For Labor Day weekend, The Texan and I opted for a relaxing weekend of touring the Colorado mountains. He used to live there over a decade ago and has always talked very wistfully about how beautiful it is there. In the space of two days, we put over 700 miles on our rental car. So, to sum: gorgeous, absolutely, but relaxing? Not really.
We flew into Colorado Springs, which is a spookily empty airport. It was Labor Day weekend AND Parents' Weekend at the Air Force Academy, and yet we saw only a handful of cars pull up to the curb while we were waiting for the rental car shuttle.
Not wanting to waste any time, we picked up our rental car and headed off immediately west. We were driving in the twisty mountain roads of the Arkansas River bed, which is quite pretty but at night, when it's raining and you're exhausted and it's dark, it's a bit of a white-knuckle drive.
We spent most of our time going up and down in elevation. In Texas, when you drive into a dinky little country townlet, a sign tells you how many people live there. In Colorado, a sign says how high you are. It's kind of habit-forming: we were kicking ourselves for not bringing The Texan's GPS device so we could tell every second what our altitude was.
The highest we got was the Cumberland Pass, which is officially 12,100 ft I think. At that altitude I kept expecting to have to duck as planes flew by. I also learned that at that altitude, walking is for the locals. Ten steps and I was gasping for air.
I got to drive through the Continental Divide at Monarch pass. That scared the bejesus out of me. Nothing like knowing you're in charge of not flipping over your vehicle into a thousand-foot drop to really heighten the senses. Anyways, we survived and I took the obligatory picture in front of the divide.
When we were driving through a grassy highland, we stopped to try to get breakfast. Unfortunately, the town we picked was shut down for its "Pioneer Days" parade. But the good part was we got there in time to see the 4H club march by with their llamas. They all were wearing green bandannas! Every animal looks darling with a bandanna around its neck, I don't care how vicious (or spitty, in this case) it is.
And one interesting innovation we saw a lot of: in Colorado, everything is supposed to look cabin-y and old time-y. So a lot of the buildings tried to pull off the log cabin look, including the mobile homes. It almost worked for them, too.
Anyways, we got home late on Monday night and I must say I'm happy to be back where it's flat. They can try to call this "Hill Country" all they want, but the real hills are about 1000 miles west of here.