Friday 7/29 – DeBeque, Wild Horses, Rifle

I got up and went for Starbucks and wi-fi to figure out how to see the wild horses.  I googled and called several places trying to find a jeep tour or a horseback riding tour into the wilderness area with no luck.  I really wanted to see more wild horses and wasn’t of a mind to give up yet.  I started thinking that all I really needed was a guy and a truck.  Finally, I got the bright idea to go back to the little town of DeBeque and ask around.  I went to the one and only gas station/ store and asked the lady in the there if she knew of any guys who would take me out there.  I would be happy to pay them for their time and guidance.  She thought for a minute and then suggested I go ask  the mechanic on the corner.  So I did and he agreed to take me!  I could not have found a better guide professionally!!!  He was such a nice guy and very well prepared.  He didn’t expect any emergencies but made sure we were well prepared just in case.  We brought lots of water, food, sunscreen, bug spray etc.  He made sure we had a full tank of gas.  He had a map of the BLM land and knew it like the back of his hand.  He explained that it was a 4 hour loop and that he couldn’t guarantee we would see horses but he knew where he had seen them before.  He knew every trail, every ridge, the name of every mesa and mountain! He was pleasant and intelligent.  I got a complete education on the history of the area and geological education about the Colorado Plateau and basin area.  He told a story about the Meeker massacre and showed me the few remaining big trees that weren’t burned in the episode.  We only saw one wild horse and he was actually on the outside of the herd management area which still concerns me, but he took me to see some of the coolest scenery I would never have seen without him including what he called “The Goblins.”  The Goblins are technically called “hoodoos” and they were the very most bizarre thing I’ve ever seen!  They are a strange-looking rock formation caused from millions of years of erosion.  I was disappointed that I didn’t see more wild horses but we did what we could and it was getting late.  I had a great time anyway!  After getting back to town, my plan was to drive to Glenwood Springs to hike to see Hanging Lake, but on the way I saw signs for Rifle Falls and decided to stop there to see a waterfall.  It was getting late, so I found a place to stay for the night and planned on seeing the falls in the morning.

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Saturday 7/30 – Rifle Falls, Hanging Lake, Glenwood Springs

I got up pretty early and after washing up at the rest area and getting coffee at Starbucks, I headed to Rifle Falls.  This is a gorgeous waterfall I had never heard of, it’s free and it’s not a long hike like many are.  Well it’s almost free.  You have to pay for vehicle in State Park is all.  The falls are accessed through the campground.  It’s a short hike after parking and the spectacular!  There are also some caves and cool trails to hike there.  It was still early when I finished there which was good because I wanted to get an early start on Hanging Lake.  I ended up wasting an hour of my day by taking the scenic route through the National Forest.  (I did that many times on this trip) but I got to Glenwood Springs/ Hanging Lake around noon.  I packed my backpack as light as I could with water, sunscreen, a hat, a bandana, bug spray etc and took off up the mountain path.  They say it’s about 2 hours to the top and back but it took me more like 3 hours to get to the top, and 2 more hours to get back down.  Going down isn’t that much easier than going up.  It’s almost easier to go fast, but there is a good distance between steps and it would be easy to twist an ankle or break a leg, so you have to be very careful. The forest service lists the trail is “difficult.”  Being fat and old, it was quite strenuous to me but I did it!!!  lol!  At the end I was rewarded with a most beautiful double cascading waterfall and clear lake.  It was good to say I did it.  By the time I got down from the canyon it was about 5:00, I was starving, hot, sweaty, dirty and my muscles were overtaxed.  I decided to splurge on a nice dinner and a hotel with a bathtub and call it a day.

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Sunday 7/31 – Mt Evans, Evergreen, Jimmy, Airport

Last day of my vacation.  My original plan was to head toward Idaho springs to drive to the top of Mt Evans and then see Arapaho Falls and Boulder Falls before heading to the airport to return my car by 10:00PM.  Mt Evans is famous for mountain goat sightings and I really want to see them.  I’m disappointed to report that I did not see any though.  Probably because it was middle of the day.  It took a couple of hours to get to the top.  Mt Evans is one of CO’s 54 “14ers” meaning it’s over 14,000 ft elevation.  The tallest mountain in the United States is in Alaska.  In the lower 48 states, Mt Evans is the 2nd tallest at 14,265 following Mt Whitney in CA.  It’s the highest paved road in North America.  The view is amazing!  When you find yourself looking down at the snow-topped Rocky Mountains in July/August, you know you are up high!  When I came down off the mountain and I was supposed to go 5 minutes to the west to get back on Interstate 70, but I decided the road to the east was pretty and took that way which ended up being another National Forrest road that took me way south of where I was originally planning to go.  I ended up near Evergreen and stopped at a McDonald’s to get my bearings and figure out my route. 

My friend, Jimmy was in Colorado fishing with his nephew.  I had known he was there but we hadn’t been successful in hooking up.  I had texted him the day before to say I was going to Mt Evans next day but I guessed he had no cell signal as I never got a reply.  When I got to the McDonald’s he texted me and asked if I was still near Mt Evans.  I told him that I had just come down from it an hour ago but had taken alternate route and ended up way south of where I meant to be and told him my approx location.  He texted back that he was 6 miles away at his nephew’s house in Evergreen!  How funny!  If I hadn’t taken the “wrong” road I would have been an hour north by then, somewhere near Boulder!  So I went there and got to hang out with Jimmy and his nephew’s family who fed me a delicious dinner of fresh caught trout and various yummy side dishes.  It was by far the tastiest and healthiest meal I’d had all week and much appreciated!

  Jimmy’s flight was leaving Denver at 9:00.  Mine wasn’t till 1:00 am but I had to return the car by 10:00pm.  It worked out well so we stayed there until time to head to the airport.  I dropped him off and then returned my car.  After I went through security I found him at his gate and we hung out there till time to depart.  It was a great close to fantastic 8 day vacation! But it wasn’t over yet after all!  I got a bonus day in Philadelphia due to my connecting flight being cancelled and re-scheduled which ended up being such a cool adventure, I have to include it in the story…

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Monday 8/1 – Philadelphia

My flight from Denver left on time at 1:00am, arriving in Philadelphia 6:30am.  I slept the whole way as usual, then ran to catch my connecting flight at 7:30am.  When it came time to board, the lady announced that the flight had been cancelled and for everyone to go to customer service to reschedule.  Everyone was all upset.  When they finally got to me, they gave me a flight departing at 6:00pm so I had 10 hours to kill.  I didn’t feel like sitting in the airport for the whole day.  I saw a sign that said “Train to Downtown Philly.”  Of course I have no car.  So I thought what the hell, I’ll spend the day walking around Philly.  I walked out of the airport and up to the platform, but then I got scared.  I thought what if it lands me in a ghetto and I can’t figure out how to get back?  What if I get on the wrong train?  So I was standing there on the platform scratching my head and thinking about it when a guy came toward me.  I worked up my courage and asked him if he lived there and if I got on the train would I be safe.  He was very nice.  He assured me I would have lots of fun downtown and it was perfectly safe and then said, “I’m going that way, come on I’ll show you.”  I asked if he was sure he didn’t mind me tagging along and he said it was fine.  So he got me a round trip ticket and explained what train I was on and which one to take back to the airport.  He was so cool!  So we got to our stop.  It was like a city underground Philadelphia with shops and musicians playing here and there.  He pointed out the Dunkin Donuts and that we were at Comcast and 17th station.  We went above ground to the skyscrapers.  He pointed out the tall building nearest us was the Comcast building and I could find it anywhere.  He pointed to the streets to note that we were on 17th and JFK Blvd.  He pointed out City Hall and other landmarks and then offered to walk with me and asked what did I want to do.  I needed a charger for my phone because I had packed it with my luggage (along with everything else I didn’t think I needed) to make my backpack as light as possible.  (Good thing after carrying it on my back in 100 degrees all day!)  So he took me to Radio Shack and then to a coffee-house and then showed me Washington Square where there was a guy playing flute and a couple of guys playing guitars.  It’s a beautiful park with nice shade trees and places to sit and across the street was a Barnes and Noble so I knew I would be ok right there!  I knew my way around pretty well at this point.  He said he had a few things to do at home but gave me his phone number and said to call him if I got lost or needed anything!  Then he said to call him around 1:00 and he would come meet me for a beer and get me on the right train back to the airport!  What an angel!!!  I enjoyed his company and he was so very helpful, I don’t know what I would have done without him!  So I walked all around and spent some time in B&N, some time in the park listening to the musicians and found the other park called Love Park.  Around noon I found my way back to the Comcast Building and found the underground train station.  I was so hot and sweaty from walking around in 100 degrees with a backpack on my back I was embarrassed to meet him and knew I was offensive to get on a plane.  I went to McD’s bathroom and washed my face and hair in the sink with hand soap!  lol!  Then I texted him to tell him I had found my way back to the station and did he want to meet there.  He texted back and I told him I was standing by the Dunkin Donuts near the violin player and I asked him if he could spare an old T-shirt as I was offensive.  He met me there and brought me a clean shirt then got on the train with me to the next stop where we went to a really cool bar and got a local brew beer called Yard’s and a burger.  It was really good and refreshing.  And it was a really cool “Mummers” T-shirt he gave me! Then we said our goodbyes.  I gave him a hug and a big kiss!  I couldn’t help myself!  I had just asked the first random guy walking toward the train for help and I was lucky it happened to be him!  I hope to keep in touch with him.  I owe him a great kindness.  I got on the train and got off at the next stop without any problems.  I got to my plane on time and got home to WPB at 10:30 pm.  A perfect end to a perfect vacation! 

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