We headed to the Dallas Fort Worth Airport yesterday for our trip to Colorado. The plane left on time, and landed nearly on time. On the way to get the rental ca in the Denver aiport, we saw a man lying on the floor, who had collapsed. People who seemed to know what they were doing, perhaps medical professionals, were giving him CPR. After an interval, paramedics came. At first, I watched, transfixed. Soon, I turned away, as I could not help and I did not feel this man's suffering should be my spectator sport. It appeared that they may have made some progress with the CPR, and I hope they saved him. I thought of Labor Day weekend, and weekend trips, and a man on the floor with a crease of blood on his scalp, and people trying as earnestly as they could to help him. Then I rented a Chevrolet Cavalier.
The drive on I-70 towards Breckenredge involved much heavy freeway traffic at rush hour. Then, once we had cleared the freeway traffic, there was much climbing of mountains and descending mountains. The Eisenhower tunnel must have been over a mile long and over 11,000 feet high. We saw glorious scenery, as well as vacationers heading up and down the mountains, pulling trailers, driving SUVs.
Lake Dillon, where we turned onto a more sedate road, looked just gorgeous. We settled into Breckenridge, which sits at 9,000 feet, surrounded by huge mountains.
We checked into our hotel, which is called "The Great Divide", which is fitting, because we are on the Contintental Divide. The Travelocity user poll had rated our hotel only 3 stars out of 5, with one commenter complaining that the kids would rather ski than wait on customers. I wonder, sometimes, who would not rather ski than show their special sparkle for customers, and I have never skied in my life. In fact, the staff has been amazing--a woman with one of those difficult for me to differentiate Oz sounding accents gave us great tips on things to see and do.
We went last night to a restaurant called "Steak and Rib", where I had neither, because we have both in abundance in Texas. I had a Martinique chicken, done St. Martin style, very curious/sweet and yet quite interesting. This morning I had something for breakfast called something like birchermuesli, except I am not sure I got the word before muesli right.
Very different from my morning raisin bran, and extremely tasty, served with blackberries.
This morning we took the ski lift up the mountain to hike. We did not walk long before cold rain came down upon us. We watched it pour, and then we rode the ski lift down in the rain and it was somehow still all extremely fun and glorious. The sight of the mountains going from pure vista to pure cloud was worth the price of admission.
We adjourned to shower again, and then had lunch at a place called the Whale's Tail. It was fine, and then we got cheap sweatshirts, our cold weather sleeves being well drenched. Ski resorts in Summer are curious things--they are not exactly cheap,but the stores always have August sales on leftover stuff that are quite affordable. I have a nice red long sleeve sweatshirt for next March. Breckenridge August is about like Allen March.
My wife wanted to shop and I wanted to go tour a gold mine, so we split up. I went to the Placer gold mine. Placer mining is surface mining. In the beginning, they panned for gold in running streams, a bit silt-inducing, but not that damaging. Later, they diverted all the streams into hydraulic pumps and literally sprayed the hillsides free of flora and topsoil, sluicing what was left. It was an environmental disaster. The tour I took was in the valley carved out from such shenanigans. Fortunately, there was healing--I saw chipmunks, a hummingbird and a gorgeous woodpecker, and pine trees are growing again.
The tour was fascinating. The miners rarely lived past 40. The boom did not last long. Few got rich. Many died of mercury poisoning. The desire for wealth does interesting things. I am also reading a wonderful book about greed in the Gilded age. The desire for wealth does interesting things. The tour guide, a retired petroleum engineer, was very good. Only 2 people took the tour. I found this internet cafe, and now write this post, as dark clouds loom overhead. They had a rubber duck race in the town river on my way back to Main Street. Houses here cost so much one would have to pan gold for years to afford one.
Everywhere on the mountains we see lodgepole pine, tall, majestic, and much more vertical than horizontal. We have another day in cold, fresh air, a million miles from Texas, and yet perhaps not so far.