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

Day 23 7.25
Another bright wonderful day!  Talie & I enjoyed some awesome conversation this morning….about her travels this past year, her upcoming ones & how she’s physically doing.  Talie was diagnosed with cancer a couple of years ago & is currently cancer free.  Four doctors wanted to amputate her leg, but she said no.  She has healed with radiation, lots of mediation & positive thinking, & a strenuous specific diet she follows. She has continued to hike even with a plate & screws in her leg & a small limp that has carried her over many mountains in the US & around the world…she keeps moving forward with a smile on her face, a fierce diligence to when & what she eats & drinks & her plans to travel to hike all year long.  

She’d met the camp neighbors on the other side of me, & knew they were leaving later this morning.  So, we put off our hike for a bit to sit & visit & then we moved my tent after they left.  I did like this spot.  Last year, we’d had the camping area above this spot, but I liked this one better!   And, I was totally legal for the next 14 days…no worries about the Forest Service slapping me with nasty notes. I cleaned up the mess I’d made the night before when I'd shoved all my gear in the 4Runner; folded up Cheryl’s tent I now had, then got ready to hit the trail with Talie!

We hiked a trail I’d forgotten about.  Danny & I had hiked this trail a few years ago when we tried to summit Gothic mountain.  After that hike, since I no longer wanted to try that summit again, I just took the trail out of my mind.  But, Talie suggested it & it was fabulously stuffed with wildflowers!  She was wearing her backpack because she’s training for an upcoming backpacking trip to Iceland.  She’d had this scheduled two years ago, when she fell, broke her leg & the cancer was discovered.  But, now she’s ready & doing all she can to be prepared.  Talie used to lead wildflower hikes so it was super awesome for me, as she’d stop & tell me about the flowers!  We saw about 30 different varieties…it was such a wonderful hike!

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We turned around before heading up in the forest & enjoyed the big views on the way back to her truck.  I can’t wait to follow Talie’s hike & adventures in Iceland…I know she’s super stoked about the trip!

We drove back to camp & parted for the day.  I cleaned myself up a bit before going into town.  I ate a burger at the Last Steep…sitting in my fave spot near the rail outside.  Then I went to the Brick & had a blast the rest of the afternoon.  It was quiet & not too busy today.  There was a local guy at the bar I’ve seen many times, & another bartender eating & drinking before he started his shift & awesome Tracy bartending.  I was drinking another big stout, but after a bit, Tracy offered us some special ones of her own ‘mixing’.  Her & I tried three different ‘tasters’ where she’d mix the stouts together…it was great fun & super interesting to try.

Back out at camp, I was ready to relax & embrace my new spot.  But I thought Danny’s tent could be on a bit more level ground, so I moved it again slightly.  For one who’s only slept in my tent once since April, I’ve been putting up & taking down tents like crazy in the past few days.  But, with that done, I built a fire & was ready to relax & watch the sunset on the magnificent mountains that surrounded me.

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Day 24 7.26
Talie & I shared morning conversation again…always special for sure!  I decided it was “pancake Friday” at Paradise (last time I was in for breakfast here, a guy sitting next to me at the counter informed both the waitress & me that it wasn’t his "pancake day" that day…he’d have to come back again to order pancakes.  We both said, “your pancake day?”  he said yes, he had a pancake day once a week.  Rachel, the awesome server, looked at me & said “I think you need a pancake day too”.  So, today’s the day! (pancakes make me feel sluggish, so with only driving in front of me today, I could so easily eat a pancake!).  They have a special one that’s so yummy, called a Virginia pancake, filled with all kinds of nuts & seeds.  And, believe or not, if you order the gluten free one, it’s even better.  So, pancake day it was!

Then it was time to make the long (or it feels long) drive to Denver.  My annual drive to pick up Danny from the airport usually begins late in the afternoon, so to avoid driving in the dark as well as all the leaping wildlife that comes out in the dark, & ends up in the cell phone lot all night long & picking him up early in the morning.

But this year would be different.  I’d been invited to stay at Sherry Ott’s house for the night.  We’d planned to meet up early in the evening.  I was trying to get into Denver to shop at the Be Hippy store before they closed.  When I discovered Be Hippy, they were only selling their stuff at festivals, but had opened at store both at the Denver Airport (it’s never open at 7am when I pick up Danny) & now one in the city.  It was 15 minutes before they closed, but it was enough time for me look at all their cool stuff, but in the end decided I didn’t need any of it (I’m not a big shopper or big spender).

I still had some time to kill before meeting Sherry (she was being interviewed for a podcast) & she told me about a brewery close to her house to try called Baere.  I bought a barrel aged stout & moved out to the empty patio to drink it & to call Danny.  He was now on vacation! even though he was still at home.  I knew he’d be super busy tonight packing (although I have a huge duffel of his already in the car) & getting all the stuff ready for the animal care takers.  The beer was wonderful!

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I met Sherry at her house & met her foster kitties!  Sherry is rarely home in Denver because she travels the world for a living, but when she is she fosters kittens.  They were adorable…only 5 weeks old & so not used to humans yet.  Then we took off to eat dinner at Hops & Pie…one of my favorite places to eat in Denver (they have amazing beer on tap) & the place was new to Sherry.  It was a perfect weather night & the area was bustling with Friday night activity.  The food was super great & I drank a Blind Pig from Russian River…I have a bottle in my car, but it’s always wonderful to drink it fresh & on tap.

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Then we drove back to her apartment & played with the kitties for a couple of hours (don’t let Sammy know I’ve been spending time with other cats…I’m already in trouble with her!).  Sherry also gave me a new cooler!  It’s a Otterbox & she’s sure it will keep ice longer than what I have.  That was super nice of her!  I can’t wait to try it out!

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We had a fun visit not only playing with the kittens, but talking about her upcoming travels, writing, photography & sponsors (she has the coolest sponsors!).  Here’s a link to her info if you’d like to follow along…so many places & adventures! (Facebook, Instagram, & her website.)  It was so much more fun than the cell phone lot at DIA!.  I told her I’d be leaving super early in the morning….because DIA always seems like it takes forever to get there, no matter where you start from.  Thanks again for fun night Sherry!

Day 25 7.27
HE’S HERE!  Yay!  Yippee!  Woohoo!  It’s just the best to drive up to “Arrivals" to pick him up & have him jump in the car!  We get so excited for this week each year…just the two of us, no responsibility, in our favorite place, doing things we love & together!  We both can’t wait until he retires & we can possibly do this more often together…WE CAN’T WAIT.  But, for today, we’re happy to have the week ahead.  

We started the trip by stopping at Argonauts liquor store just as they opened.  We needed to stock up for the week & when we got inside, found our personal beer guide that we’ve come to know over the years, Shannon.  So, the cart got a bit more full than if it had been just the two of us & I was kind of wondering where I was going to put all that since I knew we couldn’t drink it all in one week.  But, when Danny comes, all organization & tidiness leave Camper & it becomes an overstuffed chaotic happy mess…so we just carefully threw the beer in with all the rest & took off back to Crested Butte!  We made a brief stop for gas & food in Gunnison & ice…now for two coolers because Danny said why not put all the beer in the old cooler & the food in the new cooler? (You know when I’m alone I hardly carry any perishable food with me, but Danny eats better & more often than I do…fruit & yogurt & eggs)…so  we bought double the ice & stuffed it all in the 4Runner.

Then we drove out to camp.  Danny was a little disappointed about the camp, but he would just have to get to used to it…there was no moving back to the old one.  He set up all his stuff inside the castle tent, including the beer cooler & his two duffles, I built a fire & we finally settled in to the beautiful views, the sun setting on the mountains, a good beer in hand, smiles on both of our faces & each others company….priceless!

Note:  You’ll notice is most all of the pictures of Danny in the upcoming week, his smile is tight lipped.  He’s had tons of stress in his life this summer & one of those stressors was dental surgery.  Years ago, when the kids were little, Danny (a former diver in high school) dove into a swimming pool, hit the bottom & busted out his front tooth.  This was replaced twice in like 25 years, but this time he has to have an implant.  Which is a long, long, long complicated expensive process.  So, he’s started that journey this summer & it’s not one he is enjoying….at all.  He’s been a few times to both the Dentist & Periodontist & is sporting both a hole in his mouth with stitches & a contraption he hates with a temporary fake front tooth that he can’t really talk too we’ll with & can’t eat with it in.  So, when he’s not in public or in front of others (me excluded) he has the ‘flipper’ out.  I miss his beautiful smile but it’s rather scary when he smiles without his tooth!  

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Day 26 7.28
We spent a super lazy morning in camp, making breakfast burritos & sharing coffee with our great views!  Then we headed up the road, to hike the wildflower-filled trail Talie & I had hiked, only Danny & I were extending the hike to top of the 403.  The trail was just a beautiful as the first time & still had lots of snow in the drainage.

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Danny takes zero time to acclimate & can hike faster & farther than me no matter how long I’ve already been out here hiking.  On some past trips, he’s been tortured to hike very long distances & lots of elevation on his first day of hiking…it never phases him.  But todays hike was fun, not too far, some uphill but not brutal, the sun was shining & it was just perfect…in every way.

The trail didn’t quite connect to the 403, so we bushwhacked through the forest sure of our direction & in just a bit, we found the trail.

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When Danny comes out here, he takes some pics of me.  So, lucky you…now besides beautiful mountain views, I’ve included a few of his photographs!

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Oh…these mountains!  I so very very much love it here!

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At the top!

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After taking in the views at the top, we hiked beyond trying to figure out if we could hike the new part of the trail, then hike the No Name trail across the road, then do a very sketchy bushwhack back to the car.  This took about 20 minutes & I was both excited about the idea & slightly terrified.  Danny will go anywhere….he says if I agree to follow him, he’s not nervous about it.  Not because I’m with him, because he knows I can be a big chicken & if I go, it must not be that scary.  Ha!  Everyone else thinks I’m brave…guess he knows the truth.  Which is…I’m never as brave as he is…& that’s who I aspire to be a brave as.  So, far, it’s not happening.  But, after sitting in the grass surrounded by wildflowers & having this discussion, we decided to head back the way we had come.  I was super stoked to have done this trail up to the 403 viewpoint… we’d only seen a couple of other people on the trail & the wildflowers were amazing!  Such a great hike to begin our trip with!

Camp was just down the road, so we drove there to take a break before lunch.  And break is the key word…Danny stepped on his prescription sunglasses & broke the frame.  uh-oh.  He wasn’t happy with himself.  Just then Talie dropped by to say hi & he was enveloped in her joyfulness & positive attitude.  He got over it quick.  We’d shop for a new pair of sunglasses before we ate & all would be well…mostly well anyway.  We also had to look for a new set of backpacking pots & pans.  We have had the same set for over 20 years & this morning at breakfast the ‘teflon’ was coming off in the eggs…ewwww!  So, we went to town for pots & pans (we didn’t find ones I wanted), Danny found a nice pair of unprescription sunglasses, & then we ate pizza at the Secret Stash.  Danny had a chinese beer that was in a cool bottle but I thought the beer was yucky; but the pizza was great! (Take note of that great smile!)

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Then we headed to the Brick & found ourselves in for a real treat.  It looked like it was going to downpour & the outdoor bar was still crowded, so we took stools at the inside bar.  Right after we ordered, a boatload of people came in.   There was a fundraiser margarita crawl complete with a Mariachi band in the lead…it was fabulously random & super fun.  One of the guys coordinating the crawl started chatting with us & even came back later to eat & began visiting with us again.  What a fun way to finish off the afternoon! Life is always good at the Brick!

Then we drove out to camp for another fire, another beer & another sunset on the mountain…it never gets old!

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Day 27 7.29
Danny & Jill have something in common…they don’t like to pick the hikes; they’d rather have me choose them.  I’m ok with that…I always have something in mind.  Today, Danny was going to be breathing a little harder…we were hiking our number 1 hike…Scarp Ridge.  The weather was beautiful & I wasn’t going to take the chance that the monsoon would keep holding off.  I hadn’t hiked this trail yet & I couldn’t wait to get my feet on this trail!  You can make this hike a loop & we’d never gone up the longer yet tiny bit gentler way, so that’s what we decided to do today.  And it was gorgeous!  Tons of wildflowers & big views along the way.  We were both definitely happy hikers!

Big snow shelf over Peeler Basin.

Happy Guy!

Blue Lake was melted out, but so much water still melting into Oh Be Joyful Valley below!

So much snow down there this year…but so breathtaking!

My pano pic…still doesn’t do it justice!

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Someday, I’m going to make a collage of all the photos we have together at the top of Scarp Ridge…so love this place!

I could sit up here for hours looking out into the wilderness!

Going down is always a treat with views of Lake Irwin & the West Elk mountains in front of you (& it’s way easier to breathe!)

I put away the camera for the rest of the day & we drove into town & had lunch at the Last Steep. Since Danny’s credit card was buying lunch — this is a joke; I told him he got to pay for everything now since he was here (remember, Danny already pays for my life…poor guy…in more ways than one) because my credit card was on vacation…meaning I was giving it a much needed break.  He said my credit card has been on vacation since April & he meant that literally.  Oh well, lets move on.  Since he was buying, I ordered the $$ drink I love from the Last Steep…a CB Crush.  It’s got all kinds of vodka in it but mainly just tastes like a super awesome cold creamscicle …with a bit of a buzz when you’re done.  Yum!

We took a long drive up Slate River, past the old but currently occupied campsite & down to the end of the road where huge amounts of snow were still blocking the camp sites & the roads end but lots of waterfalls coming down from the mountain.

We drove back into town & went to the Monday night concert in the park…Danny getting introduced to some of my friends he hadn’t met yet.  Then we did the thing we love to do…out to camp, built a fire, opened a beer & sat & talked.  Probably is sounding boring by now, but for us, the time together here is wonderful.

Day 28 7.30
There are a couple of things different about this camptheres no river noise & not much wildlifewhich I miss them both.  There is also no one driving into your camp in the middle of the night to cozy up to your tent like there is on Slate.  But, along with the campsite sitting in between three mountains & a shorter dirt road to travel, there is also cell service & you can get on the internet.  Which is great because it also means you can FaceTime with your grand daughters when they call….no better way to start the day! We both enjoyed a visit with the girls…now all feeling better.  We made breakfast burritos in the old pans & then took off up Gothic Road…all the way to the snowplug.  We were going to hike the loop from  Schofield Pass to to the top of the 401 then down to meet up with the West Maroon trail.  

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This is my second time to see Emerald Lake & I was so happy to see that is was so much more melted out & in recovery.

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You get to see a gazillion wildflower photos along this hike because there were soooooooo many!

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First water crossing.

Doggie Drama:  So we had this huge water crossing, about knee height but a pretty fast current, lots of unstable rocks & wide to cross.  Earlier on the trail we’d passed two women with two dogs…an older one & a puppy.  They got to the water crossing before we did, put on sandals & went across.  All but the puppy.  In the meantime, I just walked through in my hikers & Danny went barefoot, slowly to the other side.  Still no puppy.  They called & called him.  He wasn’t coming.  Danny dried off his feet & began to put his hikers back on taking side glances at the river below & the women hollering for the dog & the dog running back & forth & back & forth on the other side trying to figure out how to cross.  Then one of the women went back across the river & leashed the dog.  It still wouldn’t come.  Danny looked up at me & I knew what he was thinking.  Should he offer to go back?  We got on the trail & hiked in the opposite direction towards West Maroon Pass for a few minutes, then turned around.  Now both women & the old dog were across the river trying to convince the puppy to get his little butt across the water.  Danny was feeling conflicted about not offering to help & the idea of carrying a wiggling big wet pup, who didn’t know him, across sort of deep water rocky water.  Visions of being soaked, wet-dog-smelly, possibly bit & a real big possibility of falling with the dog in the water, made him decide to keep hiking.  But we both turned & looked one last time (because while most people will argue that I am not a dog person, I can worry about a dog in troubleor even a dog not in trouble); the women & both dogs had stayed on the other side of the river & were going to have to hike the trail back up to the top & return to their car the same way they had come.  Yuckit was a long way back up.  But, the dog was safe & Danny & I were both happy.

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Danny likes to stop & look around…a lot.  He’s a super observant guy normally, but he never wants to miss a thing out here.  It’s great!

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This trail was sooooo full of wildflowers!  Huge groups of Columbine & Green Gentian way taller than me.  So many colors along the mountain…it was a beautiful hike!

Once at the West Maroon trailhead, we had to hike the road back up to the pass, by the lake & back down to our car.  It was strange to see this usually super busy parking lot at the trailhead, empty…no one can drive there because of the snowplug.  Danny & I wished we’d thought of backpacking down here…there are the three trails we could of hiked from a base camp.  Adding the distance of hiking the road each time, adds about 6 miles to already long hikes.  So, next time there is a snowplug that closes the road, this is what we’re going to do…next time!

As we passed Emerald Lake on the way back, almost all the debris had been blown to one side…almost one corner.  And it was back to the beautiful color it’s named for….yay!

Emerald Lake just a couple of weeks ago on the top photo; now practically perfect again!

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We got back into camp right before the deluge hit.  We climbed into the castle with both our chairs, table, books, phones & opened a beer (it was already in there).  For four hours we read & one of us napped a bit on his cot….this is one huge tent!  It worked great to have this place to stow away in the bad weather….it does have a few drippy spots as Danny would soon find out, but nothing that was too big a deal.

We drove into town to eat at the Brick & have a beer.  After one, Danny checked the Brick’s amazing bottle list…it has the most special yummy stuff on it.  He bought us a Callipygian from Avery!  This is the only place we’ve ever had it or even ever seen it. This beer was only brewed one year & it’s fantastic!  What a treat….we toasted to a great vacation & us being here together.  Such. Freakin. Good. Beer!

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