A Last Trip Up

It was really cold last night, but warmed up with bright sun, so I decided to talk a walk at lunchtime. I wanted to do the path on the other side of the Blue River from downtown Breck, just to see what I’d see. It was a pleasant walk, and I took pictures of statues that the town has put up, as well as views of the river.

That one must have been fun to make.

The problem was that all the smells from the backs of restaurants made me hungry. After checking to see if the distillery shipped (nope), I looked for a place to eat. I ended up in the Thai/Japanese place and treated myself to some sushi.

It was quite a rustic Thai/Japanese place, no doubt because it had to fit in with the town theme, which is that everything is a mountain lodge or a mine.

Blue River

The lunch was fun. I watched dogs as I ate, since I always try to sit by a window when I’m alone. There are certainly more huskies per person than anywhere I ever have been before. At least they are in their element! They must enjoy the weather.

Happy cowboys

I then carried on, like someone’s wayward son, and just kept walking until I realized I was at the end of the historical part of town. When I turned back, it was clear that I had also passed the gondola. Should I go up? It would make my lunch hour very long…but when would I have another chance?

Sack race.

So, up I went. Perhaps it was not a great idea to go on a swinging high-rise conveyance after a large meal of fish. I did end up getting a bit gondola-sick going down, but the views were worth it! I still like that wetland area that the gondola goes over the best. The mountain views are second, and the woods (still stubbornly free of animals that I could see) are third.

I stumbled out of the gondola car at the end, and decided I needed a break, so I went in a place called Cashmere and Chocolates. Living in Texas, I do NOT need any cashmere items, but being me, I could always use some chocolates. I got one that looked like the Earth!

It contained a smoky tequila truffle.

I survived the walk back, happy to have hit my exercise goal again (I’d have to raise it if I lived here, because my heart rate finally speeds up at this altitude). I’m glad I allowed myself to be spontaneous and eat nice food and see the scenery again. There’s plenty of time to finish work now!

(I wrote this post during a particularly lengthy update process on my work computer that failed, so I had to do it twice.)

Good Excuse for Not Blogging

I didn’t manage to blog anything yesterday, but it was all good. After work, my friend from when I lived in Austin, Audrey, drove over from Colorado Springs to hang out with me. We used to go to church together and were in a lot of groups together, so it was good to see her again.

We were happy together.

Mostly we talked about what was going on in our worlds that doesn’t appear on Facebook and blogs, and it was great to catch up. I honestly think the best thing about this trip has been the opportunity to have really good conversations with one person at a time. You don’t get to do that very often these days, but most of my friends seem to be fully vaccinated now, so visits like this can occur.

We had an early dinner at the Mexican restaurant that’s just down the road from where I am staying. I’m glad we stopped at the statue I kept walking by before, because it was on the other side of the road. It was Ullr, the snow god, who protects people who engage in winter sports. He is one cool skiing god! It’s a great statue.

Skiing god

The food at the restaurant was really excellent, as was the “real” margarita made with fresh juice and good tequila. There was a slightly sweet tomato and onion salsa that Audrey and I both just loved. Wish I had that recipe! But the main dishes were way beyond what I expected. We both got chile rellenos, but mine was stuffed with squash and other vegetables, and served on a bed of the most divine sauce, made from sweet corn puree. It was a delightful surprise addition to the meal.

View from the restaurant. Cool restaurant on the lake.

Plus, we splurged on dessert, and I got to have tres leches cake, and a good one at that. Audrey had beautiful and puffy sopapillas.

After we got back, we talked and talked, and I knitted on a simple blanket with the same technique as the weird failed one. I’m so glad Audrey was willing to drive over!

Today she’s going to explore town while I work. I don’t have the usual glut of meetings, so I may see if we can have lunch together or something. It snowed overnight, so I’m looking forward to the sunrise so I can see it (yes, I wrote this before sunrise).

The pool, before they built the flower beds yesterday.

More later.

Looking for Birds

It is true that I got invited back to the bird feeder where I saw the Steller’s Jay last week, since it was owned by my online friend, Elizabeth AKA Liz. I now envy her greatly, because I discovered she gets to see all sorts of wildlife right from her house. I only saw this incredibly cute squirrel, though, because I got too cold sitting on the porch waiting for a fox to walk by.

I am cute.

There was also another squirrel, one of the black ones with tufted ears, as well as a chipmunk with a tail way longer than its body, but they weren’t into posing. I’m sort of glad we didn’t see any brown bears or moose, since I had to walk home around sunset.

I had a great visit, and enjoyed the beautiful home in its inside, too! I did get better mountain chickadee photos and some tiny and precious nuthatches, too. Those are sure happy birds.

The Steller’s Jay came back and we discovered that there are two variants, and these are the southern Rockies version, which has white eyebrows that add so much to their charm. It’s just a spectacular bird, and the only crested jay west of the Rockies. So there.

I’m glad I got to see some good birds, because I took a whole bunch of pictures of an owl before realizing it is one of those fake owls. I swear I’d seen it move. But nope.

After a pleasant and brisk walk home, where I figured out all the shortcuts, I was home in time to order a beautiful pizza with onion, meatballs, and mushrooms (a combo only I would love, I guess).

mmmmmmm

The pizza place had a grumpy as heck menu. Every item said no special orders and food will be delivered as ordered and don’t you dare try to get half ingredients on their darned pizzas. It fit, I guess, given that it’s New York pizza.

Since Liz and I didn’t get a chance to take a picture, we will have to work very hard to remember to do it when we go on our planned hike later! I sure enjoyed my bird watching visit, though!

Happy Reunion

Today’s highlight was a visit from a high school friend, Kathy Herzog Evans. I’m so glad these interesting people keep reappearing in my life! It was so kind of her to drive over to see me from where she lives.

We are laughing because the sun was blinding us.

We had a great time catching up on the past 45 years and finding out all we have in common. We knew we were both knitters, but many other things popped up, like being too fond of jewelry and cowboy boots.

And we love mountains.

We wandered through parts of Breckenridge that I hadn’t seen before and neither had Kathy. We found an artist area, the county courthouse and many more old houses.

Some shopping also occurred.

We looked at art, too.

We had a good meal at, of all things, a barbecue place. It was up to Texas standards, though! And the old fashioned made from local bourbon was heavenly.

Our waiter was a spitting image of Mandi’s son, Matthew. He even talked like him. I enjoyed making him talk. Plus, he took our picture and was patient with our knitting and chatting.

We came back and talked and knitted for four hours. It was a real pleasure sharing experiences and thoughts with Kathy. What a good day!

Restaurant ceiling.

Wandering Pays Off, but No Troll

I smile a lot when I’m spending time in a new place all by myself. I’m easily charmed by little things, which makes me have fun traveling, even without any big plans.

Wandering took me here!

Today was no different. I was really tired after work (I was trying to write software training material, which is always hard on the eyeballs due to all the fidgety screenshots). But I told myself I really need to do something fun each day, especially since it was sunny and not all that cold.

Stuff like this is out there! I must go see it.

So, I set out in my normal shoes and headed toward downtown. The normal shoes were there to supposedly keep me on sidewalks and off of icy trails. You can ponder a moment about how that worked out.

When I got to Main Street, I turned right, just to see what was down there. At first the most exciting thing I ran into was a gas station (you don’t see many around her in the land of the quaint). But then I spotted something good. It was a beautiful little steam engine! It was one of the ones used in the early days of the area.

I wonder if it’s heard of Thomas the Tank Engine?

There was also a little boxcar and tiny caboose that you could look into. I was giddy with happiness, because I really like steam engines. I had run into High Line Railroad Park. It’s probably a lot more fun in the summer, but I enjoyed looking at the narrow-gauge rains and train cars anyway.

I saw a sign pointing to the troll, which is a wooden sculpture that is famous here, so I headed through the ice-skating arena parking lot to find it. I used Apple Maps, but it was not where the software said it was. I didn’t fret at all, because my wandering took me to a beautiful woodland park along a pretty creek. I wanted to explore.

Want to know what my idea of rejuvenating surroundings is? This.

Hey, remember those shoes I wore? They weren’t exactly cut out for the trails going up, which I quickly realized when I saw very serious hiking dudes putting on crampons. Still, the bottom parts of the trail were mostly free of snow and ice (and I’ve learned to walk on ice), so I allowed myself to be surrounded by the huge trees, which smelled so good. That plus the happy sounds of the creek made me not care one bit about a troll, which I figure my local friend Cathy can show me when she’s back from Texas.

After some forest bathing time, I headed back. I didn’t realize how pretty it would be when I headed toward the mountains, so I almost gasped aloud. I had a great walk back, the highlight of which is a real Suna highlight. I found a house with a big birdfeeder and stood there for ten minutes watching birds, including just about the most beautiful thing I ever saw. This bird was BLUE.

I also saw a little woodpecker (not sure what kind), and those cute little chirpy things I hadn’t gotten a good enough picture of yet to ID. I figured it was some kind of chickadee, and yep, iNat told me it’s a mountain chickadee. And, of course there were crows. The pictures were too crummy to share.

I took the back road, French St., to downtown and got to see some nice places to live or rent, and some of the old houses as well. There are a lot of purple houses. I have to like a town with purple houses.

One house I admired the paint job on the corbels when I realized it was also a cute boutique having a sale. I got some tiny earrings and a surprise holiday gift for the relatives back home. It will win the most hilarious gift of the 2021 season, I’m pretty sure.

See the pretty teal accents on the corbels?

By the time I got home, the sun was behind the mountains, and it was getting chilly again. I made myself some delicious ravioli with fancy mushrooms in it. See, I can cook if I have a jar of sauce and refrigerated pasta!

I guess people get used to this. Not me so far. This is from the ice arena.

That was one successful day of wandering and surprises. Tomorrow I get a visitor!

Climbed a Mountain and Turned Around

Today was quite a workday, so I decided to go for a nice walk when I was done. The sun was shining, and the snow all melted, so I broke out the new hiking boots and off I went.

Going up! The clouds are so close!

I had planned to just walk along the road leading uphill, but I saw a sign saying there was a stable a mile thataway. I thought that would be fun to check out.

Well hidden, they are.

Unfortunately, there were no further signs, no roads, and no hints about where to go, so I just followed a muddy road heading up. It turned out to be the access road for the skiing on Peak 10 (that’s the names of mountains here, numbers) and the really, really big resort down the road. It’s as big as a town.

Genuine ski lifts

I decided that, since someone ahead of me had climbed the hill I saw, so could I. So, up and up I went. The trail was actually a ski slope, as I discerned from the snow-making machines I saw everywhere. I had a good time tromping through the snow, until I hit the deep parts that were higher than my shoes. I didn’t have on good tucked-in pants, so snow got in my boots.

I followed those footsteps.

But, panting as only a Texan in the Rockies can, I kept going. The scenery was pleasant and stopping to pant let me look at it. I kept going up about halfway, and then I saw this sign. I liked that sign. I’d climbed enough of Peak 10.

Easiest way down? I’ll take it!

So I turned around, just like Stevie Nicks, and headed down that trail. I was rewarded with a new bird I’d never seen before. It is apparently a Canada Jay. It was pretty and flew around a lot so I could see it well. What a treat!

I continued down the little trail and saw wildlife tracks everywhere. I saw rabbit tracks in more than one place, deer tracks of some kind, and what I am pretty sure were coyote tracks (no human tracks going beside them, and they were later joined by another canine). I don’t think it was a wolf, because the tracks weren’t very big.

I enjoyed looking at a little mountain stream, which was primarily snow runoff, but sounded pretty. As the trail ended, I tromped through a snowy area that must be gorgeous in the summer, because it was full of native grasses and wildflowers. By the time all that tromping was over, my feet were soaked, but I was quite happy.

I also spotted a disc golf course I might try going down later.

This looks less snowy.

As I made my way back, I went into the Beaver Creek Resort, which was dismal and sad as far as I can tell, but I guess it’s not “the season” yet, so no one is there but a few workers. There were a lot of areas under repairs. Maybe it’s on hard times since the pandemic.

Back at the Lodge (which still features the screaming child and its door-slamming relatives), I plan to enjoy a nice delivery dinner followed by knitting and a bath in the jacuzzi. That will get me all energized for tomorrow. My shoes and socks are drying and will be ready for more fun tomorrow.

I climbed pretty high!

I know I do weird things on a “vacation,” but I like just doing one thing a day and really enjoying it, rather than rushing to do a lot. And it’s been quite nice working here. No complaints, other than it rained all day at the ranch, so no pool work got done. Rain is good, of course.

Hitting the Deck at Breck

It was more like hitting the sidewalks, but I wanted the post title to rhyme. Anyway, yes, on my fourth day here in Breckenridge, Colorado, I finally made it to the scenic downtown.

Look at the stained-glass window in this lilac house.

It’s an interesting contrast to Vail, where we were last Saturday. Vail was sort of like Disney World for physically fit adults. Nothing is natural or what it appears to be and nothing is old. If there were little snowmen and moose characters wandering around, I wouldn’t be surprised. Of course, they’d have to be luxe snowmen and moose.

But here, they have statues of donkeys! This is called “Fast Friends.”

Breck has a lot more history, having once been a mining town. There are museums and old buildings, plus some cool Victorian houses that have been fixed up and made into businesses with lodging on top. I really enjoyed looking at them, even though it was snowing hard enough to mess my glasses up.

Early Breck.

It wasn’t cold, so the snow was melting quickly, which made it an enjoyable day to go for a walk. I got myself a t-shirt, a coffee mug, and some warm pants like everyone around here wears. They are so comfy I may wear them all winter at home. Plus, I think I can ride in them.

I love that they are preserving history, even with all the trendy shops everywhere.

After I finished work, I headed over to the new hot tubs they just installed here at the lodge. They are placed in the front of the building, with a pleasing view of the trees and hills. It was great to sit there watching the trees drip and the steam rise. Since it was around 4:00, there was only one other person there, and she was in another tub. The only downer is that the ceiling is very low on the tub platform. Even I hit my head. But I forgot that in the steam. Ahh.

My happy place.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, it’s rainy, but some work got done on the pool. It is looking rather good, I think.

There’s also good horse news! Not only is Apache still cute (thanks to Kathleen for the photo)…

He looks so clean. And there is a piece of Fiona in the picture.

…but Drew is getting ridden at last. He’s getting better at cantering in the round pen, but he still has issues with his back, thanks to being ridden way too young by people who were too heavy. I’m glad he is well cared for with the trainer and she isn’t rushing him. It will take as long as it takes to get him in shape to be a partner to me for as long as possible.

Look, he’s being ridden!

I’m looking forward to a couple of reasonable and not-too-cold days coming up. I’ll have to do a lot more walking during my lunch hours and before it gets dark. Things are looking up in the visitor department, too, so I’ll have some friends to hang around with.

Right on Main Street

This is a delightful place, other than kids moving in an hour or two ago, right across the hall, who run back and forth and screech constantly. I like being surrounded by quiet, ancient people. OMG I AM OLD.

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).

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