7. Summer road trip Colorado…July/August.2019

Day 35 8.6
I had a long leisurely morning in camp.  Theres not much wildlife near the campsite, but it’s still a lovely place to sit, read & enjoy the morning.  

Jill was arriving in town soon, so I left & we met at Paradise for lunch.  So good to see her!  Neither one of us thought our traditional summer meet up in CB would happen this year, so that made this time even more special.  Jill takes a couple of days to acclimate, so we spent the afternoon just shopping along Elk Street & checking out the new shops as well as the old ones.  She’d left Dallas yesterday, but was still tired from all the driving over the last day & a half, so we just went back to camp for the evening, built a fire & turned in early.

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Day 36 8.7
Jill wasn’t feeling that great this morning, so she took it easy in her car-camper (her SUV) while I FT with Claire & Emma.  Late morning she was doing better so she drove us down to Gunnison to check out the shopping there.  One of our favorite shops sells all the outdoor gear we like & I found a hat!  Actually, I found two…a cute one & a more practical one.  It took me forever to decide (as these type of decisions always do.  Jill thought I should just buy both…but I don’t really need two hats…just one that I’ll wear.)  In the meantime, Jill found a really cute bag & new backpack.  I finally made the decision & went with the practical hat…I hope my ears like it.  I’d still rather not wear one at all, but my face is taking a beating from this mountain sun as it has for years.  We ate lunch at the High Alpine Brewery…Jill & I both like a goat cheese & beet salad on their menu.  I also had a really good barrel aged stout!

It rained on us going back to CB, but we took the scenic route by way of Ohio Pass Road….it’s really a beautiful drive that goes from Gunnison to out on Kebler Pass.  Then we stopped in at the Brick for another beer.  The highlight of the day was visiting with Brian, one of the Brick’s owners.  We had a long visit about family & beer & then he gifted me two special bottles of Avery beer from their stash in the basement…WOWIE!!!!  Both the conversation & the thought of drinking such good beer (I’ll save it to share with Danny) was awesome!

We headed back to camp, Jill tucked in early again & I sat outside & read…I never get tired of watching the suns final rays glow on these mountains.  When it started to sprinkle again, I moved into Camper.

Day 37 8.8
Jill woke up feeling good! Yay!  It was time to hit the trail.  We ate breakfast at Paradise, then drove out Gothic to hike around Emerald Lake.  It wasn’t going to be a long hike, but it would be a hike & Jill wanted to see what the lake looked like after so much avalanche damage.  But the lake looked fantastic!  And Jill got to see so many wildflowers too!

Fireweed….so lovely!

This snowplug on the road doesn’t look like it’s getting much smaller…this is my third time hiking over this.

Look how fantastic this lake is!!! It’s pretty perfect, so “Emerald” & clear of debris….Yipee!

Happy to be hiking together again!

Fish swimming in these lovely green waters…healed by time, sunshine, wind & Mother Nature!

Green Gentian bloom up close; there were hundreds of these plants on the mountainside.

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Love this view looking back towards Avery & down Gothic Road.

 When we got back in Jill’s SUV, her ‘low coolant’ light came on.  So, the first thing we did in CB, was go to the hardware store for coolant.  The blip was…evidently coolant comes in different colors…who knew?  So we Googled for information, then a couple in a truck stopped by to see if we needed help.  In the end, after reading directions on the coolant, you can mix the colors!  Awesome…we’d get to see what color is created when you get to mix green with pink!  

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We ate a Bonez for a late lunch/early dinnerYum!  Then we headed back out to camp.  We both read & sat outside & chatted for the evening.  It was fun to be out here together again.  Then we both turned in early.

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Day 38 8.9
Jill loves to the hike to the 403 viewpoint & sitting in the Memorial Bench to enjoy the view.  But, I wanted to show her the new trail & she loved it!

Jill…hiking up, up, up!

We made it up to the viewpoint.

Then we discussed if she wanted to hike to the new part of the trail, then back down the road.  I was trying to figure out the mileage back to the car.  So, we hiked over to the Memorial Bench….always a special place to sit & take in the view.

Jill got to see so many wildflowers!  She thought she’d be coming out too late in the summer to see any, but with this crazy snow year, they were still everywhere.  Jill really wanted to see the new trail & I figured if I miscalculated the distance back to the car, we could probably just hitch a ride.  

In the end the car was almost exactly as I’d estimated, so that part turned out great.  The super un-nerving part was while we were hiking back on the road, we started hearing gun shots.  The sound seem to be coming from near the top where we’d just left, but we couldn’t be sure.  It would have been no big deal if knew who ever was shooting was doing so at a target near them, but it’s pretty scary to just be hiking & hear shots…& there were probably 40 or so rounds.  We made it back to the car with no problem & felt great about the loop we’d hiked.  Jill was glad to have hiked both the new-to-her-trail, make it up to the viewpoint & then get to hike the new part of the 403.  I was grateful no one shot us on the way back down (I really hate guns).

We drove back into CB headed to the Last Steep for lunch.  On the way, I stopped at the Brick when I saw Tracy at the bar.  I asked  her if she was working tomorrow & she said she was going to be off.  Thinking we’d probably leave town on Sunday, I said good bye to her & she gave me a quick hug & said “I think the reason we have 3 big stouts on tap now is because you’re here….I love that!”  I doubt that’s true, but it felt like the most awesomest beer compliment!  (I know, I can be warped about some things!)

I was kind of disappointed in my lunch at the Steep…I ordered a med-well burger & it came out practically raw.  The server just shrugged & handed me the bill.  Jill also didn’t like her lunch…so not typical for this place.

We returned to camp, built our final fire & chatted for the rest of the evening.  

I had been saving my most special beer for my last night in CB.  And while I was a night early, I decided to drink it tonight, not knowing what tomorrow night would bring.  This is my number one beer to drink!  

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We’d hoped to get a good nights sleep…we were planning to hike Scarp Ridge in the morning.

Day 39 8.10
I wanted to get an early start this morning so wed be sure to get a parking spot at the tiny crazy trailhead for Scarp.  Jills brother David, who lives just outside of CB, had contacted her earlier to possibly join us on a hike.  So, he met us out on Kebler & we drove to the trailhead & hit the trail.  Jills only been up Scarp once before & it was definitely hard for her, but she was so thrilled to get to the top.  But that was three or so years ago.  Today, wed follow the same route Danny & took this yearthe longer & slightly—very slightly—gentler way up.  I was so stoked to hike this trail a second time this year & for my last hike for this season in Crested Butte.  David had never done this trail either, so I think he was really enjoying the hike as well as the company.

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Love love love love these mountains!

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Snacking at the summit.

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Jill & I ended up at the Stash.  Just as I was finishing eating, David joined us.  We both had extra pizza & I left, giving brother & sister some time alone to share the rest of dinner.  I wanted one last beer at the Brick before leaving in the morning.  Jill (& Danny too) know I get melancholy when its time to leave Crested Butte.  I feel so connected here & it feels so very, very long in between visits.  So, I ordered a Dark Star from Angela, another favorite bartender & slowly treasured my last moments here.  It wasn’t busy so her & I visited about family & life & challenges.  I finished off my beer, we hugged good bye & I slowly walked back to the 4way where I was parked.

I really love this place.

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Jill & David were just getting to the 4way & beginning to say good bye.  I gave David a hug & waited for Jill at the car.  I knew she was planning to leave early in the morning & I found out a couple of days ago I’d be taking Danny’s mom to her 5th chemo treatment on Tuesday, so I knew I had to leave either Sunday or Monday at the very latest.  Jill had already broken down her screen tent, & I’d used all the firewood last night.  My tent back at camp was dry now, but would be dewey in the morning.  There was no reason to stay just to sleep another night.  I asked Jill what she thought about leaving tonight?  I didn’t want her to feel forced to go a few hours earlier than she’d planned, but she was excited at the idea of getting a head start.  She had a super busy week coming up & definitely wanted to be home by Monday & it usually takes her 1.5 days to drive home.  So we both made a quick trip back out to camp, Jill grabbing the chair she’d left there & me breaking down & packing away my tent.  We hugged good bye & said we’d be in touch while we were on the road that evening. She left before me & hit the road trying to get as far as Trinidad before dark.  She made it to Trinidad about 10:30 & stayed in a hotel & then was home in Dallas by Sunday evening.

I did my normal leaving CB thing…tears.  Not balling, just dripping.  Unfortunately, that’s when Danny called.  I hadn’t planned on talking to him until I was over the pass…my tears would be all dried up by then & I would be back to feeling grateful for the weeks I’ve spent here as well as reflecting on the whole summer …I’ve been traveling for most of the past 3.5 months.  But he’s very understanding & has witnessed my emotions that descend whenever I leave here, on several occasions.  While I know this would never be his reaction, he always lets me be me.  And I love that about him. 

I drove thru a ton of rain & construction through the night & managed to avoid hitting 5 deer & two mountain goats.  I stopped twice to sleep at rest areas, but was back home before noon on Sunday.  Both Danny & the cat were happy I was finally home.


One day when I was camping out on Slate, I drove down the road to check out the depth of the river.  I wanted to cross it & hike up the road the next day.  The water was still too deep & the current too fast.  I was only gone about 15 minutes from camp.  There had been a family parked by the tent that had gone down to the river below camp to fish & one older couple & walked by with their dog.  But when I got back, there was a PBR can slid under the flap of my screen tent.  I looked around.  The couple with the dog were on up the road.  The little family walked by to get in their car & I asked them if they saw anyone near my tent.  They’d only seen the old couple with the dog walk by.  It’s a mystery how that can got there.  Weird.

Last year when Danny & I were camping out on Washington Gulch, we noticed a hand written sign posted at the beginning of the road about a "Mountain Man Rendezvous".  This group was camped in the huge open space where mostly RV’s camp.  But early in the mornings & late at night, they'd fire off cannons.  It’s super strange & pretty annoying.  It’s always proceeded by ‘Fire in the Hole!” then a huge boom.  We can’t figure out why they think this is fun, but it’s definitely an annual thing.  This year we saw the sign & sure enough, Friday night & Saturday morning were booming!  Both last year & this year, we were gone by Sunday so who knows if they shoot on Sunday mornings too.  I guess everyone enjoys different hobbies. PS:  While I’m afraid of gun shots, cannon  shots don’t scare me…just in case you were wondering.

I’d been camped out on Slate for a couple of weeks, when my friend Cheryl joined me.  One morning we were sitting having coffee & I walked over to the 4Runner to get something.  Walking back to my chair, I noticed something shiny in the dirt right near my tent.  I kicked a small rock over & dug a little dirt out with the toe of my boot.  Under both was a ring.  My ring I’d lost a couple of years ago.  Remember, I didn’t camp here last year.  So that ring had sat in the dirt until now.  I’d walked by that spot probably a hundred times since I set up camp, & never saw the shine of silver, until this morning.  I picked it up, amazed.  I slid it over my thumb where I always wore it.  I told Cheryl how surprised I was I found it.  She got goose bumps & I thought it was such a spectacular random thing to happen to me in my camping spot.  The ring says “Embrace Life”.  It’s what I always try to do, but especially out here.  A month or so ago, the kinetic ring I’ve worn as my wedding ring broke when I was hiking in Washington.  I made this ring smaller & put it on my wedding finger.  I think it’s the perfect mantra for Danny & my’s next chapter together.

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My nights: 
39 nights in the 4Runner
1 night in a hotel 
 fun fact: Since April 22, when I left on my spring road 
trip, I’ve slept 3 nights in my own bed; & a total of 86 nights in my 4Runner

Hiking mileage: 

Photos taken: 

I read a lot of books on this trip:
The Girl Who Knew Da Vinci by Belle Ami
The Girl Who Loved Carrivagio by Belle Ami
Downriver: Into the Future of Water in the West by Heather Hansman
Four Funerals & Maybe a Wedding by Rhys Bowen
Nanaville:  Adventures in Grandparenting by Anna Quindlen
Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates
Big Kahuna by Janet Evanovich
Yellow Raft in Blue Water by Michael Dorris
The Wild Girl by Jim Fergus
Finding Orion by John David Anderson
5 Minutes by Nick Lucas
Ms. Bixby
’s Last Day by John David Anderson
Sidekicked by John David Anderson
Everett Ruess: A Vagabond for Beauty & Wilderness Journals by W. L. Rusho
Ruth’s First Christmas Tree by Elly Griffiths
Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

last note:

Grateful…I’m always so grateful for these trips; for time to travel; for good friends along the way; for Danny’s understanding for the unconventional way I am & for the beauty of this country.  Always, grateful.

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