Back in PA After Another Steamboat Springs Trip
When you land in Philadelphia after flying from Colorado, the first thing you think is, "Where are all the mountains?" And the second thing is, "Man, there are trees everywhere."
Having been born and raised in Pennsylvania, I have grown accustomed to all the trees, to the point that I don’t even think we have an abnormal amount of trees. But being in Colorado, with its vast open ranges, mountains, and whitewater rivers, dotted but not smothered in trees, I feel like I’m on another planet.
This trip was only a short 5 days, and it stormed or threatened to storm almost every day, but we managed to get in a couple of hikes, a bike ride, a trip down the Alpine Slide, some whitewater rafting, and a trip to the rodeo.
The bike ride and the rafting were both along the Yampa River, which is slow and tranquil in some spots and fairly frothy in others -- it’s considered a stage 2 whitewater, though probably only because of one or two drops of perhaps 3-5 feet. Most of its whitewater sections along the ~5 mile, 90-minute trip are pretty tame; we were neither required nor advised to wear helmets for example. But the scenic beauty of the river, the surrounding landscape, and the charming backyards of Steamboat Springs make it an extremely enjoyable ride even if the rafting isn’t extreme.
During our first hike, at Mad Creek, I got into the creek up to my waist; and at the end of our bike ride I got into the Yampa completely. The water was freezing both times, but it was at least a hot sunny day for the bike ride. When I got into Mad Creek, it was the middle of a downpour. But I generally can’t resist getting into rivers and lakes given the opportunity.
I’d never ridden an Alpine Slide before, but I gather that it’s something icy, fast, and fun in the winter. And in the summer they let you ride down it on these little carts that are about twice the size of a skateboard, with 2 wheels on one end and just friction on the other end, to prevent you from going too fast down the long concrete slide. There’s a single joystick-like control that you push forward to go and pull back on to stop. The track itself is probably a quarter-mile long, just winding back and forth down the mountain.
As we rode the chairlift up to the top, a girl went down the slide below us, going full speed, and wiped out pretty badly right in front of us on the first curve. Some of her arms and legs went over the side of the track, and she ended up with a big gash in her hand and probably some nasty scrapes all over. If I hadn’t seen that, I might have just floored it when it was my turn, falsely assuming that the arched sides of the track would keep me safe all the way down.
The rodeo was pretty interesting and not exactly the redneck-infested event that you might expect, though we weren’t in the south so maybe you wouldn’t expect that. The best part was the "calf scramble," where they invite all the 6-12 year old kids into the arena and then let loose a calf which has a ribbon on its tail; the kid who gets the ribbon wins. There must have been 200 kids and it was a hilarious sight to see the mob of them chasing this calf, which was running for its life. They then repeated this event with kids 5 and under and using a sheep instead of a calf; this had the added bonus of the sheep bounding right on top of the mob of kids as it tried to escape.
On Saturday we had to drive from Steamboat to Denver to catch our flight home. It’s a 4-hour trip, but the country out there is just beautiful, and since our rental F-150 had a line-in jack through which we could play the music on our iPhones, it was a nice drive. We passed through Winter Park, which has a restaurant called Fontenot’s, and I got a dish called Orzo Pasta Salad. It’s a base of cold orzo -- which I’d never had nor heard of before -- with field greens on top, then hot sauteed mushrooms in a "roasted red pepper balsamic dressing," and finally Pecorino cheese on top of that. I ordered it without the actual red peppers, and would have also omitted the onions had I known they would be hiding in it; but regardless it was an amazing meal.
Another great thing about Colorado is the climate: whereas in PA, during the summer, the temperature may go from a high of sweltering 90 degrees to a low of sweltering 70 degrees, in Steamboat Springs it goes from the 80s to the 40s. So you get the nice hot summer days and still have nice cool nights. The pool at the condo was even heated, so while not great for daytime swimming, it was a giant hot tub at night.
It’s difficult to describe just how different and amazing Colorado, and Steamboat in particular, is. It’s huge, it’s wide open, the sky is far more blue, the rivers are clean, and the views, pretty much no matter where you look, are breathtaking: there are mountains everywhere, many of them snow-capped all year ’round. Not to mention the skiing and snowboarding in the winter...
I’ve been to Steamboat 3 times now, and it’s hard to leave. I feel like I belong there. We would move to Steamboat in a heartbeat if it weren’t for the fact that we’d miss all of our family in PA too much. But Kim’s mom would follow us there. So I know I won’t be able to convince all of my family to come, but I figure at least one or two of you would be down for it. Rolly and Margie? Maria? ...Sinjin?
Kim was on photo duty for this trip; here are her albums: