The allure of a quick getaway to the mountains is always appealing to me. A quick getaway to the Colorado Rockies where I might see some snow in July was even more exciting to this desert rat. Contending with triple-digit weather for the last month made me quiver at the opportunity.
We left southern NM after work one hot July afternoon and made our way north, destination, Winter Park! We knew it would be almost 2 AM before we arrived at our destination, but…. mountains.
The night we chose to drive happened to be a full moon, and as we turned onto I-40 around midnight, I was becoming giddy with excitement. It felt like I was “home” as Colorado always felt. And for those of you reading that don’t know, I am a born Texan and have never left my desert home all 45 years. It didn’t take long before the bright moonlight highlighted the treetops and then the bare mountain tops above the timberline. And shortly after the switchbacks started, I spotted a bright bald mountain fluorescing what I hoped was snow. Pointing it out in the truck, the discussion began of whether or not I was crazy. My company for the trip had never been to Colorado before, so their skepticism was thick. Snow in July was not likely in their heads. Snow, I thought to myself. I just KNOW it is snow.
The morning afforded us some time to sleep in, and breakfast became brunch. But not before we found the view of snow-covered peaks. I was right, I gloated inwardly.
The air in the tiny town of Winter Park was moist, making it fragrant with the smell of pine, humic matter, and coffee roasting somewhere down the block. Everything seemed to sparkle with a freshness that only the high mountain atmosphere offered. My favorite flower, the columbine, was in full bloom in raised beds along the streets and at The Base Resort. Blooming right alongside of them were stately lupines, waffery-petaled oriental poppies, and understated geraniums. As a horticulturalists from the desert, it was truly a feast for my green heart.
Accommodations at Trademark (through Access Winter Park) were absolutely amazing, and just a short walk to The Base at the Winter Park Ski resort, outstanding mango margaritas, and trailheads into the woodlands with views of beavers and moose. Outdoor activities included the longest alpine slide in Colorado, a miniature golf course so stunning it looked surreal through my camera lens, ski lift views, gondola rides, rock climbing walls, rope and repelling obstacle courses, and rafting. Live outdoor music rolled out of patios in the shopping district and on the ski summit lodge every afternoon. Food was amazing, and people were polite and generally happy to be wherever they were at the moment. The teenager accompanying me for the trip remarked “People in Colorado are so happy. I don’t think I have ever experienced so many happy people in one place.” It was true. Had we stepped into the high altitude Never Never Land? If so, I didn’t care and would relish the experience.
If there has been a more pleasant getaway in the last several years, I can’t remember those days. Among our favorite experiences was lounging around in our PRIVATE hot tub after dinner one night. The plush bath towels were luxurious, and the crisp air was shocking enough upon exiting the tub to invigorate your skin and make you glow. Hiking along a trail and seeing a moose cow and calfless that 30 feet away was breathtaking and humbling. Both parties were scared, and luckily big mama chose to reroute with her young one and save us the trouble of a more personal encounter. And finally, the incredible breakfast we experienced at the Mountain Grind coffee shop had to be some of the most interesting and best-tasting food I have ever experienced in Colorado.