Monday, October 25, 2010

Into the Mountains

The Boy had expressed an interest in visiting the mountains even before he ever arrived in Colorado. Once he could see them on the approach to Denver last weekend, he was even more adamant that we go there sooner rather than later. Sooner would be good since the mountains had already been receiving snow on and off for about a month. Although the temperature had been changing daily, the sky on Sunday shone bright and warm so we piled into the van and headed west.

We didn't have to go far and before we knew it, we were in the impressive foothills of the Rockies. These were not the lush green mountains of the Appalachians that we were used to seeing, but they could definitely take your breath away.

We didn't have a specific destination in mind. We thought we would just find some state park to stop at, take in the views, run around a bit then head home. But once The "Pickles" saw the sign stating the Eisenhower-Johnson Tunnel was only 20 minutes ahead, they insisted we go at least that far.

About 10 minutes from the Tunnel, we stopped for a potty break in Georgetown, CO. The town is nestled in a beautiful valley with a small lake. They had a wonderful visitor's center where Mr. LH bought me a mountain cookbook (high-altitude cooking has worried me for weeks).

Although the wind whipped through the valley making it much more chilly than it should other wise feel, we decided to explore the town and found a grand park for the kids to burn off some energy. They played on the tire swings, ran through the fort, walked across rope bridges, tumbled down the slides and had an absolutely wonderful time. They seemed to not notice the biting wind that swirled the leaves around them.

We also looked for big horned sheep (which we later saw munching on grass by the side of the highway ramp) before we headed back out on the road to find the tunnel.

10 minutes further into the Rocky Mountains ended up taking us into a winter wonderland. There was already snow on the peaks, but as we approached the Eisenhower tunnel, the snow was creeping down the slopes to kiss the sides of the highway. What was even more impressive (and, for the kids, more memorable) was leaving the tunnel. As we exited, the world was blanketed in snow. It looked absolutely frigid! The kids started singing Christmas carols!

The closest exit was at the bottom of the mountain where we found the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. Who could resist a giant peanut butter cup or a chocolate and pecan coated caramel apple? We couldn't. (And I just HAD to try some of their Java Toffee...Mmmmm!)

Sufficiently sugared up, we headed back the way we came, towards warmer climates and lower altitudes. We had successfully encountered Autumn in all it's glory and seen a taste of winter. I think next time we come this far into the mountains, we'll be sure to bring our winter gear just in case.

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