Throwing Sticks in the Colorado River and Scuffy the Tugboat

My kids had fall break last week, and we took a quick trip to Grand Lake, Colorado to celebrate. Grand Lake is one of my favorite places in Colorado. I love the water, the proximity to Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP), and the still-small and not-too-touristy town. Despite several groans, we took advantage of the weather and took the kids for a couple hikes in RMNP.

We missed peak colors, but the quiet of off-season and the hint of snow in the air made the trip spectacular. I love the mountains in every season, but there’s something magical about being there right before winter starts.

The first hike started at the Bowen-Baker Trailhead, and we walked as far as the kids would let us before turning back. We didn’t make it to Paprika Lake, and we didn’t see any large wildlife, but the hike through thick woods along a creek was serene and soul-nurturing.

Our second hike was more of a short walk. We visited the Holzwarth Historic Site. Nestled at the base of the Never Summer Mountains and by the headwaters of the Colorado River, it’s a great stop to make with young kids. After touring the now defunct Never Summer Ranch, once owned by the Holzwarth family, my kids spent a long time playing in the river. They dropped sticks on one side of the bridge, ran to the other side, watched them emerge, and waded into the river further downstream to untangle them and send them off yet again.

It reminded me of a Little Golden Book I used to read with my son and probably read myself when I was a kid: Scuffy the Tugboat. Scuffy is a haughty red tugboat who sits on a toystore shelf longing for bigger things. The toystore owner, the man with the polka dot tie, took Scuffy home one night for his son to play with in the bathtub. But Scuffy still wasn’t happy. So the man with the polka dot tie and his son took Scuffy to a brook.

Scuffy sailed downstream in a hurry and the man with the polka dot tie and his son soon lost sight of him. He felt strong and proud to be on a big adventure. As the brook became a river, Scuffy sailed on with determination and a sense of meaning and purpose. He finally arrived in a big city, and he became frightened. He was heading out to sea. At the last minute, the man with the polka dot tie and his son snatched Scuffy from the endless water, and took him home. The book ends with Scuffy happily chugging around the bathtub saying, “[a]nd this is the life for me.”

I’ve always loved this book and its simple message that we should be happy with what we have in life. But as I watched my kids playing in the headwaters of the Colorado River, sending their sticks off on journeys, I started to wonder why we wouldn’t want to teach our kids to dream big and long for more. Obviously, it’s important to be happy with what you have in life, but shouldn’t we also strive for more than we can see beyond the horizon?
making sure their sticks make it downriver
remnants of the Never Summer Ranch
remnants of the Never Summer Ranch

2 thoughts on “Throwing Sticks in the Colorado River and Scuffy the Tugboat

  1. Melinda October 28, 2015 / 4:35 pm

    Love it!


  2. Mary October 28, 2015 / 11:25 pm

    SIGH…..another great article, and images of those dwindling open mountain valleys…. 🙂


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