Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Thanks Colorado, for a great Thanksgiving.

Well I am sufficiently able to breath again enough to try to write a blog. That high elevation stuff really does make you feel light headed.

We spent about five days at 8000 feet elevation and above (way above) which is pretty hard for us desert lowlanders. It is very interesting to see elevation's effect on one's body. Shortness of breath, lightheaded and easy wine buzzes are just the start.

We left at 6am on Wednesday morning for Colorado with Durango as our evening's destination. We stopped at the Sunset Crater National Park north of Flagstaff for our first little break. I have driven by it several times but never stopped. It was pretty cool really, but not as cool as the volcanic fields we saw recently in Hawaii. I did take some pics and we hiked about 2 miles through the lava fields and up a steep hill to see a crater valley.

Sunset Crater National Park, Flagstaff Arizona

We hit the road again and drove through some of the weirdest landscape in Arizona called the painted desert. It is a lot of wierd rock landscape with equally odd reservation towns and just seems so inhabitable. We stopped for a minute at Four Corners, which just may be the biggest joke ever. You hear about this place all the time, where you can stand in four states at once, but once you get there you realize it is just that: a man made geographical landmark marked by a plaque. And the best part? They charge you $3 a person to do it. It is the biggest rip off since Glitter.

Our final stop of the day was at Mesa Verde in SW Colorado. Now this was totally worth the $0 entrance fee. We got a free guided tour into the Bird House Ruins. It's so easy to image life here since the cliff ruins are so well preserved. I totally recommend visiting as the preservation here is incredible. We spent that evening in Durango with Tom's uncle and aunt and went to the coolest old cowboy bar.

Thursday, we decided to take the scenic route to Tom's cousin's house in Breckenridge which was our final destination that evening. We took the "Million Dollar Highway" which goes over the San Juan mountain range and through the towns of Ouray, Silvertown and Telluride. Interestingly, there was very little snow which is unusual for this late in the year, but still it was cold beautiful and its a fun drive.

By the time we neared Breckenridge, there was much more snow on the ground and the temperature had dropped steadily. We followed directions to the summit of a mountain pass which then led up a dirt road further up the mountain and we began to realize that we were going to be staying very high. Near the top of a 14,000 foot mountain to be exact. The house was one of those cool wooden cabins with the two story windows that was located at nearly 12,000 feet above sea level. Totally beautiful and awesome. It was surrounded by 5 14ers (a term for a mt higher than 14k feet) and had trails leading up the mountains from their deck.

Thanksgiving was great food and great company. I met Tom's Colorado family (3 cousins, their spouses and kids plus his aunt and uncle we had met the night before). There were all well traveled and intelligent and told a lot of funny stories of Tom as a kid. Overall, I really enjoyed meeting them and hope to go back to visit again.

Five Fourteeners surround the house in Breckenridge.

We took two different hikes on Friday up the mountain because the first one just wasn't enough. The day was freezing with temps from zero to 15 and a steep wind. We hiked from the house up the side of the mountain to some beautiful views overlooking steep white real mountains. We could even see a frozen waterfall across the way that people were ice climbing up. I can't imagine living in a place like this, it is too much of a dream. I may not be able to concentrate on things like work or breathing or eating if I was surrounded by this much beauty all the time. The second hike, we went up about 1000 feet in a snow storm to the top of the ridge just to feel the freezing cold wind hitting our face. It was so painfully cold within a minute, it was amazing. I am so not used to the cold, which made me appreciate it all the more. I have a slight fascination with Mt Everest (by slight I mean I have read everything ever written about it) and mountaineering in general and this reaffirmed my commitment to climb a couple of the ice mountains in California some time. Oh and trek around the lower Himalayans in Nepal, really really want to do that sometime.

So after hanging out in Breckenridge, we took off for Fort Collins on Saturday to meet up with my friends Craig and Kris who I graduated from high school with who are now married and live in Laramie, WY. Kris is very pregnant (due in 3 weeks) but is one of the best very pregnant people I have been around: laid back, not stressing, no complaining even though she is one of those tiny people with the huge bowling ball belly. Can't wait till see a picture of the little munchkin they are going to have! Good luck friends!

On the road from Breck to Fort Collins

We left FC at around 5pm Sat. and decided to drive four hours to Raton, NM to get a head start on the 14 hr drive back to Phoenix. We had another 10 hrs on Sunday but made it home in time to hit the gym since we both felt a little fattened by too much good food. I even was able to run 2 miles on the treadmill with minimal pain. Yeah!

Since we drove exactly 2000 miles in the five day trip, we didn't really stop for scenic picture taking which is why many of my pics have interesting "car features" on them such as bugs, water drops or just wierd glares as enhancements. Taking pictures out car windows while moving 70 mph is a skill I have mastered over the years. Sometimes I will even take pictures while driving but shhh. For some reason however, I was terrible at taking pictures of the people we were with and mostly just forgot to get out the camera. I do this a lot actually.

I love Colorado and mountains and snow and beauty and good food and company and overall had a killer time on our mini vacay. Back to the desert now where temps have seriously dropped to in the low 70s...brrr. LOL. JK. LMAO. Other random laughing digital acronyms.

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