Sunday, June 25, 2017

What I did on my summer vacation.

I was sure I'd hung out the "On Vacation" sign here before I left for the airport... Sorry. I guess that was one of the things that slipped through the cracks.

Clearly I needed this break. A lot of things have been slipping through the cracks lately. One of them is editing Maggie on the Cusp, which -- given my publishing schedule over the past few years -- ought to be for sale already. Never fear; I'm going to dive in this week, I swear.

So anyway, I've been gone to Colorado for about a week and a half. Alert hearth/myth readers know that I've been there many times over the years. For this trip, I promised myself that I would do a road trip to take in a bunch of sites I'd never seen in person before. So even though I've been to Denver about a gazillion times, this time I rented a carriage house in the Congress Park neighborhood for a couple of nights. While I was there, I paid a visit to the Denver Botanic Gardens, both before I'd never been there before and because they're featuring an exhibit of Alexander Calder's works this summer. I'm a big fan of Calder. This one in particular caught my eye. The exhibit brochure called it vaguely man/machine-shaped. But come on -- it's a crow. Or maybe a Raven.

And even though I've driven west on I-70 before, I'd never driven up Mount Evans -- one of two 14,000-foot-plus mountains in Colorado whose summits are reachable by car. (The other one is Pikes Peak, near Colorado Springs.) So I did that. It was cold and windy (46 degrees Fahrenheit, with a wind chill of 36) at the top, so I didn't stay long. But I wish I could have bought a t-shirt that said, "I survived the Mt. Evans Highway." Not only was the road narrow, but it had no shoulders and no guardrails. Aieee...

I drove from there to Glenwood Springs because I'd never been in a vapor cave before. It's kind of like a steam room on steroids.

I drove from there to Aspen -- or as the tourist brochures call it, "glamorous Aspen," although somehow I managed to circumvent all the glamor. First, I took a city bus up to Maroon Bells because I'd seen a million photos of the two mountains but had never been there. They're just as beautiful in person, as you can see.

In downtown Aspen, I found a bookstore and bought a book to read (Anne Hillerman's Song of the Lion, if you must know), then found the city library and spent an hour getting into the story -- as well as out of the heat.

I also stopped at the John Denver Sanctuary in Aspen. Denver lived in Aspen, and after he died, the city set aside a few acres on the banks of the Roaring Fork River downtown for a memorial. One section features a little waterfall and pond surrounded by trees and wildflowers, and another is a small amphitheater featuring more flowers, as well as boulders on which lyrics to several of his songs are engraved. It could have been really tacky, but I thought it was tastefully done.

One boulder featured the lyrics to "Rocky Mountain High," of course. This one has the lyrics to "The Eagle and the Hawk," which is an excellent one to sing at the top of your lungs when you need to declare yourself large and in charge. (Don't ask me how I know.) Anyway, it's a great song, even though it was never a hit, and I was glad to see it included in the park.

I had never made the drive over Independence Pass (a famously twisty road east of Aspen) before, so I did that next. It was a piece of cake compared to the Mt. Evans Highway. From there, I stopped in Leadville, which was a big deal during the silver rush in the mid-1800s, and toured the Tabor Opera House. Then I stayed for a couple of days near Nathrop, in a cabin with a little, private pool fed by a hot spring. That was very relaxing.

I also made a day trip to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, again because I've seen many photos but had never been. And I spent a day in Salida, which has a cute downtown that's classified as a Creative District by the state of Colorado.

The only problem with this trip is that I kept hearing about a bunch of other places in Colorado that I also should have visited. I guess I'll just have to go back.

These moments of vacationing blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.

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