Rocky Mountain, Literally, Very High

Hello from someone who has crammed an entire vacation’s worth of visiting an area into two days. I had a blast today traveling all over Summit County, Colorado, as well as a nice, long visit to Vail. I don’t think I would have ever imagined going to any of these spots in my whole life, so I’ve checked things off my bucket list that I didn’t even know were on there!

I am very lucky that one of the women who’s been on an email list/Facebook group with me for many, many years (since our children were young) retired to the area where I’m visiting a few years ago, and she and her husband volunteered to take me on a tour of all the ski resort towns around here. Cathy and Ken were fantastic tour guides and magically seemed to know the kind of stuff I’d be interested in seeing (mountains, water, quaint towns, tasty food, and some shopping).

As soon as I finished unpacking, Cathy came and got me. She took me to a beautiful spot where we went for a short walk with splendid views of the Dillon Reservoir, which is a HUGE lake way up high here! I was happy to discover that I wasn’t too winded at all. I only had to slow down once. It was interesting to look at the forest after all that reading I’ve been doing on them. There were signs of beetle infestations as well as some controlled burns.

Can’t deny it’s breathtaking, not just because of the altitude.

Looking out over the mountains, it was easy to see where fires had been and where there have been other issues. We were grateful, though, to see new trees coming up, vibrant and healthy.

After dodging a wedding party, we went for a tour of Dillon, including Cathy’s lovely neighborhood. Their house is very Western/Mountain in theme, because they bought all the furniture from the previous owners, who had the house as a vacation home and hardly used it. That was convenient, since they were moving from those horrible floods in Houston a few years ago.

Cute bench Cathy got thrifting on Facebook.

Their house is in a valley, but has amazing mountain views, including the Continental Divide from their game room. Anyone who ever wanted to visit them would really enjoy the home’s bedrooms (and the occupants’ hospitality).

That’s a view!

From Dillon, Ken joined us and was an absolutely perfect tour guide of the area. I learned a lot, and wow, I saw some beauty. The little reservoir we stopped at, which is at one of the trail heads of a hike they’ve taken in the past, was so pristine, clear, and serene. I could have sat there and looked at it for hours, but there was so much more beauty to see!

So pretty.

We decided to go to Vail, which was a scenic trip. We went over a super high point, up and up. You could see where there were avalanches, old mines, beautiful trails and so much more. It’s hard to believe they were able to build an interstate highway through there in the 1960s. I actually can’t imagine how the people who lived in the area in the 1800s coped. Mining could not have been an easy life.

We made it to Vail in time to eat at the Blue Basil restaurant, which was one fine experience for us all. I really miss eating “fancy” food with beautiful presentations and interesting ingredients, so I was in heaven. We all agreed it was one of the nicest meals we’d had in a long time.

After the great lunch, we spent some time wandering around Vail. I hadn’t realized it was a sort-of-planned community place. Who knew? There is a lot of faux Bavarian architecture, to fit with the alpine theme. It’s pretty, though, and certainly was a fun place to wander through. I’m glad I wasn’t there in mid-summer or mid-winter, though, because Cathy said it’s full of people then. I enjoyed the stores being open, but not too many people. Last year, when I was in Park City, Utah, most of the stores and restaurants were closed, so I’m glad the ski season opens a little earlier here.

I got myself the all-important smelly candle for my condo, and some darned important lotion for my hands, as well as a nice necklace from a local artist, on sale. I’d say that the highlight of Vail was the immense store selling every kind of rock, crystal, and thing made of it, that you can imagine. Cathy and I oohed and aahed at huge geodes, natural crystals, and jewelry made from every kind of stone imaginable. I am impressed that I left the place with no treasures, but it was like going to a museum, not a store!

We detoured through neighborhoods of the type you’d imagine in Vail. Thus house has a funicular to get up to it!

We came back through Frisco, which was okay, but I can be okay with not going back. I did like Dillon a lot, though. Then we went back to Breckenridge where I stocked up on wine, bourbon, and a few more groceries for the days I’m going to be pretty stuck in my condominium with no transportation. I even got some flowers. I’ll be fine, because I have a lot of pasta, yogurt, and ice cream. Oh, and coffee, of course! I am set up for Suna’s version of decadence.

Now it looks like a homey place to watch animal shows.

Anyway, it was really kind of the Steeles to do all this with me today. We will hang out some more later, too. I enjoyed getting to know Cathy better and meeting Ken, who I’d heard nothing but good things about in the past. They are such athletic people, too. It was fun listening to all the mountains they have climbed, cycling trips they’ve taken, and skiing they’ve done. And by the way, Cathy loves pickleball. I now know where all the pickleball courts in the area are.

Here’s where I’m staying.

Once again, the internet has brought people together who enjoy each other’s company and can have fun in real life! I’m so lucky to get out of the hermitage occasionally and see people (well vaccinated people, of course).

Author: Sue Ann (Suna) Kendall

The person behind The Hermits' Rest blog and many others. I'm a certified Texas Master Naturalist and love the nature of Milam County. I manage technical writers in Austin, help with Hearts Homes and Hands, a personal assistance service, in Cameron, and serve on three nonprofit boards. You may know me from La Leche League, knitting, iNaturalist, or Facebook. I'm interested in ALL of you!

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