Colorado Adventure (Page 3)

Photos and writeup by Trevor Freeman. January 2009.

July 17, 2008 - Day Four
Glenwood Springs, CO

For the first time on the trip I woke up feeling very well rested. We ate the continental breakfast that the hotel provided, which was across the street in the pool house building. Everyone was using these very tiny cups near the juice dispenser for their juice, but I grabbed a larger sized cup from the coffee machine and enjoyed a regular sized cup of orange juice with my breakfast.

View of Glenwood Springs from Iron Mountain We began the busiest day of the trip with another dip in the hot springs. The smell of sulfur sure wakes you up in the morning! After swimming, we checked out of the hotel and drove to Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. Because Glenwood Caverns is located on top of a mountain, visitors must enter via tram ride. As we rode the tram 4,300 feet up the side of Iron Mountain, we were treated to a fantastic view of Glenwood Springs.

The main attraction at Glenwood Caverns is the caverns themselves. The park has a one hour guided tour that covers both the upper and lower rooms. Dad chose to sit this one out, so I went on the tour by myself. The upper room was alright, but it wasn't anything special. The trail led through the mountain to the other side, and came out at "Inspiration Point." The second room had all of the good stuff, like the "soda straw" formations and a huge room with dramatic lighting. It was awesome!

Dad and I purchased tickets for the Alpine Slide, which got me very excited. I had ridden an Alpine Slide once before in New Hampshire, at the Attitash Mountain Resort near Mt. Washington. I was eager to feel the rush once again. We got in line and I watched the people in front of us get into the carts.

Riding the alpine slide Something did not look right about the carts. They had seatbelts and padding. There were one and two-person carts. Worst of all, the carts were attached to the track! This was nothing like the other alpine slide I remembered. There was no chance of flying off and getting hurt if you misjudged your speed going into a turn. It may has well have been a Volvo on rails.

I realized that because the cart was attached to the track and because I was strapped in to the cart, the handbrake would not be necessary at all. I set off down the mountain and was picking up speed with every corner. Just as things were getting really fun, signs along the track warned riders to slow down. There was a lift mechanism to bring the carts back up the hill. The last minute or two of the ride was scenic and peaceful. The ride wasn't what I expected, though it was safe and still pretty fun.

Dad and I left the park at 1 o'clock in the afternoon and ate lunch. I was feeling very full as we drove towards our next adventure: the Linwood Cemetery, where famous gunfighter John Henry "Doc" Holliday is believed to be buried. I say "believed" because the location of his actual grave is lost to history, but the Frontier Historical Society has evidence that he is in there somewhere.

Unlike the Caverns, the cemetery does not have a tram ride to take you to the top. It was a good steep hike, especially after you've just eaten. We located the Doc's grave, but the batteries in my camera were dying and I could not take pictures of any other memorials. I noticed that someone had scratched "Rest in Peace Doc" into the fence surrounding his headstone. Other visitors had left the Doc some mementos like coins and playing cards as a nod to his notorious gambling career.

Bike path along Interstate 70 We trekked down the mountain and drove back to the hotel, where I was looking forward to resting a bit. On the other hand, dad was ready to keep going! He was adamant about renting some bikes from the bike shop near our hotel. Less than an hour after hiking down from the mountain, we were pedaling along the bike path that parallels Interstate 70 and the Colorado River.

The bike shop set us up with a pair of "Giant Sedona DX" mountain bikes with 24-speed Shimano drivetrains. The huge 26" wheels and front suspension were surprisingly easy to get used to. This was like the Sport-Utility Vehicle of bikes compared to my 20" BMX bike. I was starting to figure out which gears worked best for climbing hills and which gears worked best for flat terrain. Dad seemed to be struggling with the shifters and was pedaling furiously. We climbed a couple of strenuous hills and I was out of breath after the second one.

Some kindhearted soul had placed a cooler full of Gatorade bottles at the corner of their lawn for passing cyclists. We dropped a couple of bucks in the donation jar and I took a long drink of the purple beverage. We followed the paved trail for 5 miles and came to a rest stop where lots of other cyclists had stopped for a bathroom break. This was our turnaround point, and we started heading back after sticking our hands in the Colorado River.

I'm not exactly out of shape, but I'm not used to riding ten miles a day either. When we turned in our bikes, my face was on fire and I was covered in sweat. I was ready for a cool shower, but we had to get to our hotel room first. Dad had only booked one night at the Hot Springs Lodge because it was $180 dollars a night. He had spent a ton of money on the trip so far, especially with gas ranging from $4.03 to $4.75 per gallon. I wondered why he wanted to go on this trip so badly when we have a hot tub and bikes at home.

Glenwood Motor Inn The Glenwood Motor Inn was nowhere near as fancy as the Hot Springs Lodge. Room #215 was missing a few light bulbs and the decor was out of date ten years ago, but I was too tired to care. Those problems paled in comparison to the world's most uncomfortable shower. I had hoped a shower would be relaxing, but it had the opposite effect. The water felt like thousands of needles raining upon my skin; it was pure torture! The room was clean but did not have much else going for it. There wasn't even an alarm clock.

We ate a late dinner at the Village Inn directly across the street from our hotel. By this point in the trip, dad and I were getting on each other's nerves. We went swimming, biking, and hiking in the same day; this was more like a freaking triathlon than a vacation! I went to bed wondering if my old man has a hyperactive thyroid gland or something.

July 18, 2008 - Day Five
Glenwood Springs to Phoenix, AZ (685 mi)

Our route back to Arizona Ah, the last day of the trip. We got up early and ate breakfast on the road as we left Glenwood Springs. I reflected all of the things I didn't miss about home as I munched on my Burger King hash browns. Rather than going home the same way we got there, we took Interstate 70 through Grand Junction. Dad wanted to stop at the casino on the way home but I talked him out of it.

We ate breakfast at Burger King, lunch at Taco Bell, and dinner at McDonalds. My poor arteries! We made it back to Phoenix in one day because we stopped only to refuel and eat. The only picture I took on the way home was of the weird landscape along Interstate 70. We changed drivers a few times. We got home before the sun went down and I slept in my own bed that night.

Overall the trip was pretty cool and I'm glad I went. My favorite part was the driving, especially along the road from Durango to Silverton. I thought Ouray was neat, too. Colorado has a lot to offer the outdoorsy, adventurous type of person. I hope that someday I will have time to go back and actually enjoy Colorado on my own terms without being pressured to rush off to the next adventure.

-Trevor Freeman
17 January 2009