Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Part two: And cue the mountains!

After FLYING the next thing on my fairly short list of things to do in the Denver area was to see mountains!  I was fairly ignorant of the whole geography set up and I kept looking forward in the airplane hoping to catch a glimpse of them.  Turns OUT that you do not see the mountains from the airplane and when it is somewhat hazy in the distance, you don't see them until you are driving on the freeway heading towards the city!!  <INSERT THE MAD-ART-TEACHER SHRIEKS, POINTING AND CLAPPING!!>  It was very exciting to see them in the distance for the first time and even more exciting to get closer and closer and eventually get up into them.  I was excited to say the least!  

Snow on the mountains!!

But let's back it up a second.  We got ourselves shuttled from the airport to Alamo for the car that I rented and I do appreciate the fact that the nice man behind the counter recommended a full size car to take up into said mountains.  It was a very nice car and very comfortable for each of us to drive.  I really liked the company, they were efficient and awesome. Definitely would recommend Alamo for car renting.  Anyway, we were heading to Golden where the motel was located somewhat close to my friend Lori, who was next on my short list of things to do. 

When we got to the motel, turns out their computer was down, so there was no checking in at that particular moment.  Hmm.  But they were very accommodating and we dropped the majority of the stuff into a safe room and then went on to get some dinner at Whole Foods.  While eating, we had a discussion about what to do that evening, it was only like 6:00.  NATURALLY, we decided that driving to a mountain type situation was the thing to do.  So we headed up, somewhat blindly, to Lookout Mountain where there was supposed to be a good view spot or two.  And some trails for hiking but that would come at a later time.  

I have to thank map lady on my phone for guiding us all over the area- she rocks and got us everywhere we needed to be.  Even when there isn't cell phone service there is map lady.  I feel now like I should have named her something more creative!  I always wanted to say Siri, but she isn't.  So Map lady it was.

Throne of stone!

Lookout Mountain was wonderful and we again gasped and pointed and (well most of it was me) clapped when we got to see, in the distance, SNOW CAPPED MOUNTAINS PEOPLE!!!!!!  Obviously that was our first time seeing them and we were so excited.  Or at least I certainly was.  Anyway, we walked around a little up there and looked and wondered what all these different land forms were, and saw some towns and just generally had a lot of fun looking.  The drives were always an adventure as well.  It's a wonder we really never got turned around.  Well, we did go the wrong way once or twice, but it was immediately rectified by either us or Map Lady.  

Driving towards Golden Gate Canyon Park I believe

This was a somewhat nervous Mad-Art Teacher


The next day we were on our way early in the morning to hike on a mountain, which if you are keeping track is another thing I have on my list.  To be honest the list was like this:

                                          1.  fly
                                          2.  hike in the mountains
                                          3.  eat all the ethnic/awesome food possible
                                          4.  see Lori

Anything else was just gravy.  Like getting to the museum and finding the most outstanding cookie shop on the face of the earth and hanging out in downtown Denver on Friday morning.... so....
                                         5. Whatever else we can fit in

Part of the hiking trail at Golden Gate Canyon Park

This definitely was how we #HaveAnAdventure 

Hiking was fantastic, though I had a bit of a headache almost the entire time I was out and about.  I am sure it was from the altitude, as was our marked inability to have any stamina whatsoever, which was sort of mortifying.  After all, I had spent 3 hours kayaking and another 3 hour stint biking during the week prior, not to mention my typical 1.5 hour walks..... so I guess it would take more getting used to.  

The drives were so fun

Scenes from GGCP

Regardless it was a great experience.  We drove up to Golden Gate Canyon Park on Wednesday morning.  It was our second choice, the place we really wanted to go to was closed so they could shore up the road (yikes) .....  so that was actually good I think.  First of all, our first experience driving up was pretty rocking.  We really enjoyed every bit of these trips- I can't even begin to explain the excitement that was contained in that pretty white car.  You would swear we were 10 year olds.  Isn't that the way everyone should experience new things tho???  With the thrill of the new in full enjoyment mode??  I think so, and I am not ashamed of the number of times I clapped or said "This is so awesome!".  That would be probably be about 500.

Hiking up in GGCP was a real joy.  It was not an easy hike, there were lots of rocks and roots and some steep climbs and descents.  We had heard from multiple people that we should make sure we had lots of water and we did!  And we stopped a lot because - gasp....wheeze....altitude.  The weather there was really nice, not super warm, but still sunny and certainly warmer than Northern Wisconsin.  

That afternoon we went into the city, but that is for another post, but after we got rained out we needed to do something else.  7 pm was too early to sit in our rooms.  We drove over to a place near the motel- might be called Apex Open Space Park.  I can't remember for sure.  If I didn't check in on Facebook, then I don't necessarily remember which place was which.....  AND I didn't check in there because we were trying to get a walk in before it started to rain again.....  which it did start to rain, but we did pretty well getting back to the car before an actual drenching happened.

From a  Lookout Mountain Trail
Our next hike was on Lookout Mountain again, but this time we were following trails on the other side, which began near the grave of Buffalo Bill.  Yeah, we paid our respects without paying money to get into it.  :)  We had other things to do.  It was another great time, and it was much easier than being up 9,000 ft.  Well, sort of.  Lol.  We finished a little earlier than planned and I for one was intrigued with a land feature that I saw from above.  It was this flat thing that looked like a shaved off mountain.  It is actually called a Tabletop, which makes sense when you look at it.  We drove over there and parked and decided to walk up to the top.  We weren't able to stay long as I needed to go see Lori, but we got up there and then walked down.  THAT, boys and girls, was one long steep ascent.  So glad we were up there tho, and then on the way down we got to pet lots of puppies who were walking with their owners.  YAY!

North Tabletop Mountain- I believe the entrance was on the other side
After my visit with Lori, it was our plan to drive up to mountains, and that is what we did.  It was phenomenal.  We decided to go up to Berthoud's Pass, which is off of Hwy 70.  The drive was amazing, the Trailhead was amazing, the view was amazing..... and then we got to see a waterfall/cascades as well so YaY for us!  We also patronized a very cool ice cream spot, which was also worth the stop.  I am totally skirting the whole food subject, as that will also be another post!  :)
Words escape me when I try to describe looking out at the grandeur that is the Rocky Mountains....

The Cascades a little way down the mountain

Some of the snow in the Park

Such beautiful scenes

Our last sojourn into hiking was not exactly a mountain, but it was Red Rocks and it is an impressive location.  We hiked around the amphitheater and got up into it as well.  It was so beautiful.  Again words escape me.  By this time we were tired from all the walking around and hiking and stairs.... but it was a perfect way to finish off a visit to Golden.  

The Amphitheater and some of the people who walk the stairs 

I only wish that I had been able to stay longer- I bet a good solid 7 days would be a good start.  

I have found more than my share of joy reveling in those mountains!  

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