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Escape to the Mountains

by Gene Miller

gene.betty@gmail.com

I get up in the morning, make the coffee, cook some cream of wheat or fix some eggs.  Then I clean up the sink from dinner last night, empty the dishwasher and fill it again. I sit down in the recliner and turn on the TV, clicking through the news channels. About this time Betty wakes up and comes in saying, "Turn off that mess with the talking heads." She makes a fruit and supplement smoothie which she shares with me.  We then do the fifteen minute Yoga Stretch program on cable TV.  After that we have a discussion on what to do with our day. Usually Betty picks up a romance novel and reads until lunch.  I may read or check out an interesting program on TV.... usually a documentary or nature program. Sometime between twelve and one the conversation starts about lunch.  It concludes with the question from Betty.. "So where are you taking me for lunch?" We go grab some fast food or maybe share something at a restaurant.  We then run some errands ... library, grocery, Walmart, gas station, bank. By that time, I am ready for a nap.  Usually read until I fall asleep.  After nap time I walk the yard. Right now we have apples ready to pick and maybe a few tomatoes or squash to check out. I also feed the goldfish in a little pond we have and check on the bird feeder and water the potted plants. I will walk across the street and check the mail at the neighborhood  mail box station and pick up any trash that has blown in. Then I hit the TV again to watch the news from five to six .. local and national.  Again the conversation about meals comes up and Betty and I usually have a discussion about how she cooked for fifty years and is not doing that anymore.  Most times I will grill some kind of meat on the outside grill... chicken, fish, steak .. scratch or something pre-marinated or stuffed from the store. Betty will make some vegetables or starch side... pasta or potatoes. We often open a bottle of wine and share a glass before and/or during dinner.  The TV is switched to programs we like...Big Bang Theory, The Good Wife, Chicago Fire or we put on a movie.. something from the library or Netflix.  If there is nothing good on TV we usually read. (I usually go through two or three books a week... Betty will read five to seven.)  By nine PM I am ready for bed... Betty stays up til eleven to twelve.


The above is why we went to the mountains last week... We were driving ourselves and each other...nuts!


We left about lunchtime and stopped at the local Chinese place for the lunch special.  Afterwards we drove west on Interstate 70 with no real plan
or destination in mind. Interstate 70 transects the middle of Colorado from East to West.  About an hour west we cross the Continental Divide at Loveland Pass and Ski area. The Aspen trees were at their golden peak this week and so the drive was very beautiful with vivid blue skies and scattered fluffy white clouds.... really a perfect day.  To the west is a large valley containing Dillon Lake where sailboats were enjoying the day.  The valley is surrounded by mountains which are the home of several ski areas... Arapahoe Basin, Keystone, Breckenridge and Copper Mountain. There are several towns in the valley: Dillon, Silverthorn and Frisco as well as ski area towns of Breckenridge, Keystone and Copper.

Leaving the valley, Interstate 70  continues west over Vail Pass and enters the Vail valley on the other side.  Vail is a ski town developed in the 1950's/60's with rich people in mind. It has a European flavor and was a favorite of President Gerald Ford, although lots of famous people have vacationed here over the years.  It was near Camp Hale, the Army 10th Mountain Division training area in WWII.  Some men in that Division came back after WWII and started the ski area as a destination resort. Unlike the Dillon valley, there was no town here before the ski area. 


The valley continues west along Interstate 70 past the towns of Avon, Eagle
and Gypsum.  While these towns have developed as a place for the resort workers to live and support businesses to locate, two ski areas, Arrowhead and Beaver Creek were built there in the 1980's. Gypsum has a very large underground mine for the material in gypsum board (dry wall).  There are also some coal mines in the area and a cinder block plant near a volcano cinder mound.  Two mountain rivers and several streams come together in this valley.  The Eagle River and Colorado River are constricted at the west end by a narrow canyon.  


Glenwood canyon is about 5 miles long and contains the Colorado River,
East and West bound lanes of the railroad and four lanes of Interstate 70.  In an effort to save the canyon from destruction, the railroad hugs the south side of the river and the interstate was built as a two deck suspended highway on the north side. It is a very deep and very lovely canyon. There is a bike/hiking path along the river and kayaks and river rafts may be seen in season.  Eagles and falcons soar from the heights and fish jump in the river which cascades like a wild thing through the floor of the canyon. 


Glenwood Canyon  empties into the town of Glenwood Springs.  There are hot springs coming out of the floor of the canyon which are fed to the
Glenwood Hot Springs and resort. The pool there is claimed to be the largest hot springs pool in the world and is about a city block long. It is divided into two parts. One part is about 104 degrees and the other about 98 degrees. They also offer the typical Spa treatments as well as hot springs fed "Vapor Caves."  The town of Glenwood Springs has morphed from 1800's crossroad to a modern business and tourist area.  In addition to the Hot Springs, there is also a "sky lift" to the top of a mountain in town which has an underground cavern entrance and a sled ride down the mountain.  We decided to end our first day in Glenwood Springs by sharing a bottle of wine and Kentucky Fried Chicken in the hotel room. 


We ended up spending three days on the road, seeing beautiful scenery and enjoying great weather and having marvelous food. 


Now it’s back to morning coffee, smoothies, feeding the birds, trips to Walmart, and Betty declaring that after fifty years she’s finished with cooking.

enough