>Rocky Mountain High

>It was my first trip to Colorado since 2000, when my husband and I went to Estes Park to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. So the beautiful mountains of Colorado provided the perfect backdrop for another romantic celebration… my son Jason’s engagement! When Jason told us he was going to ask See to marry him, his little sister Beth immediately said, “We gotta’ meet this girl!” Her name is See Vang. She’s Hmong… I’ll share more of her family’s story later in the blog….

So off we flew to Denver last Friday, the day after Beth’s last exam (first year of architecture grad school) for a weekend of art, street festivals, dining and mountain views.
We actually met See at our hotel in Denver…. We had drinks together in the bar first, and then we decided to stay “in” for our first night of bonding…. eating at the New Orleans-themed restaurant (complete with Mardi Gras beads), swimming in the heated pool and hot tub, (sans photos) and ending the evening with a scary movie in one of our hotel rooms! Lots of Cushman togetherness for See’s first night!
On Saturday we drove downtown where the Cinco de Mayo street festival was in progress… we made our way through the colorful displays and music to the Denver Art Museum. See is also an artist–she showed us several of her pieces, done in pastels and acrylics, but I didn’t get any pictures – they are really good, though!.Beth was fascinated by the architecture of the museum itself. We were all intersted in the Asian section, and especially loved this mandala, made of sand by Tibetan monks.
After enjoying Colorado beer at one of the ourdoor cafes along the downtown mall, and listening to “street music,” like this young performer was offering (she reminded me of a softer version of Amy Winehouse) we drove over to Boulder, so See could show us the University of Colorado, Boulder, where she went to school. We explored more shops and restaurants, ending up on an upstairs patio for tapas and sangria and sunset-watching with the Rocky Mountains in the background. The kids will think this is corny, but I couldn’t help but think of John Denver’s “Rocky Mountain High”… which he recorded back in 1974! (click on the video arrow if you really want to listen!) It’s funny listening to the lyrics, “He was born in the summer of his 27th year….” Jason will be 27 this month.

On Sunday we met See’s parents, Ia and Cher Vang, for lunch at a nearby Olive Garden Restaurant. Here I go with the corny stuff again… thinking as we walked in, of the ad the restaurant runs that says, “When you’re here, you’re family!” And our families began to blend, to share stories, to bond. The Hmong people fled Laos after the Vietnam War… after they helped us fight the North Vietnamese. Thousands of them were killed in the process. The ones who were lucky enough to make it out alive, like See’s parents, lived in a refugee camp in Thailand for a few years before departing for the States. Ia showed me photographs of their history, which you can read more about here. (One of many sites.) Later at Ia and Cher’s home, we meet two of See’s brothers, Ping and Tai, and Ia gives me a beautiful gift. This hand-embroidered wall-hanging, made by Hmong women, which tells stories of traditional Hmong farming community life, is beautiful. I can’t wait to frame it.

Beth and I flew home Monday afternoon, and this morning I couldn’t wait to take this picture of my peony bush, which, like my family, has grown over the weekend. Who would have thought that a freckle-faced girl from Mississippi would end up with so many Asian beauties! I am, indeed, a blessed woman.


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