“For the mountains are calling and [we] must go.”

When Covid-19 struck, and after we had our dear baby home and safe from the NICU, my wife and I were very disappointed we couldn’t make our usual July 4th visit to the Boulder Colorado area where I grew up. We love to show our kiddo the fun to be had in the mountains, hiking driving mountain roads, taking pictures and splashing in a creek. Our kiddo is a brave hiker and she likes good views, but she has a special relationship with water. Ever since she was born she’s loved it. When she was 3 on our trip to Boulder she bravely waded into the creek. She stepped on a dead bee’s stinger. It hurt and she screamed. I put her foot in the ice cold snowmelt water and had her sit on a rock as it numbed. Soon she bravely took to wading hip-deep in the current. I held her to make sure when she slipped it wasn’t too big a deal.

A year later we were back and she was 4. The snowmelt was bigger and the creek higher and faster. We had to tell her we couldn’t go back to the same spot, but found one with a pavement ramp. (I remember when it was built when I was young.) That she could safely wade in “not past the second rock, kiddo!”

This year we couldn’t go at all. We had planned a beach trip instead, to meet the Colorado grandparents on a NC beach. Then Covid came up and while we were awash in relief to have our baby back (and pleasantly surprised the CO grandparents could drop by when roadtripping out to attend to other business) we still wanted some kind of vacation.

We booked a week at a cabin in the North Carolina Mountains that friends of the family recently bought and rent out to others. But a few weeks after that, still several from time to leave yet more friends in the mountains needed some help, and we were happy to oblige.

These friends had actually moved to Colorado for a while and we had visited them on our last trip. Swimming in their community pool is where our older kiddo first go brave enough to jump in over heard head and swim to daddy. (Since then shes done hours off a diving board in 12 foot water while daddy treads water).

These friends needed someone to come and dog-sit their dogs for a week while they went on their own family vacation to the beach. It happened to be the week right before our cabin booking. We thought about it and, working at IBM as I do right now, with Covid making everything remote we figured there was no reason we couldnt juggle and make it work. “Let’s go for it!”

We load up the kids, impose on kind neighbors to watch our cats, and pack the mini-van to the gills to bring half a months worth of family gear.

A stop to feed on the way.

The house is gorgeous. I work from the porch most mornings drinking coffe and talking with IBMers from the Philipenes, Argentina and across America. The only lag I notice is on two way video with the Philipenes.

The view is incredible. Not a bad place to work in the morning.

A week of juggling remote work from someone else’s house, dog-sitting, baby-caring and kiddo-entertaining may not exactly be a vacation, but it was pretty great. We hiked great trails on the weekend, even in the heat, the kiddo loved splashing in the cool water and the baby was happy if nursed often enough. We went to a creek in town and the kiddo splashed happily in it for hours, clambering around on rocks, eagerly encouraging me to come with her and look for somewhere deeper to plunge in. Abby as she often does started looking at real estate. She kept asking me about and then we started thinking “we could do this.” I can work from anywhere with 300Mbps internet, and its only 3 hours or so from where we live now for visiting family…. I’ve been reminded of how much I like the mountains. The remoteness. The nature. The ability to see more than 100 meters sometimes…

On our way from the friend’s house to the other friend’s cabin we took the Blue Ridge Parkway. I saw vistas that reminded me in some ways of home. Which Colorado still feels like to me, 13 years after I stopped living there permanently. We parked to take a break and Abby nursed the baby while the kiddo in her tinkerbell dress and I in my flip flops went hiking up a scenic path. Gnarly trees wound around rocks. She tripped and scraped her hand and with a little encouraging, spat on her hands and climbed back up into the tree, bravely refusing to let a little pain stop her from getting where she wanted to go. She brought her new instant camera our generous neighbors bought her for her fifth birthday. She clambered onto a rock to take instant photos of the distant blue ridges and green hills.

I told her I moved to the mountains when I was seven. I asked her if she wanted to move to the mountains. She said “maybe when I’m seven, right now we have to go back where I belong, in Chapel Hill.” I didn’t want to leave my friends in Dallas either. I’m extremely grateful that I did.

At the cabin she splashes in the creek thats a couple hundred feet from the porch. I do a workout hanging from knock off TRX straps, after waking up with Coffee and eggs on the porch. Reviewing my credit report for any errors. No errors found, next step, checking interest rates, mortgage lenders and GI bill benefit guarantees for loans (and what to do when you only have partial remaining).

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