I ran away to the woods!

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Living in Colorado, we are lucky to be able to “run away” for higher ground often. That was the case this past weekend. On a recommendation of friend, we added a hike to the outing.

alpine mountain lake surrounded by mountains

Note to self: when receiving recommendations on a new hike, take into consideration the fitness level of said friend!!

purple wild flowers along the hiking trail
Wild flowers along the hiking trail

This was our 2nd attempt trying to hike to Agua Fria Lake. This not so popular lake on the east side of the Continental Divide, was fairly challenging. The 4-mile hike to the lake is steep and rocky, but those that are up to the challenge are rewarded with great views of North Park along the trek up. Give yourself time to stop along the way and enjoy the views. You gain about 1,400 vertical feet in 3 miles, then you climb down another mile to reach this beautiful alpine lake. I would recommend at least time for a picnic along the lake shore or a little fishing. If you are like us, we carried our fly poles and tried out luck on the lake. One of us got a bite, no fish after that. I’ll blame the nasty wind. Regardless, the scenery alone makes all the effort worth it.

Agua Fria – Water falling over to the canyon below
Beaver Creek

July seems to be the push for family vacations; that last trip before kids of all ages go back to school. We found the area that normally is fairly quite, totally busy. Not only were the campgrounds in the area totally full, the dispersed camp sites within the 3-mile radius were occupied. Because of this, we decided until schools are back in session, we will stay around the house and catch up with summer chores. Plus another couple of weeks and the high country will start to cool down. It will be much nicer to camp then.

Dispersed camping east of Buffalo Pass

2019 Camping Season Has Begun

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Blue Heron along the Green River bank

The snow in Northwest Colorado has finally melted enough for us to get our RPod – travel trailer – out of the back yard. It’s always exciting to get ready for that first trip of the season. Getting all the gear back in the camper. Trying to figure out where to go, since the high country is still snowed-in. In the end, all it matters is that we go, somewhere, anywhere! Last year we logged 40 camping days for the season. Let’s see if we can beat that number in 2019.

My first task: organizing the storage space. I had baskets, I had dividers, Command strips – I believe Walmart stock is up due to my obsession with getting the camper organized and my quest to be more efficient this year! Having a smaller camper makes it a bit more challenging to store things. The use of the space is essential to being able to find “stuff” once you packed it all in. After much thought and some rearranging, I think I got it. I was so efficient that I have an entire shelf that is now empty. I question what was there before. Am I forgetting something? In the past couple of years since we purchased the RPod, every inch of it was filled with “stuff”; what I deem important stuff. A home away from home.

“Camping, where you spend a small fortune to live like a homeless!”

Vegetation along the river bank

So, off we went to the Green River, middle of nowhere Utah. The weather was beautiful; cool nights, warm days. This part of Western US is the perfect spot for one to disconnect from everything. You have to travel 60 miles either way, East/West, to find civilization. We set up camp at Indian Crossing, BLM campground, just along the river. It’s normally not too busy of a spot. We only had about 4 or 5 other camp sites occupied. The Green River is very popular with both rafters and anglers. Normally you will see outfitters drop off their trailers during the day. Otherwise, it’s a low key spot. I don’t fish; either spend my time reading or taking photos. Bill is the fisherman of the group. Several attempts were made to bring in a nice big brown trout. The one time Bill actually hooked one, it was too big and took off with the fly and the line. I probably don’t have to tell you, he was not very happy! I kept reminding him it’s called “fishing” not “catching”; I laughed, and laughed… he didn’t see the humor. Early morning the river flow was about 900 cfs, but by early afternoon more than doubled. 

Mighty fisherman

We did some exploring in the area after lunch on Saturday. In this vast area, one can easily get lost. It’s easy to imagine outlaws in the 1800’s hiding out. It hasn’t changed much. Apart from some curious cows grazing by Red Dirt Creek, no living creature was around for miles and miles, in any direction. Red Dirt Creek was flowing nicely. We also stopped over at the Jarvie Ranch on the way back to camp; always fun to walk through those old building.

But, not everything is fun and games when you camp. It wouldn’t be a camp trip without some “issues”. This trip was no different. I turn on the water pump, and no more than 5 seconds later, I have water everywhere. It’s coming from the wall! What the heck!?! I’m fortunate to have a very handy husband. We investigate and discover it’s the fitting in the shower faucet. Of course, you can barely fit a tool through the opening behind the faucet. Who builds these things? How can they not think we will need to reach behind pipes and faucets. Anyway, after some work and yoga moves, we manage to get it fixed. Good as new!! Life is good again.

We now start planning our next trip. Summer is Colorado doesn’t last long. We have to enjoy every minute of it. Time is wasting. Where is your next trip? Do you prefer established campgrounds or dispersed camping? Drop a line…  Happy Trails! 

Weekend Getaways Are The Best…

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Redlands Mesa Golf Course – Grand Junction, CO

This time of year we tend to get a bit “antsy” . We want green grass, sunny days and warmer weather. Most of us living in the Colorado mountains haven’t left our towns in months and just want to go…somewhere, anywhere!

We checked the weather forecast around us to see who had the best weekend forecast and jumped in the car for a quick getaway. Grand Junction won the coin-toss; the weather was warmer and golf was the activity of choice.

We stayed at Two Rivers Winery just west of town and near our favorite golf course; Redlands Mesa Golf. The winery has a chateau with 7 or 8 beautifully appointed rooms. The rooms are decorated in a french-country style. Comfortable and spacious. A wonderful breakfast is provided from 7:30 am to 9:30 am in their breakfast room. Staff is great and very friendly. If you are looking for a relaxed atmosphere, something more than the basic hotel chain, this is a place to consider.

On previous trips through Grand Junction, we had the opportunity to stop in for a wine tasting. The Two Rivers wines are wonderful; I’m partial to their reds. The tasting room is open every day from 10:30 am to 5 pm, and noon to 5 pm on sundays. I would highly recommend it; worth the stop!

We tasted their 2016 vintage on saturday; all the reds. My favorite was the Syrah: “This savory vintage offers complex aromas of coffee, cedar, baking spices and salted caramel. The rich, round mouth-feel finishes with an earthy minerality and flavors of molasses and vanilla. Pair with grilled items, game or rosemary crusted Colorado lamb.” The 2016 Vintner’s Blend was a close second: “This complex and well-balanced offering brings together two of our favorite grapes: Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. Acids and tannins collide and mellow, creating an opulent red wine with earthy aromas and complex flavors of berries and spice. This vintage is highlighted by a delicious, creamy and fruit-filled finish. Pairs beautifully with caramelized foods; try roasts or grilled meats and onions.” Cheers!

While the skies were a bit cloudy early saturday, that didn’t stop us from heading to the golf course for our 10:30 am tee-time. For early spring, the course was actually in decent shape and surprisingly busy. For us, it was just wonderful to be outside. A couple of hours into our game, the sun made an appearance. Mother Nature was good to us! I did hit some great shots and some not so great… Basically a typical golf game for me. A quick bite to eat at the club house with a John Daly to celebrate our day out on the course, concluded our outing.

Views from the balcony @ Two Rivers
Views from the balcony @ Two Rivers

As we leave sunday morning, in hopes that we don’t hit another snow storm, we are grateful for this repreve from all the “white stuff”.

What’s your favorite weekend getaway? Drop a line, share your thoughts and keep on traveling!

No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow.

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The backyard view

Like most Coloradans that live in the mountains, we have seen more snow days than the customary bluebird days this year. While this much snow is welcomed, we can still be sick of moving it, plowing it, snowblowing, etc.

At this point, most of us had our fun in the snow and are starting to countdown to our ski hill closing; 27 days to be exact!

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for a change of scenery. Still too early for camping season, so I’m dreaming of tropical vacations. Yes, warm caribbean waters, hot sun and a cabana boy with umbrella drinks!

Sunset Happy Hour

Where are you going this spring? Have you been there before?

Southern California: Golf, Wine & Dine

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Discovering Southern California one winery at a time! I know this is hard work, but we are totally up to the task. Recently, we were introduced to the Temecula Valley Wine Country. Who knew there were fabulous wines in California outside of Sonoma/Napa region?! Well, we kinda did already (Paso Robles, Lodi, Grass Valley), but Temecula was a surprise and added bonus to our trip!

While visiting family in Southern California, we had the opportunity to explore Ramona and Temecula areas. Our home-base was the San Vicente Golf Resort. A golf resort just a few miles outside Ramona. We got to play a couple of rounds of golf; probably the earliest golf season start for us. The course was decent, but could benefit from some maintenance, which we heard they will be doing spring/summer of 2019. But, still can’t beat the fact that you run out of your guest room and get on a golf cart in less than 5 minutes. The weather was cold, for California standards, but for us, 60 degrees felt amazing. The resort had a great restaurant/bar; it’s a happening spot on Friday nights! Staff were friendly and food was very good; loved their fish tacos. In case you are considering a stay, the rooms are large, clean and comfortable with a balcony facing the course. It’s an older property, but nice.

San Vicente Number Nine
San Vicente Golf Course – Ramona, California

Temecula Valley is Southern California’s Wine Country. I’m told there are over 30 wineries in the region’s rolling hills and sprawling valleys. They produce a variety of wines, including award-winning and artisan Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir. On this trip we visited three wineries; Vitagliano, South Coast and Miramonte; 27+ more to go!!

My favorite wine tasting was at South Coast. I was surprised to find wines with some of my favorite portuguese grapes: Touriga National, Tinto Cao, and Alicante Bouschet. Loved the Boulder Red 2.0. A wonderful, rich and balanced red blend. Another one of my favorites was their 2015 Petit Verdot; smooth and easy to drink.

Looking out at Miramonte

Further down the road, our next stop was Miramonte Winery. A lovely property with a great outside patio overlooking the vineyards. As you walk up to the patio you are greeted with the most amazing smells of garlic and bread that make your mouth water before you even hit the tasting room. The staff were welcoming and accommodating. You can choose to enjoy your wine in the tasting room or take it outside to the patio and enjoy the views while complementing their wines with the fabulous small plates on the menu. What a great spot to spend a couple of hours with friends or family while enjoying wine tasting and delicious food. Is there anything better? Good food and wine are among my favorite experiences to share. If you are in the area, stop by. Definitely worth it. Favorite dish: Tomato Fromage / Favorite wine: Touriga National

Our last full day was to be spent in San Diego with a trip to the beach. Unfortunately the weather didn’t cooperate and we had to adjust. We checked in to the Hilton Harbor Island for the night, since we wanted to be closer to the airport for our return flight the following morning. This property fit the bill; modern, bright, very clean and just a couple of miles from the car rental terminal. Check-in was a breeze and staff were awesome. We got a nice higher floor, with a view overlooking the marina and city skyline. Due to inclement weather, our only choice was to check out the bar, so, being the troopers that we are, to the bar we went. They had a nice, cozy bar facing the marina. We enjoyed the views, while enjoying our cocktails. The afternoon did not suck!

Marina View San Diego
Marina View – Downtown San Diego

Dinner was at a great mexican restaurant in Old Town San Diego. We had a wonderful spread at Miguel’s Cocina. Great margaritas, I’ll start with that; not super sweet, and with the right amount of liquor. The food was wonderful also, as was the service; attentive, pleasant and quick. We asked for the queso recipe since everyone enjoyed it so much. Waiter actually did share the ingredients with us, but a little google search later and found the complete recipe online. Will be making it for the next gathering. This was a great dinner choice for us on our last night in San Diego.

Overall, a wonderful trip. Hoping we will come back soon so we can actually visit the beaches in the area. But then, you do have to leave something to do the “next time”… Until we meet again!!