Holidays

Breckenridge, Part II

After Elizabeth and I broke camp Sunday morning we drove back to the public parking lot next to the gondola station. Our plan was to explore downtown Breckenridge on foot and then do some hiking up in the local mountains.

Breckenridge is a beautiful little town with an Old West Gold Rush aesthetic. Not in a dusty or faded or ghost-towny way, but fresh and colorful and vibrant. Elizabeth and I stepped into one charming little shop, bought a couple of pretty (and pricey) trinkets, and didn’t step into any more shops for fear of spending all of our money.

See that mountaintop in the next pic? That’s Peak 8, locally known as Imperial Peak, elevation 12,998′. A few hours after I snapped this pic, Elizabeth and I were standing on its summit.

Breckenridge is full of art, and parks, and parks full of art. Much of downtown is closed to car traffic now to make more room for pedestrians to socially distance.

We walked up Main St, and then returned to the parking lot via the Riverwalk Trail.

And then we climbed a mountain!

To be continued…

Categories: A Plethora of Parks, Animals, Artwork, Covid-19, Holidays, Life, Travel | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Breckenridge, Part I

After puttering around the parks and foothills for three weeks I was eager to get up into the actual Rockies, visit one of Colorado’s picturesque little mountain towns and maybe summit a peak or two. I would love to see Ouray, but I’m not quite up for the six-hour drive to get there just yet. For my Labor Day weekend outing, Breckenridge was a more accessible choice. Elizabeth came with me. Luke wasn’t feeling a peak-scaling expedition this time.

I expected traffic to be awful heading west out of Denver into the mountains, and it was. What should have been an hour-and-40-minute cruise ended up being closer to two-and-a-half hours. But the views are so pretty, we enjoyed the drive anyway.

It was nice to get out of the Denver haze and up into the blue skies. We even pulled out into a turnout to admire an overlook view of the Dillon Reservoir.

We didn’t really know what to expect in Breckenridge. We had a vague, flexible plan to find some public parking near the scenic downtown and then just walk around and see what there was to see.

Parking was easy to find. And the Breckenridge magic started right away –– we saw gondolas suspended over the lot, heading up to some unseen alpine destination.

We asked around and found out that the gondolas are free to ride, so naturally we got in line. In retrospect, I’m amused by the fact that we never asked where the gondolas were going. It didn’t even matter; we’d just find out when we got there.

There are a total of four gondola stations on the line. We stayed on all the way to the top.

We disembarked at Breckenridge Ski Resort, which offers year-round activities. After grabbing some lunch at the Ski Hill Grill, we made a beeline for the Alpine Slide.

We took a ski lift to the top of the slide…

…and then rode little toboggans-on-wheels back down the slope. Wheeeeeeeeee!

By then it was mid-afternoon, and we wanted to settle the question of where we would be camping that night. We asked a resort employee about dispersed camping nearby, and he cheerfully gave us directions to his own favorite area, up in the National Forest above a different resort. I made a note, and we headed back to the gondolas.

I accidentally got off one station too early. Stayed long enough to snap a pretty pic and got back on.

Elizabeth wanted to check out the High Line Railroad Park, so we drove there next. The museum part is currently closed for Covid, but we did enjoy looking at the old vintage train cars and engines.

This monster is a rotary snowplow, used for clearing heavy snow off of the tracks.

There’s also a nice railway-themed playground.

And my favorite part –– the park is near the trailhead of Trollstigen Trail, which led us to Isak Heartstone, the Troll of Breckenridge.

It’s a short, pretty path, definitely worth the detour.

The shadows were getting longer, and we didn’t want to be setting our tent up in the dark. We stopped by a local eatery for soup and bread to go, and then drove up to the area the resort guy had recommended.

It was pretty up there for sure, but we had a hard time finding any ground flat enough to set up a tent on. After driving a backroad loop that my car was not designed for, we circled back and stopped to talk to an employee of the nearest resort about where we could camp. He recommended near the river, but said that really anywhere was fine.

Long story short, we finally found a flattish spot to set up camp with a nice view. And with all of the care we took to follow the advice of the locals, we still got a visit from a ranger the next morning, telling us that we had set up our tent in a no-camping zone and would have to relocate. Clearly there are rules that we must learn. I’m not going to post any pics of our campsite, because I don’t want to encourage anyone else to camp there.

To be continued!

Categories: A Plethora of Parks, Covid-19, environment, Family, food, Holidays, Life, Travel, Weather | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Adventures in Nepal XVIII: Swayambunath, the Monkey Temple

January 29 was Emma and Elizabeth’s last full day in Nepal. They started with breakfast at the hotel and exploring the hotel grounds.

Good advice for us all:

Emma’s mom had arranged for the girls to have a guided tour of Kathmandu. They were both feeling better after a good night’s sleep, but to be on the safe side they opted to wear masks for the remainder of the trip.

The first stop was Swayambunath, the “Monkey Temple.”

The monkeys of Swayambunath are considered holy. According to Buddhist lore, Manjushri —- the bodhisattva of wisdom and learning who raised the hill that the stupa is on —- let his hair grow long. He got head lice, and the lice transformed into the monkeys.

Overlooking smoggy Kathmandu:

More to come!

Categories: Animals, Covid-19, environment, Family, food, Friends, Holidays, Life, Nepal, Travel | Tags: | Leave a comment

Weekly Sketch: Carousel Zebra (Work in Progress)

We saw this guy on a boardwalk carousel on the Gulf coast just south of Houston. I like his face and his tack. I’m going to color him in, but I think he looks pretty cool as a line drawing too.

Categories: Animals, Artwork, Family, Holidays, kids, Life, Road trip, Travel | Tags: | Leave a comment

Adventures in Nepal XVII: Back to Kathmandu

While we were sorting through the photos for this post, I realized that I am hopelessly confused about the family relationships between all of the friends Elizabeth made at Paljorling Camp. I think the older couple that I credited in an earlier post as part of “the family next door” are actually the couple in whose home Elizabeth and Emma stayed, but I’m sure the younger man is their son and Elizabeth says he definitely lived next door with two brothers and someone she thought was his mother. I may never figure out who is related to who and in what way, but I deeply regret any hurt feelings I may have unintentionally caused by misidentifying people in earlier posts. I am so grateful for the kindness and hospitality Elizabeth received during her stay among the Tibetans. She returned home with a lively light in her eyes that had been missing for too long.

On January 28, their last morning in Pokhara, Emma and Elizabeth had breakfast with the family next door.

Then they all said their formal goodbyes.

The khatag is a traditional Tibetan silk scarf that is presented ceremonially on special occasions, in this case the parting of friends.

A family member drove the girls to meet their bus.

Goodbye Pokhara!

Goodbye Himalayas!

It’s a long eight-hour bus ride from Pokhara to Kathmandu. But the scenery is nice, even in the rain.

The Prithvi Highway follows the winding course of the Trishuli River from Pokhara to Kathmandu. I only know the name of the river because I just now looked it up, and I also found this reassuring paragraph on Wikipedia: “Trishuli River is also one of the dangerous river of Nepal. The curvy Prithvi Highway is a bad fate for many Nepalese people traveling to and back from the capital. Every year, several buses and trucks fall and disappear into this wild river, making the corridor a dangerous pass for people.”

The bus stopped for lunch at the Riverside Springs Resort

The girls stretched their legs and had a nice lunch, and then continued on.

Their bus did not fall into the river, so that was nice. But after they arrived in the city and checked into the Kathmandu Guest House, Emma mentioned in our Messenger group chat that she was not feeling well. Fever, weakness, fatigue.

I made some awkward coronavirus jokes and then said that maybe she should wear a mask to be on the safe side. We speculated on what would happen if she still had a fever at flight time. Elizabeth said nothing during the chat, but told me later that she had felt ill too. They both went to bed early and had a restful sleep.

That same evening, a senior medical adviser at the US Department of Veterans Affairs wrote in a group email to public health experts in the governmennt and universities, “Any way you cut it, this is going to be bad. The projected size of the outbreak already seems hard to believe.”

More to come!

Categories: Family, food, Friends, Holidays, kids, Life, Love, Nepal | Leave a comment

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