We made an impromptu trip to the mountains a couple weekends ago. It was still in the grueling weeks of Busy Season, but after leaving the office Saturday, I decided we needed to run around in giant hamster balls and relax in the hot springs.

The hamster balls we accomplished in Frisco thanks to a present Amy gave me for my birthday. It helped me appreciate the biped development and higher brain function pursued by our great great ancestors. The hot springs in Glenwood ended up a bust, since I’m not going to pay more to get the four of us in a glorified pool than we spent on our hotel room. Had I realized the cost before we made the drive over, we probably would have stopped somewhere a bit closer to Denver.

Ideally a giant cage to keep with the theme

Ideally in a giant cage to keep with the theme

Still, it was a great trip. It also reminded me that my kids are not me.

With the hot springs prices akin to robbery (darn surge pricing over spring break), I started to look for other activities in the area. That lead us up to the grave site of a real robber, Doc Holliday.

Not that I was super interested in checking up on a memorial for a thief and a murdered–it wasn’t even his real grave since his actual burial site in the pioneer graveyard is unknown–but the reviews said the view was spectacular.

And indeed they were. The steep hike was just about right for the kids, giving us amazing vistas over the valley, though it did make me question the sanity of whoever decided that the half mile trek would be more fun while carrying a casket.

What really got to me, though, wasn’t the breathtaking views, but my kids’ graveyard search. Here’s a picture of one of their discoveries:


I’ll get back to what they found in a moment. Let’s go to where we started.

After hiking up the hill past a tree with ribbons inexplicably tied all over it, we made it to the main cemetery. From there, we went to the upper section, where we found Kid Curry‘s tombstone. It had been covered with pennies by visitors.

Kella, seeing an opportunity to easily double her wealth, rushed to the grave and started picking up the loose change before we put a stop to it.

“What’s the money for?” she asked me as she put the coins back, forcing me to come up with a jumbled explanation likely mixing Greek Mythology with Christianity (no, Amy, I’m not sure why Kella is spouting Gnosticism. Weird).

“I want to leave something for him too!” she declared after apparently getting something from my pitiful explanation. She put out her hand, the universal sign for ‘cough it up, Dad.’

“Sorry, Kella, I don’t have any coins,” I replied.

That led her on a search, where she found some broken branches. Those, she concluded would be a fitting gift to help the famous lawbreaker over the River Styx.

When we headed back to the main graveyard, we stumbled upon a beautiful marble tombstone that had been worn down over years by rain and snow. The gorgeous carving was difficult to read on top, but the front marked it as the resting place of an infant child. Amy realized the words on top declared “Our Boy.”

We explained to Finley and Kella that a baby had been buried here.

“Like Oliver? And Baby Ava?” Kella asked.

“Yes, just like that.”

She found another twig and left it for the child.

That led her on her search for all the children who had been buried in the cemetery, leaving them branches and twigs and leaves to help them in the afterlife. The picture above was one of her finds.

Modern medicine has made us so less accustomed to death, especially our kids, despite the constant killing of characters in video games and modern Disney films. I know growing up I wouldn’t have scoured through grave sites looking for children who had died. But for Finley and Kella, it’s just another part of life.

I wonder what that will do for them as they grow older. Hopefully make them more empathetic rather than desensitized. At this point, though, all I can do is guess.

By the way, we did swing by Doc Holliday’s memorial, which lead to another stammering explanation as to why someone had left an opened bottle of Jack Daniels inside the fenced area.