Colorado Adventure (Page 2)

Photos and writeup by Trevor Freeman. January 2009.

July 16, 2008 - Day Three
Ouray, Colorado to Glenwood Springs, Colorado (177 mi)

Once again, I slept restlessly and felt tired when it was time to get up. The hotel had a free continental breakfast that was better than most, and we ate well before checking out. Today I would get to see what the town of Ouray was all about.

Old building in Ouray, CO Some of the travel brochures in our hotel room called Ouray, Colorado "the Switzerland of America." When you think about it, they are both nestled high in the mountains and thrive on tourism and skiing. The buildings in downtown Ouray looked very old fashioned, like what I imagine Switzerland looks like.

There was a Toyota FJ jamboree in town that week, which was a very big event from the looks of it. Everywhere you looked there were Toyota 4x4's, from the classic FJ40 to the new FJ Cruiser. Every single one of them was covered in mud and driven by some guy with a huge smile on his face. The whole town was crawling with Toyotas!

Dad and I started the day by checking out Cascade Falls, a giant waterfall just a few blocks off the main road. We parked the car and hiked about 1/4 mile uphill to the falls. It was not an especially steep hike, but I felt tired more quickly than usual due to the elevation. The falls were coming from a cliff of such great height that the water was like a heavy mist at the bottom. You could get as close as you wanted to the base of the falls, but the idea of getting soaked at 8AM did not exactly thrill me.

Box Canyon Falls From there we drove to an even bigger waterfall called Box Canyon Falls. The cost to visit this one was $3 dollars per person. Visiting the upper part required climbing several flights of stairs that seemed to go straight up. The 500-foot trail gained 200 feet of elevation, which made for a very steep climb. At the top there was a small bridge that crossed over the box canyon. The canyon was very deep but not especially wide, and the water seemed to be miles below us.

After taking some pictures, we ventured down to the base of the falls where we found the real action. The force of rushing water crashing through the narrow canyon could be heard long before the falls came into view. A metal walkway directed us to a flight of rusted stairs that ended at the water's edge. It was cold, loud, and totally awesome!

We left Ouray just before 10AM, and I drove from there to Carbondale, Colorado. The drive was long but not difficult. Carbondale gave me some weird vibes and I was glad to get out of there after we changed drivers. I don't know what it was, but the town didn't seem to have a beginning or an end. The sky was overcast and there was a weird smell like diesel fuel everywhere. Dad drove the last stretch to Glenwood Springs where we checked in to the Hot Springs Lodge.

Room #336 was very plush with thick carpeting and huge comfortable beds. I connected my ancient laptop to the Ethernet jack in the room, which was far better than the crappy wireless Internet connections I had used so far. There wasn't much time to surf the web though, because dad was eager to get down to the hot springs. We put our swimsuits on and walked over to the hot springs. Conveniently enough, they were directly across the street from the hotel.

Glenwood Hot Springs The Glenwood Hot Springs are accessible through a red sandstone building that dates back to 1890. Back then it was the original Hot Springs Lodge. Today it houses the spa, fitness center, bathhouse, and gift shop. With our hands stamped and towels in hand we headed outside.

The odor of sulfur in the air was noticeable, but not overwhelming. For some reason, I had expected the hot springs to be little more than a glorified swimming hole. I imagined the place would be quiet and pretty empty on a weekday. Someone should have told me that Glenwood Hot Springs is world-famous for being the largest natural hot spring pool on earth!

As I surveyed the pool area, two things became apparent: I was totally wrong about the size of the place and about how busy it would be. Not only was the place packed on a weekday, it was huge! Everywhere I looked there were large groups of retirement-age folks and families with small children. I could count on one hand the number of people who were my age. Just like the Alaskan Cruise, I was probably the youngest person who chose to be there.

There were two pools, a smaller one and a larger one. Both of the pools did not look anything like a natural hot spring. In fact, they were perfectly shaped rectangles with non-slip decks. They also had hand railings, steps, and benches. Apart from the size and the gray-colored water, they looked like every other public pool I had ever been to. Warm water bubbled up from holes in the bottom of the pool, and I wondered how the pools are filtered.

Glenwood Hot Springs The smaller pool was known as the therapy pool, and it was about 104°F. I could only stay in a short while before switching to the other pool which was both larger and cooler at 98°F. The west end of the big pool was divided into lanes for swimming laps and there was a water slide at the far corner. The therapy pool had some coin-operated bubble chairs which dad and I tried out.

We swam until we were wrinkled, and then went in search of dinner. We found a little restaurant not far from the hotel and waited a full 30 minutes for a table. The place was literally a basement and there was nowhere to sit as we waited. Once we were seated though, the food and the service were excellent. Went back to the room and I barely had time to check my email before crashing in the gigantic bed.

The Colorado Adventure story continues on the next page.
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