Colorado Rockies

Bill, Claire and Steve
Bill, Claire and Steve

In June we visited our friends Claire and Bill Stitt in Edwards and our cousins Maxann and Jay Collins in Steamboat Springs. The Colorado Rockies in early summer were glorious. No wonder that America the Beautiful was composed in Colorado! We flew to Denver, then drove west, stopping for lunch at the delightful D’Deli in Golden. Golden is a real old West town. Edwards is new West, part of the development that has sprung up around Vail. The Stitts’ son Ned, who lives in Golden, built their house two years ago and it is a beauty with a golf course and hiking trails nearby.

Claire took us to Leadville, at an elevation of 10,152 feet, the highest incorporated city in the United States. We enjoyed visiting the Museum of Mining, seeing the Matchless Mine and hearing the story of “Baby Doe” Tabor, who inspired the opera The Ballad of Baby Doe, which we saw in Chautauqua in July. When I was ten, I visited Leadville with my family. I remember my Dad pointing out the Continental Divide. This time we stopped at a beautiful bridge and noted the Eagle River flowing west toward the Pacific.

Another stop on the way to Leadville was Camp Hale, where the 10th Mountain Division trained for Alpine fighting in World War II. Some of the men who trained there, and who survived the war, were instrumental in establishing Colorado ski resorts, including Pete Seibert, co-founder of Vail in 1962. Vail was named after Charles Vail, designer of the highway that passed through the valley. The Ski Museum in Vail told many stories of early skiers, their triumphs and their tragedies. Here are our Vail Valley photos.

Jay & Maxann
Jay & Maxann

From Edwards we drove north to Steamboat Springs to visit our cousins Jay and Maxann. Steamboat is an old west town, a center of cattle ranching, farming, skiing, fishing, equestrian activities and art.  The Collins remodeled their house a few years ago, employing local craftspeople and encouraging them to be creative with local materials. For example, the ceiling and supporting beams are of lodgepole pine trees killed by bark beetles. They accepted the contractor’s suggestion to leave the edges rough or “live.” Maxann hired a local sculptor to make all the door handles and cabinet door pulls, a delight every time you opened a door. Like the Stitts, the Collinses have traveled widely and collected beautiful things to look upon.

Steve and Jay played golf, while Maxann and I explored the Tread of the Pioneers Museum and local galleries. I rode horseback up Mount Howelsen, then soaked in the hot tub, while the guys fished on the Yampa River. The fresh mountain air made us hungry. We ate well, one night with cousins JoRene and Chet Mills from Denver. Each night we sat on the deck and watched the sunsets–always different, one night, spectacular. Early one morning I went out alone and was rewarded with a clear view of the Milky Way.

Reading Michener’s Centennial while I was there provided historical depth to what we saw–stories of Indian braves, French fur trappers, cattlemen, gold miners, self-sufficient pioneers. One night we drove to Yampa to have dinner at the Antlers Cafe, a place with an authentic western atmosphere. On Sunday we went to Hahn’s Peak, where the buildings were old and the mountains green and lovely. These pictures convey only some of the beauty and the good times.

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