Friday, September 7, 2012

Now just a memory: Our 2012 trip to the Rocky Mountains

Has it really been two weeks since Sabine arrived in Lubbock (well, one week and six days), and now she's off in the air, somewhere over the Atlantic while I sit in Mansfield, TX, to officiate Prairieman tomorrow morning? These past two weeks have been a whirlwind of activity, memories, fabulous food, spectacular scenery, and many emotions. Quite frankly, even though it's just been two weeks, it seems as if months have gone by during that time. We did and saw so much that it will take a while to process it all.
Rico has a fully functioning volunteer fire department
My last blog update had been penned in Albuquerque, on the way to Rico in Colorado's Dolores Valley. Upon her passing, Judy's mom had bequeathed the family's summer house to her and her brother Mike, and even though the two of us didn't get much of a chance in the past dozen years to go up there and spend time in the mountains (while Mike and Candi and the rest of the family made ample use of this pretty place), we paid our share of the taxes and insurance. In the past few years, Mike and Candi have put a lot of labor (and money) into making out of a summer cabin a year-round home, and I couldn't believe all the positive changes since the last time we had been up there. It is a long trip from Lubbock (about 625 miles one-way), but I will have to go up there more often. Sabine and I arrived on Wednesday evening of last week, and Mike and Candi gave us the full tour before leaving for Midland on Thursday morning.
Two of Rico's oldest commercial establishment's, anchored by the Enterprise
Rico is located about 45 minutes to an hour south of Telluride—and the difference between the two couldn't be any more marked. Rico has a permanent population of maybe 300 souls, while Telluride is artsy-fartsy like Taos or Aspen and is positively commerce driven. Rico still has the old mining-town charm (it once had 5,000 permanent residents), and it is sleepy and totally authentic. It's a perfect place to hang and chill—which we did for a week.
Riding close to the tree line near Hope Lake
We spent our days hiking and mountain biking in the surrounding mountains. Sabine had a bit of a problem with the high elevation; Rico lies at about 8,900 feet, and we hiked as high as 11,885 feet (or 3,623 meters for my European friends). Good thing there are several hot springs in the area, one of which became our favorite as it made sounds like a heavily breathing walrus. And even better, we had a wonderful place to come home to in the afternoons for Happy Hour on the porch and delicious homemade dinners. (We had loaded up on groceries in Cortez on the way up to Rico, and we ate and drank like royalty—what else would you expect after we invited Lord Calvert and had also taken along a case of Cameron Hughes wine which was survived by only a few bottles?)
Our favorite hot spring from afar ...
... and close-up, with nekkid denizen
On our last full day in the Rockies we drove up to Telluride to meet up with Cath and John, who own a timing company and with whom I have worked various races. We got the insiders' scoop on where to hike, and after taking the free gondola to cut out a lot of the initial climbing we took the "See Forever" trail to its highest spot from where we had an unparalleled view of the surrounding 13,000-foot peaks. Talk about paradise. Sabine, who has seen her share of mountains, was totally floored by the San Juans. Really, it is difficult to imagine a more beautiful day in the mountains—and then we were still going to sample the Tempter IPA at Telluride Brewing before driving home!
Telluride about 3,000 below us

13,000+ foot peaks all around

Sabine soaking it in from the top
Not a bad backdrop, eh?
So, in other words: We had a grand time. I just wish it wouldn't take so long to drive up there. My poor little truck (now close to 250,000 miles and slowly closing in on becoming a 30-year veteran) ferried us reliably to Colorado and back, averaging just a tad shy of 25 mpg, but it doesn't like to run much faster than 65 mph. So you do the math: We drove almost exactly 1,350 miles, so that's a lot of windshield time, even with all those spectacular views. (No, I'm not talking about the stretch between Littlefield and Clovis.)  But who complains? We saw sooo much beautiful countryside and will carry great memories for years to come.

Trout Lake, near Lizard Head Pass

We rode up to Lizard Head Pass, just the way the Galloping Goose did for many years
Sabine in front of the Galloping Goose, in the town of Dolores
All good things come to an end, but not until the requisite upgrade: Our last night in Santa Fe was sweetened by an additional magnitude when our (free) room in the Hilton was bumped up to the two-room historic casita in which we had stayed last year as well. Nothing like being upgraded into a $600+ suite when you're staying for free. So, that provided the fitting framework for our perfect summer vacation.

And now it's back to reality: I dropped Sabine off at the airport around noon and then hopped into the Miata and drove in stinkin' hot weather the 330 miles down here into the metroplex to be the HR for the Prairieman half-iron distance triathlon tomorrow morning. If I had time for it, I'd be dizzy!

Thanks for reading and, I hope, enjoying the pics.  


No comments:

Post a Comment