CHAPTER ONE – IT’S A “DOUBLE DUTY” TRIP

Our son moved to Colorado to start a teaching position a little over a year ago and with timing issues and then Covid, this was our first visit there since his move. This trip there works out perfectly for him, because he just happens to be moving out of the first place he lived, with roommates, and into his own apartment, and we are going to be there just in time to help. Hummmm….

We’d decided to spend our first few days exploring the nearby mountains before joining him in Aurora, CO, where he now lives.  He will be joining us at our rented condo in Dillon for a few days, and then we will drive back to help him with his move. 

But let’s back up a bit…  It’s Saturday, day one of our little getaway, and last night after packing for the trip, I decided to check out the weather forecast for the area we are visiting.  Uh oh…..  the highs are predicted to be 60-62 degrees for pretty much our entire time there. While many, including my husband, would think these temps would be ideal, I do not.  I am ALWAYS cold.  So much so, that I always bring some type of sweater wherever I go, regardless of the weather or time of year.  It is in the lower to upper 90’s where we live in Kansas so I have my bags all packed and full of tank tops and shorts.  Well….  It looks like I will be re-packing!  I’ll be packing long pants and long sleeved shirts, socks and only one pair of sandals. Yep! This will be mountain life! Note to self…..  check the weather forecast for where you are going BEFORE you pack.  Geez.. Gina…

girl, snow, scarf
Brrrr, it’s cold in the mountains !

CHAPTER TWO – DILLON & SWAN MOUNTAIN

Our goal on Saturday is to be pulling out of the driveway no later than 8:00am.  Providing the traffic isn’t too bad, and taking into consideration we are driving in the mountains, we hope to reach Dillon by dinnertime.  Our poor Carly dog…  we just returned from our trip to Florida and here we are leaving her again.  (She just forgave us for leaving her the last trip, so I sure hope she forgives us again!)   We do, however have several wonderful people who stay at our home with her, so she’s a pretty lucky dog, even if SHE doesn’t think so at the time. (I can give you the names of our dig sitters if you are looking for one.  Just post below and I’ll get right back with you.)

Departure time goal of 8:00am was a success and we are heading to Colorado!  Two points of interest on this drive.  The first is the Flint Hills of Kansas.  No matter how many times we drive through the Flint Hills, I am always in awe of the beauty this landscaping provides.  It is truly art to the eyes.  This is a great article about the Flint Hills.  I hope you will read it: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/american-rhapsody-180970545/.

The second point of interest are the many wind turbines along the sides of the Kansas highways.  Wind power is the largest source of electricity, generating over 41% of the state’s electricity.  Kansas is home to over 3,160 wind turbines and they are just an amazing site to see.  I found this to be an interesting article about wind turbines in Kansas:  https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/02/16/wind-energy-can-help-american-farmers-earn-money-avoid-bankruptcy/4695670002/

Wind Turbines in Western Kansas

As we get closer to the Colorado border, I can feel the temperatures falling.  We arrive at our condo around 4:00pm.  As we get out of the car and I look up, the majestic mountains surround us.  It is truly a magnificent sight to see and there are honestly just no words that can describe the beauty here. 

We are staying in a condo at Swan Mountain Resort, https://www.swanmountainresort.com/,

and it is even more picturesque here than I’d imagined it would be.  As we enter our condo we are greeted with tall ceilings, tall picture windows, two bedrooms, two full baths, a fully equipped kitchen, a dining room with a large sized dining table (all already set with Fiestaware dishes, a wood burning fire place, a washer and dryer and a nice porch overlooking the beautiful mountains.  The management here has really thought of everything to help make our stay here feel as comfortable as home.  They even had a vase with a fresh flower in it, a greeting card and a basket full of assorted coffees, teas, drink mixes, hot cocoa, etc.  We brought some food with us so after unpacking, we eat dinner, rest a bit after our long drive and then call it a night. 

CHAPTER THREE – FRISCO AND AIR HOCKEY

It’s early Sunday morning  and while sipping our coffee and watching the clouds peek over the majestic mountains overhead, we talk about today’s plans. We decide to head to Dillon to a local restaurant that had good reviews for their breakfast, however the line of people waiting outside and down the parking lot made us rethink our decision. So…. we try another breakfast spot and same thing, lots of people waiting both inside and outside.  So we decide to check out the nearby town of Frisco

Downtown Frisco. Look at the beautiful mountains in the background!
Their hot sauces are all house made. Yum!

A friend had previously recommended The Butterhorn Bakery & Café for breakfast, so we decide to give it a try. It did not disappoint!  It was delicious!!!  Their breakfast menu is expansive and their food is made to order. Their bakery has amazing looking freshly baked breads, pastries, cookies, everything !  Greg had a traditional egg, home fried potatoes, sausage, and toast breakfast, and I order the canadian bacon, egg, cheese and fresh tomato croissant with home fried potatoes.  Everything is made from scratch and it is all absolutely delicious.  Before we leave, I just can’t resist. I order a strawberry cream cheese croissant to go. Best decision ever.  We walk around this quaint little town of Frisco and it’s so nice to finally explore and walk around without a face mask.  The sun is shining, everyone is smiling and it’s a beautiful day.  We will definitely be coming back to Frisco on a future trip….  AND for sure to the Butterhorn Bakery.  Check it out at:  https://butterhornbakery.com/ 

Rain is in the forecast, so on our return back from Frisco, we decide that we will cook dinner at our condo rather than go out. We stop off at a Whole Foods for some groceries and then head back to Dillon.  After we get back, our son and I decide to check out the recreation room at the resort.  There is an outdoor hot tub, an indoor pool, a gym and a game room.  I challenge my son to a couple games of foosball and air hockey.  I used to be a pretty good air hockey player, so I was feeling pretty good when I scored the first several points, but that didn’t last for long.  Soon my son got into his rhythm, and he spared me no mercy at air hockey and then at foosball.  You’d think he would let his ole mom win just once!  But nope!  I got some good exercise in though!  Once we returned back to our condo, the sky opened up and the wind and rain began.  As we are making dinner, I receive a call with some bad news from back home, so while the guys eat dinner, I stay on the phone and contemplate whether to fly back home or wait a bit longer to see if things improve.  Everything did improve a bit, so I decided to stay and finish out our trip, but it’s never the same when your worrying about someone as you always have that in the back of your mind.

CHAPTER FOUR – SAPPHIRE POINT, KEYSTONE AND BRECKENRIDGE

It’s Monday morning and our son is heading back to Denver to finish packing up for his move tomorrow.  It’s another beautiful Colorado morning and the air is brisk and fresh and the sun is just beginning to peek out from behind the clouds.  We start our day out by exploring the Dillon Reservoir and Marina and then we head up to the Arapahoe Basin.  As we reach the top, we realize that this is a higher area than most everywhere else we have been so far.  Even in June, the temperatures are cool here as it is between 10,790 and 13,000 feet, and we can see a bit of snow just above us.  The views are amazing and the terrain is rugged, but peaceful.  They have special activities in the summertime here such as: https://www.arapahoebasin.com/summer-lp/.

View from the parking lot at the top of Arapahoe Basin

We head back down the mountain and drive through the town of Keystone.  There was a little place to pull off the road on the outskirts of Keystone, so we pull over and realize that we are right on the Snake River

Some of Snake River was so shallow, we could have walked across

The river is clean and pristine and I read that it’s a great place to fly-fish for trout.  I definitely want to try that on our next trip here.  We walk along the riverside and I can smell the fir and pine trees and we can hear the fresh water trickling over the rocks and it is simply heaven to the senses. 

I could honestly just stay here all day, but we are getting hungry and we have more to see, so after a walk along the river, we head back to our condo for lunch. 

Taking in the beautiful view

After lunch, we head out to Sapphire Point Overlook, were we will take a short hike around the looped trail.  The elevation is at 9500 feet and what the trail lacks in length, it makes up for in beauty! 

Our view as we are walking to the top of the lookout

There are chipmunks everywhere and they are obviously well fed and not shy at all.  We stop to watch some children feed them some seeds and nuts and then we continue on our hike.  As we reach the top, we are amazed at just how beautiful the view is. 

We should have brought our lunch here!

Had we known there were several picnic tables up there, we would have brought our lunch to eat here!  It would also be a great place to sit and watch the sunset with a glass of wine.  Just sayin…  Again.. next trip… 

After leaving Sapphire Point, https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/whiteriver/recarea/?recid=40879, we drive on to visit Breckenridge.  I have never been to Breckenridge and I am pleasantly surprised at how lovely this town is.  There are lots of little shops, cafes and things to do here and there are gondolas overhead running up and down the mountainside.  (I later found out that they are free in the summertime and there are even more shops, places to eat and things to do at the top.  Another place to add to my list for our next trip here!) 

cable car, mountains, gondola
Gondolas in the mountains !

We park the car and walk around and do some shopping at the unique little shops along main street.  We found a little shop that sold freshly made gelato and once I tasted it, all was good with the world…. 

We eventually head back to our condo in Dillon to get dressed and ready for dinner.  This will be our last night here in Dillon, so I did a little research and found a restaurant in nearby Silverthorne that seemed to have good reviews.  Now, I usually have pretty good luck when researching places online, however this time, we definitely were not impressed.  The restaurant was mainly Italian, although once we ordered, we realized that it wasn’t really what I would call authentic Italian (and yes, we travelled to Italy last year and even took a cooking class in Tuscany, so we are familiar with what decent Italian food tastes like and this definitely wasn’t even remotely close). It was also overpriced for what we got. I won’t name the restaurant or provide the link, but if you really want to know, message me and I will tell you.  I would give this place a 2 out of 5 stars and I am normally the first person to give a place the benefit of the doubt, but they would have to make a lot of changes before I would ever try dining here again.  Oh well, you can’t win them all !!

CHAPTER FIVE – THE BIG MOVE

It’s Tuesday morning and we are headed back to meet up with our son in Aurora, Colorado.  Of course, today is the best weather day since we’ve been in Colorado, and it’s moving day.  Glass half empty; wish it was this nice during our mountain adventures.  Glass half full; we have a beautiful day to move our son and we are lucky it isn’t raining like it has the past several days. 

We are driving to Aurora and the Eagles are playing on the radio.  The warm sun is shining in our car and the beautiful mountains are in the backdrop. 

It really was so beautiful !!

Moving Day…  We arrive in Aurora around 11:00am.  Our son is picking up the keys to his new apartment, so we head to the nearby U-Haul.  Who would have thought it would be so busy on a Tuesday morning?  After a good 30 minutes of standing in line, the man in front of us gets the last moving truck.  Ugggg … Really? All they have remaining are vans.  Guess that will have to do!  I won’t bore you with the details of the move, but let’s just say… 

graphic, moving boxes, packing

Lesson #1 – don’t offer to move your son on a week day when all of his friends are at work and are therefore unable to help, after being told they could. Lesson #2 – Don’t wait until the last minute to secure your moving truck.  Lesson #3 – Make sure you know ahead of time, just how much “stuff” your son actually has, and ask more questions when he says he just has his bed and a few boxes. (King sized bed, dressers, bookcase, couch, chairs, multiple large tv’s, a treadmill, a bicycle, boxes, and more boxes, and more “stuff”).  Lesson #4 – Don’t wear your cute shorts and flip flops because you think the “guys” will be doing all of the moving and heavy lifting while you just direct traffic and unpack.  (Didn’t exactly happen that way..  three of us there for the move = three of us doing all of the heavy lifting and carrying).  Lesson #5 – Breathe, relax and say to yourself, “I love my kids, I love my kids, I love my kids”. grandma, kid, child

After a looooong day of moving, dad and I head to our hotel, and after a dinner of a personal pan pizza and 2 very stiff gin and tonics, all is good with the world again…..   Ahhhhh….. Nite nite… 

martini, bianco, bitter lemon
Nite nite

The 8 hour drive back home to Kansas was pretty uneventful and uneventful can be a good thing!  We saw dark rain clouds on every side of us during the drive, but it’s like God said, “let them through” and he parted the clouds, because other than a slight sprinkle, our trip home was rain free. 

In spite of some personal issues that happened back home, and the length of our stay was only for 3 full days, we still got to see the beautiful sights, and we confirmed our thoughts about Colorado and why our son loves living there so much.  Plus, our son is now all moved and settled into his own apartment.  Yay!

I would say it was another successful “Gardner Vacation”. 

letter g, sand, stick
Gardner Vacation

Until next time!!! 

Ps..  we have a big trip planned for August and September, so stay tuned!!!  This will be out of the country and a fun one!! More details later!


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