Monday, July 9, 2012

Settling In

Well, we made it to our first extended stop in Western Colorado.

After we left St. Louis last Tuesday morning, we drove for nearly 13 hours through the hot, barren nothingness that lies between St. Louis and WaKeeney, KS (with just a brief pause to celebrate civilization in Kansas City...but not too long, because we knew what a long push was still ahead of us!).
Not that there's much of anything in WaKeeney, KS either, but it does host a very nice, quaint KOA Kampground there with long, level pull-thru sites (HA! Not like that's a problem in the plains states!), hot showers, a swimming pool and they also offer nightly ice cream socials and pancake breakfasts every morning. It's quite the little oasis in the middle of the plains.

On Wednesday morning we got up early again to leave by 6:30am, hoping to get past Denver, CO before the heat of the day. We made great time, with the windmills along the highway in Western Kansas and Eastern Colorado to entertain us. Being the 4th of July and also that we knew what a long haul we had for the day to get to the Western Slope and through Vail Valley, we unfortunately didn't get to stop at the Genoa Tower in Eastern Colorado. The sign from the highway boasts that you can "SEE 6 STATES!" and from my brother who has stopped there in the past, I hear that it is unforgettable, mostly because of the "museum" inside. One day, we'll have to make a stop of it.
We rolled through Denver around lunchtime (mmm...Qdoba!), but not without passing the hazy skies over central Colorado from the Waldo Canyon wildfires that have been blazing through the state the past couple of weeks. Fortunately, the only wildfire that we witnessed firsthand along the highway was small, attended and we saw several tanker trucks on their way to tend to the flames. Still, closer than I planned on being to the fires!

After lunch, we ventured into the mountains for our final push toward Glenwood Springs, where our campsite was located.
It was nearly 100* and the truck was reading more than that as we made our first climb out of Denver. Recognizing that we needed to take it slow, we stopped off to cool the truck down before pulling up the mountain. Once we got going, it was a fairly smooth coast the rest of the way. Don't get me wrong--grades were steep, both uphill and downhill--and my knuckles were white. Jason, however, totally kept his cool and did an awesome job getting us through the ups and downs. We also experienced a major cool-down once we got past the Eastern Slope--which was wonderful all-around! Finally we had escaped the 100-110* average daytime temps!!!

Around dinnertime we made our way to Glenwood Canyon Resort, which was where we planned to stay. Being the holiday, their "Big Rig" sites were booked solid, but they did have an off-river site available for us. Great! What could possibly be more beautiful?!
Not much, except that "off river" when you are in a canyon means waaaaaayyyy down at the bottom of the canyon, in a campsite made for a tent or small pop-up...not necessarily for a 36' fifth-wheel and 21' beast of a truck! Fortunately, we had awesome neighbors again that helped guide Jason into the site and others who allowed us to park our truck in front of their campsite, since we did not have room for it in front of ours.
All in all, it was a beautiful site. You could hear the sound of the Colorado River rushing past, watch folks zip-lining across the river and rafting/kayaking/tubing, walk a short way to the "beach" and play at the riverfront and several times a day both passenger and freight trains would go by on the tracks across the river--which the kids adore! Only downside for us, aside from the size of the campsite in relation to our rig, was that from 4-10pm every night was karaoke on the balcony of the bar at the top of the hill which echoes through the canyon, breaking up the serenity of the otherwise peaceful, riverfront campsite.

Jason started work on Thursday in Snowmass Village, and we quickly decided that with the long hours that he is working, we needed to find a campsite closer to his job site which was an hour away. He found one and by Friday evening we reserved a site, for as long into the season as we need, just 20 minutes north of where he is working. While we're no longer staying riverfront in a canyon, Aspen-Basalt Campground is very conveniently located to a bus line that the kids and I can ride into the neighboring towns, there is a bike path into town just outside the campground, we still have river access--but now we also have a pool/spa on-site too! Not to mention that a Whole Foods Market is opening within walking distance next month. The kids and I might be making daily treks there at that point. Unbelievable!
We'll take a few days to settle in, but it seems like a nice little spot to spend most of the summer.

We are also doubly blessed to have friends nearby! One of our dear friends from college and his wife live just an hour north of where we are currently staying--and we've even been able to get together with them a few times already for dinner and to play in the river/go rafting on Sunday. Another of our best friends from college lives just a little further up the valley in Vail and we were excited that she could join us for dinner on Saturday as well.
While it was a long road to get to this point (literally AND figuratively!), we're very blessed to be where we are right now. Seriously, does life get any better than being in the mountains of Colorado in the summertime? If it does, I don't think I want to know about it right now, because this is more than I could ask for already!

(Hopefully we can get some photos up soon. Wifi is spotty here, but even though I can't download photos right now, I didn't want that to keep me from posting when I am able.)

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