9. Colorado in Summer…7.2017

day 34….8.2
We had a lazy morning in camp, then took off south towards Gunnison & showers at the Rec Center!  We ran a couple of fast errands then met Tom & Kelly for lunch at the High Alpine Brewery.  Danny hadn’t met Kelly before, but the four of us enjoyed the visit, the food & the beer.  After hugs good bye & hopes to see each other soon (not on this trip as they were headed south, but I’d always be happy to see & camp by them again!!!) Danny & I headed back north to Crested Butte.  We still wanted to get a hike in, even though it was late in the day (after 3pm) & we weren’t quite sure what the weather gods had in mind.  We drove up Gothic road as far as we could, grabbed our packs & poles & walked up the road, passed the snow plug & took a lovely look at Emerald Lake.  

I noticed as we walked the high road that it had mysteriously been sort of plowed with a car width’s crude path (remember the snow plug has closed the road, so not sure how some heavy equipment would get here).  The week before when I’d hiked this road, there were lots of ruts & debris on the road & looked to me like there had been lots of avalanche activity over the winter, but today it was roughly plowed.  We didn’t stay there long & hoofed fast up the road to Schofield Pass & it’s stickered signs.

The trail to the top of 401 begins at the Pass & into the forest.  It’s uphill all the way & we were going as fast as possible.  The sky was overcast, but staying dry.  We made it to the lower overlook, just a 1/2 mile from the top view, when a huge black cloud began a float fast our way.  

There were big booms! above us…the storm was coming in fast.

I let Danny make this call & he decided we should head down.  We didn’t make it very far, before it began to hail.  As the thunder roared (I’m pretty scared of lightening!) I kept my sunglasses on & pulled on my rain jacket & lowered the hood down over my hat…I was in denial & didn’t want to see anything flash above me.  Then it started to pour.  We found a tree back down near the pass that was a dry roof over us & discussed if we should stay & hope the storm ended soon or take out to the exposed road & hike the wet miles back to the car.  Danny hit the road & I followed.  We were drenched but so far no lightening.  As we got on the skinny, high, sort of plowed road, Dolly’s Mountain Shuttle (the commercial shuttle used to get back & forth to CB’s most famous trail) pulled up beside us, lowered a window & the driver shouted, “Jump in!”.  The side door opened & there were two open seats left with many other soggy wet hikers filling up the rest.  Danny was up front & I was in the very back (it’s like a 12 passenger van).  Since the road is closed, it’s running one shuttle from CB to the road closed sign before the snow plug—riders get out & walk over the plug—& the other van (the one we were in) picks them up & takes them over the pass to the trailhead.  As Danny sat in front, the driver said the road had just been “plowed” because last week there were mudslides up here…that must have happened a day or so before I hiked this road.  The windows were all fogged up so we couldn’t see out & the crudely plowed road was making the van rock side to side.  The lady sitting next to me said, “I’m so glad I can’t see out these windows, I know there’s about a 100’ drop off along this road & they way we’re tossing side to side makes me nervous!”  I said to her “Oh don’t worry, these drivers do this all the time in these conditions….no problem”  And the whole time I’m thinking to myself "I’m so glad I can’t see out these windows, I know there’s about a 100’ drop off along this road & they way were tossing side to side…” well, you get it.  But once at the end of the road, we all piled out of the van, & by the time wed walked across the snow plug, the rain had mostly stopped.  It was an adventure for sure! (But I was grateful to Dollys Mountain ShuttleI dont love walking in exposed places with all that booming thunder above me!)

Danny said he really would rather go into town than back to a soggy camp, so we went to the Brick.  We not only drank some beer, but bought one we’ve only ever been able to find there….Port’s Older Viscosity.  Wow!  Super great beer!  By the time our beer was gone, so was the storm & little bits of rain, so out a camp we built another fire & enjoyed another, but rather chilly, evening at camp.

day 35….8.3
Last night was stormy, the morning overcast & dreary.  I grabbed my camera & took this photo of the mountain I see from camp…just a little morning light on the peak.


We went to Paradise for breakfast, & feeling our time here in Paradise almost coming to an end, we said good bye to Kristin & the others with wishes for an awesome winter. I also bought my last pint of Cucumber Jalapeño Lemonade…kind of addicted to this stuff!   The week together & my time here for this year was going way to fast, & while I am SO GRATEFUL TO HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO BE HERE, I’m always soooo sad to leave.  After breakfast, with rain still drizzling down, we drove out Kebler to Ohio Pass road.  Danny hasn’t ever seen the giant waterfall from the road, & I think this drive is pretty beautiful for a rainy day.  And, if the rain stopped, we could hike a short hike that was new to him.

A couple of views of the waterfall, from the road.


A view of the Castles through the haze of the rain (& looks like some goo on the lens!  eek!)


The sun broke through the heavy clouds as we ended our drive, so up Kebler Pass we went heading to Three Lakes Loop.  The hike is less than three miles, but it would be a good one for an noon start.


Danny checking out the waterfall.


Nice view of Lost Lake & the mountains behind.






The weather now was sunny & nice, so we picnicked at the lake.  We had dinner plans with Rick & his wife, who I was anxious to meet, but had some time to kill in between.  Yesterday, while at the Brick, one of the owners, Brian, had told us about one of their special beers in the cellar.  We were excited to try it & toasted to our last night in CB, our wonderful hikes together & time spent in the mountains with no obligations & in one of our very favorite & special places.  The beer is called Calliphgyian (look up the definition…great name for a beer) & is one of Avery’s big barrel aged beers.  It was fantastic!  We’re huge fans of Avery’s barrel aged beers & had never seen this one before, which probably means we don’t get it here in Kansas.  But we sure loved drinking it at the Brick in Crested Butte!

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We met Rick & his wife, Susan, at the Last Steep for dinner & enjoyed a couple of hours of great conversation.  I was so glad to meet Susan & get to know her a little bit & happy for Danny to meet Rick.  One of the things that’s been so special about this trip, is that Danny finally got to meet some of my CB friends.  They’re all special to me, even though we only see each other a little (but keep in touch through out the year on social media), but they make me feel so at home here & are very welcoming every time I come back. And, they are all so interesting with unique lives & passions…so glad they got to meet to Danny too!  What an enjoyable evening!

Back out at camp, I broke down the screen tent since it was dry & stored it away in the front seat, anticipating rain during the night. We built our last campfire & just took in all that surrounded us.  It was a quiet, mellow evening.  Danny knows me well, & knows how I hate leaving here.  The summer mountain time is so short & I truly do have a passion for this place, it’s scenery & it’s people.  

day 36….8.4
We took our time getting out of camp, even though we were being stalked by 8 teenagers (maybe a bit older) for the campsites.  They had asked if we minded if they camped there for the weekend, which was nice, so I told them we’d be packing up in a couple of hours & they could have both campsites.  Not sure they wanted to wait that long…some of them took off to someplace else while the rest stayed & sort of surrounded us walking back & forth by our camp as we slowly packed up.  We wanted to get the tent dry before we left & we had to re pack the car to get everything back in it & leave the front seat clear for Danny.  I get a little “too much stuff” crazy at this point, have to take a deep breath & then just get organized.  Yesterday, I had texted Sidhe Designs, to see if she had anytime this morning that I could look at her pieces (I fell in love with one I saw on the Toy Shop owner. She let me take a photo of it & even brought it into the store one day so Danny could see it).  Michelle, the artist,  will be setting up for the Arts Fair in CB, but it doesn’t begin until later tonight & Danny & will be long gone by then.  She was nice enough to text me back this morning & said I could stop by their booth this morning.  So, once we were packed up & the 4Runner was ready, we went to find her booth.

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All the artists were setting up & I wished we were staying here longer (always do) to see this amazing art.  I’ve been here once before for the Arts Fest & it was great.  All of it out of my price range, but I really really love to see everyone’s creativity.  I met Michelle, of Sidhe Designs & she was great.  We went over to her truck & she pulled out all her current pieces like the type I was looking for.  She didn’t have the design I was looking for or anything close, but it was great looking at all her pieces.  I hope one day to have one of her pieces, but today was not that day.  Funny thing:  She mostly sells at juried shows like this one…all through Colorado & also in Florida (she has family there, so that’s where they go in the winter to show).  Winter Park is very close to where Sara lives…maybe I’ll see her sometime in Florida!  

We walked over to Kate’s house & she was getting ready to participate in the Arts Fest.  We didn’t get to share that wine we’d talked about this time, but I won’t miss the opportunity next year!  We hugged good bye & I wished her a great show & a wonderful creative year.

We stopped by the Brick & said good bye to Dan (one of the owners) who encouraged us to come back in March & see the place in winter.  We’d said good bye yesterday to Brian (the other owner) who we ran into at the Park (we were making coffee at one of the covered picnic tables).  We got a Momo-To-Go & sat on the bench & ate.  We had time for one last hike…we hadn’t missed a day of hiking yet & not going to miss one on our last day.  It’s the shortest & one of the most popular hikes around…off of Gothic Road up to Judd Falls.  I was silent as I drove back to this road.  I used to camp along this road for the first few years I came to CB…it’s beautiful & magnificent scenery is mind blowing & it will forever be special to me.  We hiked up the trail to the falls, & then I followed Danny as he explored more & went off trail a little.


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The Garwood Judd Memorial bench.  Last week a mountain lion was spotted 18’ from the bench in the woods…none were there today (or at least I didn’t see one).


And, Gothic Mountain.  Danny & I have seen this huge beautiful beast from so many different views…we love it!  And, Danny summited it once, several years ago on his birthday.


So, that was our last hike for this trip.  I turned my music on as I drove away…can’t help it & would rather it NEVER happened, but a few tears slipped down my cheeks as I silently said good bye to this very, very, special &  amazing place.

We drove south then east & I was hoping the rain would stay away as I drove over Monarch Pass.  I’ve driven over it in pouring rain & hail & would rather it just be dry & sunny.  Before we started up, big fat slushy (as Danny pointed out) drops came then left.  About 5 miles before the top of the pass, the sun came out & my wishes for a dry drive came true until I was about 5 miles down on the other side.  That was good enough for me!  We stopped at Poncha Springs & had a beer at Elevation brewery….Danny did a little shopping. (Note:  I was on the Colorado Dept. of Transportation FB Page while at the brewery  & 5 hours earlier they posted a picture of the top of Monarch Pass with 3” of snow on it…& titled it “fast & furious”…boy, was I so grateful I wasn’t on the pass then!)

Then we headed up 285.  While our time in Crested Butte was over, our trip wasn’t.  My cousin, Gary & his wife Ann, have just recently built a new home in Conifer & we’d been invited to come see it, stay overnight (in a bed), use their shower (yay!) & catch up on their new life in Colorado.  The home was easy to find with Ann’s directions & is beautiful.  It’s all log with big plain windows that invite the view inside.  It’s simple & gorgeous.  Gary is part time retired & so they still have their house in Cave Creek AZ, which is also simple & wonderful & sits by the McDowell mountains (I was lucky enough to spend the night there this past spring).  Ann had a wonderful dinner & we all enjoyed a late night conversation.  Gary had spent the early morning & afternoon summiting Mt. Bierdstadt, one of the Colorado 14ers with his son & daughter in law, so I know he was super tired.  Gary’s passion is travel, hiking, rafting…I so get it.  He’s been all over the world, & I could sit & listen to his travel stories all night & the next day too.

Ann’s passion is horses.  She has three & a pony.  She let me ask a gazillion questions & watch her do her chores back in Arizona. Since the fencing is not finished at the Colorado house, three of her horses are being boarded down the road & she was gracious enough to invite to me tag along the next morning to see them.  

day 36….8.5 Happy Birthday Danny!
Ann knows about the only thing I know about horses is what she’s told me, but she was up for this round of 100 horse questions, as she worked with each one.  I’ve been trying to ride once a year on my trips, but those horses are stable horses…not sure they get to think much for themselves.  Giving me the lead at one point, all I had to do was to hold on & let the horse eat grass.  When it started to go to a different place, I realized I couldn’t stop it. It was kind of like having a truck pull away & thinking I could hold it back with a little piece of rope.  Don’t know why I surprised this 1,000 pound horse could take me where ever it wanted to.   I sort of shouted to Ann & she quickly came, grabbed the lead & took control.  I felt like a wuss, but she just told the horse he was being rude.  That made me feel better! (I wish I could be a bad ass rider & driver!)  But, I really enjoyed the morning watching her & the horses.  

We went back for a quick bite to eat, then it was time to say good bye.  They had plans for their grandsons birthday party in Denver & it was time for us to head that way too.  I really love their new home but mostly Ive enjoyed re-connecting with them.  My family is super smallthere are very few of us, and my cousin & his sister are one of the few.  So, its been really special to meet up with Gary & Ann a couple of times this year & theyve been super-welcoming.

Neither one of us were ready to go home yet, so we were spending Dannyspecial day in Denver.  We stopped by REI to see if they would/could fix a broken zipper pull on an ancient REI jacket of Dannys that broke on this trip.  They suggested we take it to our home store to avoid shipping (that was bad advice.  I drove out to our home store a couple of days after we were back & they said no.  They couldnt fix it.  I need to take it to a seamstress.  Bummer.  I think it should now become a pullover jacket.)  We always stop at one certain liquor store on our way home, but we’d heard from a couple of beer geeks in CB about one to not miss called AppleJacks.  This is Dannys favorite kind of shoppinghe can find the best beer, because he is patient, reads everything, & takes his time.  And, we found a few bottles of some good stuff. (I scared him to near-death as I found a beer I’d only had before in Bend OR…I was so excited I sort of screamed OMG! or something like that so that he jumped & thought something bad had happened…I was just excited to find this beer.  Buy it if you ever find it…It’s called Tough Love by Crux Fermentation Project…but don’t scare your spouse…that’s not nice.)

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We always stop at Argonauts Liquor store.  We always ask the beer guys what they have special ‘in the back’, of Russian Rivers or Avery’s big stuff & we usually have a list of our favorites we’re looking for.  Last year we met a guy who’s name tag says O’Shannon, who walked around the beer department pointing out special beers he thought we’d like….& we came home with Christmas last year!  (We still talk about that shopping trip & are still drinking some of that beer!)  This year, we started out the same way.  But, shortly into our trip, O’Shannon comes up to us & says, “Hey I remember you guys from last year”…then he went to the back, brought us out some good stuff, took us around & made suggestions, then exchanged emails with us & told us to let him know whenever we were coming to Denver a couple of weeks ahead of time & he’d save stuff for us….then he walked us up to the register & gave us his store discount! Wow…it was awesome! Happy Birthday Danny!!! & thanks O’Shannon (don’t think that’s his real name).  Super guy to meet & he knows what kind of beer we like…fun times in Denver.

Then it was time for food so we went to Hops & Pie & had yummy yummy food & beer.  After sampling some good stuff there, we went to the RiNo District to try a new brewery/cider place.  I had the cider, Danny had some German beer but enjoyed his time as both boys called him, one right after the other, to wish him a Happy Day!

Soon it was time for our trip to be over & the dreaded drive back to Kansas. We left at 4:30 & I knew Danny would sleep on & off for the duration, so I turned on my music & headed East.  We arrived back at home at 1:30AM to our ‘we-need-so-much-attention’ love-starved cats & Danny’s dog Six- who also needed attention.  There was one last thing on ‘today’s agenda’ before falling into bed.  

I’d been working on Danny’s 60th birthday present for months.  I had purchased 60 bottles of beer during my travels & at home in the spring & early summer.  I’d labeled each one with the a folded piece of paper.  Each paper had the year, the major news story, the price of things like bacon, gas, rent, house & car; pop culture like songs, movies & TV; technology (can you remember before the internet & Google?) for that specific year.  Then around that paper was a colored paper with only the year on it. This spanned all 60 years (good God that’s a long time!) I’d hidden them & asked his good friend to come over & ‘display’ them before we arrived home.  So, bleary eyed & tired, we walked into the house, gave the animals some attention, then I pointed out that his birthday gift from me was in the red room.

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Larry had done an excellent job of making a 60!  We didn’t do much more than glance at it, until the next day.

day 37….8.6 
I cant really count this day as part of the trip.  We were home & unpacking & starting to do all those annoying things in life that make me crazy after one of my long trips (I’m bitchy, I know)…like the dishwasher, laundry, mail…etc.  I spent the morning unloading Camper & cleaning gear & sad it was all over for now.  I made us lunch, we opened a beer & Danny sat down with his birthday gift & took off all 60 labels, read the real labels on each bottle & seem to enjoy it.  I enjoyed watching him.  It was a two hour ordeal, but it was a nice way to extend his birthday.  And, I must say, it was an awesome gift that will be enjoyed all throughout the fall!

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Wow…I loved this trip! 
I can’t think of a trip I’ve taken that I didn’t enjoy, but this one was near perfect.  Having the first week all to myself, then a week with Jill touring the western part of the state was great!  Greg asked her one time what do we have to talk about after a week?  I think we could spend much longer than that together & never stop talking or laughing! A week part time with Jill & Greg, then another week to myself.   And then Danny-- always, always love having him with me in the mountains!  I so wish we had more time together doing this thing we love!

Same clothes:  
Jill & Danny (because those two travel with me more than anyone else) will tell you I find it easier to stay in the same clothes …for awhile (sometimes too long).  On the trail coming down from Scarp Ridge, we passed two couples & a few kids on their way up.  The guys were super friendly saying Hello! & asking about our hike & we, in turn, asked about theirs.  Then one of the guys looks at us & says, “Hey I remember seeing you both yesterday in Crested Butte.  I remember looking at your shirt (to me) (it says, Colorado makes me Happy) & then at yours (pointing to Danny) & thought wow…I like this couple.  She loves Colorado & his says ‘Oysterfest” in California & I love oysters!  We all laughed as we realized THEY realized we were wearing the same exact clothes we had on yesterday.  Danny told them he planned on changing shirts for the next day…I held out no such promise, but we all had a good laugh.

Small world:  
On my first hike of the trip in Great Sand Dunes National Park, I met a guy that probably lives less than 20 miles from me. Crazy!  I’m not sure if I’ll ever see him again, but he was on sort of a quest…so I’ll keep sending him good vibes that he finds what he’s looking for.  On that same note, the day I showed up randomly in Durango & made it to Ska brewing just as they announced their tour would be starting, I decided to go for it & found myself in a group of three...the other two being from Lawrence.  Maybe everyone’s just trying to escape our flat boring state!

Hearing problems:  
I received a voice message from one of my children one night (they shall remain nameless) & what I heard was “Hey Mom, just wanted to let you know I’m homeless & I’m not going to do anything about it…”  didn’t really hear much after that since at the time this nameless child was living with his brother.  Wow…I have a great imagination, & in the 20 seconds that followed thought of all kinds of disasters that could have taken place.  So, I called the brother thinking he would know why the nameless kid is homeless….which right before he answered the phone I realized what the message ACTUALLY said was “phone-less”.  Having only a second to take a deep breath before the phone was answered & trying to move from deep panic to only mild panic (you all might think it’s crazy if one of your kids doesn’t have a phone, but not those of you who have kids who live far away—you will totally get it!!) I tried to sound normal & my sweet self.  It’s a long story that involves a broken phone, but I know better than anyone how quickly life can change, but I also know I have a BAD HABIT of jumping to conclusions (most of the time their wrong…hallelujah!)  Phone has been restored, life is good!  Hearing…still a problem.

My travel friends:  
I love the opportunity to meet new people while I travel.  Some stick for lifetimes, some just pass through.  But, the ones I continually meet up with have become fast friends—& they are so interesting.  They get out in the world, do things, experience life, say yes over & over, they move around, life changes for them regularly.  I love being just a little part of their lives & love having them part of mine….they make my world bigger & it’s fascinating!  I’m so glad Danny got to meet some of them on this trip.

Crested Butte.  
This year I specifically told myself I had to see other areas of Colorado…I felt too drawn to, too attached to, too in love with Crested Butte…so I made my trip take me to other mountains.  Some new, but mostly places I’ve been before.  They are all spectacular places, & there wasn’t one that didn’t have wonderful scenery & great hiking.  But the moment I got near CB, I felt the pull, the tug, the heartbeat faster…I know this is truly where I feel at home in summertime.  It doesn’t bother me that it sounds weird to others or people may not ‘get it’ or think I’m being dramatic….I know this is the place for me…without any doubt.  Those of you who follow this website will know that a few years ago I found a post card & one black & white photo of CB in my Grandmother’s photos.  The postcard showed a dirt main street & buildings I recognized.  The photo had a hand written place on it that said “Nicholson Lake”.  That was all.  I found these items several years after I’d been coming to Crested Butte & had already formed a heart-felt attachment.  I wasn’t sure where Nicholson Lake was, but when I finally figured it out, it happens to be the lake I pass when driving to camp…so I pass it at least twice a day.  I’ll never know how or why those photos were there, what their experiences were in Crested Butte, but it feels like it’s another connection.  My precious family was here sometime…& I am here as often as I can be.  

No more trips on the calendar yet.  Trying to get a time to make it to Florida to see Claire, Sara & Kevin & missing Luke & Pete alot too.  Then there’s that job thing I have to work out & make some money.  Some medical appointments in September to do with Danny’s mom as well (shes doing really though).  Fall is the best time to be in Kansas (if there is a best time), so if I’m stuck here then, I can take it.  But the winter?  Need a trip for then for sure!   Ill probably be writing on my blog iN-beTweeN in the meantime, so check it out if youre in the mood.

Happy & great travels for those of you who love to adventure & explore!

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