Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Beauty and Relaxation - Road Trip Travelogue II

The rest of the road trip was phenomenal. The best my husband and I have ever taken. Once work was wrapped up in Boulder, we took the scenic route west to Breckenridge and stayed in a gorgeous, renovated old lodge at the base of Mount Quandary. We managed to hit the place just before high season, so our room rates were unbeatable.

Our first stop was Mount Evans. My husband has this crazy goal of mountaineering up several (if not all) of the fourteeners in Colorado, and Mount Evans is the only one that is conquered by driving up to the top. So I can say that I, too, in all my physical weenie-ness, have conquered a fourteener. I'm actually prouder that I did not faint on the narrow broken road that winds along the cliffsides to get there. What is it with people who don't put guard rails on the sides of roads? In any case, it's amazing how short the breath is at that altitude, but the view is truly spectacular:
(my husband standing on top of the world)

The best part for me, though, was that we got to see mountain goats. Up close. Like six feet away. Growing up, my father (who should've been a mountain man in the early 19th Century) had taught me to look for animals, and it became a fun game on trips to be the first one to spot the pronghorn, the deer, etc. It was a rare treat when we got to see elk or goats through binoculars. I kept bemoaning the fact that I had forgotten our binoculars and wondered if I would get to see a goat at all. Well, atop Mt. Evans there is a privy, for all the people who survive the drive without pissing their pants. Before we begin the terrifying drive back down, we decide to make a pit-stop, and what do I see resting in the shade of the privy building? A herd of young goats! I gasp, unable to believe my eyes. No binoculars needed. These adorable little guys are not six feet away. I grab my camera (that, of course, keeps shutting down due to low batteries!) and snap as many pics as I can:

Mountain Goat: Mt. Evans

I was surprised by how small these critters are. They're smaller than my dog. Of course, she is a Great Pyrenees, so I shouldn't be surprised.

Anyway, the trip already felt like a success, so on we drove, reaching the lodge that evening. The next day, we decided on the hike we wanted to take. It's called the Blue Lakes trail, which is extremely easy, the "trail" actually being a grated road that winds along the side of Mount Quandary to the glacial lake. And what do you suppose we got to see? Yep, more goats! A herd of them was lounging around on the trail and snuffling up some kind of mineral that must be in the sand or gravel there. These were full grown and wilder than the Evans goats. Our approach made them a bit nervous, but I grabbed my camera and started filming. (Yes, I acted like the star-struck idiots that I always cuss. Seriously, people come to Oklahoma and sneak up on buffaloes with their cameras snapping. So stupid.) I was prepared to dive up on some dude's truck if the goats decided to charge me, b/c their horns are dagger sharp and I had just heard a story about a hiker who was gored in the leg by an aggressive male. He died of blood loss before he could be rescued. So, while I was cautious, I should never have gotten so close. The goats eventually got tired of me gawking and moved on up the slope so James and I could pass. We watched the marmots and pikas hop around on the rocks for a while, then drove into Breckenridge for a beer and gift shopping. Lovely.

(View from Lodge. Fog the morning we left for home)

We spent the rest of the time exploring mountain roads and looking at all the ridiculously expensive houses and wishing we could afford one. Then we packed up and started home. The only disappointment we suffered on that drive was a failed side jaunt. When I was 12 or so, my family had taken a similar trip, and my dad was thrilled to show us the Royal Gorge, that scarily deep river gorge with a scarily high bridge across it. I longed for my husband to see it, so we planned our route just so we could stop by. Well, twenty years later, there is no "stopping by." Money-grubbers have turned the view into a theme park. It costs $25 friggin' bucks to see the view. They expect folks to stay all day and ride the roller coasters and eat the fried food while they're at it. I was extremely disappointed, so we continued on, cursing this greedy person and that greedy person who would capitalize on a view. But what's new?

Anyway, we made it home in one grueling shot. I think I lost my marbles somewhere between Pueblo and Amarillo, but I found them again eventually.

In conclusion, this trip was more joyful and relaxing than I could've hoped for. Once I forget the stiffness that comes with sitting so long in a vehicle, I'm sure I'll be ready for the next one.


Anonymous said...

Great photos! We writers have to get out and experience this world of ours, don't we?

Court Ellyn said...

Oh, yes. Sadly, I don't get the chance to do it enough. :(