Growing up, my family visited Estes Park, Colorado almost every year. My oldest brother moved out to Colorado and gave us even more reason to visit. To say the least, Colorado is a home away from home. So of course when my nephew who lives in Colorado announced that he will be getting married in Estes Park, we were all excited to be back there together again. This was over a year ago when we found out where the wedding would be. It was only Courtney and we weren’t seeing all the sensory issues and other characteristics of autism that we are seeing now.

So after adding another child to our family, and Courtney having more sensory issues, to say I was a little anxious about this trip is an understatement. I couldn’t bare the idea of canceling since my entire family was going to be at our favorite vacation spot again, but I also was having nightmares of how the trip would go. Would Courtney handle the plane ride? Would we be able to keep her from scaling mountains? Would we survive 5 days in a hotel room with both of them since one goes to bed early and the other one goes to bed late? Etc…

As we got closer and closer to the trip, we got very close to canceling. It wasn’t until I talked to my dad the absolute last night before we could no longer cancel the hotel without it costing us, that I decided we were definitely still going. I finally came to the conclusion that this is our life, but I can’t let autism run our life. Heck, my parents did this several times with 10 kids!

Both girls did a lot better on the flight than we expected. The trip from Denver to Estes was a different story. We decided to skip out on the rehearsal dinner because the girls were DONE! Instead we got settled in our hotel, got them to bed and enjoyed our own little picnic in the room. Turned a suitcase into a picnic table, bought some beer, ordered Mexican food and enjoyed the beginning of our vacation.

The wedding was the next day. We had a nice morning that included a nice long walk. Went to head to the wedding, feeling somewhat confident that I knew how to get there. Figured with the help of the GPS on my phone we should get there with ease. Forgetting that in the mountains, that reception SUCKS in the mountains and that it’s been over 10 years since I had been to the area… we didn’t make it to the wedding. We did make it to the reception though. Courtney had no interest in being in a reception hall. I realize this could be very typical for a toddler. The difference is, you could see in her eyes that part of the reason why she didn’t want to be there is because it was way to overwhelming. It was loud, there were a lot of people, it was out of her routine? Little meltdowns kept happening. We finally took turns inhaling our dinner and left. So the main reason why we went to colorado became a fail. Felt so bad that I missed most of my nephew’s big day. Mood did turn around as Joe and I decided to take the girls for a walk through the downtown area. Walks help her so much!!!

36 hours down…girls-Many, many meltdowns…mom-3 meltdowns. Going to be a fun week!

Now, the trip did turn around. Yes, the girls had many more meltdowns and I had a few more too. But again, they’re little, bound to happen. Heck, “mommy meltdowns” are common too. The trip was filled with some driving through the mountains, picnics, visiting family members at their cabins, and every changing sleeping schedule. Though Courtney loved being outdoors, you can really see how the change in routine and being out of her comfort zone was really affecting her. She wasn’t eating much, lots of whining, lots of wondering and just a stressed look. The last night, she was so overwhelmed at a gathering at my sister’s cabin that we ended up spending almost an hour in a bedroom away from all the people and noise. She was so happy jumping on the bed!

Needless to say, with the help of my awesome husband and family, we got through the trip. Flight home also went ok, except for the fact that one of the car seats was “misplaced”. What was eye opening, was watching Courtney once we were back in our own house. Her body suddenly looked relaxed. I didn’t realize how tense she had been this past week until I saw how relaxed she was once we were home. Poor thing!

Yes, the trip had it’s stressful moments. We came home so physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted. BUT…it was so good to be back “home” again with my amazing family. As exhausting as it was, I am so glad we made the decision to go. AND the best part??? Joe loved seeing the Rocky Mountains for the first time and he says he hopes to return there. So Colorado was not a bust!

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