Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Colorado camping

After a last-minute scramble for reservations I landed on an itinerary and we loaded the car for a 4th of July weekend family trip! Somehow with our move, projects on our new house, and other plans, it had been almost two years since our last getaway for just our family of four and we couldn’t wait to make some memories together. My ever-favorite part of these trips is having Erik off work and project-free to focus on family activities. I also couldn’t wait to reintroduce the kids to camping after our long hiatus.

There didn’t seem to be a single campground opening for our first night in Colorado. Some places just played messages assuring the caller of the lack of availability for the week of the 4th and others dismissed my request, but I did find a deal on a 5-star hotel for $105/night, so we spent night one in Telluride luxury.

We all loved the complimentary gondola that whisks passengers from the slopes in Mountain Village to downtown Telluride. Fascinating mechanics plus stunning views and a couple fun little bumps made the local transportation a top-notch attraction!  Then there was pizza dinner al fresco and ice cream.

That night I may have tested the limits of luxury at a five-star hotel with a phone call to guest services. It turns out that even if you ask politely, bubble bath is not among the wide range of toiletries available upon request. So our pampered progeny just had to make do with a little baby shampoo in the tub.

The next morning we tried an early hike on the Bear Creek trail. It was a beautiful path but the kids’ patience for the uphill climb fizzled quickly and so we didn’t get too far before heading back to town.

It was a good thing we returned though, because everyone was arriving early to stake out a piece of sidewalk in anticipation of the famed Telluride 4th of July parade!

My favorite part was the Main Street fly-overs by several local pilots. What a thrill to see them swoop down the mountain and buzz overhead!

It was a heartwarming, quirky and authentic small town affair. I was touched by their recognition of veterans and patriotic spirit. But the sense of fairytale town couldn’t last indefinitely. I broke my hard candy ban and let Luke try one of the lifesavers that were thrown to the crowd during the parade. Next thing I knew he was choking and as soon as we stepped away from the sidelines he vomited it and his breakfast onto the sidewalk. C’est la vie. Thankfully it was nothing that water and paper towels couldn’t fix and we were all in high spirits when we left the Telluride festivities. Our next stop was a Durango campground where we’d snatched up a cancelled creekside site for the next two nights.

We set up camp, waded in the creek, and cooked up a quickie camping dinner.

There were laughs to be had at the tetherball pole in the old-fashioned campground playground,

and the sound of the rain on the tent as we slept. Getting the kids to fall asleep was a herculean task, but awaking the next morning with the birds chirping and their sweetly sleeping faces reset my enthusiasm for our camping endeavor.

After breakfast there was coffee by the creek and an investigation of the mysterious bubbles rising from a rock in the water.

The bubbles’ origin remained indecipherable, so we moved on to building a bridge of stones and general splashing.

Then we drove in to Durango to check out their riverside park, have a picnic, and spectate the often-bumping river rafts.

Hoping for car seat naps for the kiddos, we drove up the Million Dollar Highway to Silverton, CO. We pulled off to check out the jaw-dropping scenery at Molas Lakes campground, my top pick camping spot in the area.

We walked around Silverton, an old mining town that’s still a bit rough around the edges with a somewhat garish Old West strip of shops and restaurants. But its scenery was stunning and there was a magic to seeing the old steam-powered train roll through.

Then we drove back down to Durango, stopped in at a kids’ museum, and soaked up the evening back at our campsite.

We slept to the sweet sound of falling rain and reluctantly packed up to leave the next morning. We hope to return soon to Lightner Creek, Molas Lakes, or some other pretty camping corner of the Southwest!

{More pics here.}

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