Last week the kids and I took our first family vacation since Todd died. I had planned a trip that was nothing like anything we had ever done before as a family in hopes of creating new memories.

We flew out of College Station and into Colorado Springs last Tuesday evening – my family of four.


My arms are too short for a good selfie!

But this should have been his seat…..


We rented a car and drove to Salida, CO. It was late by the time we got there so we all just settled in for the night.

Wednesday morning we were up early to go horseback riding in the mountains. It was so peaceful and beautiful. It was a cool, clear, sunny day and couldn’t have been any more perfect.

After horseback riding, we grabbed lunch then changed for white water rafting. It was SO MUCH FUN!


Until………….  I fell in. We came to the falls called the Widow Maker and somehow I was pulled out of the boat. I guess you could say I fell but from my point of view, I felt pulled out. In the middle of the Widow Maker falls is also swirling water called the toilet bowl. That is where I fell in and I have never been so scared in all my life. I kept getting pulled under and couldn’t get to the top. It felt like forever but it was only seconds. I finally found the surface and was pulled back to our boat by a kayaking “life guard”. I can cross it off my bucket list but I don’t think I’ll be doing white water rafting again!

The next day was much more relaxing. We found a place called Lake O’Haver about 9,200 feet up. It was so peaceful! I spent time talking with Todd and crying and missing him knowing how much he would have loved this place. This right here was his picture of heaven. I truly felt him there with us.


Christopher trying to catch some trout


Caroline and I both enjoyed relaxing in hammocks

Friday morning the boys went to play golf and us girls went shopping. That afternoon we rented ATV’s and even the rain didn’t dampen our excitement. We were following a road up to the top of the mountain and couldn’t wait to see the view from the top.


After this picture was taken, a major accident occurred. A motorcycle was acting reckless and caused Christopher to brake harshly. This in turn caused him to lose control. Between the harsh braking and the soft shoulder he spun so that he ended up going over the side of the cliff. Somehow he hung on and the vehicle did not flip but he did run into a tree.


You have to look closely, but his ATV is in that tree. Far left side.

I was so scared! I cried all the way down the mountain and then completely lost it once we got to our car. We took him to the ER to have him checked out and incredibly nothing was broke and there was no concussion or internal bleeding. He only had bumps and bruises. Thank you Jesus! The bruises and cuts on his face are only from the sunglasses he was wearing. The vehicle was recovered a couple of days later and repaired.


By this point I had had enough fun. We found some food and headed back to Colorado Springs for the night. Christopher had an earlier flight than Caroline, Zachary and I so the 3 of us had a little extra time to explore. We spent a few hours in Manitou Springs, eating and walking around. Zachary had been there before so he showed us a place called Rainbow Falls.


There is graffiti everywhere! The falls are beautiful and so mesmerizing. I could stay and just watch and listen to them all day.


After this we headed to the airport only to find our plane was delayed due to a mechanical issue. After several delays they finally cancelled the flight. By the time it was our turn to get rebooked on a new ticket, there were no open seats on any flights out of Colorado Springs or Denver until Monday afternoon! This was Saturday and Caroline was supposed to be at camp on Sunday. After much debate and thought we decided to just rent a car and drive home. Zachary and I took turns driving through the night and we finally arrived in College Station about 10:30 am Sunday.

This trip was not without it’s drama. It seemed at every turn there was another bump in the road. But I have come to expect it as that is how life has been lately. I just roll with the punches. What else can I do?

I enjoyed the time with my kids. We laughed and kidded and played jokes on each other. We got on each other’s nerves. We helped each other. We had patience but were also impatient with each other. We argued over where to eat. It felt normal and at the same time not quite right. There was someone missing and it was felt.

I don’t like doing family without Todd but after this trip I know we can. We can have fun together and laugh and miss him together. We are still family minus one.

12 thoughts on “Colorado

  1. Thank you for sharing your stories with us, Jennifer! I cheered as a I read about how you took this trip, and braves the falls. You are so adventurous and such a great mom. I cried as a saw the empty seat, and imagined hoe I would have felt after all those bumps in the road. And I cheered some more when I read about you and Zachary driving through the night so Caroline could make it to camp…we’ve made that drive several times and I know it’s not pleasant to do non-stop…but she will always remember that you were willing. I love the way you guys love each other so well. I am thankful for God’s protection in the midst of all the calamities…and for his provision of new memories to add to your storehouse. And if course, I am praying for you, as you continue to learn how to lead your family in Todd’s absence. That He will continue to strengthen and equip you every morning. I love you!


  2. It’s not the journey but the destination, I’ve been told. God provides on the rocky, thorny, AND smooth soil (water and cliffs, too, it seems!). So grateful you endured the hard parts and enjoyed the fun ones. You’re never alone, even though it sure feels like it sometimes. It warms my heart to see the four of you together making memories. You will laugh about this in the future. Ask me about the “family ride” and our “overnight drive” to get one of ours to camp a day late some time. God is always good. Love you guys.


  3. Oh, my gosh!!! For SO many reasons! Welcome back to College Station and its lack of whitewater and mountain top roads! Sheesh! Love your honesty, too…


  4. Oh my goodness, Jennifer!! Christopher! You must have been frightened out of your mind! I love your posts, Jennifer. Real, raw. gospel. Jesus. Thank you. Continuing to pray for the Minklers and Bloms. Love ya’ll so much!


  5. Enjoyed reading, great pictures too. I am sorry for your loss, I lost my dad a few years back so your post is very relatable. I will look out for future posts, too.


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