Thursday, July 10, 2014

Holiday Weekend

Thursday, July 3

Couldn’t wait for our weekend to start. So excited to get packed and head out.  Twenty minutes later...we were stuck.
Mass exodus.

Where are all the people coming from?  Good heavens, driving I-70 before, during, or after a 3-day weekend is pure torture!  STOP MOVING HERE!  Denver is not the place for you!

Colorado Department of Transportation advised not to travel east between the hours of 3:00 and 7:00 p.m.  We obeyed.  It took us one hour to get from our home to the top of Floyd Hill.  Thank God we had hospitable friends in Evergreen.  A nice place to rest, refresh and use the bathroom.  We visited and caught up with them for two hours waiting for the traffic to subside.  It did not.  We got back in the fray and headed east.
Destination:  Glenwood Springs

With the unplanned stop, it took us 7 hours to reach our hotel.  God we were tired.  Good thing our tee time was @ 12:20 p.m.

Friday, July 4

We let it go.  It is heavenly to wake up in the Rocky Mountains.  We wonder where the crowds have gone.  Glenwood is not overly crowded.
We stumbled upon a beautiful, little, unknown jewel, the Ironbridge Golf Course which used to be a member-only course.  Not anymore.  We really enjoyed our day here.  Several holes are on the river and the back plays into the mountains.  We will most definitely be back.  Hopefully, upon my return, I will be a better golfer…
19th Hole.
Red, White & Blue.
We spent our Saturday at the “pool”.  Not just any pool.  It is the world’s largest,125-year-old, naturally-fed hot springs pool with therapeutic waters.  We love it here.  This has been a regular summer activity for us for the past 23 years. 
See that reddish "spa" building?  It is the original from 1888.
We were a little disappointed to find out that the city would not be having a fireworks display in honor of the 20th anniversary of the Storm King Mountain fire and the fallen firefighters.  We Googled to find any other holiday celebration in the valley.  Really.  How did we manage before cell phones?  Siri?  MapQuest?  I digress.

We decided to go to a family-friendly-picnic-in-the-park in New Castle a very small, nearby mountain town.  What a gem!  The park was small and the BBQ dinner was hosted by the local school.  It was clean, friendly and quaint.  The fireworks started promptly at 9:30 p.m. accompanied by an amped-up stereo, playing every American anthem ever written.  Only problem?  A fairly big wait time in between the obviously choreographed timing of the rockets.  We noticed firemen with headlamps and flashlights scouting the hillside after every display to make sure there were no burning embers.  The fireworks exploded directly over our heads with an eerie echo in the canyon.  Bits of soot and artillery shell landed in our laps.  After a short while, we decided every city should lengthen their display.  These were some of the best fireworks we’ve ever seen!  The “show” lasted until 10:20 p.m. – 50 minutes! 
Pleasantly surprised. 
Happy and feeling patriotic.

We decided to hike on Sunday.  With the 20th anniversary of the Storm King Mountain fire celebration going on; there was no better hiking trail than the 4.2 mile Storm King Memorial Trail. 
OMG.  About had a heart attack. 
It was straight up & hot.  Glenwood had really planned a special day here.  A helicopter was flying back/forth bringing in the fallen firefighters’ families, landing on the original helispot.  An airplane dropped 14 yellow banners, one for each firefighter.  And, there were firefighters stationed all over the trail.  Most of them lived in the valley, but some were from Bend, Oregon, where the fallen hotshots and storm jumpers had lived.  It was really something.  Man…it was steep.  I hiked with such a lump in my throat!
And my heart hurt.  And my lungs.  My head!  My legs!  My back!
These men & women are in shape!  They wore their packs.  We tried one -- 35 lbs!  OMG.  He also carries a 25 lb. chain saw, wears a hard hat and suit.  I can’t even imagine.  These people have a special calling – a “fire” in their gut.  They were born for this. 
Wildfires are somewhat of a common occurrence here, but now we understand a little more.  We appreciate what they do for Colorado.  The firefighters had to scramble up this mountain without the benefit of the trail, the manmade stairs, and they couldn’t see and the fire was racing up behind them.  What a tragedy.
It was an honor to hike on such hallowed ground.

We were not in a hurry to get back on I-70 and make the trek home.  We had many "what if” plans.  We hit the “ascent” at 4:26 p.m. – the long approach (a 9-mile climb) to the Eisenhower Tunnel, fully prepared for bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Surprise!  There wasn’t any, we didn’t even have to hit the brakes once.  This is the mountain escape I remember from my youth.
What a glorious, meaningful weekend in our great state, but please…don’t move here!

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