Summer's Last Hoorah

Wanting to sneak in a fun, family vacation before Chloe's school started and Peg's work travel ramped back up, I planned a little surprise trip for me and my ladies this past weekend out to Glenwood Springs (about 3 hours west of here.) We spent a short day here last year when we were in the area for a multi-day bike race I was doing, and kept it on the radar screen as a town and area we would want to visit again.

Anywho, with bikes on the rack, cooler loaded with our roadside picnic area lunch (enjoyed up on Vail pass, thank you very much), and back of the car stuffed with other various pieces of luggage, we made our way out I-70, arriving in Glenwood Springs around 3:00p on Thursday.

There wasn't a lot of downtime after our arrival -- we had about 90 minutes to unload/unpack, check out the house, and relax for a bit -- as I had a surprise waiting for Peg and Chloe.  It involved getting back in the car for a 20 minute or so drive to Carbondale where, on every Thursday summer night, they have a rodeo.  A rodeo is something we've always wanted to see since we moved out here, and this "local" rodeo was awesome.  It had a little bit of everything... bull riding, team roping, barrel racing, mutton busting (kids riding sheep) and some events you probably wouldn't find in Cheyenne or Calgary.  We got there a little early on purpose and lucked into a parking space right along the fence; actually, right next to the corral where the calves were kept after they had their moment of fun in the roping contest. 

It was what one might expect at a rodeo... men wearing cowboy hats because they wear them everyday, Wrangler jeans, pickup trucks, old bleachers filled with families, Johnny Cash's "Ragged Old Flag" being played over the PA system, and public recognition of current and past military personnel.  While we hardly blended with that (with our Keens, foreign built SUV, baseball hats and shorts) we felt part of something that was very Western America-esque.

As for Friday, well, once Chloe realized on Thursday where we were going for the weekend, I had a pretty good hunch that the lion's share of Friday's dance card would be filled by the Glenwood Hot Springs pool (and its slides and diving board.)   And my hunch came to be. We spent about 7 hours there, alternating between the 90-degree main pool, 104-degree "therapy" pool, water slides and chaise lounges.

We came into the weekend with Saturday unplanned, but once we got there and a) saw what the weather was going to be like (beautiful) and b) what potential activities were available to us, we built up for ourselves another active day.  The morning consisted of a whitewater rafting trip down the Colorado River and through Glenwood Canyon.  Even with the lower-than-average flow rate (due to the lower than average snowpack from last winter) there was plenty of fun to be had.  And right off the get-go at that, for shortly after we dropped in -- I mean within a matter of minutes -- we encountered some Class III rapids.  We survived those with smiles on our faces, and then spent a good bit of the next 2 hours on a gentle float down the river and through the canyon.  Ironically, it was during this stretch that provided perhaps the most action of the day.

Since it was calm, the guide said Chloe could be our "bow rider," meaning she could sit on the front lip of the raft, facing front with feet hanging over... as long as she leaned back a little.  A little while later, we were taking the raft between two rocks in the middle of the river and lined it up perfectly.  Little did we realize until they were upon us the size the drop on the other side of them... it wasn't huge by the day's standards, but large enough to propel a 9 year old off the bow of the raft and into the Colorado River.  She fell to my side of the boat, and despite being scared and startled, did everything right once she was in the water -- turned and faced the raft, kept her feet up, and swam towards the raft as best she could.  Within a matter of seconds, I handed the T-grip from my paddle to her, pulled her next to the raft, and hoisted her in by the shoulder straps of her life vest. 

For sure, she was pretty rattled by the experience initially.  But being the gamer that she is, said she would want to go rafting again someday.  (Big grins from Peg and I when she said that!)

There was some down-time after rafting to get some lunch and relax a bit before we headed off to our next activity... a sunset horseback ride.  Unfortunately, due to a later start than planned, our 2-hour ride was more like 1 hour.  That aside, and though I'm not as much into horses as Peg and Chloe, but I would definitely consider doing this ride again.  The views were great, as we climbed up to some high pastures and were able to look up and down the canyon as the sun was in the early stages of setting.  After the ride, it was dinnertime on a rooftop terrace near the river... a simply splendid way to end the day.

For our last day, we traveled south to Aspen to do a short hike I planned in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Area.  The Maroon Bells are some of Colorado's more famous 14ers, and some of the most photographed... if one were to pick up a photobook of Colorado, there's a good chance these peaks are not only in it, there's also a fair chance they are on the cover.  Our hike, of course, wasn't taking us to their peaks; instead, it was the 1.8 mile one to Crater Lake that sits at their base.  The weather cooperated with us yet again, and the trail afforded us some great views at points throughout (and, with a lot of sun exposure the previous 2 days, some much welcomed shade at other points.)

After completing the hike, we went into the town of Aspen to grab a late lunch at a great ribs and BBQ place.  We couldn't linger in Aspen after lunch as much as hoped, so we jumped back in the car and headed East over Independence Pass, and ultimately Boulder.  The heavy traffic on the way back couldn't take away from the fun we had together for the previous 72 hours, and gave us ample time to think about what we might want to do the next time we visit Glenwood Springs and environs.

Here is the slideshow of pictures from the trip.

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