Day 14 (6/14/14): Vail, CO
Too bad we didn’t get the opportunity to see more of Denver. It may have been a contender for places to possibly move to, but I doubt I’d be able to handle the winters. Oh well. We had been driving in the dark and could see the dramatic mountains, but we were disappointed that we couldn’t make out any of the scenery. I’m glad we stayed the night in Vail though because when we woke up the next morning, we were greeted by the beauty of the Rocky Mountains.
Vail is gorgeous. In a canyon nestled between mountains right off of the I-70, it’s covered in tall evergreen trees with crisp, fresh mountain air. We really liked Vail and enjoyed being in the forest surrounded by trees and nature. There’s also a river running through that adds to the beauty. Eagle River cuts through the mountains and races with the cars on the parallel highway, making for a scenic drive.
I imagined Denver as being more of a forest like Vail, but it’s actually a valley with the Rockies in the distant background. After we checked out of the hotel this morning, we drove about 30 miles west on the I-70 to a campsite in Gypsum, CO where we decided to camp for the next few nights. The further west you go on the I-70, the fewer trees there are. The landscape becomes more dry and desert-like, but the mountains are still interesting to view.
The campground we stayed at in Gypsum is right up against the mountains with the Eagle River directly behind it. We were excited to be so close to the river, but our excitement quickly faded as we realized that being close to the river means swarms of mosquitoes. The moment you step foot outside, you have dozens of them smacking you in the face. Therefore, we sadly couldn’t venture to the river, make campfires or spend any time at the campground outside of our trailer. We literally had to run to and from our truck and trailer to avoid the vicious mosquito attacks.
After we got the trailer set up, we headed back to Vail to have dinner and see more of the town. Vail Village is a lovely, upscale mountain town with pedestrian-friendly cobblestone streets, quaint storefronts and several bridges over the bustling river running through it. We ate dinner at Up the Creek restaurant right on a bank of the river in Vail Village. It was probably one of the best meals we’ve ever had.
For an appetizer, we had the clam chowder, an incredibly tasty nontraditional chowder with a thinner consistency than the usual cream base. Not what we were expecting but pleasantly surprising with amazing flavor. Next, for our entrees, we had the Alaskan Halibut and Braised Short Rib.
The halibut was decent, but the short rib was mind-blowing! Super tender and savory on top of bacon-smoked Gouda mac and cheese and asparagus with a Cabernet veal reduction. Amazing! Out of all the mac and cheese we’ve consumed throughout our lives, this was our all-time favorite. I’m salivating just thinking about it. All in all, a lovely day. 🙂
Day 15 (6/15/14): Breckenridge, CO
Today we decided to venture back East to the ski town of Breckenridge, CO. It was a gorgeous day, and the drive to Breckenridge was also gorgeous in itself. We drove alongside the Eagle River and saw several waterfalls running down the mountains from the snow run-off. The mountains were covered in trees ranging in all shades of green.
To get to Breckenridge, you have to drive through Frisco, a nice little town with shops and restaurants on the main street. Once we reached Breckenridge, we were surprised that there were still some patches of snow on the ground. There was a “Kingdom Days” street festival going on with people lining both sides of the street watching the Outhouse Races taking place. It was quite entertaining. 🙂
Day 16 (6/16/14): Avon, CO
We went white-water rafting down the Eagle River today! It was my first time. Justin had done white-water rafting before, but it had been about 10 years since he had last been. We did an 11-mile stretch of Class IV waters. It was a blast! Even though white-water rafting is somewhat frigid, uncomfortable and a work out, the adventure, adrenaline and sheer fun of it outweigh all the cons and make it completely worth it! Loved it!