The ski traffic was already backing up as I merged onto the highway going west. It was Friday morning of a three-day weekend, so I knew I needed to get on the road before bumper-to-bumper creeping set in. I live in the Rocky Mountains, not far from ski resorts, so those driving up from Denver must have left the metro area very early. Once I topped the Continental Divide, the skiers exiting for their favorite downhill runs here and there, it was a pleasant drive. I could settle in, listen to a book on cd and enjoy the scenery.
The impetus for this road trip was an invitation from a childhood friend. I had posted on Facebook that it was “0 degrees F” with a photo of a fire burning in my wood stove. My friend commented that it was 70 degrees at her place in southern California and her guest house was empty. An invitation I couldn’t resist! So, after a few texts to find dates that would work for both of us, I planned some stops along the way, packed a range of clothes from snow boots to shorts, and hit the road.
My first stop was a favorite one, often a destination in itself, Glenwood Springs. The route, although a major highway, winds through Glenwood Canyon, so narrow that the east and westbound lanes are stacked and tunnels slip through the dramatically steep red rock walls. The westbound lane is on the upper level so the view is unimpeded.
Glenwood Springs was a hangout for wild western figures, most notably Doc Holliday and Wild Bill Hickok, back in the frontier days. Doc Holliday died of tuberculosis in Glenwood Springs, in bed, ironically. He is buried high on a hillside overlooking the town; I hiked up there once. (Hickok was shot during a poker game in Deadwood, South Dakota. In his hand were aces and eights, now known as the dead man’s hand.) Vestiges of the western cowboy theme define the town.
It’s also known for frequent visitor Teddy Roosevelt, during annual hunting trips, who stayed at the elegant Hotel Colorado. The hotel staff made him the first “Teddy” bear, now iconic.
There’s a newer hot springs spot in town I have visited a few times. Tiny round pools of varying temperatures provide a little solitude or a place for an intimate conversation. Slipping into the warmth with the cool mountain air in my hair, looking out at the snow-covered hills… heavenly. An afternoon soak mellowed me out. I would be well-rested and ready for the first of my all-day drives the following morning.
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