Friday, July 15, 2011

Happy Places

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away we lived in Phoenix. Tired of the brown landscape and dreading Arizona's summery version of Christmas we decided to drive to Breckenridge, Colorado to join my family for the holidays. We drove all day with our one year old strapped in the backseat and it was after midnight when we rolled into town. Even in the middle of the night the shops on Main Street were lit with twinkle lights, their roofs frosted with thick glops of snow. I carried my sleeping baby into the rental house and found my dad and step-mom awake, waiting for us. The living room was dark except for a fire blazing in the fireplace and a lamp lit low near the table where they huddled over a jigsaw puzzle. They were eating M&M's and the murmur of Nat King Cole's Christmas album was barely discernible; they didn't want to wake the others who were sleeping. I stood in the doorway feeling like every part of me had arrived. And I believe that was the exact moment I understood that Breckenridge, Colorado is one of my happy places.

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Now that I live in Colorado I've since returned to Breckenridge many times. Last weekend we were there for a family reunion and as we drove into town my heart swelled once again. It's one of those rare landscapes that sucks you in regardless of the season. At this time of year in Breckenridge the snow fields have receded to the tippy top of the highest peaks, and everything below belongs to summertime. There are large chunks of the landscape carpeted with wildflowers, and everywhere you go there are cyclists, hikers, and casual walkers basking in the clean, thin air.

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Although I only visit Breckenridge a couple of times a year, I look forward to my visits so much. I love sitting in an outdoor hot tub at night when the temperature has dropped and the air is frigid. I love eating crepes from the cart on Main Street. I love riding the gondola up the mountain with my girls, and the general feeling that enough people care about Breckenridge to have invested their money and time there, thus keeping it exquisitely clean and beautiful.

My weekend in Breckenridge reminded me how so many people have an annual retreat that they look forward to all year. My sister-in-law Heather takes her family to the eastern seaboard each summer and rents a beach house. I have friends who camp in Estes Park, Colorado each year. I know people who pilgrimmage to Lake Powell, Martha's Vineyard, Flaming Gorge, Lake Tahoe, the Oregon coast, and San Diego.

Of course it's fun to try out new vacation spots, but the great thing about finding your own, personal happy place is that over the years you come to know each other. You learn the roads, the best places to eat, the best hotels and rental properties, and long after you've gone home you can day dream about next time. Today I am dreaming about my next time in Breckenridge!

So, what is your personal happy place?

1 comment:

  1. You know that I am partial to the OBX. When I am there my soul is happy. I laugh when people tell me how wonderful beaches on the West coast are. There is nothing inviting about rocky beaches and the freezing cold waters of the pacific. I can't wait to go to my happy place in a few weeks.


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