Day 1 - Steamboat Springs
|Saturday, May 18, 2019: May is normally a time when people fly to Indianapolis, but we were leaving instead.
|Debbie put the "I" in Indy. Didn't we just do something like this in Cleveland a month earlier?
|Huh. Vending machines can dispense healthy food? This is a new concept.
|We were seated on our flight by dawn.
|Just a few short hours later, Denver and the Rocky Mountains came into view.
|There's the distinctive Denver Airport.
|We got a photo from this exact same location in the Denver airport when we were here back in 2003.
|Which is more gorgeous? Denver's distinctive terminal ceiling or those wavy wooden benches?
|It was clear that we were in skiing country when we spotted these luggage carousels designed specifically for ski-shaped luggage.
|There's a very cool-shaped hotel attached to the terminal.
|This talking gargoyle had made the rounds on social media a few months earlier, but he wasn't chatting on this particular day.
|A half hour after getting our luggage, we were loading it into the trunk of our rental car.
|Off we go!
|We headed straight to Wheat Ridge, home of one of several Winchell's Donut House locations in the Denver area.
|Would they have French crullers, the most delicious thing on the Winchell's menu? Yes! Yes!! Yes!!!
|We wanted to buy every donut in the store, ...
|... but settled for a pair of crullers, a long john, a bear claw, and three unidentified things in plain, glazed, and chocolate. We learned on a later visit that they were buttermilk bars.
|By 9:15 AM, we were driving toward Golden, ...
|... over the river we had visited in 2006.
|Who knew that the Colorado School of Mines was about more than mining? We went from never having heard of this place to hearing about it regularly.
|This was the first of countless metal horse-themed sculptures we saw during our trip.
|We love to collect crossing signs, and until this trip, we assumed that this was the outline of a deer, even though everyone is familiar with the classic deer crossing design. Could this be an elk instead? Hmmmm.
|On our way toward the mountains, we passed this interesting building on the hill. We had seen it in 2003 so we knew to look for it. The official name of this house is the Sculptured House, but we prefer to call it Spaceship House.
|Slightly further down the road, we reached Buffalo Herd Overlook. We had been here in 2003, ...
|... so we recreated the photos we took of the beautiful view of the Rocky Mountains ...
|... and of the bison herd.
|We zoomed in to get a better look. Baby bison! Adorbs!
|We drove along I-70 past pretty mountains, ...
|... mining towns, ...
|... tunnels, ...
|... and more mining towns, ...
|... complete with actual mines you can tour.
|We were getting way up in the mountains when we started to see snow clouds ...
|... and bighorn sheep crossing signs.
|By the time we reached Georgetown (elevation 8500'), it was snowing. We stopped at the charming visitor center/rest area, ...
|... with a series of displays of local attractions, ...
|... such as this collection of Scandinavian objects for sale at a local store.
|We were back on the road by 10:10 AM (this is important) and were moving along at a good pace.
|Twenty minutes later, we should have already flown through Eisenhower Tunnel, but instead, we were at a complete standstill in front of the Loveland Ski Area.
|It took 15 minutes to creep along to this sign, ...
|... and past this gentleman, ...
|... who was guiding all of us off us I-70, past the tunnel, ...
|... and over to Loveland Pass Road, where we'd follow all of the other cars that had been diverted.
|See that ridge way up there?
|That's where all these cars are heading.
|The road had some twists and turns ...
|... and a whole lot of elevation gain.
|Looking back, we could see I-70 and the poor suckers still stuck on it.
|It was after 11:00 AM when we neared Loveland Pass (elevation 11990').
|We would have loved to have gotten a nice photo of the Loveland Pass sign but we got bullet-trained by a group that had gotten out of their cars. (To be bullet-trained is to be ready to take a photo and suddenly have a bullet train coming the other way to block your photo. The perils of train travel in Japan.)
|There were huge snowdrifts at the pass, ...
|... but they sure were beautiful.
|And now we're snaking back down the mountains.
|We passed Arapahoe Basin Ski Area, ...
|... and the Keystone Ski Area.
|We passed the town of Dillon, ...
|... and the Dillon Reservoir that mysteriously appears to be set at a slant.
|We stopped for a quick lunch at Burger King in Silverthorne.
|Check out these cute road decorations, featuring lupines, columbine, and wolves.
|This cool building is the Performing Arts Center, ...
|... and here's a garden center with both a grass roof and a solar cell roof.
|This sign finally confirmed that the two different deer silhouettes are actually meant to mean two different types of animals, so yeah, we're thinking the one on the right must be elk.
|There's Mount Powell across the Green Mountain Reservoir to the west of us.
|We passed lots of these interesting things. They're little hills that lead right up to the fence with an immediately drop off after the fence. The goal is to help animals to get back into the fenced in area, without letting them get back out.
|We also saw lots of cattle bridges over the road.
|Be still my heart! It's the Colorado River!
|It was our first sighting of the trip. We'd be seeing a lot of it over the next six days.
|Where were we when we saw this amazing river? The town of Kremmling (elevation 7294'). We hear it is a Sportman's Paradise.
|You can turn right to go to the Colorado River headwaters, or continue on this scenic byway. Your choice.
|The Bob's Western Motel sign is a nice vintage touch to the town.
|Nice scenery. This really was a beautiful drive.
|This was one of several groups of pronghorns we saw.
|We also saw a bald eagle, but didn't get a photo of it, so Tom posed for a reminder photo.
|We brought a small map of the Colorado River, and Debbie wondered where on this map was the Colorado River we had recently crossed. Tom pointed to the map at the obviously blue-highlighted river and said, "There it is." Yes, the river is on this map. Thanks, Microsoft Tech Support. For the record, it was where the Blue River meets the Colorado River to the west of Granby on this map.
|We passed lots of these yellow signs advertising F. M. Light & Sons, a store in Steamboat Springs.
|There's Rabbit Ears Peak in the distance.
|If you wonder how it got its name, wonder no longer.
|Finally, we were getting close to Steamboat Springs.
|There it is!
|Welcome to Steamboat Springs!
|Sure, a single gondola car by the side of the road is a normal thing to see. That's how you know you're in a skiing town.
|We finally got to Nancy, Jim, and Elisa's home, just an hour or so late. Dianne and Tom were already there and they were just finishing up lunch.
|After chatting for a bit, we all went out for a walk. It had been overcast all day, but the skies cleared nicely when we arrived. Hooray for the amazing Bundlings weather luck!
|Nancy and Jim live just a couple of blocks away from the six-acre Yampa River Botanic Park.
|It's a beautiful area filled with numerous garden displays.
|These vertically positioned rocks were a preview of the Flatirons we'd be seeing seven days later.
|There are a variety of sculptures throughout the park.
|There's a small lake in the center.
|Elisa has been coming here since she was a baby.
|With a sign like this, we just had to take the Secret Trail to find out how difficult it was.
|Brave Nancy led the way. It turned out to be pretty easy, ...
|... and led us to a very cool garden on the other side of the small hill.
|There, we ran into Jeff, a volunteer gardener who told us about the work he had done on this specific garden.
|Of course, we were impressed with the gorgeous stonework. We are suckers for a good rock garden.
|Jeff told us about picking out the different miniature succulents he had planted in the crevices of a lava rock. He passed around a small piece of the rock for us to see up close.
|Debbie had just seen a picture of this plant a month earlier so she was very happy to see it in real-life. It's a gentian and it really is this bright blue in person.
|Jeff invited us across the alley to his back patio ...
|... and showed us photos of the area prior to the garden's existence.
|Then he let us into a building on the park grounds that held a telescope ...
|... through which we could get a glimpse of an osprey nest in the distance. The nest is on the top of that pole between the two trees near the center of this photo.
|We left there for a walk along the edge of the garden next to the Yampa River.
|We headed upstream for a bit. The river looks like a ton of fun to run in a boat.
|Our host, Jim, is a regular on the Yampa, which is understandable since this playground is right in his backyard.
|As we were admiring the river, one of the ospreys flew over the river.
|We zoomed way in to catch a photo of it across the river from us.
|We saw some paddleboarders enjoying the river too.
|We got to the mouth of Fish Creek where it joined the Yampa River, ...
|... and took a break ...
|... and some pictures. For a day that was supposed to be overcast and rainy, it sure was gorgeous out.
|As we headed back downstream, we approached the osprey nest.
|We zoomed in but couldn't glimpse any baby ospreys.
|Back to the garden. Our bulbs back in Indiana had come and gone, but here in snow-covered Steamboat Springs, bulbs come up in May.
|We passed the beautiful rock garden near the entrance and took a few minutes to get a closer look.
|Here's a pair of beautiful plants.
|These are some form of pulsatilla. So pretty.
|Back at Nancy and Jim's house, Debbie gave Macalester-themed gift balls to Dianne ...
|... and Nancy. Dianne, Nancy, and Debbie all attended Macalester College at the same time, but became friends later on at Macalester reunions.
|Discussions at the last reunion a year earlier led to this visit and the one at Dianne's coming up a week later.
|Dianne and her husband Tom (hearafter referred to as "Other Tom") had driven up from Denver with their camping trailer, ...
|... and had set up camp in Nancy's driveway. The interior of the camper is surprisingly large for something that folds down so small. Dianne's impressive collection of eBags packing cubes rivaled our own.
|Around 4:00, we loaded into Dianne and Other Tom's huge SUV and headed into town.
|We headed to Storm Peak Brewing Company.
|With so many great beers to choose from, we each got a beer sampler ...
|... while our friends made commitments to a single beer flavor each for their first round.
|The Macalester friends were photographed, ...
|... and so were their men. Many baskets of popcorn were consumed and Nancy managed to greet all of the many different people she knew in the room while C Street Brass played some great music.
|We were back on the road by 5:30 PM to do some more sightseeing. We passed another brewery, Mountain Tap. If only we had a few more days to spend here!
|We were excited to see our first Airstream of the trip, because we had reservations to stay in one when we reached Moab in two days.
|We headed to Howelsen Park, ...
|... where we saw huge ski jumping runs. It's no wonder that Steamboat Springs has been home to numerous Winter Olympians.
|It was time for more beer when we returned to Nancy's house. Beer options included Deez Nuts, a peanut butter and hazelnut ale, ...
|... and Lawyers, Guns, and Money, a barleywine style beer from Crazy Mountain Brewery in Denver.
|Of course, the name Zevon was on the back of the can and Jim was playing Warren Zevon's "Lawyers, Guns, and Money" on the sound system while we drank in the kitchen.
|Nancy made a delicious dinner of Indian butter chicken, with home-canned peaches on the side. None of this was photographed because we were having too good a time hanging out.
|After dinner, Baxter kept a wary eye on the magpies who dared to land in his yard. Having been up since 1:30 AM Colorado time, we collapsed into bed around 9:00 PM while everyone else spent another hour or two enjoying themselves.
Copyright © Deborah Schilling/Thomas Bundy