My friends joke now that my stories all start with “the other day when I was in Sprouts…” I am obsessed with this grocery store- the people are so nice. The food is so cheep. So unique. & so organic. Anyways, here comes another Sprouts story. Friday I got off of work early since my managers were both on vacation and needed to run to Sprouts to buy food. As I was getting in my car outside FOTF, I noticed my front left tire was lookin pretty sad. Like scary sad. I knew that particular tire wasn’t staying full and I also knew that my tires needed to be replaced. So I decided to find a place to get them checked out. Lucky for me, there was a “discount tire” right next to Sprouts.
Yah. Apparently have a tire at 13 is dangerous. So I bought new tires. It was stressful. Beyond the fact that I am purchasing four new tires (which are not cheep), I got myself locked out of my bank account. Everything worked out in the end, but for those couple hours while the tires were being changed and I was franticly trying to get myself into my bank account, I think I gained a few wrinkles on my face.
So, back to Sprouts. I was walking around- trying to find the best two mangos to pay a dollar for. I spent quality of time praying during this time that the car situation would be ok and probably looked delirious. Anyways, this guy that was working in the produce section came up to me and said “have you ever tried our organic cotton candy grapes?” I shook my head. No I hadn’t. And no, I didn’t need another random guy in Sprouts hitting on me (yes. there is a story there too…). He told me to wait there and said that he was going to run and get me a sample from the back. I said ok and continued the mango shopping. A few minutes later the dude came back with a full bag of “organic cotton candy grapes” and handed it to me saying, “when you check out, tell the cashier that ‘Paul from produce’ gave you these”. I didn’t really know what to say. Grapes bless my heart almost as much as pineapple, and these grapes- I’m not joking- cost like 8$ a bag and taste exactly like cotton candy. I’m pretty sure God was working through ‘Paul from produce’ that evening. #itsthelittlethings
5:30am Saturday morning came pretty quick. I stuffed my hair underneath a hat, threw on some hiking books, grabbed my overnight mango-chia pudding, and was out the door. The Manitu Incline is a Colorado Springs landmark. Describing it really doesn’t do it justice- so I’d recommend just googling it. Basically its a ton of steps- straight up a mountain. It is less than a mile of total “hiking” or “climbing” (whatever you wanna call it), but the assent is so steep that it feels like 20 miles. You gain about 2000 feet of elevation during this time- and coming from someone who really hasn’t had issues with the changing elevation, let me tell you- I felt it.
On the way back from the incline, I stopped at Marshalls- the big department store like TJ MAXX. I was out of coffee as of that morning and knew that Ella wouldn’t be a happy FOTF employee for the next week unless she purchased some more. Usually TJ MAXX and Marshalls carry really good coffee for really cheep. They keep it in the back- by their home goods stuff- with a wide selection of tea and weird organic snacks. Well, they didn’t have any. Not a single bag. I was too tired to go searching for good (and probably overpriced) coffee anywhere else so I headed back home. Let me tell you- God was seriously lookin out for me and my well-being this weekend. I pulled in my host family’s driveway and saw a little white package sitting on the front steps. My mom had sent me a package from home, and what do you know?…A big bag of coffee from Honduras and my favorite vegan breakfast cookies were inside. #Blessed. The rest of Saturday was spent having quality introverted time. I listened to podcasts, cooked tons of food for the remainder of the weekend, drank amazing coffee, and read books.
I still find it amazing that I’ve only known the other interns for four weeks. Sitting in the middle seat of a little car with these people for 3 hours felt like road-tripping with old friends. I was introduced to a new Podcast called “Radiolab”- which I have been binge listening to since. We listened to a podcast about a murder case that happened back in the 70s close to my home town, and after that one ended, one of the guys chose a podcast about a dog named Charlie. We all had grown attached to Charlie until the radio host announced that Charlie died and we lost service.
Estes Park reminded me of Saranac Lake, NY. The little town was touristy, sat on a lake, and was situated in the middle of the Rocky Mountain National Park. It was less hippie than Manitu Springs or Boulder, but being that it was 4th of July weekend, it was crowded with just about any type of person you could imagine. After getting settled at our lodge, we did a short hike to “Bible Point”. The hike itself was only a couple miles but the peak was beautiful. A big cross and a little mailbox sat at the top where visitors could write prayer requests so others could pray for them. One of my friends who had been there before told me that many many years ago, a missionary’s son used to come up to this place and pray. He loved it. When he was 19 or so, He was headed to a conference somewhere and was killed in a car accident. Because this particular mountain peak was so dear to this boy’s heart, his parents buried him on the top and after that it was called “Bible Point”. When I heard the story, I got goose bumps.
Reflecting on this morning feels like reflecting on a couple days ago- you know the feeling- like getting up so early and doing so much that at 9pm, you cant believe that 9am was the same day. This morning I found myself, at 7am, on the 9mile trail to Chasm Lake in the Rocky Mountain National Park. We hiked. and hiked. and hiked. As we gained elevation, it got colder. Frequently we’d pause our hike so someone could eat a cliff bar or throw on another layer of clothing. Then came the cliffs. There was about a foot or two of walking space which was complete with snow- cascading over the steep drop-off. In that moment, my last minute decision to buy hiking shoes before coming to Colorado was greatly appreciated.
About an hour after crossing the gorge, my group came to our destination- a lake situated between mountains of rock. We sat there a while, rewarding ourselves with apples and more cliff bars. A few minutes after being there one of the guy interns is spotted, standing on the other side of the cold lake, on the rocks, wearing a speedo. Yes. He jumped in. The hike back was fast. Filled with good conversations about food, Myers Briggs, and bluegrass music. Now, sitting here, I’m realizing how different this holiday has been. I haven’t spent many 4th of July’s away from my family, much less, hiking a 9 mile trail in the Rocky Mountains, but this one will be a memory the blesses my heart forever.