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Leaf Peeping in the Time of Covid 9/21 - 10/1/2020

Leaf Peeping in the Time of Covid 9/21 - 10/1/2020

Old Oct 4th, 2020, 03:59 PM
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Leaf Peeping in the Time of Covid 9/21 - 10/1/2020

We thought long and hard about traveling during the pandemic but ultimately decided that we really needed a change of scenery after being mostly stuck at home for six months. We love seeing fall foliage and decided to head west to Colorado to see the aspens in their golden glory. We did a lot of research in an attempt to time our arrival during peak change, and Iím pleased to say that we succeeded. Our impression was that God used some of his best paints and finest brushes creating this amazing display!

We also wanted to test our new Subaru Ascent, and it performed just as weíd hoped. It easily handled steep roads, tight hairpin curves, and graveled, pot-holed roads but also provided a smooth, quiet ride on the open highway. We were able to drive as long as 9 hours in a day without feeling stiff and paralyzed as we have in other cars when we arrived at our destination.

We prepared to be as safe as we could be on this trip and packed lots of masks, hand sanitizer, and sanitizing wipes. As we entered each new lodging we cleaned every hard surface with Lysol spray, being especially careful with door handles, light switches and temperature controls, the TV remote control, the telephones, and the sink, shower, and door handles in the bathroom. We were pleased to find that all of the hotels required the wearing of masks in public areas, and Colorado had strong mask-wearing policies in both indoor and outdoor areas. They seemed to understand that the easiest way to keep their businesses open and people working is to follow the simple steps that keep Covid-19 under control Ė mask up, maintain social distancing, and wash hands or sanitize them frequently. In Aspen, the message was delivered with considerable humor.

We hadnít eaten in a restaurant since the pandemic began and minimized this exposure by eating breakfast in our room, packing lunch in a cooler to eat in the car or while sightseeing, and ordering pickup or seeking out restaurants with outdoor seating for most dinners. We did eat inside for a couple of dinners and found tables spaced widely apart. We removed our masks only while we were eating and were in and out of the restaurant as quickly as possible. Hand sanitizer was widely available and we made generous use of it.

There are, of course, no guarantees of safety with this virus but we felt pretty safe throughout our travels.

At the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs

Even the bears are wearing masks - At the Black Bear Diner in Colorado Springs

Brekenridge

Breckenridge

Breckenridge

Laurelwood Condominium in Snowmass

This helped to avoid the use of paper menus.

Masks were mandatory in Aspen

Reminder to engage in social distancing in Aspen

Humorous reminder to observe social distancing

Humorous reminder to observe social distancing

Humorous reminder to observe social distancing

Humorous reminder to observe social distancing

This is a relevant comparison in ski country!


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Old Oct 4th, 2020, 04:42 PM
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Day 1 Houston to Amarillo

Our son was up before we were and had waffles, bacon, and coffee ready for us to eat before we headed out. What a thoughtful surprise! We left home in Houston at 6:45, just in time to avoid the heavy rain that drenched the city for the next couple of days. We drove in rain on and off until we reached Dallas and then it was nice and clear. The local news in Amarillo said that there was a heavy haze from the smoke that drifted over from the western fires but we didn’t notice it coming into town when we arrived at 4 that afternoon. We settled into our room at Springhill Suites, ordered curbside pickup from Texas Longhorn Steakhouse, and ate in our room.

Day 2 Amarillo to Colorado Springs

The usual hotel breakfast buffets have been put on hold during the pandemic but there were plenty of packaged items to pick up and eat in our room. The scenery became more interesting as we passed into New Mexico and climbed through the Raton Pass and on to Colorado Springs. We arrived at out hotel, TownePlace Suites, and 1 and were able to unpack and headed immediately to the Garden of the Gods, a park with 300 feet high sandstone rock formations jutting out of the ground, set against the backdrop of Pikes Peak. We walked the various trails for a couple of hours and then drive around the entire park, stopping to see Balanced Rock and other formations. The site was smaller than I had anticipated and we wished for better signage on the trails, but it was an impressive introduction to Colorado and brought back memories of a previous trip through the national parks of southern Utah.


Garden of the Gods viewed from the Visitor's Center

Entrance to the Garden of the Gods

Viewing point in the Central Garden

Formation in the Central Garden

Trail in the Central Garden

Balanced Rock, taken on the drive around the Garden of the Gods

Taken on the drive around the Garden of the Gods

Taken on the drive around the Garden of the Gods

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Old Oct 7th, 2020, 05:45 PM
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Great that you're within driving distance of these beautiful areas! We'll be following along with your TR! Love the photos of the signs!
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Old Oct 7th, 2020, 07:11 PM
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Sounds like the start of a great trip. I hope we can get out west soon.

post some aspen pictures please, thanks
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Old Oct 13th, 2020, 07:38 AM
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drchris - reading with interest as we recently finished a 10 day road trip around our fair state and saw tons of Texas plates.

Curious - is Texas not doing what CO is in terms of COVID prevention signage?
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Old Oct 17th, 2020, 07:52 PM
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Covid prevention signage in Texas

Originally Posted by Melnq8
drchris - reading with interest as we recently finished a 10 day road trip around our fair state and saw tons of Texas plates.

Curious - is Texas not doing what CO is in terms of COVID prevention signage?
There are signs up in every business, grocery store, restaurant, doctor's office, gym, etc, that masks are required and I have seen them in public parks but haven't noticed signs out on the city streets (although I have to admit that I haven't gotten out much except to go to necessary places). Obviously in Colorado we were visiting tourist towns that depend on tourist dollars and the wording of the signs made it obvious that the motivation was not just to keep people healthy but to keep restaurants and shops open. In our area of Houston everyone wears a mask in the stores, etc. and some people wear them in outdoor spaces but mask wearing is more lax in other areas of the city.

I am pleased that Texas is not currently one of the states in which Covid cases are rising dramatically. Houston currently has a positivity rate below 5%. Free testing is readily available for free in our county and we were tested after we returned from our trip to make sure we didn't pick up an infection while we were out of town.

We also saw a lot of Texas tags. It has been so hot here for so long that many of us just needed an escape! Plus we don't really have autumn and I (being from Virginia originally) need a fall foliage fix every few years.
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Old Oct 17th, 2020, 07:59 PM
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Driving distance from Texas is relative!

Originally Posted by tomarkot
Great that you're within driving distance of these beautiful areas! We'll be following along with your TR! Love the photos of the signs!
One of the challenges of living in Texas is that it takes 10-12 hours of driving just to get out of the state when we're heading west from Houston! We spent 5 days just driving to and from Colorado and 7 days there.
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Old Oct 17th, 2020, 08:18 PM
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Day 3 Colorado Springs to Cripple Creek to Boreas Pass to Breckenridge Sept 23, 2020

We had a quick grab and go breakfast in our room at the hotel before heading out at 7:45. The pass we went through as we got onto Rt 24 out of Colorado Springs was beautiful, as were the areas approaching Cripple Creek and Victor Pass on Rt 67.


Cripple Creek, CO

Cripple Creek, CO

Our first real glimpse of aspens!

I think this may have been near Victor Pass

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Old Oct 17th, 2020, 08:32 PM
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Day 3 Colorado Springs to Cripple Creek to Boreas Pass to Breckenridge Sept 23, 2020 - Continued

We continued north on Rt 67 to Deckers and then onto Rt 126 until we turned east on Rt 285. The high plains of the Kenosha Pass between Grant and Jefferson was a different kind of beauty and reminded me of scenes from the old west.

At Como, we headed north on Rt 33 through the Boreas Pass, which was a white-knuckle experience at times as cars inched past each other on sometimes very narrow roads and we found ourselves just inches from the outer edge with no guard rail. The gravel, pot-holed road made for a bumpy ride and the scenery on the way to the peak at the Continental Divide wasnít especially pretty. Fortunately the way down from there to Breckenridge was beautiful, with several tunnels of aspens along the road. We were surprised to see a number of people walking or biking up the steep incline.



At the Continental Divide on Boreas Pass


Boreas Pass Road


I think this is Kenosha Pass on Rt 285 between Grant and Como


Boreas Pass Road
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Old Oct 18th, 2020, 06:41 PM
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Arriving in Breckenridge

Day 3 Colorado Springs to Cripple Creek to Boreas Pass to Breckenridge Sept 23, 2020 (Continued)

As we completed the Boreas Pass road, the view of the Breckenridge ski runs came into view, and we quickly arrived at Beaver Run Resort, where we had reserved a condo for four nights. It was still too early to check in, so we had a picnic lunch on the outdoor tables near one of the ski lifts and then drove to French Gulch Road on the outskirts of town as I had read that it had large groves of aspens. It was a delight, especially when we got out of the car to walk beneath the soaring trees.


Driving into Breckenridge and seeing the ski runs.

French Gulch Road on the edge of Breckenridge

French Gulch Road on the edge of Breckenridge
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Old Oct 18th, 2020, 07:06 PM
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Checking into Beaver Run Resort

Day 3 Breckenridge Sept 23, 2020 (continued)

When we received a call that our condo was ready, we returned to the resort to check in. Each unit is individually owned and decorated so we didnít know what to expect but were very pleased with the dťcor of our rooms. We were in building 2, 3rd floor, unit 210 and were very pleased with the dťcor of our rooms, which included a homey sitting area with sofa bed and chair, a wood-burning fireplace with a big screen TV above it (and access to lots of channels), a dining table that seats 6, a well-equipped kitchen with a counter area that seats 3; a bedroom with an exceptionally comfortable king-size bed; and a bathroom with plenty of towels and lovely toiletries. From our balcony we could see the mountains and one of the ski lifts. The unit was spotlessly clean and Covid restrictions were observed throughout the resort and in the village of Breckenridge, which had a mandatory mask order. Parking was convenient to our rooms.

Beaver Run has 4 multistory buildings of rooms plus the conference center, restaurants, a small market, spa, a heated pool that is part indoors and part outdoors, 7 hot tubs, a fitness center, tennis courts, and a game area with indoor miniature golf, video games, pool tables, etc. It was a ski in-ski out resort as the ski lifts and ski runs come right up to the resort. Itís pretty quiet right now but Iím sure it bustles during ski season. This was a perfect base for exploring the many scenic drives in this area.
Beaver Run Resort, Building 2, Unit 210

Beaver Run Resort, Building 2, Unit 210

Beaver Run Resort, Building 2, Unit 210

Beaver Run Resort, Building 2, Unit 210

Beaver Run Resort, Building 2, Unit 210

Beaver Run Resort, Building 2, Unit 210 - view from our balcony

Beaver Run Resort, Building 2, Unit 210 - view from our balcony

Beaver Run Resort heated indoor/outdoor pool

Beaver Run Resort hot tubs
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Old Oct 19th, 2020, 05:33 PM
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Exploring Breckenridge

Day 3 Breckenridge Sept 23, 2020 (continued)

Breckenridge Village

Looking down one of the main street in Breckenridge Village

Some streets were closed to vehicle traffic to create more space for outdoor dining.

Chairs made from skis

Celebrating the miners who were an important part of Colorado history

Ullr, Scandinavian snow god and protector of those who participate in winter sports

I thought this was so funny!

We unpacked, explored the resort, ate a quick dinner in the condo, and then caught the Free Ride bus from in front of the resort into the village of Breckenridge, a quintessential ski village filled with hotels and condos, shops, and restaurants. Some of the streets were blocked off to pedestrianize them and create more space for outdoor dining. It was a Wednesday and the village was much quieter than we had expected, with few people out and about. We stayed until it was dark, and in the mountains with no light pollution, that means itís DARK. We couldnít find the stop to catch the bus back to the resort and ended walking a half mile uphill. It doesnít sound like much, but with 33% less oxygen at an altitude of 9600 feet, it was challenging for me, although Bill did OK as he had been working out for several weeks. After a long day, we were glad to find an exceptionally comfortable bed and lots of fluffy pillows. (Note: Usually the resort has a shuttle but it has been suspended during the pandemic.)
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