Susan's Blog

Monday, May 21, 2007

May, West

Me and my uncle went ridin’ down,
South Colorado, West Texas bound.
We stopped over in Santa Fe,
That bein’ the point just about half way,
And you know it was the hottest part of the day.
–The Dead, Me and My Uncle

I am beginning to plan our trip out West. I am so overwhelmed right now, sitting here with turkey lo carb rollup dripping avocado, two new guidebooks and a map, Precious with four windows open to different resorts and flight schedules and Natty’s camp. I can’t believe we’re doing this: sending Nat to a week of overnight camp in Colorado, and the four of us going off on a venture in the Wild West.

I’ve been to the West; as a girl my parents took Laura and me cross-country camping four different summers until our adolescent needs demanded that they take us to the beaches of Cape Cod instead. We would drive like mad through the mid-Atlantic states and the midwest, our destination the mountains. We camped in the Rockies; Grand Tetons, Wyoming; Mesa Verde; Badlands, South Dakota; all the way to California (northern only); Washington (Mount Olympic State Park); and Oregon (Crater Lake).

I haven’t taken my boys on such trips for many reasons. But now the opportunity has come up to do something with a lot of transitions and unfamiliar things (stuff Natty would probably not like, but the other two would). But, oh, a part of me is so sad that Nat won’t be with us! I worry that he will miss us too much and not have fun. I know in my head it is good for him to be away from us and have that experience. It is a phenomenal camp with all kinds of outdoor/exciting activities and just the right attitude towards The Spectrum. But, still. A vacation without Nat??!! Why must everything wonderful be mixed with a little pain?

I am trying to stay focused on the joyful part, but being me, that is not always possible. That’s why, after a really rough mowing of the lawn (with my push mower that really does not cut very well) I treated myself to new guidebooks from my favorite bookstore and then a latte at my favorite coffee shop. I have mapped out a tentative itinerary, which involves staying in a new place just about every night. This is not what Ned wants to do; he wants to have one place that is our base and take day trips. But I don’t think that is really possible out West. Everything is so spaced out! Everything is miles and miles away from everything else!!! Here, you drive 150 miles and you are practically to New York. Another 150, Philadelphia, and another 150, DC. There, you can get maybe from Aspen to Telluride in three hours. One state!

So I am thinking like Max and Ben, wondering what kind of activities they will love. Not too much mountain hiking or biking; I’m thinking they’d like the Southwestern part of the state better, with Indian culture and sand dunes, etc. Dip into New Mexico? Maybe take a whitewater raft trip. No camping, thank you very much. I did that as a kid and it is so over. Can you imagine me in a campsite now? Right. Although, if Beastie told me he wanted to do it, I would…

It is all so daunting, especially the part about having fun without Nat. 🙁 🙂 ??


I know, I know. We have a hard time just getting away to go out to dinner. Will it make him think we aren’t coming back? Will he be traumatized?

It’s so hard to know, and I don’t know Nat, but I would say go, it’s so hard to be on duty 24/7. Sometimes we need to give ourselves permission to say, we need a break from that. It is hard to parent a child with autism.

More than likely, all of the transitions and changes that would take place if he went on your travels through the west would bother him more than the separation. At least that is what we would face, in our case, it would be a recipe for a meltdown a day.

— added by Mom on Monday, May 21, 2007 at 3:03 pm

I know you didn’t ask for recommendations but thought I’d give you some anyway.

New Mexico:
Albuquerque – Sandia Peak Tramway and Old Town. Take Rt 40 East to the east side of the Sandia Mountain and drive to the top. Then drive down Rt 14 north through all of the quaint little towns until you get to Santa Fe. I used to live off Rt 14. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.

Santa Fe – Restaurants, Shopping, Art

In and around New Mexico – Indian Reservations. My favorites – Acoma Pueblo (they STILL live on a mesa 367 feet above the valley and they still don’t have running water or electricity) and Bandelier National Monument (smart indians, they lived in “apartments” created by the cooling of lava from a volcano).

Alpine Loop near Silverton. You must have a 4-wheel drive vehicle. SO worth it. Absolutely beautiful.

— added by Wendy on Monday, May 21, 2007 at 3:50 pm

I agree-New Mexico is like no other place on earth. I just returned from a family trip to Taos and Sante Fe. I live in Boulder, so of course I will say that you must come here. Very fun for the family. go to and look at the pictures, watch the 3 minute Boulder video and plan your trip. Not much to do in Denver-it all depends on where you are staying. SW colorado is way cool-Telluride kicks a** as well. Your boys are at a tough age-what to do that will keep them happy is the million dollar question. Where is Nat going to camp? My son will be in a camp this summer as well, though not one just for those with autism.

Amy in CO

— added by Anonymous on Tuesday, May 22, 2007 at 4:51 am

It is really, truly OK and important that you do this trip without Nat. I completely understand your reluctance–my son is the same age as Nat and I needed to hear from his psychiatrist that my husband and I and our other two kids needed to carry on and do family stuff without him. But as you say, it would be difficult and maybe not enjoyable for Nat, but for Ben and Max it will be fantastic–plus Max will soon be at an age where he won’t want to go with you . . . 🙁 Nat will be in good hands. Do it!

— added by Anonymous on Saturday, May 26, 2007 at 1:09 pm

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