Category Archives: Lewis and Clark Road Trip

Lewis & Clark…return to base camp Maryland

It was now the final leg of our journey – which consists of a 9 hour road trip from Louisville, KY to Silver Spring, MD.

Notable highlights in Kentucky include:
-horse farms
-signs for the Kentucky Derby horse race
-more horse farms

As we made our way out of Kentucky, into West Virginia, we were back on familiar state territory. No need to hula in WV, as the state hula dance was completed on the outbound leg. Instead, we buzzed up to Charleston WV. I was hoping our luck in finding a distinctive spot for lunch and coffee, would prevail. I googled “charleston wv coffee shop” – and found what appeared to be a downtown location called the “Town Square”. The name sounded right – so we headed for the much anticipated coffee shop. It turned out that the “Town Square” was your typical suburbia mall…located in downtown Charleston. No coffee either. Ugh. We wasted no time in departing from Charleston.

As we crossed the state line into Maryland, with 2 1/2 hours of driving left, there was a moment of sadness that our incredibly cool road trip was about to end. We extended the trip slightly with a stop at the Maryland Welcome Center – so that I could officially hula in a Maryland rest stop. The backdrop for hulamania turned out to be a stunning view over the Youghiogheny (try pronouncing that!) River and Resevoir…which ultimately dumps into the Gulf of Mexico. If it wasn’t for the setting sun, and knowledge that we would soon be driving in darkness, we could have easily stared at this picturesque overlook for hours. All in our own back yard of Maryland.

The mountains of western Maryland along the Eastern Continental Divide share some similarities with those in the Rockies. Steep grades and scary trucks on the descents. While the maximum elevation in Maryland is around 3000′ feet (and the Rockies are at 14000+), 8 % grades are common in both mountain chains. We had some spectacular views, and appreciated not having to drive the mountains thru snow squalls. We arrived in Silver Spring at 7:30PM, to our cat Soxy – who was practically jumping out of her skin with excitement to see us – and a moment of reflection.

traveled 4,148 miles in 12 days
-used 207 gallons of gas
-no GPS, paper maps and google worked fine
-elevation change from 341′ (Maryland) to over 13,000′ in Colorado
-oxygen change from a tasty 100% (Maryland) to negligable in Colorado
-over 2500 digital pictures taken
-drove thru 15 states on 7 interstate highways
-hula hooped in 15 states
-4 days of Colorado skiing
-2 1/2 days travel outbound (approx 1800 miles)
-4 day travel on return trip (approx 2300 miles)
-best coffee: Denver CO
-worst coffee: Vail CO
-nicest state rest stops for hula hooping: West Virginia, Oklahoma, Colorado
-needs-improvement state rest stops: Texas, Missouri, Kansas
-next road trip: bike ride along old historic I-66????

Road trip highlights: Every day was magic.

Lewis & Clark…linger in Louisville, KY

After 3 days of driving, it was time for a day off. And, what a better place to do so, at friend’s Tom’s home and workshop in Louisville, KY. Paddy has known Tom back in his Michigan days, and I was about to meet Tom for the first time.

Tom is an artist. A sculpture artist. Not just a sculpture artist either. More like magician. He loves to work with balance, and his kinetic works hinge on finding that balance point, and then playing with it by moving the balance point to the “edge”. Pretty much describes life…right? You become mesmerized, and suddenly find yourself adjusting various elements of the sculpture to see “just” where it comes out of balance….and then restoring the balance before anybody notices what a mess you’ve made.

Actually, the tricky part of the “balance act” was walking thru Tom’s hallway, filled with perfectly balanced kinetic sculptures – and trying not to run into them with our luggage and my hula hoop. I wasn’t entirely successful, but at least the metal “teeter totter” with carefully placed balance balls didn’t get too unruly.
Tom is a delightful human – simple, funny, compassionate toward others, and passionate about his art. What is his…is yours. Any time I commented how much I liked one of his sculptures….he sincerely wanted me to have it. You know, just take it home with me. Sigh. I had to stop drooling out loud, and just enjoy the moment. Paddy and Tom spent the day taking pictures, eating wonderful vegetarian foods, drinking lots of coffee and catching up on “old times”. Later in the day we were joined by Tom’s g’friend Jennifer…and all went fossil hunting along the river bed of the Ohio.

Here is an “old times” story to enjoy:
Back in the 1980’s, and shortly after Tom’s stint at teaching sculpture @ Grand Valley State College in Michigan…he decided he needed a life change. No more welding…no more sculpture…and no more teaching. So he drove his truck to Arizona…in the desert – and took up residence (aka – out of his truck). He got a job as a gardener (along with a bunch of immigrants from Mexico), and despite getting scratched up pretty bad by the cactus….enjoyed the change from sculpture and teaching. Within a week, the foreman noticed a fence that was badly damaged….and needed to be welded to get fixed. After thinking it over for some time, Tom admitted that he knew how to weld….and quickly fixed the fence. The foreman was thrilled, and told him “You are no longer the gardener, you’re the welder”. And from that point on, Tom was the welder. Of course his fellow-gardeners, noticed that welding was a “step up” from gardening….and they all wanted to learn how to weld. So, one by one, the gardeners became Tom’s apprentices in the welding shop…and eventually Tom was back to welding and teaching.

Moral: You can’t escape You.

Lewis & Clark…Arkansas to Kentucky

The terrain of western and central Arkansas looked a lot like Maryland. Rolling hills, green vegetation and trees over 3 feet tall. The biggest difference was the increase in water supply. Here, river beds actually had water, and the land did not look complete scorched.

Arkansas has discovered the meaning of “multi-use development land”. The nuclear reactor was located in a state park, and the same lake used to cool the nuclear rods, was designated a swim center for the little children. A hospital was located on the premises as well. How convenient.

We buzzed thru Little Rock, and then headed toward Memphis. The central and eastern terrain of Arkansas was noticeably swampy. We crossed the Mississippi River – exited to the Welcome Center in downtown Memphis Tennessee. A very cool “Rock and Roll” egg — identifying the birthplace of various music genres including blues, gospel and rock-n-roll – served as my hula hoop backdrop. Temperatures had dropped back into the 20’s…so hula fun was brief. I have now hooped in 14 states on this roadtrip.

Paddy had googled “Memphis BBQ” – and discovered Corky’s BBQ– located just off of I-40 — advertised as the hottest BBQ joint in town. It was now 1:30PM, well past my feeding time, and way beyond Paddy’s morning coffee. Corky’s had arrived none too soon. As we dragged our weary travel butts thru the door – the staff at Corky’s knew right away that we were “travelers”. OK, maybe Paddy’s humongous Nikon camera gave us away, but after 2 and 1/2 days of driving, it was still obvious we had been in the car too long.

Bernard, our waiter — took one look at us, and immediately knew that Paddy needed coffee…hours ago. “You two have been traveling…and you need your coffee” he knowingly said to Pat in a most delightful down-home Tennessee accent. Within seconds, Paddy had his coffee, complete with cream and sugar…and the refills kept coming.

But, this was just the beginning. Bernard took us under his wing, and showed us a brand new meaning of “southern hospitality”. “You see all of these people in here” – he said as we looked around into the packed restaurant….”they can wait”….”But you, you’ve been traveling…and you need some good food”and he attended to us like a doting parent. At Corky’s – you leave your vegan diet and notion of counting calories at the door. This was Memphis, TN…and it was time to taste some southern cookin’…and not think twice about it.

Paddy and I had to try their highly acclaimed pulled pork, and southern fries. The pulled pork sandwich comes with coleslaw lathered on top…but our all-knowing waiter, Bernard — went light on the BBQ sauce, and put the coleslaw on the side for us. Without having to ask, he knew how to make our food experience just right.

One taste of the BBQ pork, and I have to admit – it simply melted in your mouth. It was soft, moist, hickory flavored, and melted on contact. I’m not a fan of meat – but if I lived next to Corky’s in Memphis Tennessee – I might be convinced. Paddy was in BBQ meat heaven. Our weary travel dispositions had been transformed, by both southern food and southern charm.

We hopped back into the Jeep again, fully re-energized, and headed toward Nashville – where we would exchange I-40 for I-65. Notable Tennessee highlights include:
-Loretta Lynn has a dude ranch
-someone named their town “Bucksnort”
-Nashville has one heckuva rush hour

It was twilight when we crossed the border into Kentucky. Paparazzi Paddy captured my state #15 hula dance in Kentucky on camera….and we had two more hours of driving to go, to make our destination of Louisville. At Louisville, we would be treated to a 2-nite stay and day off from driving- with friend and sculpture artist Tom.

Lewis & Clark…fast trak to Arkansas

Let’s just get to it. Some states are sincerely “welcoming” and others are not. We touched on 4 states today (New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas) and the “welcome factor” is very important to my hoopmania vibe as we travel cross-country.

New Mexico
-Paddy found starbucks coffee at the Silver Moon Cafe next to our hotel
-the morning starts out swell for Paddy
-there weren’t any rest stops with signs…actually there weren’t any rest stops at all. The land was completely desolate…but all was good because I had already hooped in New Mexico yesterday

Texas — I have a few concerns…
-their idea of a rest area – consists of a gravel pit pull off on the side of an INTERSTATE with 4 dumpsters. What’s up with the dumpsters?
-Texas calls this a “Picnic Area”
-there are no gas stations or “oasis” towns along I-40
-their “Information Center” is 76 miles inside of the state border. Hello??? I’m halfway thru the state panhandle by now….
-instead of “welcome signs” in the state of Texas, they post “Don’t Mess with Texas” signs every 20 miles
-I’m not feeling welcome in Texas
We make a beeline for the bathrooms as we finally reach the “Texas Welcome Center” at exit 76. Now it’s time to have a few words with the lady behind the desk at the Welcome Center. I have more than 2 cents on my mind about this state of Texas. But….before I could get a word out, the welcome lady was WAY too nice, and WAY to friendly, and WAY to helpful, and soooo freakin delightful…that before I knew it – I had promised her that I would visit about 5 different tourist attractions within 30 miles of Amarillo, TX. I had bonded, and walked away feeling like we were best of buddies.
Since there is no “welcome” sign in Texas – Paddy and I had to come up with Plan B. We found a few large cattle sculptures just outside of the welcome center – and decided that these would suffice for my hoop mania backdrop.
With hooping complete, we hopped back into the jeep – and continued east along no-frills Texas I-40. I had my fingers crossed that Oklahoma would be a tad more welcoming.

Oklahoma:
WOW. Oklahoma KNOWS the meaning of “WELCOME”. Check this out:
-the Welcome Center is located at MILE #2 (not 76 or when you are about to exit the state…but MILE #2!)
-they have a magnificent sign that identifies the state as “OKLAHOMA”. You really know RIGHT where you are here
-inside the welcome center – was free coffee or tea, a large leather sofa to just chill in, and the most contemporary bathrooms I have ever seen.
-I was feeling very WELCOME

So, I had to tell the ladies behind the welcome center desk – just HOW much more welcome I felt in Oklahoma…over Texas. I explained that Texas has dumpsters…and they call it a picnic area…and there is no sign…and I went on and on and on. The lovely ladies patiently let me ramble, and nodded their heads in complete understanding. “We hear this from everyone”, the wonderful welcoming lady responded in her uniquely Oklahoman accent.

With hooping in state #12 complete, we traveled pedal-2-the-medal thru 330 miles of Oklahoma in hopes of getting to Little Rock, Arkansas for the night. The sun was setting, and it appeared more likely that it would be dark by the time we reached the Arkansas border.

Arkansas:
Within seconds of crossing the Arkansas border, we had a police escort. It was as if cop-boy was waiting for US….no one else…but US. We were the only car on the road, and the VERY moment we crossed into Arkansas, he raced out and was ON us like an annoying tailgater. Were we speeding? No… hmmm. Why is he still tailgating us? He doesn’t put on his flashing lights…he just tailgates. He stayed on our butts for the next 3 miles – until we exited at mile 5 for the Arkansas Welcome Center. I was sure he would follow, but as we pulled into the welcome center, he continued on I-40. I have to admit, I was a bit nervous about pulling out my hoola hoop on a dark night in western Arkansas. But I did. And I made it quick. Real quick. And, I was suddenly feeling more welcome in Texas.

Lewis & Clark….go backroad trippin

It was time to descend from the stunning views of Colorado Rocky Mountain peaks, and beam ourselves back down to earth. Rather than travel the Interstates, we decided to take the back roads less traveled, southward to Albuquerque, NM – approximately 400 miles from Vail.

The skies were clear, and the temperature was a balmy 4 degrees at 8100′ in base camp Vail. The locals had provided some conflicting advice regarding the route we had planned – as to its speed and drivability. If the road thru the two mountain passes became too treacherous, then the pass would be closed – and we would have to turn back. We decided to take our chances.

The first 40 miles, along Route 24, just south of Vail, was both breathtaking and a bit scary at the same time. The first mountain pass we would cross is called the Tennessee Pass – where we slowly ascended along a series of switchbacks, on snow and ice covered roads to an elevation of 10,424. Along the side of the road was at max 3 feet of clearance. Beyond that – was a cliff. One unfocused moment or slip of the tires, and it would be “mayday”.

Near the summit, at the Continental Divide….where East meets West….was a bridge allowing us to connect to the next mountain. How could this bridge get constructed – with a 2000 foot drop below? It’s best not to wonder these things, especially in thin air. We then descended, along a series of switchbacks …only to repeat the climb once more….and finally return lower to unbelievable views of peaks over 14,000 feet to our west – into the mountain top town of Leadville (10,000′ elevation). It takes a special kind of person to live in the town of Leadville – one that moves very slowly thru life.

South of Leadville, CO, the mountains strangely “part”….as if you are in a high elevation valley (8000′ feet) – with mountain ranges within a few miles east and west. The road straightened out, and it was delightfully void of any traffic or snow. Of course it was devoid of any services too (such as a gas station, or rest stop, or yikes – what if the car broke down?) – but having the valley and views to ourselves was pretty special.

Our final mountain pass – (Poncha Pass) was just west of Salida CO – with a peak of just over 9000′. After this pass, we remained in a range of 7-9000 feet elevation, and the valley began to look like a high elevation desert, with the mountain ranges gradually moving further apart. Sights included, the Arizona River, Trading posts and some thin-air ponies and cattle. We decided to break for lunch in a small mountain town called Monte Vista. The buildings along the two main streets appeared to be constructed in the mid 1800’s. We tied up our pony (i.e. Jeep Cherokee) at the Johnny B. Good Café, and was served lunch by a native American Indian waitress. We felt genuinely “cowboy” in this little town – approximately 50 miles north of the New Mexico border.

At the NM border, it was time for my hoola moment. The “welcome to New Mexico” consisted of a sign, and a pull over. No frills at this stop — but the sign and topography were the perfect backdrop for hoola-mania in state # 10.

I’m glad we decided to fill up the gas tank at any location that had a working gas pump…because you could easily go 150 miles without seeing one shred of civilization. One car every 10 or 15 minutes…maybe. As we descended into northern New Mexico along US Route 285 – we were greeted with rolling foothills, often devoid of any vegetation. The topography was amazing and constantly changing – yet we were still at 7000+ feet.

Pueblo homes in natural clay colors began appearing 50 miles north of Santa Fe, and it was at this point we decided it was time to buy a map. The roads were not always marked with a route number, and we had already made a few wrong turns. Hmmm. It appears that Albuquerque is a bit out of our way. Maybe we really didn’t need to visit Albuquerque after all? Time for a new plan. We would continue heading east – along 285 – until we reached I-40.

Off in the distance, the mountain peaks were growing larger again. The tallest peaks were snow covered, and I guessed they were in the range of 14,000 + elevation. Within 30 minutes, they had disappeared for good. We passed thru Sante Fe, and numerous Indian Reservations…and the landscape took on the characteristics of parched grassy plains. There was a noticeable absence of water or any tall vegetation.

By 6PM we quit driving for the day at quaint desert oasis of Santa Rosa, NM – elevation 4600′. The oxygen was both plentiful and delicious. After checking into our hotel, we walked to the Silver Moon Café – located on historic Route 66. It was authentic “southwest” décor, the food was fantastic, and the people were very friendly. I’m diggin’ Santa Rosa NM.

Lewis & Clark…take on the Friends and Family Plan

On ski day 4, in the Rockies, we were glad to depart the high altitudes of Breckenridge – and drop 1600 base feet to ski & be reunited with family & friends at Vail .

While we wait for the snow squalls to pass and the winds to subside in the early morning, let me introduce our new ski team for the day:

Chuck (aka “Bro”): never misses a ski season, ski’s like a silky-smooth-pro, ain’t no mountain high enough…ain’t no valley low enuf (oh yeah – that’s a song) – but it describes this skier perfectly. With an engineering background, knows precisely what trails to take on, strategizes how many runs to get in before the lifts close, and makes sure that no skier is left behind (we’re gonna challenge him on this one before the day is over!)

Jill (aka “Sis”): Don’t let the Vail Barbie “look” confuse you. Prefers bowls, deep moguls and exorcised clothing. This gal is an energizer bunny who gets to the bottom of the trail before you’ve finished adjusting your goggles off the chairlift. Rumor on the mountain, is that she is Bodi Miller’s cousin. Shh.

Carol: The deck is loaded with this Bronze and Silver medalist…who has skid all over the world, and is known to jump off one or 2 ridge lines while skiing in the Alps. Ok, maybe it wasn’t the Alps, and maybe she didn’t jump off the ridge line – but there was this big snow squall, which caused a whiteout, and Carol could no longer see…so she skiied to the bottom with her eyes shut.
Dean: Works very hard as Carol’s Ski Coach during the Slalom course – and thus I believe he is a Bronze and Silver Medalist Coach – thanks to Carol’s winnings. He is also an undiscovered “synchronized skier”, as he can sync up a groove with any skier on the mountain.

Paddy (Jean Claude) and I had our work cut out for us to keep up with this ski crowd. But, deep down, we knew we couldn’t keep up. They were the pros…and we were…well…not. It was time to think outside the box. It was time to give this ski team a challenge they haven’t yet been exposed to:

  • we tried to lose them by taking the gondola over and over…but they found us anyway
  • we ordered the biggest pizza for lunch and made sure the ski team was fully weighted down by eating 5000 carb calories apiece
  • I left my cell phone behind so the only way to contact us if we got lost on the slopes – was to use Paddy’s phone number
  • Paddy never answers his phone in time
  • Paddy rarely charges his phone
  • Paddy’s phone is basically useless

No matter how hard we tried to avoid being the “ski anchors”, the ski team just never let us out of their sight. They were our caretakers, they wanted to show us the best of Vail, and they took this job very seriously. The skiing was beyond phenomenal – the best we’ve experienced all week – and the endorphins were running high. This was ski heaven!

But, it was time to test the expert ski team with their own “no skier left behind” strategy. Vail ski resort has multiple BASES…to it’s multiple MOUNTAINS. As Paddy (Jean Claude) demoed a brief yard sale….it caused enough delay – that suddenly our ski team (who was ahead of us) was no longer in sight. Where do you think they went? I asked Paddy. “Down” he astutely replied. So, DOWN we went…we kept going down….down…down…. And suddenly, we were at the BASE of some other MOUNTAIN (Cascade), with no way to get back to our Expert Ski Team located at a different base called Lionshead. hmmmm….

With the aid of a lady from Michigan who knew the local bus schedules…a few very brief calls to Chuck on a barely operating phone battery, and the patience of our expert ski team…we eventually were reunited. Apres Ski consisted of Barbie’s FIVE-OHMY birthday celebration, a skip-it demo, a hoola hoop demo, Rocky Mountain sushi, eating Dean’s M&M’s for desert, a pajama party…and finally zzzzzzz’s.

Addendum: Apparently our gifted ski team was busy making the news, shortly after we departed Vail. From playing card tricks with the magician, to Dean & Carol’s very own version of Abbott and Costello – you’ll be sure to enjoy these YouTube clips.

Lewis & Clark…get an Oxygen fix

There are some expert skiers out here – many who take skiing to the extreme limit. The “bowls”, the “extreme terrain”, getting lost in the “back country”, outlasting an avalanche or 2, or sking backwards down the double blacks. These were some impressive feats to admire…and the apres ski was all about bragging rights. But, for all of these extreme teens…and twenty-something DUDE-to-the-max skiers…I had to ask. Can you hoola hoop on skis? Nobody appeared to be bragging on this one…so on Day 3…I would make my mark. Yes, the poles had to go. The ski jacket had to go too. It was cold, windy and snowing hard – so I needed to make this both quick and impressive. Today – was HOOLA day at The Breck. Paparazzi Paddy captured the moment…and there is no disputing THIS CHIC can HOOP on skis. Take that — extreme ski-Rocky-Mountain-Dudes!

Jean Claude had acclimated nicely, but, I can no longer breathe. By day 3 the thin air had become a bit much. At 10,000′ elevation in the Rockies – weird stuff happens. It was snowing mega amounts, and visibility was nil. We froze just riding up the chairlift. A good day to knock off early, and try to re-oxygenate. What better place than the OXYGEN LOUNGE on Main Street. When I first noticed this lounge – I thought it was a bar…but no. You pay a fee to get pumped up with 90% oxygen mixed with an aromatherapy of your choice for 15, 30 or 45 minutes. Aaaaahhh…Paddy and I enjoyed a most delightful O2 Fix.

Lewis & Clark…ski in thin air

After a few hours of computer work, it was time to get the day started on the Peaks at Breckenridge. We sachet’d our way to the bottom of the parking lot – and waited for the free shuttle bus to take us to a ski lift. “Where are you headed?” the bus driver asked. “Anywhere you are going”, I responded. We still have no clue where these buses are headed. Our mystery bus tour dropped us off at the Gondola lift – in the heart of downtown Breckenridge. OK – this works!

The skiing was fabulous, with lots of sunshine – and I was working hard on my mountain tan. It doesn’t take long to bronze-up – as you are a LOT closer to the sun here. Within the first few runs, Paddy got his version of a “yard sale” down, and I decided to ski behind him to help pick up the pieces. It turned out to be just some AM leg wobbles, and Paddy was soon back to Jean Claude styling by noon. Despite the screaming noises coming from our quad muscles, we continued on….3 peaks in all.

Apres ski consisted of:

  • a brief hoola hoop workout
  • a leisurely stroll through town (note: they sell little bottles of Oxygen in the shops),
  • a french crepe in front of an open pit outdoor fireplace for dinner…
  • and eventual collapse back at the cabin.

Bodies are still operating on Eastern time zone…and I was wondering what oxygen might taste like again.

Lewis & Clark…go skiing at the BRECK

I’m thinking that an emergency oxygen mask should be designed into ski head wear — for anyone skiing in altitudes above 9000′. Wait a minute! Hear me out on this. It would work just like in the airlines. As soon as the oxygen level gets too low…the mask would drop outta your hat — and voila — you could breathe easy again.

It might even be useful in places like Denver too. Let me digress…I watched Denver headline news on TV. A roving band of 3 coyotes seek out women walking their dogs. Local politicians want a law placing a curfew on roving coyotes. Convenience store robbers were caught on tape wearing thongs over their heads. Sigh…I wish I was making this up.

With 8 new inches of snow, we were excited to start skiing – our first day at THE BRECK. We had maps, and lots of information…but it was all too confusing. Maybe we’ll just follow some fellow skiers out of our building to see where they go? First, we pile about 50 pounds of clothing on, and another 20 pounds of extras – including phone, camera, shuttle bus maps, ski maps, water, snacks – and anything else we thought we couldn’t live without for the next 6 hours. Add to that skis, poles and trying to maneuver walking in very stiff boots, we looked like the Michelin man with unbend able legs. We followed our ski comrades down an icy hill…and sure enough, the shuttle bus was just pulling up. Without any oxygen here, we ran, slipped and acted like a couple of city-folks not wanting to miss their bus. The Breckenridge bus drivers are very patient…and waited for us to board. We sat on the bus trying to look like we were “in the know”, having no clue where the bus was going.
Suddenly, everyone got off the bus. This must be our stop too! We followed the ski crowd – to the Snowflake Chairlift. Who needs a map? We got on the chairlift like everyone else, and kept our fingers crossed that there would be a BLUE trail at the top. Not ready to start the first run of the day on a double-black. Spent the next 6 hours skiing carefree — from trail to trail, peak to peak – up over 11,000 feet in elevation, ambivalent to how little oxygen was getting to our brains. Took the 4 O’Clock trail, with the intent to SKI back to our cabin. We skied right past the cutoff to our cabin. Oops. Time to climb a zillion steps, walk an extra 1/4 mile and lug equipment that felt HEAVIER than when we started.

Despite the lack of O2…it was a glorious day skiing in the Rockies — one that we intend to repeat tomorrow!

Lewis & Clark…Climbing the Rocky Mountains

The weather was calling for 60 degree temperatures in Denver CO…and temps in the upper 30’s up into the mountains. We would soon find out, that there is really no telling what the weather will do in the mountains.

The “climb” from the valley of Denver…to the lower mountains was downright jaw dropping…only to be surpassed by the climb into the upper elevations. Words cannot do justice to this amazing scenery. You need to make sure you have a full tank of gas when you get started, and have a lot of faith that not only YOUR car…but all of the other cars and trucks around you have been carefully tuned for good working brakes…for the steep descents. At our highest point just before Loveland Pass, we reached 10,000 feet elevation….and then descended to steep, snow blown roadways. The weather went from sunny and warm in Denver…to blizzard like conditions in the peaks. (below is footage from the beginning of the climb out of Denver – to Breckenridge)

Soon, we found our exit for Breckenridge – and had our choice of 2 primary roads….Main Street or Park Ave. Most of the skiiers were already on the slopes for the day – so we had the town of Breckenridge to ourselves. Paddy taste tested the coffee in various coffee shops up in the high altitudes…and concluded that it was “pretty good”. We checked into our cabin at Park Meadows – which is located 2 blocks from – Park Ave…and 2 more blocks to the gondola lift. At the end of our ski day, we could ski straight from the 4 mile run slope…directly to our cabin. How cool is that??

Took care of remaining details, got fitted for skis and boots, and made a trip to the grocery store. Our biggest athletic activity was getting winded climbing 2 flights of stairs. We’re at 9600′ eleveation here. Where the heck did all the oxygen go??