Rocky Mountain High


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Published: June 17th 2011
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Idaho SpringsIdaho SpringsIdaho Springs

Shops had colourful signs.
Tuesday 14th June -Wednesday 15th June 2011

Woke up this morning (Wednesday) at about 5am to blue skies and bright sunshine. We have noticed that the nights are much shorter with it getting dark at about 8.30pm and light again just after 4.30am. We are in Silverthorne, about 2 hours out of Denver, and Ed & Cathy have generously loaned us their condo here for the next week.

Yesterday we left Englewood soon after breakfast, Ed taking us to the airport to pick up our hire car. Budget certainly train their staff well, the lady doing her utmost to upgrade us on vehicle size, insurance, hotels etc. We did upgrade the insurance as we only had the car covered, not any third party. When she heard we were off into the mountains she tried to get us into a bigger car at twice the price, we resisted, Judy finally agreeing to a more powerful vehicle but beating the price down to an extra $12/day. We now are driving a Nissan Rogue, a nice size SUV, comfortable and responsive.

Farewelling Ed, we took off down the highway and were soon back into our routine when Rags is driving a left-hand drive car of "keep Judy in the gutter". Less than a couple of hours later we reached the condo, no problems finding it as we remembered the directions from the last trip.

We unpacked and made ourselves at home before setting off to the nearby Chipotle cafe for our burrito bowl. This is like a burrito without the tortilla casing and we have found them to be delicious. Chipotle has a philosophy of serving high quality and nutritious food, buying from local and family farmers. Healthy fast food need not be an oxymoron!

As Chipotle is near the outlets we needed a walk after our meal so more shopping was done. This time Rags came away with another pair of shoes.

Silverthorne is at an altitude of 2 miles, so much for the Mile High Club in Denver! This altitude has been affecting Rags just as it did in Peru and Tibet, although not as severely. He suffers from shortness of breath and gets slight headaches. Hopefully he will get over this in the next few days.

After breakfast today we decided to drive to the nearby town of Frisco to wander through its historic streets. Once Judy had directed Rags onto Highway 70 she realised we were headed the wrong way. Quick change of plan, we were going to Century City, to revisit it since going there a couple of weeks ago. Well before we got there we saw the turn-off for Idaho Springs, so change of plan again, we went there!

This city has a historic section which really is looking tired, as are some of the locals who frequent it. Many of the shops were closed, some should have been and windows were dirty leaving us with an overall negative impression. It appears it was the end of the season there, most business done over the weekends.

From here we took the highway back towards Silverthorne, stopping at a delightful place named Georgetown. We walked along its short main street, checking out several of the shops, art displays and rock displays, dwarfed on both ends by mountains. The original facades had been retained and restored making this an enjoyable place to see.

An exploration of Dillon and it's dam was our final bit of sightseeing for the day. An entire town was relocated to build this dam in 1963. It is the largest water storage in the Denver area and supplies a large percentage of Denver water. We drove around the dam on the Dillon Dam Road which connects Dillon with the nearby town of Frisco but is only open during the day.

Target, in Silverthorne was the final stop, here we finding a huge range of foods as well as the expected lines as we see in Australian Targets. We stocked up with a few meals and drinks before returning to the condo.

Here, we spent what was left of the day reading, computing and relaxing before we prepared our evening meal. Nachos were on the menu, we had houmus chips, salsa sauce, chilli beans and cheese as the ingredients. Thank goodness we bought a 6 pack of dark ale to wash it down as the salsa sauce was marked 'Hot' as were the chilli beans. Together they made an uncomfortably hot meal, the ale helping us to be able to eat most of it! We'll be more careful next time.

We are finding that Skype has been useful in keeping in touch, and after our meal we had a call from a good friend of ours from Australia. Rod had seen that we were connected and we were able to have a good conversation with him. Although we are having a ball, a little home-sickness does creep in at times.

Thursday 16th June 2011

Today we decided to head to Aspen, about 120kms away through the Rockies. First stop was at the Information Office in Frisco for a map (we left ours in the condo) and the gent there, Chuck, was most helpful, giving us ideas of where to stop and other drives we could do another day.

The scenery to our first stop, Leadville, was interesting with views of place like Copper mountain that we have heard of through books and movies. We drove through Fremont Pass, very scenic at an 3,450 metres. At the summit we saw much mining activity as it is the site of Climax Mine, a molybdenum mine.

At Leadville we bought some muffins and coffees for a late morning tea at the local Safeway Store, consuming these whilst parked in the picturesque main street, watching the many different people parade past. Some of these were real characters and very much like we had seen in the past in various films and shows.

From here in the scenery made this drive one we will talk about for some time. Up into the Rockies, snow on the higher part of the mountains, coming at times as deep drifts right next to the road. The mountains and rivers are really something to behold and it made both of us so happy to be there to enjoy the sight.

The road at Independence Pass, at 12,095 feet, had only been opened for a few days, and here we stopped for some photos. Many others were there too, including a couple on a Harley Davidson who took photos of us, they we found, also Australians from NSW.

Eventually we reached Aspen, "Home of the Rich & Famous", with the trees which named it covering the mountains wherever you looked. After a long walk from where we had parked the car we found the Information office, here getting tips on what to see and how to get there. Nearby was a memorial park to the singer John Denver, Rags interested in seeing this as he had been to several of his concerts in Perth. This was a
Clinton Gulch ReservoirClinton Gulch ReservoirClinton Gulch Reservoir

Passed on the way to Leadville
quite different way of remembering some-one, with several of his songs inscribed on large rocks. He died in a plane crash that he was piloting, an experimental model he had just purchased.

From here we walked through the main streets of this upmarket town, looking into several art galleries after we saw a painting in one which gave us ideas of what we would like in our home. We bought some sushi for lunch to eat overlooking the town but as we were caught in a bit of a traffic jam it was eaten as we drove out.

On reaching Interstate 70, the road wound its way through Glenwood Canyon,where we had the Colorado River roaring down on one side and the mountains towering above us on either side. This is considered one of the most scenic natural features of the Interstate highway system in the US.
Once we passed through this the journey sped up somewhat, we sitting on the 75mph(120kph) speed limit and being passed by semi-trailers!

It was dinner time when we reached Silverthorne so we went to The Mint restaurant again, they advertising steaks for $2.99. These weren't as big or good as
Lakes near LeadvilleLakes near LeadvilleLakes near Leadville

Evidence of mining activity.
the one Rags had when we went there with Ed and Cathy, but still good. With a salad for the same price this was an excellent meal and we left fully satisfied.


Additional photos below
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Twin LakesTwin Lakes
Twin Lakes

Just before Independence Pass
Restrooms at Independence PassRestrooms at Independence Pass
Restrooms at Independence Pass

One can always rely on Americans to cater for our bodily needs!


19th June 2011

Trying the Comments again.
The country is so beautiful with the snow and the mountains. Makes me feel like I could put up with that long journey to get to them again. I wish so much I was younger. I'd be over there in a second looking for work and travel and work and travel and so on ! The buildings are pretty quaint too ! So glad you are enjoying yourselves. Much love to you both.
20th June 2011

The Rockies are beautiful, aren't they? Safe travels. Love Kerry.

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