10. Utah, Nevada, California & Colorado…May/June/July.2018

Day 69 7.28
I always sleep in the DIA cell phone lotnot the ideal spot, but definitely convenient & free.  Dannys flight got in about 7:30am & we were out of there by 8am heading back to CB.  We made a brief stop in Gunnison for ice & food from the grocery store & gas, then headed north.  Danny checked out our new camp spot & decided not to move the tentit was pretty good where Id staked it.  

We sat out at camp for the afternoon, enjoying a beer but mostly each others company69 days is a long time to have been apart.  This is the place we talk of dreams & future ideaswe rarely talk of these things at home.  I think home, at least for me, is the place where stark reality is all the timeshit breaking down, too much stuff, responsibility, bills, etc.  But out here, under the aspens with views of the mountains & just the sounds of nature, the demands are so very, very simple, dreams get discussed & it feels like were a teenaged couple againloved every minute of this conversation this afternoon.

We headed back into Crested Butte to our fave beer spotthe Brick Oven.  Dan, one of the owners, stopped by to welcome Danny & then pulled out some super awesome beer from the cellar & the three of us tried some fantastic stouts!  The evenings conversation with the two Dans was great!  My Danny loves these moments too& all of you that think hes quiet & introverted, should see him here.  Theres something special about this town & it brings out Dannys social sideI treasure these moments!

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Danny had been up for about 22 hours & with some high alcohol beers, now we were both exhausted.  We said good night to Dan & headed back to camp to sleep under a beautiful night sky, together, our favorite town!

Day 70 7.29
We enjoyed our morning coffee in this sunny camp spot, just hanging out & having more conversation. Coffee at home on weekend mornings on the back porch is something we enjoy, so out here its even better.  Danny takes zero time to acclimate & its a good thing, since he only has a few days here, we always start hiking as soon as possible.  Today would be our shortest & easiest hikeup to the No Name trailwhich is now named Anthracite Mesa trailthen across the road to the 403.  There was no one on the first trail this morningsurprising since its Sunday morning & only a few other people on the more popular 403.

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Since these hikes were right up the road from our campsite, we went back to camp & just chilled for awhile.  It began to rain, so we both pulled out our books & read for awhile.  Later in the afternoon, we went back into CB for pizza at the Stash, then back to the Brick for a beer.  Turns out it was a slow evening & Dan joined us once again, this time for a couple of hours & super entertaining conversation.  

Dan’s a big kayaker & told us about a trip he organized last October down the Colorado through the Grand Canyon.  It was like listening to an adventure audio book…so wonderful & you could tell from his dialogue, he can’t wait to go back.  I’m taking this as a ‘sign’ that I need to float (not on a kayak, but a guided raft trip) down this super special place.  I met a beautiful, enthusiastic woman this year at a Sisters on the Fly event, who was a former guide in the Grand.  Her eyes sparkled, her voice was dreamy & she got that look that people get on their faces when they discuss something so wonderful & life changing…she encouraged me to ‘take the plunge’ & go floating in this magnificent place.  Hearing Dan talk about it too, in the same way, makes me want to go, even though it’s pretty scary (I do have this fear of being forced under water a second time in my life…but what the hell?  I should do it anyway)  It’s expensive & I’d want Danny to share this experience too.  Since, right now, he can only manage one week with me a year, not sure when he can take three off in a row to go on this trip, much less it’s about the same price as we spend on our vehicles…but it’s now on the list.  You never know when something will change & then we can go together.

It was late when we got back to camp…pitch black until the moon would come out.  We both were tired & ready for bed.  It had been another awesome day!

Day 71 7.30
I always feel a little bad when Dannys on vacation & we get up early, slam down something to eat & hit the trailno sleeping late for him.  We have such little time together out here, weve got to pack it all in.  And we usually have the threat of storms in the afternoon, so we try to get off the peaks early in the afternoon.

Today we were hiking Hasley Pass.  We love this hard hike that starts at the West Maroon trailhead.  Its not the hard part we like, its the viewsits always about the views! We hiked this trail two years ago & by the time we got all the way to the pass, it began to hail & storm; we only spent about 10 harried moments up here, then had to boogie as fast as possible to get back down.  Last year, the road to the trailhead never opened while we were herethe snow plug blocked the way.  So, we were excited to be back on this trail, this year, under clear blue skies with a good forecast!

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We spent a long time up here!  The skies were clear but the gusty wind was strong & it was really cold.  But the views are fantastic!



It’s a nice hike down & while there were no other hikers along our trail, once we got back down to the West Maroon trail - one of the most popular trails in CB- we met more hikers.  There was a group of three women, about my age, that had hiked over the pass from Aspen…they said they did this annually.  They asked us about our hike, put it on their ‘future’ list.  We chatted a bit more & then we hiked on.  As we got back to the car & started unloading, a man approached us & said he’d missed the shuttle & wondered if we could take him into town.  His name was Stu & he was from Colorado out here hiking & biking.  He didn’t like driving the road, so he’d hired Dolly’s shuttle to take him back & forth.  It’s a pain to put a third person in my 4Runner…I have no back seats in Camper; I have all the stuff that usually sits in my passenger seat now laying back on my bed when Danny is here.  But, we wanted to be nice & accommodating, so we moved the stuff & Danny sat on my bed & Stu sat in the front seat.  He was a nice guy & we chatted about CB stuff all the way back to town.  We dropped him at the inn he was staying at & said good bye.

We headed into town & went to Bonez for their awesome happy hour.  Danny hadn’t been there before…it was yummy & we had a nice visit with the bartender too.  Tonight was the free concert, so we strolled down there after we ate.  We headed toward the bleachers & Carole & Micheal saw us coming & made room for us!  I  introduced Danny & we all began to chat as the African Drum band played in the background.  It was a beautiful night & so fun to be there & visiting with Carole & getting to know her a little better.  Michaels brother Kent, then joined the gang & he told me he’d really enjoyed his trip to Wyoming pack-rafting & hiking.  Then a couple of Caroles friends sat down & I recognized one named Susan.  Several years ago, I met Susan when she worked at the Hostel where I took showers & we got to know each other.  I even worked for her one day cleaning an AirBNB during busy season, but once she quit the hostel, we’d lost touch.  As Danny & I were getting ready to leave, & saying good bye with hugs to Carole & Michael, I asked Susan if she remembered me…& she did.  Another hug! (this is a very huggy town & I love that!)  We visited & caught up for few minutes & it was nice to hear she’s doing great.  Right before I turned away, a guy sitting next to her, looks up at me & says, “Hey do you remember me?”…it was Stu.  I’d told him about the free concert in the park when we’d dropped him off & he said thank you again for the ride & that he was glad I’d told him about tonight’s music.  It felt like I knew the whole first row of these concert-goers & I left with a big smile on my face & a happy heart!

We talked to Pete whose getting ready for his own 6 week adventure & then shared a beer at camp.  We’re unsure if there’s still burn ban on or not & regardless it’s still very, very dry, so we’re not building any camp fires yet.  It got cold quick, so we bundled up, but then decided we’d retire to our sleeping bags & call it a night!  Another great day in CB!

Day 72 7.31
We didnt even make coffee in camp this morningwe were up early & out.  We ate breakfast at Paradise (Hi Danny!  Welcome from the staff!) then drove up Kebler Pass for 12 miles to the Clear Creek trailhead.  Danny & I had hiked Beckwith Bench about 4 years agoI remembered that it was a long, long hike, several boulder fields to cross & but really pretty at the top.  So, I wanted to hike this again with him.  This would be our longest hike.  Every night we discuss what were hiking the next day…Danny’s choices are:  short & hard hike or long & hard hike.he doesnt get to rest on vacation!  The forecast was still good, so we hit the trail.  Its two miles up hill to the pass, then a stretch of great views & just gentle down hill trail.  Wed both forgotten the HUGE downhill part of the trailwhich then means youll hike back up at some point.  We did pass some raspberry bushes & ate a little trail snack!


We did both remember the boulder fields…& we’d remember them for the next couple of days as it sort of makes the bottom of your feet hurt to hike on this much rock.

The views are big on this long hike & we were just putting the miles with little conversation.

Once at the top, we decided to explore the bench.  It’s a huge wide open area that I’m sure is filled with deer & elk in the early morning or evening, but nothing was out this afternoon.  We walked across the whole bench, getting to the very edge to see what was over the side.

We were way off trail by now, & it took about 30 minutes to find the trail again (thank goodness Danny’s with me…I misjudged & guessed wrong!)  Then we began the long, long walk back the way we’d come.  By the time we were back at the car, we’d hiked 14 miles & 7 hours.  We both liked this hike, but decided it would not be going on the ‘annual’ list.  

We got back into town, had cell service & there was a message there from Danny’s brother.  He’d left Arizona & decided to join us in Crested Butte at some point…you really never know when or where Dave is until he shows up.

Danny & I went to the Brick for a burger & beer, then headed back out to camp to enjoy the evening, more good conversation & a beer!

Day 73 8.1
Scarp Ridge is our short-hard hike, but we love love love this hike!  Its 1,800 elevation gain in less than two miles.  It was super smoky today.this first smoke weve seen & smelledit was thick & stinky.  So, we started up hill, both breathing hard.  Nothing can make you feel more out of shape than this hike!  But even through the smoky haze, the view from the top is fabulous!

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This is truly one of the best hikes ever!  And we love spending time up here.  Since it was so smoky, we decided not to hike the loop & just went down the way we came up.  We drove back into town & stopped at Momos & shared lunch.  We got a wonderful FT call from Claire that was the special desert of our lunch!  We like to sit on the benches in town & discuss the Toyota’s & truck campers that drive by…sounds corny, but it’s our entertainment & hopefully something that’s in our future!

The afternoon had us back at the fantastic outdoor bar at the Brick enjoying one of the beers on their 30 tap list.  We’d heard from Dave a couple of times since yesterday, but not being a planner, we had no idea when he’d show up.  We headed back out to camp & soon after we arrived he did too.  He set up his tent near Danny’s & the two of them caught up & visited.  I made dinner for us all & we just sat around the rest of the evening.

Day 74 8.2
Danny & I were planning another long hike today & Dave would be joining us.  I made breakfast burritos for us all before we left camp to drive out Gothic road all the way to the trailhead. Dave followed in his car.  Weve hiked North Pole Basin once before, about two or three years ago.  Its a new public trail that used to be private, but is now managed by RMBL & the CB Land Trust.  The last time we hiked into the Basin, but not all the way to the top.  That was our goal today.  The trail isnt on any map, but Id copied a description into my phone, so thats what wed follow.  Its about 4 miles to the top & Dave, not being acclimated, opted out about mile 2, sitting down on a rock while we climbed to the top.  There were two waterfalls & lots of wildflowers still out & they were beautiful to see!

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As we got near the top, we saw a long, long trail winding up the mountain.  We couldn’t decide if we wanted to keep going.  I then read the directions I’d copied & we found we could climb to the saddle a different way & that’s what we did.  The last 200’ up the ridge was just a scramble up the mountain, but the view was spectacular & we were both so glad we’d done it!

We were both so stoked about this hike!  It would definitely go on the ‘to-do-as-often-as-we-can’ hike list!  We’d passed a group near the bottom of the trail, but they never came any farther than where we’d passed them. There’d been no other hikers on the trail, so it felt like we had the place to ourselves.  We’d logged 8 miles by the time we got back to the car & there was a note from Dave saying he’d already left & gone to town.

Danny & I stopped at RMBL on the way back down Gothic road to say hi to Rick & made plans to meet him at the Brick on Friday.  Once back in town, we went to Bonez for a late lunch/early dinner & Dave showed up to eat with us.  Then it was back to camp for a quiet evening. I got in the 4Runner early to read & Danny & Dave stayed up talking & reminiscing for awhile.

Day 75 8.3
The forecast was for rain & storms today & it looked like our big hiking days were close to overway too soon.  I made breakfast again in camp under cloudy skies & Danny & I drove up the road next to our camp to explore.  We were hoping we could hike a traverse around part of Gothic mountain, but the trail petered out, so we drove back to camp.  Danny & Dave visited the rest of the morning & I took off walking down the road & into the woods to explore a little on my own.  

The two of us eventually left camp & drove down Kebler to see if we could do a short hike from Horse Ranch Park.  The skies looked like they could open up at any moment, & as we put on our packs thats what happened.  We ducked back in the 4Runner & listened to the rain pour down & read.   After about 30 minutes it wasnt getting any better & thick white clouds had enveloped the mountains around us.  I felt sad that we wouldn’t be hiking anymore on this trip.  We headed back up Kebler, but this sweet spot still had a surprise for uswe spotted a Mama & baby moose in the pond along the road.  We stopped for about 30 minutes taking some photos & watching this cute pair eating grass from the pond, not caring about the rain.

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When we can’t go hiking, we either eat or drink or both.  Today, we went to lunch at Paradise Cafe & Dave met us there.  The sun came out just in time for a nice walk around town after our meal.  The juried arts festival begins at 5 tonight, so the street was busy with vendors setting up their booths.  Dave sort of disappeared in the mix of tents & tourists & Danny & I made our way to the Brick & met Rick…my CB friend who works at RMBL.  He’s always so much fun to visit with & enjoys seeing Danny every year too.  After a couple of beers, we hugged good bye & wished each other good times between now & next year.  I so love visiting with my CB friends!

Danny & I walked around the now-opened art fair & I ended up at one of my favorite artists booths…Sidhe Designs.  I first met Michele & Dan last year.  They were kind enough to show me some of their jewelry as they were setting up.  I was hoping to buy a piece…Danny offered to get me piece for my 40th Anniversary gift, but it’s way out of my price range.  But, I can’t help loving it anyway!  I’ve faithfully followed Michele on Instagram & always love the pieces she posts.  She was at the show today, remembered me & we chatted for about 20 minutes.  One of our connections is Florida…she & Dan go there every year for 3 months, back to see family & sell at shows during the winter months.  I hope to go see her in Mt. Dora next February…maybe we’ll be there for Emma’s 1st birthday????!!!!  

We kept walking & looking in all the booths…so much talent.  There wasn’t anything there I could afford & nothing I need, but WOW!  So many cool & beautiful types of art!

It was best to just go back out to camp & quit wishing for stuff I don’t need & enjoy our last night in this little town.  With all the down pour of rain today & signs flashing “Burn Ban” gone & notices on FB from the NFS of no burn ban, we decided to build a camp fire. The one ‘new’ addition to our camp area, is a tiny festival called the Rendezvous Roundup…or something like that.  Teepees are set up in the field far across the road from us & there are Daniel Boone-dressed folks walking up the road.  Every once in awhile, we hear “Fire in the Hole” & a cannon goes off.  We’re all thankful it’s not guns, but holy hell it’s loud.  Definitely won’t be seeing any wildlife around now.  Danny & I opened one of our special bottles of beer & toasted to our time spent here hiking, visiting with our friends, camping, talking & just being together in this magical place!

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I get so mellow & melancholy when it’s time to leave here…next summer seems too far away & winter seems too close.  The sky gave me a gift of more beauty as the sun set tonight…I have so much to be grateful for.

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Day 76 8.4
The day started out crappyfirst & foremost, we were leaving.  Then we ripped the tent fly as we were trying to turn the new cot. We eventually got packed up & ready to leave.  Never sure of Daves plans, his tent wasnt moving, so we figured he was staying.  The three of us went into Paradise Cafe for breakfast & I said my good byes to my friends there…until next year…or if I could squeeze in one more trip before winter????

We stopped by the Brick to see if Dan was working so we could say good bye & thank you.  He wouldn’t be in until later, so we wrote him a note.  In the meantime, though, one of the bartenders I’d become friends with year, FB friended me & invited me to come see her horses next time I was in town….yes!

Dave was MIA again by this time, so he & Danny said good bye with text & we sadly got in the car & drove south.  With my music playing & checking my rearview mirror a few times, there was a small amount of eye leakage as I looked at my magnificent mountains…saying good bye to this place is always hard for me.

Danny knows me well & understands my moods when it’s time for me to go home.  We drove in silence south & then east across the pass to Poncha Springs.  We stopped at Elevation Brewery & tried some beer.  Danny was trying more than me, since I hadn’t slept much last night & today would be a super long day anyway.

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After the beer was gone, we drove down the road to Holiday RV & checked out the truck campers we like & he also got to see the inside of a pop up truck camper for the first time.  They also had some Tab 400’s like Jills, & since Danny hadn’t ever seen her’s, he looked inside a couple of those.  

Stupid:  I had sort of coveted these hoodies I’d been seeing in CB the past couple of days.  They’re only made in Leadville CO & I thought I needed one…stupid, stupid, stupid!  I could live the rest of my life & not buy anymore clothes & be just fine.  I had even said out loud to Danny "I’m not sure even if I got one, it was worth the drive from Leadville along I-70 into Denver"….I really really really really don’t like driving I-70 into Denver.  I love the South Park drive…I really detest the I-70 drive.  But, there are sometimes, I don’t listen to myself to just choose stupid.  Today was one of those days.  I had called the previous day to see if they had these hoodies in stock…yes…the guy said they had a whole rack of them.  The drive from Poncha Springs to Leadville is pretty though…until you get to Leadville.  Then you see all the mining destruction of once was beautiful mountains stripped down to red dirt, gravel, fences, signs, big trucks.  And, it’s just one more reminder of what our current administration is doing…which just darkened my already moody mood.

As we pulled into Leadville, detour signs were everywhere.  There was a street festival going on.  But we hot-footed it right to the store to buy my hoody…only to find they didn’t have very many & the only ones they had were XS or XL.  Not a disaster in the whole scope of the world, but it was such a waste of time.  I seriously doubt if I’ll ever get one & now I don’t even want it that bad…see how things like this go? And now, as we got back in the car, I had a two hour drive, mostly along I-70 into Denver.

Danny dosed on & off, I sang my music as loud as I could play it.  Twice, slamming on my brakes (once very narrowly avoiding a crash) as the cars, trucks & RV’s came to a dead stop for no apparent reason.  It was such a fun drive!

Once near the big city, I drove straight to Hops & Pie…our traditional ‘last meal’ before the long drive home.   They didn’t have super special beers, but we never have trouble finding at least one good one.  The food is delicious!  We then headed to our last stop, which is Argonauts…a giant liquor store on the edge of downtown.  Our favorite ‘beer guide’ was off tonight….we were bummed.  He usually escorts us & our shopping cart around & gives us all the inside scoop on the kinds of beer he knows we like.  We didn’t end up with our cart as full as normal, but we sill managed to find some good beer.

My 4Runner is stuffed…with all the camping gear, our duffles, leftover food that we didn’t cook & now lots of beer!  I’m kind of minimalistic when I travel & always by the time we leave Denver, I can’t even look in the back…so I just don’t.  I was already exhausted before I hit the highway for the 8.5 hour drive back through one of the most boring states in the US.  See how my mood goes?  This is why I have a 12 hour playlist…music calms me, makes me not think or have conversations with myself & I love 99% of all these songs…& so it went.  Danny drove for about 3 hours when I was too tired, but then I took the wheel again for the last leg home.  It was 5am when we pulled into the driveway; dog & cats happy to see us (I always think my cat thinks I died or something for being gone so long…she sort of looks surprised, then in her cat way, sort of snooty & pissed I was gone so long, then happy that I’m back & ready for me to attend to her full time…this is how it always goes).

Day 77 8.5
So, technically, my road trip ended as we left Coloradoor thats how I view it anyway.  But, today is not only Dannys last day of vacation, but also his birthday! After about 3 hours sleep (in a bed), we started the crazy process of unloading the car.  I’m a little fanatical that I get everything unloaded, cleaned, put away or mostly away asap.  It looks like a campground with cat hair exploded in the house!  We both are great at getting this stuff done…dishes washed, clothes unpacked, gear dried, etc.  By 1:30, the house still looked like a disaster, but it was getting done.  We both showered (yes, even me & I used shampoo for the first time in 77 days!) & then we went out for his birthday dinner.  We chose Merchants…sat at a table & then learned for two hours in the afternoon on Sunday, they only serve ‘snacks’…bummer!  So, we happily walked across the street to Burger Stand where the beer was better anyway.  We sat at the bar & ate way too much food but had a fantastic big Dogfish Head beer, which Danny promptly found out that our liquor store currently sells.  

After lunch, he dropped me at the store to buy ingredients for a cherry birthday pie & he dashed off to buy the aforementioned beer.  Once back home we were in fast mode again with a layer of “we’re kind of tired’ on top.  We’d invited friends over for pie & beer at 6pm & too hear about their recent trip to Iceland.  So, I made the pie then we put away, vacuumed, dusted, put away & put away, until it was presentable.  I’m left with a pile of stuff that needs repaired; a table that needs to be cleaned well, all the camp dishes because I’m going to ‘invent’ or ‘create’ something better & simpler to organize them for my next trip, & piles of laundry that need washed.

But, I know Danny enjoyed his birthday, in spite of being worked to the bone.  Our friends left & it was time for Danny to get ready for work & bed.  As he walked in the door from getting the dog, his brother walked in with him…looks like Dave’s in town.

It wasn’t long before I tucked into bed, super tired & hoping for a good nights sleep.  As I dosed off, the cat came & laid on my chest, sort of glad I was home.

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