Monday, April 4, 2011

The Vail Adventure

Ever since our first trip to Vail, Colorado in 2008 for the Vail Film Festival, Mr. LH and I have wanted to take the kids there. We never dreamed at the time that we would ever be living so close to Vail, but that's the way life works sometimes.

As it happens, Mr. LH was a judge for this years Film Festival and earned a couple of passes so we planned a trip up to Vail Village over the kid's Spring Break during the 2011 Vail Film Festival.

We felt a little twinge of regret at choosing this particular Saturday for our trip since Denver was expecting highs in the 70's while Vail was expected to be 20 degrees lower. The "Pickles" were so excited to pack the car with their snow gear (just in case) and "goodies" (they love having snacks in the car) that whatever regrets we had disappeared before we even got on the road.

Vail, Colorado is a good 2 hour journey from our house, and while we would have preferred to have the kids looking out the car windows enjoying the beautiful views, they were good travelers with their handheld games and toys.

We stopped for a break and a stretch in Georgetown where we visited last fall during our explorations. The winds were still whipping through the valley and though the kids begged to go to the fabulous playground again, we didn't stay for long. Vail was still at least an hour further down the highway.

There was snow and slush everywhere and the mounds of snow on the sides of the road got higher the further west we went. It was definitely melting, though. Every once in awhile we spotted a waterfall of water coming down the mountain or streaming out of rock walls forming massive ice creations.

There was still plenty of snow in Vail and there were plenty of skiers taking advantage of it! Though April is the tail end of ski season here, from the looks of things, skiers could enjoy another few weeks of the sport. Vail still boasted an 87" base - more snow than we had seen all winter in Aurora!

Since we were in Vail mainly to introduce the kids to the town, we decided to skip picking up Mr. LH's Film Festival passes and just enjoy whatever the town had to offer. The Gondola ride up the mountain was free after 2pm so we spent our time doing other things until then:

...watching the ice skaters on the outdoor rink...

...meandering through a fossil and jewelry shop...

...and taking a walking tour of the west side of town.

Once we got on the Gondola, The Girl forgot her imagined fear of heights (I have no idea when THAT started) and without their video games to keep them occupied, the "Pickles" finally looked out the clear walls of the Gondola and "ooh'd and ahh'd" at the scenery.

The views from the top of Vail Mountain were breathtaking - and at 11,570 feet, they should be!

That tall peak in the center of the photograph is Mt. Holy Cross - one of the fourteeners in the state. It is called Mount of the Holy Cross because natural crevices in the side of the mountain when filled in with snow, form a cross that is 1500 feet tall.

We found a small wood fire outside ready to warm our chilled hands.

We stomped around the summit for a bit (thank goodness we didn't sink down into the snow)...

...then headed back down the mountain to find a pirate ship playground Mr. LH and I remembered from our previous trip. It was on the other side of town and would be a hefty walk.

The Girl wrestled the sea serpent...

And The Boy walked the plank...

Mr. LH went exploring around the creek while the kids played.

It was getting late and we still had one last place we wanted to stop before heading home...Moe's for dinner!

I had been craving their cornbread for a long time. There is one closer to home but we just hadn't gotten around to finding it yet.

By 6:15 we were on the road headed home. Some of us were a bit wet from playing in melting snow, but all of us were happy and had full bellies. We had hoped to get back before night fell but when you're having so much fun, the time seems to get away from you.

The scenery on the way home was no less awe-inspiring as it was heading in the opposite direction. In fact, with the sun slowly fading and the mountain peaks catching the last rays, the view might have even been more spectacular.

It was strange driving by these towering mountains and seeing the tree line so close to us.

As we neared the Eisenhower Tunnel heading back toward Denver, Mr. LH asked if I could take a picture of the view behind us. I looked back and the scene took my breath away...

So that's where heaven is - in the Rocky Mountains west of the Continental Divide.

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1 comment:

Joy said...

What a beautiful place to visit! I love the playground that and riding that Gondola looks amazing! I imagine you'll enjoying visiting there for years to come.