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Published: June 10th 2016
We are in Breckenridge, CO for the AERE (Association of Environmental and Resource Economists) conference. Arrived about 3:30 on June 7 after driving about 2 hours west from Denver. The Budget rental people had talked us into an upgrade from a compact car to a Jeep Grand Cherokee, which probably was a good thing given the grades we had to climb just to get to Breckenridge, let alone for any exploring we did in the area. Our room is at the Beaver Run Resort, a behemoth of a hotel right on the ski slopes and a ten minute walk from downtown. We have a kitchenette with full fridge, so one of the first things we did was grocery shopping at City Market. We immediately felt the effects of being at 9600 feet. Even gentle walking brought some shortness of breath, and we were told to drink lots of water to ward off headaches. So far, not a big problem, we'll just take things slow!
Breckenridge is a very attractive small western town with everything concentrated on Main Street. It boomed as a gold mining town in the late 1800s, then fell into some hard times in the mid-1900s, but boomed
again thanks to two Norwegians who started a commercial ski operation in 1961 on the 12,000+foot mountains that tower over the town. A stream that runs parallel to Main Street is bordered by a walking path, so it is a pleasant place for pedestrians whether shopping, dining, or just hanging out. We ate our first meal (bison burgers) at Empire Burgers, which stood out from the rest in having several choices of dipping sauces (mango chutney especially good) for fries.
After rising early, still on east coast time, on June 8, we drove up to Boreas Pass, elevation 11,900 ft. Magnificent views right on the continental divide. There is still a fair bit of snow at 52 degrees, and we didn't hike there because we are still adjusting to the altitude. However, it would be a great place for hiking, and we hear it is fantastic for cross-country skiing. On the road coming down we met a pair of marmots, as hoped.
Back in town we encountered more wildlife: a young fox, snatching some discarded human food on the sidewalk and retreating to his den behind the Creatures Great and Small gift shop, appropriately enough. At 2 we
went on the Strange but True walk, guided by Gail who did a nice job telling us Breckenridge history as well as some stories about its colorful characters. A very pleasant day all around, but the best was yet to come. We asked at the visitor information center in town where we might see wildlife in the evening, and we were directed to a spot with two lakes which I will leave unnamed, lest it be overrun, but I'm sure the visitor center would share this tip with you. Anyway, we arrived there at about 6:30 pm and walked about 100 yards from our vehicle to look at a beaver swimming in the lake below. Then we noticed some mountain goats far away on the sheer rocky slopes above us. They were on the move and heading toward the parking lot where we had left the car. They kept on that course, and we felt very lucky that they would pass within about 100 yards of us on their way to the lake, but in fact, they went right to our car, started nosing it, and even crawled underneath it to lick the undercarriage! Even better, they didn't seem at
all bothered when we approached, eventually coming within a few of them. Not sure what they found so attractive about our car, but we were glad they did!
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