I went on a bit of a road trip yesterday up into the hills and had a pretty good time with it.
Zeze approached me Saturday morning and asked if I'd be willing to act as a tour guide for him and two of his friends on a trip up ito the mountains. I of course said yes as any excuse I can get to leave Aurora is a good thing, and Zeze was paying for the gas…
Originally it was going to be a caravan of sorts as I gather Jalen and Flyn were going to come along as well, but I guess they didn't make it so it was just the four of us in Zeze's new Jeep.
We left here at about 10am and after swinging by a local McDonald's so that the three of them could grab a bite to eat (I'm a terminally early riser and had eaten breakfast a few hours prior) we headed West.
The trip up the hill was fairly uneventful… The new Jeep is completely gutless though and I had to stand in the stirrups and liberally use the whip to get it up the hill at any semblance of speed.
We pulled in to Edwards at about noon and stopped at a local hangout called Paddy O'Day's for lunch. Paddy's was excellent as always and after everyone was well stuffed from the great burgers we headed out along US24 towards Leadville.
I've written here before about the US24 route between Edwards/Minturn and Leadville before. It's a wonderful canyon called “Dark Territory” that winds up to the continental divide at Tennessee Pass and the headwaters of the Eagle river. Along the route there is pretty much an infinte amount of things to look at and be inspired by…
So we drove through Minturn, which is still Minturn – at least for the next year or two. There are plans afoot to widen the main street through the town (US24) for the new Battle Mountain ski resort… Just what we need, another money-soaked ski resort. I kinda feel sorry for Minturn as it's the last of the small working mountain towns in the central area of the Colorado Rockies.
The first thing we stopped at on the route was the Gilman Mine and townsite, which still looks about the same as it has since it shut down. It's a ghost-town, founded in 1886, and has this eerie post-apocalypse vibe to it… There is a developer from Florida, Bobby Ginn, who bought all of the land and mineral rights to Battle Mountain and his plan is to tear down Gilman and put in employee housing for the private ski resort they are building across the highway. So if you wanna see Gilman, you'd be advised to travel US24 in the next year or so while it's still there.
The next thing on the tour was the bridge at Red Cliff, followed by the historic site for the 10th Mountain Division and the Continental Divide.
Next we wound down into Leaville, then followed US24 down into Buena Vista before getting off US24 and onto US285 back towards Denver.
US285 follows the old narrow-gauge transcontinental railway and also has some amazing scenery, including Mt. Evans (from the south side). We got back to the house after a stop at Sonic for drinks at about 5pm.
All told the route I took them shows off most of Colorado's 14'ers, three of my favorite towns, 1 awesome burger joint, 1 ghost town, 1 historic site, 2 passes over the Divide, and 4 hours of the best views in Colorado.
I highly recommend the loop for anyone wanting to see what all this “mountain” hubbub is all about.
Additionally I got to spend a few hours in a car with these two friends of Zeze's… I've always said that if you want to really get to know someone, spend half a day in a car with them. Well, I can say that of all of Zeze's friends, these two seem to be the best of the bunch; They're well collected, educated, have their heads screwed on right, and have genuine personalities that have depth and breadth to them…
So, that's about it. I was out of the house most of the day yesterday and while I spent all of it behind the wheel of a car, it was a very nice break from hiding in the house.