Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Rocky Mountain High

May 14-16, Breckenridge, Colorado

This trip through the grand state of Colorado has been a bit of a bonus for us as it was not a part of our original travel itinerary. We are so glad we chose to come this way from South Dakota to Southern California. Vic had never before set foot in this state so it has been fun just to watch him ogle the scenery with wonder in his eyes. The cutest thing he said was “I think I could have enjoyed life as a park ranger in these mountains.” Coming from the self-proclaimed city boy who felt most at home in the Sunset District of San Francisco in his early years, this proclamation was all the more endearing. Spending less than a week in this state is a cruel injustice, but it has clarified our desire to spend more time here on our jaunts across the country. This morning I saw an advertisement for the Telluride Film Festival to be held Aug. 31- Sept. 3. Just the impetus for another trip this way?

We have spent the last two days at Tiger Run RV Resort just a few miles north of the enchanting ski town of Breckenridge. My brother had recommended this 10/10/10 Trailer Life park as he stayed here many times in the 90s when he loaded up his family in Illinois and drove his motorhome here for a ski trip. The park could not be any lovelier. Vic and I felt like we entered a postcard scene with RV sites and small rustic cabins situated among the pines, budding aspens, and dramatic snow-capped mountains. The brisk air and alpine fragrance is intoxicating enough to cause you to start thinking about ways to own a piece of this mountain paradise.
Our fabulous site at Tiger Run
One of several inviting cabins at Tiger Run
A privately owned RV pad with stone fireplace
A stream with pathway next to campground
Breckenridge was originally an old mining town (a 7.5# gold nugget was found here), so it still has a bit of this character left in its historical buildings and even in its contemporary storefronts. By the 1960s, it was almost a ghost town with most of the mines closed when the idea of building a ski run took hold. It is now known as a world class ski destination with the highest chair lift and the most skiers in any one year (1.5 million) in North America. The ski season can stretch from November through April, but the snowfall this year was minimal so the season ended early. We discovered many of the town shops and restaurants had “Closed for the Month” signs on their doors, with the proprietors taking a break before the rafting, biking, fly fishing, and golfing tourists come to town. We didn’t mind that the town was sleepy; it was great to have the streets mostly to ourselves. We still could have taken the opportunity to take a gondola to the top of Peak 8, but Vic’s love of heights was a distant friend that day. There are also several incredible bike trails, one popular nine mile ride parallels Highway 9 from Breckenridge to Frisco, but to be honest, we were both struggling a little with the altitude of nearly 10,000 ft. I had forgotten that it takes a few days to adjust to the thin, dry air. Instead of pursuing any big adventures, we enjoyed walking throughout town and along a tributary of the Blue River next to our campground.
Downtown Breckenridge near dusk

Another highlight was visiting the Breckenridge Distillery, a place our friend Jeff from Ft. Collins had enthusiastically recommended. The distillery just won the distinction of having their bourbon receive one of only three gold medals in an international spirits competition. The place was surprisingly small for the amount of bottling it did: high end vodka, their famous bourbon (with more rye than most), spiced rum, aperitif bitters, and a single malt scotch still being aged in the kegs. Of course we enjoyed a free tasting of their various hooch and took an interesting tour which took all of fifteen minutes—they have only one still, but it holds 500 gallons. Fascinating business--one I would be interested in with my background in restaurants (much earlier part of my life) and my enthusiasm for zesty cocktails.
Their one still holding 500 gallons
Spiced rum fermenting in the tank
Another fun place to visit nearby was the much smaller town of Frisco, population 2400, just a couple miles from our campground. “Frisco” was not named after San Francisco; the name came from a combination of letters associated with the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway Company, an important mode of transportation in these early mining and trapping towns. The locals call Frisco the “Main Street of the Rockies.” Flanked by the Ten Mile Range to the west and the shores of Lake Dillon to the east and with an elevation over 9000 ft., it is a quintessential Rocky Mountain village.
A perfect cappuccino I enjoyed at the Butterhorn Cafe in Frisco
At the end of our time here, we both felt like we had just whet our appetites for the experiences that still await us in exploring Colorado. This is no tropical paradise with a beach, but we also have a spiritual calling for spending time surrounded by panoramic mountain vistas, meandering rivers, and pastoral valleys.

1 comment:

  1. there is a nice little brew pub in Dillon if it is still there...


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