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We need to change hotels NOW

We need to change hotels NOW

I’m a forty-something South Floridian that hasn’t really done anything adventurous for decades. 

Just taking the leap and going on this trip is or was so uncharacteristic of me.  Why Colorado? I had never been, had a friend that went every year with awesome stories and I wanted to see mountains. I also really needed a a break to rejuvenate from some heavy personal stuff - so, I went on a travel website and booked a trip during a gap week between seasons - it's when things are really affordable and less crowded. 

Trip Highlights

Coming from hot, flat Florida, arriving in Denver was cool and exciting for me. It was the first flight for me in a probably a decade or so and the longest flight with transfers that I’ve ever taken as a grown up.

We arrived in the evening and had to drive to Aspen, only a short 4-hour drive at night on roads that go up and down and curve around very big, huge, gorgeous mountains.

What was I thinking? Obviously, I never thought about this at all!

My Colorado driving experience was literally this: I drove out the rental lot to the gas station about 1000 feet from the rental lot and then nephew drove until the very end of the trip when I had to return the vehicle.  Just in case you wanted to know, it was an SUV.

Oh, but that first drive. I was awestruck - it was incredible. The moon was full and the mountains with the moonlight glistening on them left me “shooketh.”

Finally arrived in Aspen

At about midnight we arrived in Aspen, which for me it was about 2 am Florida time. It was a relief to finally be there – at our hotel until we actually saw the room. There was no privacy and nephew had other issues with the room and demanded that we change room. The staff was amazing and accommodated the request to move to a different room. Sincerely thank you Aspen Meadows, the new room was so nice that we moved into. And there is more to thank the resort about - it's coming up - keep reading - and of course it's mortifyingly embarrassing for me. 

Aspen is a small town with a lot of upscale stores and restaurants but everyone I met was friendly. I had no idea that it would be so small. But, it's so cool and a huge bonus - there are dogs everywhere which is cool because they're friendly. 

Aspen Mountain was open even though it was end of season and I was able to go to the top by gondola. The view is amazing.  Bad part, I was incredibly affected by the altitude and had to sit in the hilltop restaurant because I was dizzy while standing. That's something I didn't expect but it's not the embarrassing part yet.

Why didn’t we go to some of the most scenic areas nearby? 

Well, they were closed due to some melting snow and the real risk of avalanches!

Marijuana is legal? 

Yup.

Curiosity got the better of me and of course, I visited a store named Leaf.  Again, this was a solo excursion. I’m sure that most that know me personally would agree that I’m a bit naïve about many subjects such as this.  But, I’m curious and open to learning about things.

Just in case you were wondering, you need to be 21 to go into the store. Everything is regulated and packaged professionally – there are different types or strains and edibles that look and taste just like candy. Smoking in public is not permitted.  Smoking and driving is discourages just as drinking and driving are discouraged.

Did I smoke?  Nope.

Did I buy some? Yes. But I chickened out.  

Did I try the candy? Honestly, yes. A gummy.

Did I feel anything after an hour? No.

Did I do something very stupid after that first hour? Yes. I took a second gummy.

Did I think I was going to die and ask my nephew to call 9-1-1 if I looked like I was having a heart attack? Sadly yes.

What did I do with everything that I didn’t try? I gave it to the wonderful hotel staff. A second thank you to the staff. 

Was that the embarrassing story? Yes, I felt so foolish, words just can't describe it.

Very cool excursion #1 – off to the caves.

We took to the roads to explore a little bit of Colorado and found that near Aspen is the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. The park has tram that goes up a mountain and then activities to do up at the top including going on a cave tour. Visiting the caves was a first for me. It was very intriguing to see so many stalactites and stalagmites right there – so close you could touch, but honestly, you can’t touch them – a big no-no, look with your eyes not with your hands. I’m terrible here, but there was a good reason not to touch them, but I don’t recall.  But, I think that if you touch it, it dies and it's alive.

If you are not physically active, you may wish to bypass the caves, because you go down and must come up by walking up the stairs. Now there are breaks to catch your breath so it is possible.  And, if I can do it, most people can probably do it.

Very cool excursion #2 – The Stephen King experience.

For a change mid-trip, we drove 5 hours to Estes Park. Why Estes Park? Because nephew read about the Stanley Hotel and famously, Stephen King stayed in room 217 where he was inspired to write the Shining.

So, which room did we stay in? Room 217.  Yes. We. Did. 

We did a ghost tour and met some really cool people there.

Did we have any ghosts visit us in Room 217?

Honestly, I think the spirits were scared away because nephew insisted that we watch the LAMEST, moronic television shows available and have all the lights on. All. Night. Long. Not. Joking. One. Bit. So, honestly, why would a ghost visit with us under these circumstances? 

Conclusion

There were other highlights of Colorado were me learning that hiking has a vertical aspect to it and then freaking out during a hike because I totally wore the wrong shoes, I fell through the snow, there was no established path and I think I could have fallen off the side of the mountain and never be found. Not a proud moment for me.  There is a photo below showing just how annoyed nephew was that I didn't complete the hike.

Colorado has several beautiful places where one can simply park on the side of the road and see AMAZING BEAUTY everywhere. Good times for sure!  I hope to return to and explore one day.

Lessons learned

A little more research before travel might be worth it especially when using a travel app to make the arrangements because arriving at night was not the easiest. Second lesson, check into how long that drive will be from the airport to the final destination because a four-hour drive at night AFTER flying hours was not the best thing either. 

The Details

We traveled in April 2017, stayed at the Aspen Meadow’s Resort in Aspen and the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park. This was a gap trip; that is a trip between seasons Winter & Spring, Aspen was delightfully not crowded. The food was excellent, expensive, but excellent. 

This is nephew on the mountain at McClure Pass.  Obviously he was concerned that I kept falling  with my inappropriate shoes and generally had a freakout because I thought we would fall off the mountain (no he wasn't).   

This is nephew on the mountain at McClure Pass.  Obviously he was concerned that I kept falling  with my inappropriate shoes and generally had a freakout because I thought we would fall off the mountain (no he wasn't).   

What’s better than going on your real first mountain hike, falling on your butt 6 times, experiencing your first earthquake, and seeing whales? NOTHING.

What’s better than going on your real first mountain hike, falling on your butt 6 times, experiencing your first earthquake, and seeing whales? NOTHING.

An Aunt's view of the French Quarter - New Orleans

An Aunt's view of the French Quarter - New Orleans