Monday, July 4, 2011

Colorado: Kool-Aid or Charisma?

Happy 4th!  We came back from our Colorado road trip to see amazing displays of fireworks from our terrace every night this weekend.  Last night (July 3rd) so far was the award winner with views of at least 10 fireworks displays - some very close and some very far - across the front range of the Rocky Mountains.  For a fireworks junkie like me, it was close to heaven.

But I digress as my mission here was to write about our road trip.  I have to admit it - Colorado is an amazingly beautiful state, far prettier than anyplace we've lived before. Obviously, beauty isn't everything, but I'd be lying if I didn't say that Colorado wins the beauty contest award for states that we've resided in.  In fact, all of the high points of mountain ranges that I've lived near (these include the Watchung Mountains, Berkshire Mountains and North Georgia Mountains) add up to about 9,000 feet combined.   In Colorado, there are at least 55 14ers (this is Colorado-ese for peaks that are more than 14,000 feet high).

We started our trip in Vail, where we took a gondola up to the top of the mountain.  (If we were true Coloradans, we would have hiked, biked, rock climbed or found some other physically challenging way to get to the top, but, alas, our New Jersey roots were showing.)  It was so lovely up there that it took a lot of restraint on my part to keep myself from doing a full "Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music twirl."  Truly, I wanted to unfurl my arms and break out in "The Hills Are Alive . . ."

Our next stop was Ouray, Colorado, a small, historic town, where we stayed at the beautifully restored Beaumont Hotel that is pictured above.

From Ouray, we took a day trip to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, which was a great surprise and quite striking.  Kind of like a darker version of the Grand Canyon.

On our way to our next stop, we took the Million Dollar Highway to Silverton.  A magnificent but definitely scary ride.  We looked at it on Google Earth before we left Ouray and almost chickened out by doing a 120 mile diversion rather than take this treacherous road.  We obviously lived to tell about it but I've never seen Barry driving more slowly or more carefully in all the years that we've been in a car together.  I don't have a photo that depicts how frightening a drive it actually is, but there are no guardrails (we were told so they can sweep the snow away in winter) with drops very, very near the road that are thousands of feet.  Here are a few pretty views without the fear:

View of Ouray, Colorado from Million Dollar Highway

We passed through Silverton, a cute very Western looking town, on our way to Durango.

Silverton, Colorado

Durango was not my favorite stop - very touristy and we stayed in another historic hotel, but this one was in need of an update and not so comfortable.  We spent a day in Mesa Verde National Park, which is quite an attraction.

Without being able to see the scale, the cliff dwellings built hundreds of years ago look like they could be sand castles.

But when you see the tiny people in the photo above, you can get a sense of the impressive size of these cliff dwellings.  The one we toured had 150 rooms.

So, all in all, a great trip in our new home state.  Have I drunk the Colorado Kool-Aid? Not yet, but it is a state with a lot of charismatic splendor.

[Photo credits to Barry who took lots of great pictures with his new Father's Day gift camera from Emily]

1 comment:

  1. Hi Judy! Really enjoyed this post. Great pictures. We are doing the Durango/Silverton railroad trip and then onto Telluride in mid-July. Some east coast friends are coming out here to join us as we explore this beautiful state. See you soon perhaps. Enjoy the rest of summer!