• Jessica Stough

Colorado Camping Vacation - Pt. 2

“Travel makes one modest, you see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” – Gustave Flaubert


There are few things in this world that really put things into perspective the way travel does. To start, there is just something about visiting a new place for the first time. Granted, we do go back to some of the same places each time we visit Colorado, but we also make sure to visit new locations there. Exploring places we’ve never been always ensures a good time.


Not only is it about visiting new places, but it is also about being out in nature. Being out there in the mountains really grounds a person and brings them back to reality. This, for me, typically hits on certain hikes. Sometimes, when I’m looking around at my surroundings – the trees around me, the giant mountains surrounding us on every side, and the rocks that make up those mountains – it reminds me how seriously small and insignificant I am compared to everything else out there.

It also, though, reminds me how big the world is. It reminds me there is still so much out there for us to explore. It reminds me that the world will continue to spin and things will continue to go on with or without me. It makes me think more in-depth, though, on what I can do to keep the world spinning and going on – like recycling, being sure to leave no trace, and just being the best person I can be. Likewise, it makes me want to get out there and share my stories with others, whether it be so they can experience traveling vicariously through me or that it may spur them to go on their own adventures.


What I do know is that, even if traveling can make one feel small and insignificant, it also makes a person appreciate everything they have and get to do. It makes a person appreciate the day-to-day, the little things in life, and every moment they get the opportunity to experience. It can all be summed up by simply saying that traveling is just nothing short of magic.


Now, as promised, I will delve into the second half of our recent Colorado trip!


Day 5


On the fifth day of our trip, after staying the night near Tarryall, we drove toward Lake George. We didn’t spend a ton of time in town – we mostly wanted to check out the scenic drive – but I did find a list of things to do in the area here. We did find miles upon miles of OHV trails. We decided to go ahead and check a few of them out in the truck – and they were really fun. The trails we found definitely make me want a dirtbike or other OHV.

We also stumbled across Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument. We were less than 10 minutes away when I found it on the map, so we couldn’t drive by without stopping. The National Monument did not disappoint! We learned tons about the redwoods that once inhabited Colorado and about their demise (a volcano is actually involved!). We were able to walk on some of their trails and learn from a retired geologist while visiting.

Keep in Mind: Florissant Fossil Beds is not dog-friendly. We did not stay long because we had to keep Buzz in the vehicle (the air conditioning was on and it was temperature-controlled for him, but we did not like leaving him in there).


We then continued on through a giant loop and drove through both Eleven Mile Canyon Recreation Area and Spinney Mountain. Once we made our way back to Fairplay, we grabbed lunch at Soup Pot. Their soups and sandwiches are to die for. What I didn’t find on the map until it was well out of our way was the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center, so I think we have officially added that to our list of things to see for our next trip.


That night, we made our way to Halfmoon Campground. We got our tent set up just in time for it to start pouring down rain on us, so we grabbed some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner instead of starting a fire and holed up in our tent with a movie on our tablet. We went to bed fairly early that night to rest up for the big hike the following morning.


Day 6 – Mount of the Holy Cross


The next morning was our hike to our next fourteener – Mount of the Holy Cross. I will have an in-depth recap on the hike later in a separate post. What is important to know for the purposes of this recap post, though, is that for some reason, I am always dying for barbecue food after long hikes. Thankfully for me, there was an absolutely delicious barbecue bar, Kirby Cosmo's, located in Minturn less than 30 minutes from our campsite. There is nothing better than a pulled pork sandwich and some homemade coleslaw after a long mountain hike.

Day 7


After our long hike the day before, Zac and I were still pretty tired. Buzz also had a bit of a limp in his front paw, so we made sure to pick a short hike to stretch our legs – but we left Buzz at Barry’s to ensure that he got some much-needed rest. The hike of choice that morning was Limber Grove Trail, which was situated in between two campgrounds (Horseshoe Campground, which is reservation-only, and Fourmile Campground, which is first-come, first-serve).

After our morning hike, we made our way out to Breckenridge for lunch at Breckenridge Brewery. They have some of the best (and cheapest!) lunch options in town. Plus, who doesn’t want a beer with their lunch every once in a while?


Once our stomachs were full, we decided to walk along Main Street for a bit and do some shopping. The most notable places we visited were Peak Running and Limber Grove. Limber Grove had absolutely amazing designs on everything – Zac and I both wanted to buy way too many clothes while we were there. In addition to their great-looking products, though, they also exclusively carry just local artists and brands. They even support the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center. They seem to really like to give back, which I absolutely love.


Once we had done some shopping, that afternoon, we made our way to Denver. Our first stop there was to the Denver REI Co-op. There, I found some sweet deals on their Garage Sale items (becoming an REI member is one of the best things ever for those that are outdoorsy – find out more about that here. The perks are well worth it).


Finally, we made our way to meet up with a friend who recently moved to the area. We all headed downtown and decided to just walk until we found something that looked good for dinner. With that, we ended up at The Irish Rover Pub. Their food and drinks were on point. Then, we decided it would be fitting to check out 14er Brewing Company after we had just completed Mount of the Holy Cross. I’m not honestly a huge beer fan (believe it or not – since we had also already visited Breckenridge Brewery), but the 14er Brewery beer that I tried was really light and tasty.

Day 8


On our last day in Colorado, we decided to spend more time in Denver. I am incredibly grateful that I now have a runner friend who has moved to the area (even though that means he no longer lives near me!). When I asked if there was a 10-11 mile route that he had in mind, he definitely delivered a great route – plus, he ran it with me, which made it so much more enjoyable. We made our way to Waterton Canyon Trail, which just happens to be the very beginning of the Colorado Trail, and ran a beafutiful out-and-back route on the trail before the temperatures got too hot.

Once our run was out of the way, it was time for coffee. We made a stop at nook Coffee for some caffeine (I got a gummy bear energy drink and it was delicious) before making our way out to Convergence Station | Meow Wolf Denver.

I had been overly excited about our trip to Meow Wolf since I found out that the place existed. Even still, it completely exceeded my expectations. Self-proclaimed as “immersive art,” Meow Wolf is an art exhibit from another world. What I can definitely say is to make sure to go in with an open mind and hours to kill – because anyone that goes in there will want to spend hours upon hours exploring. To get just a small portion of the experience, check out my video (please note: there are some flashing lights).

For our final stop of the day before our trek back home, we gave into what was probably subliminal messaging from Meow Wolf to grab some pizza. We landed on Pizza Republica, which ended up having absolutely incredible wood-fired pizza.

After lunch, we said our goodbyes to our friend, to Denver, and to Colorado, and made our way toward I-80 for home. We have made the entire trip back home just once in the seven years since we have been visiting there, and do not plan to do that again. With that in mind, we booked a campsite at the Grand Island KOA Journey for our stop for the evening. After some sleep, we then made the final trek from Grand Island home.

 

Now, one week under our belts since we’ve returned, I am ready to return whenever we get the next chance to do so – but also mindful of the number of opportunities for travels elsewhere. We are already looking and thinking about what our next trip (this fall) should be, and I can’t wait to see where our adventures will take us. Until that trip comes up, though, I’ll keep writing, keep living, and keep adventuring close to home as much as possible.


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