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

The best memories are made camping!

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The mountains are calling! June is upon us. It’s one of the best months in northern Colorado to enjoy the great outdoors (my opinion, anyway!). With all the chores done at home, we are heading to the high country. Most weekends we are hiding away as remote as possible. It’s not that we don’t like people, we just love the wilderness and the solitude more. Sorry, by Friday afternoon, I can’t do people anymore!

The more we explore, the more we find ourselves realizing how lucky we are to live where we live. Within a couple of hours from where we call home, we have many options to camp, fish and hike. We are truly blessed. Can’t take it for granted one minute.

Always looking for the next great spot to spend the weekend. I have a hard time going to the same place all the time. It’s a big world out there to not explore new places; maybe it’s my heritage! I joke that Magalhaes (Magellan, as he is better known) was my cousin.

This past weekend took us to Rainbow Lake Trail in Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest. It’s a 8-mile round trip, moderate/hard hike with about 1,200 feet elevation gain. Once you arrive, you are met with a beautiful crystal clear alpine lake; breathtaking. It’s a bit early in the season, so we came across snow on the trail and on the lake; some floating icebergs too. It’s a beautiful spot to fish or just enjoy lunch; we did both. Plan on 4 to 5 hours for this beautiful hike. If you feel more adventurous, you can backpack in.

Real freedom lies in wilderness not in civilization. ~ Charles Lindbergh

The biggest accomplishment this weekend, other than our big hike, was our successful attempt with solar! We are officially off the grid. What a great invention.

Our next big camp trip will take us south to the San Juan mountains. Reconnecting with some old friends and meeting new ones.

My real job gets in the way of my travel habit! Cheers to more travel.

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“Without new experiences something inside us sleep. The sleeper must awaken.”

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Our first trip of 2018 was this past weekend. We finally left our little valley for some fun in the sun. Our destination… Santa Fe, New Mexico.

As with most trips taken before June in the Rockies, there is a high probability you will be driving through a blizzard. Sure enough, after a quick stop for dinner in Leadville, CO (my new fav Mexican Restaurant – Casa Sanchez), we walked out of the restaurant and it’s snowing. I mean hard snow, as it’s coming down fast. Still, we drove to our hotel, some 25 miles south, with little to no visibility. We were thankful for a dude in a pick-up truck that drove in front for the first 10 miles or so.

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The next morning, the Collegiate Peaks looked like they were dusted with powder sugar.

After a 3-hour drive, our home away from home, was the Buffalo Thunder Resort. We’ve stayed here before and enjoyed both the golf and the casino. It’s a nice Hilton Hotel with a southwest motif. They have a few dining options. Our favorite is Red Sage. Great food and with exceptional service. But, the main reason we like to stay here is because we love to have the golf steps away. This time we played the Pinon and Boulder’s nine; our 1st golf of the 2018 season. I didn’t suck as much as I normally do. Yay, me.

Our first night on the town, we had reservations at El Farol; hailed as Santa Fe’s most historic and iconic restaurant and bar. On our previous trip we had gone to El Meson, but their flamenco night didn’t coincide with our stay this time around, so we decided to try El Farol, which has the flamenco show every Saturday night. I’ll start with the staff. Everyone at El Farol were very nice; service was excellent. Our waiter Brian was wonderful. The food was good. We enjoyed Paella as our main dish with a few appetizers (gambas and calamari).  Everything was done well, but I have to say the paella at El Meson was better. This of course can be just a personal preference. Don’t take me wrong, all the food was good. I think I like it better when they serve the paella on the dish they cooked it in, versus transfering to another dish to serve. But on another note, their “limon” tart was divine.

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The flamenco show was wonderful. The singer, Vicente Griego, had a beautiful voice. We really enjoyed the show. The performers are part of the National Institute of Flamenco. Bravo!

We were hoping to do some hiking while in Santa Fe. While searching on the web, came across the  Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument , which I never had heard about before. The cone-shaped rock formations looked very interesting. I wanted to go! I didn’t read the fine print on the BLM site. When we arrived, around 11 a.m., we had to wait about 30 minutes before we were able to enter the monument. They were only allowing people to drive in after others left the park. I’m glad we didn’t turn around like some did. It was well worth the wait.

 

The Canyon Trail, one of two trails, is a 1.5-mile, one-way trek into a narrow canyon with a steep (630-ft) climb to the mesa top; about 2 hour hike round trip. Once you reach the top, you have excellent views of the Sangre de Cristo, Jemez, Sandia mountains and the Rio Grande valley. I personally wouldn’t recommend this trail for small children (under 8 yrs. old or if you aren’t an adult in shape, but that didn’t stop half of the people on the trail). While the length of the trail isn’t much, the terrain is uneven, rocky and difficult at times. With my short legs, it was hard to climb up to some of the boulders on the trail; a hiking partner is recommended, tall preferably. If you are in the area, take the detour. Worth it!! Beautiful scenery.

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I’m a huge fan of Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives. I had seen the Santa Fe episode a year or so ago and decided we needed to try a couple of the places on the list. While traveling we normally avoid chain-type restaurants and love to try the local places instead. For breakfast we went to the Tune-Up Cafe and for dinner we tried Casa Chimayo. Will save some of the others for our next trip.

Tune-Up Cafe was a great locals-breakfast place. Food was good. You order at the counter and they bring your food to the table. Small house with an outside patio and two areas inside for diners. It’s basic-meets-homey!

Casa Chimayo did not disappoint. Homemade chips, great margaritas and the carne adovada (pork) was so good; you could taste the red chili marinade. Worth the stop in. Just a few blocks away from the main square on Water St.

 

A trip to Santa Fe is never complete without a stop by the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi and a stroll through the plaza.

On the way out, before check-out, I tested my luck, one last time, on the slot machines. Managed to turn $10 into $43; I have super powers!!

For now we say Adios to Santa Fe. Until we meet again, and we will meet again.

“Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread”, and wine…good wine!

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No matter how many times you visit Moab, UT and the surrounding areas, you never get bored with the place. There is no better location to get lost and recharge the “batteries”.

This trip was a last minute, spur of the moment kind of trip. Since we expected rain all weekend long at home, after 10 minutes of deliberating, we decided to head West to get away from cold, rain and snow. We made it as far as Cattle Valley. The next morning, after a couple of intense rain storms passed through, it turned out to be an amazing Utah fall day. We camped at Lower Onion Creek, along the Colorado River and since we were near Fisher Towers, we decided to explore that trail. Drove over to the trailhead passing several “creeks” still pretty respectful after the rain storms. The trailhead is just about 22 miles East of Moab off of Highway 128. You can hike 1.5m to the Titan or 2.3m to the End of the Trail.

Onion Creek After Rain Storm

Onion Creek After Rain Storm

This part of the world is amazing. Did I use that word already? I don’t know how many times we stopped to look up and just take it all in. Tried to imagine the force that created these amazing walls and carved up these canyons.

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If some of the scenery looks familiar, it’s because Cattle Valley has been the backdrop for many Hollywood movies, from Rio Grande to Comancheros with John Wayne, to more recent ones like City Slicker II: The Search for Curly’s Gold. Every time we come here, I’m always expecting to see John Wayne around the corner, riding his horse.

Fisher Towers

Fisher Towers – HIking Cattle Valley, Moab, UT

The trip wasn’t without some unexpected adventures. We lost our alternator just 10 miles North of Moab as we headed home on Sunday. After 3 hours on the side of the road, 2 tow trucks later, we went back to Moab for the evening, hoping to have our truck fixed the following day.

We checked in to Canyonlands RV Resort for the evening. While the place was all-inclusive, as far as RV parks go, this was the most I’ve ever paid for 1 night at a campground. And, they didn’t even have butler service. But, if you want to be in the heart of downtown, in a clean, shady park with full hook-ups, this is definitely a place I would recommend. For us, they were within walking distance to the mechanic who took excellent care of our truck. If ever in need of mechanical services in Moab, check out Slickrock Auto Spa; Bob and Elvin were excellent.

For dinner we weren’t looking for anything fancy, so we ventured over to Giliberto’s Taco Shop. I was pleasantly surprised. Food was good and the salsa was hot. A margarita would have made it excellent, but I don’t think they had a liquor license; we had wine back at the camper anyway.

The round about way we ended our weekend wasn’t without some pluses. We met some really nice people willing to help us. Enjoyed evening cocktails with new friends, Dennis and Marilyn, from Kelowna, B.C., who gave us great ideas for a future Canadian road trips.

I hear Kelowna has 198 vineyards. Who knew!

 

 

“Every mountain top is within reach if you just keep climbing.” ~ Barry Finlay

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As we planned our summer outings earlier in the year, I stated in passing, that it would be great to finally hike the Zirkel Circle. My husband and I had hiked other popular hikes in the Zirkel Wilderness in the past several years, and this was the last one for us to check off our “list”. First off, what was I thinking?! I guess, I wasn’t thinking. Maybe this was discussed over wine.  Must of been over wine; I don’t think I would have suggested, much less agreed to an 11-mile, 2,400 ft. altitude gain hike. But, since I had “agreed”, off we went on our adventure.

Our home for the weekend was just north of our small town of Steamboat Springs. Seedhouse Campground was very nice, quiet, primitive campground just along the Elk River. This was a perfect home-base for our hike the next day. As instructed by our handy-dandy hike book, we left early and gave ourselves 6 to 7 hours for the round trip.

We couldn’t have asked for a better day. Nice temperature, some white puffy clouds, light breeze; just about perfect. And, off we went…

We decided to go counter-clockwise and headed to Gold Creek Lake, up the saddle, down to Gilpin Lake, and further downhill to the trailhead.

Gold Creek Lake was our first stop after a gradual 3-mile climb from 8,480 ft. at the trailhead. The lake sits at 9,555 ft. The brook trout were hungry. Bill got to fish a bit. Since they were too pretty to eat, we let them go so they can get bigger and fatter. (I was told that was the attitude to have)

After a nice lunch along the lake shores, we were off to our next challenge; the SADDLE. And, what a challenge it was. We hiked another 3 miles to the top, of which, the last 1.5 was one of the hardest climbs I’ve ever done, especially above 11,000 ft. Yeah, the air is pretty thin up there and I should be use to it by now, but… I’m not!

In the end, all the effort was so worth it.  I had been to Gilpin Lake before, but to reach the top of the saddle, approx. 11, 540 ft. (+/-), and look at that view, AMAZING. The views were breathtaking. The photos don’t do it justice.

After taking on the views around us, we made the trek down to the lake; just a bit less than a mile. A bit more fishing, some snacks, and just admiring Mother Nature’s handy work.

I’m grateful to live in a place where beauty and solitude is available with a bit of effort on our part. Can’t take any of this beauty for granted. We are blessed.

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