Friday, October 1, 2010

What I Did on my Summer Vacation

In which I took my teenaged niece Diana and her dad, my brother Jim, to Colorado for summer vacation… I was hoping to expose my niece to a different world and get her out of the high school drama circuit. 15 year old drama is so heavy! They are so co-dependent! But there is life other than the HSDC-and I wanted her to find it! So I bought her a ticket for her birthday.

When he found out, her dad wanted to go too. He didn’t want to miss his daughter’s delight at what she was to see in the Wild Wild West. Jim lived in Colorado for a year when he was young and married with a baby son. That son is 34 now, so it was all a little hazy in his mind and he wanted to see it again and more. I planned and reserved and planned some more. After all, I had lived there for 20 years and I wanted them to experience some of my favorite things. We have a cousin and her family in Denver, and we could stay with them. Jim wanted to camp, so we sent out a couple of tents and some supplies.

Diana was nervous about her first flight and was afraid to imagine the trip because it might not happen. I would try to engage her in discussion before we went, but she just smiled and said anything we did would be okay.

Georgetown, Colorado
The day came, August 3rd!  We went to say Goodbye to Granny, who was thinking about all the trips she and Dad took--they were able to see so much of this beautiful country. She was excited that it was Diana's turn. Then we flew away on a direct flight to Denver.  My cousin picked us up and we gabbed all the way to her house where we were fed royally and shown to our rooms.  They have a huge house, so we were accommodated with style. NOT at the house below...

The Maxwell House, Georgetown
The next morning I went to pick up the rental car, a small Nissan Versa, which was all we needed, in spite of camping. I didn't want to spend all our money on a car! Our plan that day was to eat at the Buffalo Bar in Idaho Springs, visit Georgetown and go over Guanella Pass and back to Denver on Route 285 with lots of time to spare before dinner. When we got there, however, the pass was closed due to landslides and road repair vehicles, so on we went, up over Loveland Pass.

The summit is 11,990 feet high, and Diana was getting giddier and sillier as we climbed. She had finally stopped containing her excitement and went a little nuts! She took pictures and asked questions and we explained about the tree line and the tiny alpine growth that comes above it. We stopped at the summit and she started spinning around, singing "The Hills Are Alive!" Her normally reserved smile went away and we saw the spontaneous open giddiness of childhood. That's what the trip was about!

We went on over the pass and by Dillon Reservoir, through Breckenridge (oh, how it's grown!) and over another pass into South Park. Well, Diana and Jim love the cartoon South Park, so we drove around the town of Fairplay and pointed out sights. One end of town contains an outdoor museum called South Park Museum, but there isn't a real town like the one on the cartoon. The whole valley area there is called South Park, and it's open cattle country, valleys and hills, quite beautiful.  We stopped for snacks and asked about the town and the woman who waited on us said her son took on the personna of one of the cartoon characters. We meandered back through Pine and Conifer and Evergreen, past all three of the places I lived when I moved to the mountains. Seeing my old log house on Elk Creek Road brought tears to my eyes. It was, and still is, the most beautiful place I've ever lived.

We had another day in Denver, doing various things, visiting various places, then out to Casa Bonita for supper. That is another link to the Southpark Cartoon, as one of the characters goes there on the show. My first taste was: YUM, Velveeta! On Friday, we packed the car and took off on our camping trip.  Here's where my planning paid off! The first night we headed to Leadville and camped at Turquoise Lake. 

Turquoise Lake in the distance
Leadville is an old mining town above 10,000 ft, which is known for its gold and silver mines, but most recently the Climax Molybdenum mine. Many of the people who live there are hard working miners who are often laid off by the changing EPA rules. I think of it as a town that works hard and parties harder. They host Boom Days the first weekend in August every year, which draws huge crowds. Boom Days means parades, mining contests, arts and crafts and food for sale, a gun show, a burrow race, and more.

Old mine entrance
The powder magazine at Baby Doe Tabor's mine
We found the cousins, who had chosen not to camp, at the parade and spent the day with them. What fun it all was.

Diana pored over every booth looking for souvineers, Jim went to the gun show, we found a quiet Italian restaurant for lunch then went to root for the guys in the mining contests. They, of course are all strong, handsome dudes in tight jeans, many with no shirts! We were 5 single women aged 12 - 68. Needless to say, we embarassed Jim just a little...

We camped a second night there and then drove over another pass into Buena Vista and on to Mt. Princeton Hot Springs. We met the cousins there and soaked the day away. I love hot springs, and this one has become my favorite. Not only are there several pools of different temperatures, but you can also walk down to the river.

Bathing Beauties
People have made little pools on the sides of the river and you get the icy cold mountain water blended with the hot steaming spring water that runs off the banks between the rocks. You can be as hot or as cold as you want. We all had a great day telling stories and laughing. Then we said goodbye to the cousins and went to set up camp and find our dinner.

I feel pretty-Oh so pretty...NOT
What a beautiful campsite it was, up in the canyon past the chalk cliffs, beside a cascading creek. Aspen trees and various pines and spruces, a clean, raked, spotless site! 

We slept well that night, in spite of rain. In the morning we packed the car with wet tents and dampened sleeping bags and headed south to Great Sand Dunes National Monument.

Bye for Now!
Stay tuned for part two--More to come!



  1. you are a WONDERFUL aunt!

    very pretty pic, too, sherry!


  2. Looks like a wonderful time! Thanks for the tips on packing for a show!

  3. It was nice to read about your CO vacation. Many of those places I've been to as that's an area we used to frequent. Casa Bonita! We went there first 36 years ago and it was such fun to go back about five years ago. Same place, not much has changed.

    The Grey Towers is in NE PA. And Milford is becoming more and more a touristy town.

  4. How wonderful of you. I enjoyed my visit to somewhere new as well.
    Thanks for visiting.

  5. Thank you for sharing your trip; sounds like it was exciting and the company was very versatile and fun.;) Looking forward to read part two.;)
    Thank you for your very kind recent comment on my blog.;)
    And I love the new design here.;)
    Have a lovely weekend,

  6. A wonderful memory she'll have forever. You are so right about the life-sapping drama of high school mentality. Vital to get their heads cleared of it and on to real life and the beauty it holds.

    What an awesome trip!
    Sorry about the leak you found in your roof ;(

  7. What a wonderful trip! I lived in Denver for about 5 years and we loved exploring the area. Thanks for visiting my blog and your lovely comments. Good luck with your surgery! All my best, Kit

  8. Hi Sherry,
    What a wonderful trip with your neice and her dad. The sites of the mountains are breathtaking and camping looks like fun!


  9. Sherry, what a wonderful trip! One you will all remember for a life time. :) on getting her away from the 15yrs. old drama. You are one smart aunt! xo Lidy

  10. It looks like an amazing time...I'm sure these are memories she'll cherish.


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