nine McMahons would pack into a station wagon and spend roughly a week at Trappers Lake, where many of the family members, including myself, learned to fish.
I was very happy Saturday to finally get there again after roughly 45 years.
But I began to get a little sad as we got closer to the lodge.
One thing that always stayed with me was the tremendous and beautiful trees that made for a plush carpet on the hillsides, almost from the time one left Meeker and traveled the 80 minutes—more than that back then— to Trapper’s Lake.
The entire area was plush all the way up to the shoreline on the lake when I was a child.
But that was gone.
I understand it was 2002 when the long ridge to the west of the road caught fire. And burned. And burned.
All the way to Trappers Lake and beyond.
Way back when, just about the only thing up there was Trappers Lake and its cabins.
It is great to know that most structures that were there 45 years ago have been replaced and the remodel was an inspiration as a great, calm place to spend a week or a few days.
There are scads of campgrounds, outhouses, trails and smaller lakes in the area. Back 45 years ago, those outhouses and campgrounds didn’t exist anywhere close to the numbers that exist today.
On Saturday, the wild flowers were incredible in large numbers and a wide variety of colors. There was the red of berries as well as the whites, purples, oranges, pinks, yellows and even two Indian Paintbrush plants, which are their own unique combination of orange, red and brown. The Indian Paintbrush is the state flower of Wyoming, but the plant, once quite common back in the ’50s and ’60s, is not common today in either Colorado or Wyoming.
A good lunch with the owners of Trappers Lake Lodge surrounded by some beautiful vistas made the trip into Trappers Lake quite an enjoyable time, causing me to mentally kick myself in the butt for not having gotten there much earlier.
But the trip in and out of the lake and lodge area still made me a little sad. I don’t mind admitting that while the burn area, which amazingly really hasn’t come back after 13 years, has a unique look of its own now, it certainly isn’t the view I had in my mind from roughly 50 years ago.
We are actually moving closer to the end of summer.
I know school has restarted in Rio Blanco, but that just doesn’t register to literally an old-schooler whose school year began on Tuesday, the day after Labor Day, and whose school year ended on the first Friday in June.
Almost everyone in the nation and all public schools in Colorado had that schedule, as did the Catholic school I attended for eight years in Colorado Springs.
We had to be in school (I believe) for 181 days a year way back then, and it didn’t matter what kind of school you were in. It was the same for everyone.
A regular, consistent schedule was seemingly much easier to control and adjust and it certainly made it easier on families who all had the same days off, same vacation times in the summer and which could count on consistency because every school in the state was on the same schedule.
Is what we are seeing today an improvement?
I’m not sure it is, but what do I know? I went to school before all this exotic calendar and modern thinking was being thought.
In the first two weeks of classes in Denver two students on bicycles and one pedestrian student have already been hit by vehicles on the road, and in all three cases, the drivers have said they didn’t see the students before they were hit.
In all three cases, police investigations turned up that the three students were all in plain view while on their bicycles and the pedestrian student had walked across more than half the crosswalk when he was hit.
The police reports stated that all three drivers were distracted by some other activity and weren’t watching where they were going.
Please, Rio Blanco County driver, with all of our students returning to school this week, please be aware of your surroundings, please pay attention to what may be in the road ahead of you and please exercise caution by slowing down and pretending that their could be a student behind each car parked, behind big trees along side the streets and at every intersection.
Slowing down just a bit won’t get you someplace in town noticeably quicker, but not paying attention can made for a lousy day—for you and a student.
Please play close attention.