4th of July and Colorado

Taking advantage of not having to drive up to the Finger Lakes.

Taking advantage of not having to drive up to the Finger Lakes.

We bought Bri-guy a very patriotic outfit for the holiday.  He wore it with pride.

We bought Bri-guy a very patriotic outfit for the holiday. He wore it with pride.

It was good ski'n weather.  I won't bore you with the video.

It was good ski’n weather. I won’t bore you with the video.

After a solid weekend of sausages, fireworks and beer, it was time to head back out west.  I’d never been to Colorado in the summer and it was time to rectify that.  I flew out to hang with Casey from 7/7-7/11.

Our first adventure was camping, so we made a supply run.

We found some awesome coozies at the grocery store.  Mine is the one with the shark (of course).  The full message is: If ya messin with my drink, ya might sleep with the fishes.  Odd threat in land-locked CO.

We found some awesome coozies at the grocery store. Mine is the one with the shark (of course). The full message is: If ya messin with my drink, ya might sleep with the fishes. Odd threat in land-locked CO.

We set up shop in Golden Gate Canyon State Park, which was quite close to Casey's house.

We set up shop in Golden Gate Canyon State Park, which was quite close to Casey’s house.

The park featured some great hikes.  We did one on Monday and a long one on Tuesday.

The park featured some great hikes. We did one on Monday and a long one on Tuesday.

We treated ourselves to some roasted vegetables Monday night.

We treated ourselves to some roasted vegetables Monday night.

Tuesday afternoon we headed back to civilization so we could do some additional adventure planning.  Casey had never been white water rafting, so we had to fix that.

We went with Clear Creek Rafting Co. on a half-day trip through class III and IV rapids.

We went with Clear Creek Rafting Co. on a half-day trip through class III and IV rapids.

Casey and I managed to get front row seats for the second half of the trip.  Invigorating stuff!

Casey and I managed to get front row seats for the second half of the trip. Invigorating stuff!

We dogged some buffalo burgers at Backcountry Brewery in Frisco afterwards.

We dogged some buffalo burgers at Backcountry Brewery in Frisco afterwards.

After lunch, we decided to drive up to Mount Evans.  I had never heard of it, but it’s the highest paved road in North America.  It opened in 1931.  The original plan was to link three 14,000-foot peaks, as part of a Peak to Peak Highway system, but it proved too ambitious.  So, from the comfort of a car, we got to ascend from 7540 ft to just under 14,130 ft in about 45 minutes.  The brochure was full of fascinating facts, like:

*Every 1000 ft gained in the mountains is equivalent to traveling 600 miles north in latitude

*Temperatures drop 3.5-5 degrees F for every 1000 ft of elevation gained.  The average summer daytime temp is around 42 at the top of the road, and it can snow any day

*The sun is 5% stronger every 1000 ft of elevation gained

*The Alpine zone is the treeless land above 11,500 ft.  During the 8 months of alpine winter, most animals hibernate or head down the mountain.  Even the wildflowers have special adaptations; the leaves of Alpine Avens contain anthocyanin, an antifreeze-like pigment that converts sunlight to heat

*The Mount Goliath Natural Area (11,540′) contains Rocky Mountain bristlecone pine, wich are the oldest single living organism on earth, capable of living for thousands of years

Our first stop was Summit Lake Park.  It's the highest park in the Denver Mountain Park system.  The environment mirrors the arctic.  Luckily, we had our rain jackets in the car.

Our first stop was Summit Lake Park. It’s the highest park in the Denver Mountain Park system. The environment mirrors the arctic. Luckily, we had our rain jackets in the car.

 

We made it to the top!  We took the trail from the parking lot, and we could see most of the Continental Divide.

We made it to the top! We took the trail from the parking lot, and we could see most of the Continental Divide.

 

I was tickled by the mountain goats.

I was tickled by the mountain goats.

The views from the top were mind-blowing.  We also checked out the highest observatory in North America.  There used to be a restaurant called the Crest House, but it burned down in 1979.  We walked around the ruins.  I hope they bring it back.  What a place for a cup of coffee!

The views from the top were mind-blowing. We also checked out the highest observatory in North America. There used to be a restaurant called the Crest House, but it burned down in 1979. We walked around the ruins. I hope they bring it back. What a place for a cup of coffee!

One of my friends saying bye as we made our way back down the mountain.

One of my friends saying bye as we made our way back down the mountain.

The next morning we did a fitness class on Stand Up Paddleboards.  This was a first for me.  I made it until about the last 2 minutes of class before falling in.

The next morning we did a fitness class on Stand Up Paddleboards. This was a first for me. I made it until about the last 2 minutes of class before falling in.

That afternoon, we went to the Denver Botanic Gardens, where a Chihuly exhibit was going on. He's known for his glass work and the installation was seamlessly throughout the gardens.

That afternoon, we went to the Denver Botanic Gardens, where a Chihuly exhibit was going on. He’s known for his glass work and the installation was seamlessly throughout the gardens.

We finished out the day by lounging at the roof top pool, riding the Denver equivalent of Citibikes, having a delicious dinner at Root Down and drinks at Linger.

We finished out the day by lounging at the roof top pool, riding the Denver equivalent of Citibikes, having a delicious dinner at Root Down and drinks at Linger.

We packed a lot into 4 days.  I can’t wait to do it again.  The losers at Frontier Airlines wouldn’t let me on my flight Friday morning, but there was no way I was going to miss this:

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