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Trip Report Beaver Creek, CO Trip Report

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Last month I asked for advice on things to see and do on our trip to Beaver Creek, CO, so I thought I’d follow up with a trip report. This trip came up suddenly in May, when a friend gave us his time share week in a condo in Avon, just outside of Beaver Creek. DH and I would be driving from Chicago with our two teenage sons.

Day 1

We drop George off at the kennel and hit the road at 8:30 am. (George is the dog, not a kid.) We’re leaving behind sticky, 90 degree weather and we’re drenched with sweat just packing up the Tahoe.

Tom18 had recommended we visit the Amana Colonies in Iowa, but as we pass it on the highway we decide we’re not ready to stop just yet. Hopefully we’ll catch it on the way home, as I would like to see it. After 593 miles on the road, we stop for the night in Grand Island, NE. Pizza for dinner and a swim in the pool at the Super 8 is a relaxing way to end our first day on the road.

Day 2

We leave Grand Island at 8 am and head West. As we approach Gothenburg, NE, we see signs for the original Pony Express station and I talk DH into stopping. He’d rather keep driving, but I know just what to say to convince him: “We can take pictures.” I think I’ve found the key to getting him to make detours, but as we leave Gothenburg behind and approach the site of Buffalo Bill’s ranch he decides enough is enough. Ground must be covered. The bookworm in me thrills as we pass Ogallala, NE, though. Lonesome Dove fans can relate.

DS1 and I play Travel Scrabble as DH drives. I beat him, then he beats me, then I beat him, and by then we’ve dropped so many of those little tiles down between the seats that we can’t play a decent game anymore.

Everyone gets excited as we approach Denver. Watching the mountains get bigger and bigger on the horizon is much better than, well, anything we’ve seen yet. We drive West out of Denver on I-70 and soon discover the Tahoe is having a problem tackling the hills. It doesn’t want to accelerate on an incline, and we become increasingly worried that we won’t make it to our destination. About 20 miles outside of Vail, we begin to smell burning rubber. Oh shit. This can’t be good. Fortunately for us, but not so much for the driver, we pass a semi with flames shooting out of its brakes near the rear tires. These are some serious hills!

This doesn’t mean our worries are over, as the Tahoe does not respond any better than it had been. At one point, even the GPS lady was concerned about us. Trudging up a hill at about 45 MPH, she asked, “Are you tired? Perhaps you should stop for a rest.” The GPS then lost its suction and fell off the windshield altogether. Not a good sign. We limped into the parking lot at the Christie Lodge in Avon, CO about 4:00 pm. Hoping that all the truck needs is a good cool-down, we check in and lug all our stuff up to our condo. It’s compact at 400 square feet, but we manage to wedge all our belongings into the two rooms. After we’re settled in, we set of in search of a grocery store to stock up for the week. Dinner is chicken and beef kabobs purchased from the meat counter and grilled on our patio. The boys wind down with a swim, and Day 2 comes to a close.

Day 3

I had been looking forward to visiting the Vail Farmers’ Market this morning. However, we weren’t trusting the truck for anything more than short trips on flat roads until we could get it looked at on Monday. That ruled out a trip into Vail. Bummer. Instead, we drove to the Beaver Creek Resort, parked at the bottom, and took the free shuttle bus up to the village. How pretty everything is up there! The homes are beautiful, the scenery is magnificent, and it’s a gorgeous day. After walking around the village a bit, we set off for an easy hike on the family trail, a 1 mile hike that ends at the Beaver Lake trailhead. It’s an easy path through the woods alongside the creek (Beaver Creek?) that trickles down the mountainside. DS2 has been put in charge of the photography, and he takes some awesome, postcard-quality pictures.

We have an early lunch at Blue Moon Pizza. Sitting outside in the shade we’re able to enjoy the breeze and watch a funny German Shepard cavort in the splash fountain nearby. Hawaiian pizza and frolicking pooches in a beautiful setting – this is the life! We return to the condo for a swim and have a lazy afternoon trying to keep the boys from getting bored until the truck is fixed and we can really explore the area. A walk around Nottingham Lake helps. We spot at least a dozen chipmunks darting across the paths, but they don’t quite measure up to the 3 bighorn sheep we saw yesterday as we drove West from Denver. They had come right down to the roadside to nibble on the vegetation there.

After steaks grilled on the patio for dinner, we head out for an evening hike. However, a light rain begins to fall, so instead we head to Edwards to see Inception. Good movie – go see it!

Day 4

DH heads back to Edwards to get the truck looked at while the boys and I sleep in. He’s back sooner than expected, and it’s good news. It was just a combination of overheating/the altitude/cheap gas. Looks like she’ll make it. We pack a cooler and head to Glenwood Springs for the day. I-70 into Glenwood Springs is a beautiful drive! The boys and I zipline across the Colorado River as DH keeps his feet planted firmly on the ground, snapping photos. What an adventure – ziplining is something we’d always wanted to try, and it’s FUN. Back at the condo for more swimming – I see a pattern forming here – and burgers on the grill for dinner. We’re all beat from ziplining today, so we decide to just hang out at the condo rather than set out for an evening hike.

Day 5

Everyone sleeps in longer than any day yet, but we finally head out around 10 am. Back to Beaver Creek Village, this time for a chairlift ride up the mountain. From the base, we can see a summit not too far up, and we assume that’s the top. As we crest that summit, though, we can see that it’s more like ¼ of the way up. The lift continues to take us higher, and we marvel at how still and peaceful everything is this high up. Occasionally a hiker crosses below us, and we finally reach our destination, Spruce Saddle Lodge. As high up as we are, 10,200 feet, this isn’t even the summit. That’s another 1,200 feet up.

The view from up here is breathtaking, and we take in the sights before heading back down. Most of the other lift riders have hauled bikes up the mountain with them, to ride back down on a narrow dirt road. We ride the lift down, though, and are treated to the sight of a deer running along the hiking path that crosses beneath us. Back in the village DH and I chill in the shade while the boys explore another hiking trail.

Back at the condo our afternoon agenda kicks in: Lunch, swims, naps and dinner, then out for an evening hike.

Day 6

We manage to get a morning hike in before it starts to rain. Then it’s back to the condo for lunch and a rousing game of Monopoly while we wait out the storm. It’s finished by dinner, so we head back to Beaver Creek Village to hike the trail up to Beaver Lake. We had not yet been up there in the evening, and it’s very cool and serene. Unfortunately, we all poop out before reaching the lake, so it remains unseen.

Day 7

We have a lazy morning at the pool, then venture out to the Saltwater Cowboy for lunch. This is a bar advertising seafood and wild game dishes. The boys are excited to try the food. DS1 has an elk burger and DS2 has buffalo chili. My lunch is a little more mundane, a salad with fried chicken. DH has stayed back at the condo to get some work done.

In the afternoon we visit Vail, and, frankly, we prefer Beaver Creek Village. It’s ten times more picturesque. Vail is too jam-packed with condos. We did spend some time at the Gerald Ford park walking along the river. What is up with everything out here being named after him, anyway? I thought he was from Michigan (by way of Omaha)? Ahh – apparently he was an avid skier and Vail was his “second home.” Thanks, Google.

We head back to Avon for dinner at Fiesta Jalisco, and everyone fills up on Mexican food. Man, that’s some hot salsa! Tomorrow we head home, so the rest of the evening is spent packing up. George Carlin’s comedy skit about how you live in a house, surrounded by all your shit, then you go on vacation and you have to take a subset of all that shit with you, comes to mind.

Days 8 & 9
We hit the road at 8 am and head toward Denver. DH and the boys want to see the Mile High Stadium (Invesco Field), so a detour is required. After pictures outside the stadium, we head East and spend the night in Omaha. The next morning we decide to push straight through to home in order to get the dog from the kennel today. If we miss their 4:00 closing he’s in there until Monday. We’re home by 3 pm, unload the truck and learn that our hometown had 8 inches of rain last night. We were lucky – just that one afternoon of rain and the weather the rest of the week was clear, sunny, and cool. I understand the rest of the country didn’t have it so lucky. Well, that was our week in Colorado – pictures to follow.

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