This year it was Nick’s turn to plan the anniversary trip.  We ended up in Vail Valley, staying in Avon and exploring the entire valley.  It was a bit early to see fall colors but we found some good yellow Aspens! Ivan enjoyed getting away with us as well and we slowed down enough to drive over Guanella Pass on the way home.

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This year we celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary by taking an extended weekend in Crested Butte and surrounding area.  We took a couple of days off work and headed out on a Thursday morning.  We were anticipating seeing some Aspen leaves changing, but it was a bit early.  We enjoyed driving over Kebler Pass and into Paonia where we found a delicious farm to table cafe. We also tested 4 local wineries: Black Bridge, Stone Cottage Cellars, Terror Creek Winery, and Azura Cellars. Paonia is the “Palasade” of the east side of the Grand Mesa, so the fruit is abundant; however they tend to make their wines in a smaller more “European” style (so we were told).  We really enjoyed visiting with the wine makers. We then drove down along the eastern edge of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and back up to CB. The next day we decided to drive another road called Ohio Pass with better fall colors and paused for a short hike up to Beaver Ponds. We ended the day with dinner at Garlic Mike’s right outside of Gunnison.  This was the same restaurant we had dinner the evening we got married!  The food was delicious!!! When we left it was rainy which provided some different scenery for photos and we decided to drive a different route up to Taylor  Park Reservoir and Cottonwood Pass to Cottonwood Lake. It was a great weekend to get away and relax.

 

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IMG_0040IMG_0075IMG_0110The past month and a half has been busy with traveling, however the past 4 weekends we have been out of town completely.  It started with the Palisade wine festival as part of our 7th anniversary.  On our way to Palisade, we stopped to hike Hanging Lake before driving the rest of the way to Grand Junction.  It is unique.

A friend invited us to help pour for Talon Brands Wine and we readily agreed and worked out the details to also stay with her at her brother’s house.  Nick and I poured for St. Kathryn‘s which specializes in fruit wine.  They are known for their very distinctive Lavender Wine, which is a Riesling based with strong Lavender flavors.  We had a fabulous time leaving on Thursday evening and crashing in Glenwood Springs after visiting Glenwood Brewery. We thoroughly enjoyed wine, excellent food, and company all weekend.

On our way back we enjoyed a drive through CO National Monument and due to a terrible accident and construction headed on Highway 9 over Hoosier Pass to get back to Denver on 285.  We hit snow flurries, I do not think it was the first mountain snow flurries, but it was early to see it. (9/22/13)

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The weekend after the wine fest, Nick and I flew down with his company for the Catapult Systems 20th anniversary party.  It was a quick trip, barely gone for 24 hours.  It was fun to hang out in Austin with some of his coworkers and spouses.  Upon arriving we headed for a late lunch at Salt Lick Barbeque. It was phenomenal!! The company through a huge party held at the Austin Music Hall!

Then the next two weekends we have been in New Mexico on vacation.  An unexpected change of events that will be in more detail in posts to follow.

We love to take quick weekend getaways to a new town in Colorado every year for our anniversary.  This year’s surprise selection was planned by Nicolas.  However, he didn’t know where we were going until two days prior when he had Kara draw from a hat.  Out of 5 possible locations, Red Feather Lakes (northwest of Fort Collins) was the luck-of-the-draw.  The area of Red Feather is well-known for its high altitude lakes that dot the country.  We stayed in a little red cabin out in the middle of virtually nowhere, with stunning views all around.

Around the cabin we had tremendous relaxation, enjoying each other by leisurely hanging out on the outside deck, wine, games, cooking, and reading.  We also spent several hours taking off-road trails to several lakes, all while taking plenty of photos too.  With recent rain in the area, the aspen trees had not yet begun to change into their autumn colors, aside from a very few and small patches.  Though we were able to visit the village of Red Feather, it had very little of anything at all to offer.  But that’s OK because we were there for the mountainous experience.

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As most of you may know, we surprise each other every year with a weekend excursion to visit a town in Colorado that we have not previously toured.  This year’s responsibility belonged to Kara to surprise Nicolas; our trip was to the Salida/Poncha Springs region!

Despite having honeymooned in Gunnison (a mere 65 miles due west) and having been many times in the nearer Buena Vista (visiting the Coates’ family), we have not managed to explore the towns on our own.  The neat thing about this area is that there are many 14’ers (e.g. HUGE mountains), great off-road trails, and full groves of aspen trees already wearing their autumn dress.

The best route from Denver is US-285 down to US-50.  Arriving at Kenosha Pass, we stumbled upon a simple forest road that headed west of 285.  Since we were unable to do any off-roading this past summer, we took the opportunity to see what lay in the back woods, especially since Kenosha is well-known for its fall colors.  While it was gorgeous scenery, darkness soon crept upon us and still had over an hour drive to reach our destination.

Friday was the actual day of our anniversary, so we couldn’t not go out for dinner and a night on the town.  However, we arrived in Salida at 9 PM, and restaurants have already gone to bed by then!  The only thing open was the local grocery store.  So we grabbed some fancy meat, cheese, crackers, and olives then settled with a bottle of wine at the table in our hotel.  It wasn’t maybe the ideal dinner, but it certainly satisfied!

Saturday was a lazy, relaxing day.  We explored the Salida downtown area, enjoyed coffee at a local roastery, had a picnic lunch along the Arkansas River (with the same horderves from the previous night!), visited a local winery, did more off-roading (on class 1/2 trails) in the afternoon and finished the day with a 3-course dinner at a quaint Italian restaurant in Poncha Springs.

For Sunday, we felt that we had experienced enough of the town of Salida and the real gem of the day lay in the gold of the mountains.  Guess what we decided to do?  More off-roading!!  However, this time we wanted to kick it up a notch and do a class 3 trail on Tin Cup pass.

What we didn’t expect is to find the trail had class 4 spots, which are still easily navigable in Pearl but caution is still advised.  Our first challenge was getting beyond another vehicle that broke down in the middle of the trail almost at the summit.  Then there was a huge rock – we couldn’t around, only over it with just enough clearance not to do any serious damage.

After that we finally reached the summit.  Then we had to travel down a very, very rocky stretch downward to Mirror Lake.  Finally we reached smoother forest roads, taking us through the actual town of Tin Cup, beyond the high alpine Taylor Reservoir, and up-and-over Cottonwood Pass, which dropped us into Buena Vista!

It was a fantastic weekend.  Thank you Kara in planning the adventure!  If you reading this posting via email, please visit the blog to a slideshow of all pictures…..

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As most of you know, Kara and I take a weekend trip for our anniversary to explore other towns in Colorado that we would not otherwise normally visit. These excursions are always a surprise to one of us as we switch years to secretly plan the getaway. Additionally, we save money through the year in order to have a nice dinner wherever we are at.

For this year, our third anniversary, it was Nicolas’ turn to surprise Kara. We went to the Florence/Canon City area home of the Royal Gorge. In the mornings, we spent an hour or more at a local coffee shop in Florence, reading and playing games.  Then our evenings were spent vegging in the hotel room with our last bottle of wine from our trip to Italy.  Instead of a fancy evening dinner out, we had a “gourmet” meal on the Royal Gorge Route Railroad (the train which goes through the canon under the bridge. Also, there was a wine festival going on at a local winery, with food, wine (of course), and music, which we visited for a couple of hours after our gourmet meal.

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Kara and I passed our 2nd anniversary last week.  As a surprise, she made reservations for us at a nice bed and breakfast, right on Main street in Frisco, CO.  We left Friday morning so that we could take a slow, scenic route over Boreas Pass – which is the way we went to Breckenridge last year for our anniversary trip!  Check out the below picture, does it look familiar?  Click on the picture to see what it looked like last year at this time!

Here are some more pictures of our trip over Boreas Pass

 

In the early afternoon we then arrived in Frisco.  Friday evening we spent walking around and exploring downtown Frisco, relaxed in the hot tub, and had dinner at a cajun restaurant.

Saturday, we participated in the innagural “Bettle Fest”, a festival to raise funds for relief of those affected by the beetle kill.  At least I think that it was the festival was for!  Oh ya, I guess it was to raise awareness too…or something like that.  We listened to live music and at a turkey leg that was so large that it was almost too much for us!  We also explored the historic buildings which were preserved and put into their main park.  It was really quite nice.  The evening was spent playing games, drinking wine, and more hot tubbin’.

Sunday we spent time hiking and trying to do Geo caching.  We weren’t successful, but will hopefully try again.  On the way home that evening, we stopped in Georgetown for dinner and ice cream.  Instead of taking the boring (I-70) route back, we went over Guenella pass.  Unfortunately we left a little too late from Georgetown so did not catch the sunset over the mountains.

 

 

 

 

Uh….I don’t think this GPS is working.