Originally we were scheduled to go to CO Tuesday through Sunday. H’s family goes almost every summer. They have family friends who own a vacation condo in Summit County area (for those unfamiliar; Frisco, Dillon, Silverthorne, Breckenridge, etc). About two weeks before the trip, H decided he wanted to go the full week. I have to say, I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of spending a week’s vacation in CO with my in-laws (ILs), but I eventually gave in and switched our flights (yay for Southwest). I was entirely wrong. A week felt like just a glimpse of time; I even think we could have spent two weeks there.
Here are some recaps of our trip:
Sunday, July 24th:
We flew into Denver and were picked up by one of H’s friends. The timing worked out perfectly to see this particular friend (who is living in CO this summer but during the school year he goes to school in Europe) because he had just gotten engaged the week before. The plan was to meet up with the ILs and get dinner to celebrate. While waiting for the ILs to arrive we decided to go to a local brewery, Bull and Bush, H read about in a magazine on our flight out. It was conveniently close to our friend’s apartment. So, there’s Brewery #1.
ILs got in town late and we were all starving, plus knowing we had to drive to the condo (1.5hrs), we opted for a fast dinner at Rock Bottom Brewery (Brewery #2; H says it doesn’t count on our brewery tour because it’s a chain, but I beg to differ). After dinner we drove to the condo.
Monday, July 25th:
After eating a delicious breakfast in Frisco at Buckhorn Café (egg sandwich on croissant, yum!) I got my first taste of the mountains at Vail. We took the Gondola up and then hiked a trail to a small peak before coming down and getting lunch. Man, even though I’m training for a marathon, the difference in elevation (~500 ft in Chicago to the ~11,000ft on top of Vail), was taxing. I huffed and puffed for a while.
Monday night we continued our brewery tour to Brewery #3: Backcountry Brewery and Pizzeria. H got the sampler (9 beers) and we almost split some pizza, which was pretty good.
Tuesday, July 26th:
In preparation for this trip, we (ILs, H and I, H’s sister and H’s sister’s husband), emailed about what we wanted to be sure to do while in CO. The guys insisted upon white water rafting. MIL and SIL had no interest whatsoever. Being my first trip, I figured I should try anything once, so I signed up, as the only female, with three experience guys. We booked a trip for half day rafting on the Royal Gorge through Performance Tours. We decided to this trip because it was one guys hadn’t done previously (they’ve done The Numbers and The Gauntlet, also on the Arkansas River). Our trip didn’t sound too too scary, some Class 3 and Class 4 rapids; borderline Class 5 because of high water levels rapids (Level of difficulty goes up to Class 6 as the most difficult).
So we drive to pretty much the middle of nowhere. Drive past the Royal Gorge Bridge; highest elevation suspension bridge in US and get to our guides. We gear up (life jacket, oars, and helmet) after signing our life away on the insurance waivers. Then we hop in a school bus with maybe 15 other people and I proceed to be scared shitless by the guide’s safety talk. Scared shitless as in, I think I may throw up. Essentially the talk is about what to do if you fall out of the raft; how to swim, what to avoid, etc.
I was still a bit nervous when we actually sat in the raft. However, after meeting our guide, I felt a lot better. He was from my hometown area AND his name was the same as H’s. What are the odds?! The rafting itself was not nearly as strenuous as I anticipated. A few forward strokes here and a few backward there. The rapids were fun and when there weren’t rapids, the scenery was gorgeous. On either side of us, 11,000 foot cliffs. It was awesome! There was one point on “Sunshine Falls” rapid (the almost Class 5), on a drop that I thought I may fall out. Luckily, I didn’t and I did have to put to use any of the technique discussed during the safety talk. After we completed the tour, we were told that it was our guide’s first time on that particular trip. Eeek! Good thing we weren’t told that before we started; or I may not have had the courage to get on.
The guys (H, FIL and BIL) all said the rapids definitely weren’t as difficult as previous trips, but the view was much better. Although my “almost Class 5” bubble was burst, I still think it was a good starter trip and I’ll definitely try more in the future.
Pic of us during Sunshine Falls
Tuesday night, we went to yet another brewery for dinner. Brewery #5 of the trip was Dillon Dam Brewery. At this point, I think I was beered out, but I had a decent Pale Ale and delicious bacon and blue cheese burger for dinner. The best food of the evening was the Brownie a la Mode we split for dessert. It had some Health bar bits on it that just took it over the top. Mmm. I picked up two new pint glasses for us because we recently seem to be braking a lot when we have people over and decide to drink/play bags outside. They say: Get your own DAM BEER!:
H and SIL got a funny t-shirt (this is a random pic, not either of them):
...rest of the trip continued here