Colorado was our third summer trip in just two months (after Chicago and Vegas) and my 17th State. It promised to be a great trip with mountains and beer featuring prominently on the itinerary. To boot, we had Danielle’s best friend Melissa and her husband, Stephen, as our excellent local tour guides.
The trip started in their town between Boulder and Denver with an Italian dinner alfresco. Sitting outside we could people watch the bar over which looked as though it was the endpoint for a running club. Gorging on pasta and wine while watching these sweaty souls turn up and eat kale, I’m sure they were feeling as envious as I was guilty!
The next day we started our trip and adventure in earnest. Estes Park was the first destination, Rocky Mountain National Park. Driving up to the top we made a few stops along the way. Driving you don’t notice the altitude change until you get out. But getting out to attack a small hill there was a noticeable effect of the altitude on Danielle as we wandered to the top.
At the top of the hill, we could see some dots further down below. With the aid of the zoom on my camera and binoculars we were able to identify either moose or elk. Taking a group picture, thanks to some friendly strangers, we were joined by the 5-year-old-or so, the daughter of the friendly strangers. No doubt where she got her socialness from, but she casually rocked up alongside us as if it was her own family photo. Her family said it was the most she smiled all day!
As we were heading back to the car, we heard the first rumbles of thunder. By the time we reached the summit of this particular route the heavens had truly opened. Sheltering in the car it eventually eased enough to dash into the visitor centre. By the time we started the drive down it had finally eased leaving a very fresh smell and amazing vistas.
Checking into our rental accommodation later was a reminder of where we were. Strict rules were in place regarding what could be left in the car and when the bins were locked. Bear country!
After surviving overnight without any maulings we made an early start for our proper hike. The weather was much kinder but the views just as good. A pristine lake reflecting the mountains surrounding it, without any noise (until a tour group turned up!).
After the hike we moved on towards our final rental and destination. This took us 2 and a half miles south and west to Breckenridge. The drive was really interesting taking us through varied and dramatic landscape through the mountains. We made a stop for lunch in a place called Idaho Springs, an old mining town, it looked exactly like the set of a western movie, and was actually where the gold rush began. Doesn’t take much of a stretch of the imagination to see that. A local brewery (https://westboundanddown.com/) featured as the lunch break stop. Mountains in the morning then beer in the afternoon– as I said this really was a trip done the way I would have designed it! Hikes, breweries and local culture/history.
Breckenridge is a ski-resort, turned hiking destination in the summer. At nearly 10K feet elevation, you notice the elevation immediately, the first time since Everest I’ve had that experience (Estes Park was not as significant). I probably only fully adjusted as we were leaving the following day. From here it was a short drive to our final planned activity on Lake Dillon. We rented a pontoon (think luxury bathtub on floats), put on some music and sat back with some beer and snacks to soak in the mountain backdrop.
When I put my out of office on I mentioned mountains, malts and moose as the theme of the trip. We certainly checked off the mountains and beer, unfortunately, the closest I got to “meese” was the Elk on my plate one night. Nevertheless Colorado is certainly a state I would return to given the abundance of the former two. It also warrants mention, it takes a podium finish for the best Fish ‘n’ Chips I’ve had outside of England. The Burns Pub claiming that title. An unexpected pocket of Britishness, complete with impromptu live music, perched on a hill in Broomfield, Colorado. Really was a trip for me.