My aunt and uncle lived in the mountains. A place that our 1969 Custom Newport Chrysler probably would have preferred not to drive with it's narrow mountain passes and drop offs and all that, but we made it up that large hill to a house that had a mountain behind it and a valley below. It was my first real experience that the world was indeed not flat like the plains of Minnesota - that the earth really can be intimidating and beautiful and calming all at once. Since that time Colorado has always had this magical air about it. I knew it was a place that I would love to visit again and even though I have no plans to move anytime soon I could see myself living there.
|Really, there are some mountains behind this house|
|And a valley below. Wow, check out my rocking outfit too.|
|See? Mountains... from some random parking lot|
|Check me out with those binoculars. Am I a traveler or what?|
Many years passed without me traveling back to Colorado (make that 35 years - whoa) and then my good friend, Joanna, moved there. Joanna and I went to high school and have, for the last few years, been having a girls weekend get away with another friend of ours, Susannah. Joanna moving to Colorado was the perfect excuse to go on vacation and we bought our tickets as soon as we could work it into our schedules. Girls weekend 2014!
Susannah lives in Duluth so she drove down the night before we left and slept over at my house. It was a good thing too as we got quite a bit of snow Thursday morning. It was probably a good thing that our flight was slightly delayed as our ride the the airport took much longer than anticipated. For someone who really likes to be on time I'm actually proud about how much I wasn't sweating that drive.
Before I left I thought it would be a great idea for Riley to give me something of hers that I could bring with me. When she was younger she would often leave the house with something for comfort and it just turned into habit that she often still does. I thought this might make her feel better about me being gone for 5 days. I said to her "it will be nice to have your monkey with me and when I look at it it will remind me of you". To which she promptly said "Pftttht, that's silly". This girl is like her father in more ways than one. Naturally, I decided to take pictures of the monkey throughout the trip and she was somewhat excited to see the pictures when I returned.
The snowy weather didn't just affect Minnesota. Colorado ended up cold with its fair share of snow too. The weather threw us for a loop since it was 50 the week before with no snow, but the temperatures promptly started dropping once my foot hit the ground in Colorado and was followed shortly by snow. Lots and lots of thick, heavy, avalanche warning snow. This is probably no surprise to anyone who has heard about any of my getaways for the last couple years as they have all been cold with some sort of precipitation. It is my curse.
We arrived in Denver about an hour later than planned and immediately discussed food as it was way after lunch time. We had plans to check out a winery and go to a play that evening, but since we hadn't seen each other for some time we naturally ended up with a 2 hour lunch at Pasquini's in Denver.
|The only item on the menu that didn't mention garlic. It lied. Big time.|
We had big dreams of going to a hot springs the next day so we had lots of planning to do including shopping for a bathing suite for Susannah and then stocking up on food at the natural food store where Joanna's 23 year old son works. Once at Joanna's apartment we researched our hot springs plans (deciding on a drive to Steamboat Springs) and then headed out to a late dinner in nearby Old Towne Arvada at Braun's Taphaus and Grill. The snow was already coming down fairly hard so we had some concerns about driving in it the following day, but we were still determined to get our hot springs on.
Friday morning we arose and found a lot of snow on the ground and on the trees... and it was chilly. Not MN chilly, mind you, but certainly not what we were hoping for on our vacation. We cooked up some delicious breakfast, showered, packed up... and reevaluated our plan. Turns out the roads were worse than we were comfortable with especially since we would be driving in a two wheel drive car. The guy at the Steamboat Springs hot springs said the 8 miles of road that led into town was "treacherous". I was ready to find new plans, but at the same time was really wanting to go to the hot springs. Even though the avalanche warning ran through 2/3's the length of the state we determined that the weather and road were better south. We found a number of hot springs near Buena Vista and Moffat so we gathered all the addresses and were on our way.
|A small capture of Joanna's many herbs|
Our goal was the hot springs in Moffat, which was also the farthest (3 hours). We really didn't want to spend our vacation in the car so we knew that we might have to settle for Buena Vista instead which was just over 2 hours away... in good conditions.
|Not good conditions|
|Run away truck ramp|
A couple hours into our trip we stopped in Silverthorne. We were starving and stopped at the first place we could, Murphy' Food and Spirits. It was a good choice - I would highly recommend the fish tacos there. I'm not sure if we stuck out or what, but as we were leaving all the locals at the bar turned and said goodbye to us.
We took the freeway as long as we could, but then had to turn off and drive on some questionable roads - at least for a car like ours. Joanna was a trooper though and drove us carefully to our destination.
The roads may have been scary at times, but the views were beautiful (once you could see them). The views helped me deal with the 5 - 6 hour drive. Yes, it took us that long to get there and we decided to stop at Cottonwood Hot Springs which was the first one on the map (because honestly, I was so done with being in the car).
We jumped in the sauna first thinking that would help (and no, I did not wear my hat in the sauna), but the sauna was a bit too intense for my head so we headed right over to the pools. They had four different pools with different temperatures. I felt like we were reenacting the Three Little Bears story as we went to each pool "this one's too hot", "this one's too cold", "Ooh, this one's just right".
We were probably only here for about an hour and a half, but we got to talk to a number of people and discovered that this hot springs was one of the local's favorites. Glad we didn't drive any further after all.
I was pretty much blind since I had to take off my foggy glasses. It got quite dark in the pool area so my only wish for this place would be a few more strategically placed lights. Oh, and an indoor bathroom would have been nice- the port a potty also did not have a light. Otherwise, I would highly recommend this place.
After we were hot spring'd out and hungry for some dinner we headed back into town, booked a hotel room, and then chowed down at El Paraiso as recommended by some fellow hot springers.
The next morning after taking pictures of our beautiful views near our hotel we decided to head out a little earlier than the day before as we wanted to stop in Breckenridge to walk around and eat lunch and then hoped to make it to Evergreen for some hiking before meeting another high school friend for dinner in Boulder.
As usual, we had good intentions, but just couldn't seem to squeeze everything in. Our first mistake was heading back out of town the way we came in... but since we were heading through Breckenridge on the way back we actually needed to take a different route. This may have taken us about 20 minutes out of our way, but we were able to see a ton of deer wandering around and a couple horses just hanging out by themselves.
And once back in town we stopped at a coffee/gift shop and then took some pictures and were finally headed in the right direction an hour later.
We made it to Breckenridge around lunch time... just like everyone else. It was sort of a zoo, but I guess that should have been expected with all the new powder on the mountain (is it obvious that I don't ski?).
We wandered around for a bit before stopping for some lunch at Ollie's Pub and Grub where I had a very delicious burger.
It was about this time that we realized that we were never going to make it to Evergreen and were never going to get in a hike. We definitely weren't going to miss our dinner plans with Andrea so we hopped in the car and headed back to Joanna's to get ready for the evening.
Up next? Shopping, dinner with another high school friend, lunch with a former co-worker, and more shopping... and then heading home.