I traveled back to my home town this weekend for my thirty-year high school class reunion. It was great seeing old friends again even though I had not kept in touch with most of them.
We started with a welcome mixer at an outdoor local bar where even the locals were sweating through their shirts. I sometimes forget how fortunate I am to live in the Denver, Colorado, area where it is rarely over 20% humidity and the temperatures rarely exceed 95 in the hottest part of the summer. I am also happy that we have outlawed smoking in most public places — I had to wash the clothing I was wearing twice when I made it back home to rid them of the nasty smoke odors.
On Saturday night we moved to an indoor venue, the local Country Club, for drinks, appetizers and an 80s tribute band, ostensively for dancing. Two of my favorite teachers from my high school years were also in attendance, and it was great to see them again!
I spent a few days with my father as well on this trip, which was wonderful. I am finding that spending time with family becomes more important as I get older.
I took the girls hiking up above Turquoise Lake west of Leadville on Sunday. We hiked part of the old Colorado Midland Railroad grade leading up to Hagerman Tunnel, the highest-altitude tunnel ever built. Sadly, I’m not in good enough shape to hike all the way to the tunnel yet but we did put in 3.5 miles of 11,300-foot hiking. I was exhausted and the dogs were happy.
With a forecast of cool, rainy and gloomy for Saturday the girls and I headed up to play in the mountains. We didn’t have a specific plan for the day, but I knew what would make at least one dog happy: water.
Our first stop was the whitewater park at Lawson. There was no one there again (it was cool and rainy), so the girls had free reign. Lucy waded in a bit but she’s smart enough to know she can’t swim in the strong current. Fabi was in the water and crashing over the rapids as usual.
After an hour in Lawson we hit the road again. I thought taking the girls to Loveland Pass but I suspected that it would be packed with day-trippers again, so I kept on I-70 and exited in Frisco. After a quick tour of the town we were headed south to Leadville. I had never taken US 24 back north from Leadville so off we went. After passing through Ski Cooper we stopped at Camp Hale, site of the 10th Mountain Division. The dogs were more interested in digging through the brush and rolling in grass (hopefully on grass) so we headed back into Leadville where there didn’t appear to be much going on. I like Leadville but they’ve recently become rather unfriendly towards dogs by banning them from their big festivals and events. CDOT had updated their signs to indicate that Independence Pass was already open for the summer so I decided the girls would get a new sign photo opportunity. First, however, we would stop at Twin Lakes for a swim.
Next it was on up to the top of Independence Pass. The light snow of the winter and the unusually hot spring had left their marks on the pass: there was almost no snow to be seen on the way up and everything was already fairly green. There was, however, enough snow at the pass to make it an interesting proposition getting from the parking area to the observation overlook over the ridge but some creative snow sliding across a few drifts got me through. I had visions of getting the dogs to pull me out of the drifts if they proved too deep; luckily I did not have to rely on their lighter weight on the crusty drifts.
After ninety minutes or so at the pass I was ready to hit the road and we continued west towards Aspen. Again, there was almost no snow at all on this side of the pass — but there were some really awful “Sunday” drivers in front of me riding their brakes all the way down. We passed a small herd of deer in the road just outside of Aspen before hitting the sprawl. It was getting late at this point so I just continued through to Glenwood Springs where we briefly stopped at a rest area along the Colorado River. Fabi has scratched another river off of her list of major rivers in which to swim, but I kept her close as the river was rolling pretty hard and fast. We finally made it home after 10 PM and several light snow storms where we all crashed out for the night.
Okay, it was really just a week in Oklahoma but it was as hot as hell. It’s been far too long since I lived there and I am not used to high humidity and 100+ degree temperatures.
The purpose of the trip was to visit family. I worked during the days, safely sequestered inside the air-conditioned house. The dogs only ventured outside for five-minute periods to pee before deciding to head back in the house. They slept a lot last week.
In the evenings we did family things such as dinner at Ponca City’s finest chinese-style buffet restaurant [note: it was awesome to hear the chinese staff say things like “Follow me to your table y’all.”]; watching television; and swimming in the pool.
Fabi loves swimming in the pool and would repeatedly jump in and splash whomever was looking too dry. At one point she slipped a bit and hit her rear on the side of the pool, spraining the muscle that holds up her tail. It’s better already but it certainly didn’t stop her from jumping in the pool again and again.
Lucy, on the other hand, was not interested in swimming. She’ll dive into an ice-cold mountain river and fight the current but my guess is the very warm water (92 degrees in the evenings) and the chlorine smell convinced her it was more fun just to stand at he edge of the steps and attack Fabi every time she climbed out of the water.
As we fueled up before heading back yesterday morning, even though the dogs were riding in the back seat of the truck cab (air-conditioned since it was too hot for them in the back under the topper), I realized that heading north through Kansas would let the morning sun shine directly in the passenger-side windows and effectively reduce the amount of usable space in half. The dogs get too hot with the sun shining on them, so I decided to take the southern route back home to Denver. We drove west from Ponca City through northern Oklahoma to the panhandle. The temperature hovered around 100 degrees until we were near Guymon where a rain shower cooled things down into the lower 80’s. As we entered northeast New Mexico we caught up with some monsoon thunderstorms that lowered the temperature into the 50’s at altitude. It was a great trip home.