I was fortunate to be able to run in Steamboat Springs, Colorado on a recent trip to visit my son Ryan, daughter-in-law Carolina, and grandson Atticus and to help celebrate Atti’s third birthday.
There are two places I like to run while in Steamboat. The first is on a county road near my son’s house. I get there via a gravel trail. The road is paved for about 1.5 miles, then, just past the front entrance to the Marabou Ranch, the paving comes to an end, and I am running on dirt.
The road is very hilly by Pennsylvania standards, and there is relatively little oxygen in the air at nearly 7,000 feet of elevation. These two facts, plus the gorgeous views and abundant wildlife combine to result in many walk breaks taken during my runs on the county road.
The other place I like to run is on the Yampa River Core Trail, a paved 7.5-mile bike trail that bisects the town of Steamboat Springs and follows the Yampa River. The scenery is beautiful here, too, and the terrain is flat. The only drawback is that I must drive to get to the trailhead. This is a good place to do a longer run.
My son and his family are nature lovers. Carolina has her Masters degree in Forestry and works as a forester for the state of Colorado. She spends many of her days outdoors.
Ryan and Carolina met while they were volunteers for the Peace Corps in Zambia. They lived in separate villages in the African bush for nearly two years. Ryan lived in a mud brick hut he built himself with no running water, electricity or modern conveniences of any kind. During the rainy season, also known as the hungry season, protein is scarce in Zambia. Zambians in remote villages (and Ryan, too) often ate insects as a source of protein during this time.
The reason I write this is because I want you to know Ryan and Carolina will camp in the most remote places. They do not frequent campgrounds and they shun amenities. They are proponents of “camping sauvage“.
Side note – I am most definitely not a proponent of “camping sauvage“. A hotel room with a mountain view is close enough to “camping sauvage” for me. Anyplace without room service, I consider roughing it.
Before my grandson was born, Ryan and Carolina and their dog Kaiya were camping one weekend in a remote sand wash in northwestern Colorado, a location beautiful in its desolation. They were miles away from any human habitation, save for perhaps some shepherds watching over their flocks far from any towns.
As they got out of their car and looked for a potential campsite, they saw some movement under a Juniper tree in the distance and went to investigate. There, they found a starving, dehydrated, filthy black and white puppy. He was weak and had a defect in his hip that caused him to have a hitch in his giddy-up, as the cowboys say. (Another side note – I have never actually heard a cowboy say that. I just imagine it sounds cowboy-esque.)
Ryan and Carolina gave the poor little guy some water and fed him. They kept him close all weekend so they could bring him back to the Humane League in Steamboat Springs upon their return to town. Kaiya was not overjoyed with the addition to their camping trip, but as long as he stayed away from her food bowl, she did not protest too much.
On the way back home, Carolina looked at the puppy. She was not a dog person and was initially reluctant to adopt Kaiya. She said to Ryan “We are not taking that puppy to the shelter, are we? Are we going to keep him?” “No, no,” Ryan replied. “No. No. Well, yes, I think we should keep him. What do you think?”
And that is how the abandoned puppy, who they named Juniper, since they found him under a Juniper tree, became the luckiest dog in the world. He now enjoys regular veterinary care, a full food and water dish at all times, a dog door that allows him to come and go as he pleases, swimming in the river in the summertime, treats from the butcher’s shop each week that make the bones Dino had on the Flintstones (Google it if you are too young to remember) look like matchsticks, and older “sister” Kaiya to romp with. His hip defect does not slow him down at all. I have seen him clear a six-foot high fence with one graceful bound.
The fact that Ryan and Carolina chose that particular sand wash to set up camp in the vast openness of that part of the state, and chose the location of that particular Juniper tree is so serindipitous, it is nothing less than amazing. If they had chosen a location 100 yards in either direction, they would never have seen Juniper. It almost makes me think they were somehow drawn by a merciful hand to that spot.
Juni is a born herder. He likes to keep us all together when we go for walks. If one of us “goes astray” he will bounce and bark excitedly until we rejoin the herd. Best of all is the obvious love he has for his best buddy. He will not allow Atti to wander too far up the driveway toward the road. He patiently allows the messy, overzealous hugs of a toddler, who is known to exclaim “Oh, Juni, I love you so much!” The luckiest dog in the world.
I am linking up with Clean East Fast Feets for her Week in Review, Patty, Erika and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run, Char at Trekking Thru, Teaching What Is Good for their Tuesday Link-up, Abounding Grace for Gracefull Tuesday, Shank You Very Much for Dream Team, Shelbee on the Edge for Spread the Kindness, and blovedboston for Weekending.