Last Saturday, we packed up the trusty Suburban and headed west for the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Dad rented us a cute Airbnb house in Ouray, a quaint town my parents visited over 15 years ago and fondly vowed to return to someday. That “someday” finally came on August 5th, 2018. Once we arrived in the “Switzerland of America,” we quickly settled into our vacation home before eagerly grabbing the keys to the sweet convertible-top jeeps that we got to call “ours” for the week.
I can see why Ouray found a special place in my parents’ hearts; our vacation there just concluded and I already want to return! I mean, Genesee and I had the absolute best time, despite enduring sunburn, whiplash, and 70+ hours of traveling. It’s no easy feat driving in mostly low-range to cover 400 miles of rugged terrain that reach upwards of 13,000 feet elevations, even with a small gang of good sports who span the age spectrum, but we did it like champs!
Apparently, the most beautiful scenery in Colorado is reserved for the brave souls who dare to venture up switchback roads, hoping they won’t meet another vehicle on the loose rock, one-lane, no guardrail trails. Therefore, we were constantly surrounded by absolutely breathtaking views, enhanced, of course, by mom’s favorite instrumental songs streaming through the speakers on repeat: St. Elmo’s Fire and The Ludlows. Trust me when I say the pictures hardly do it justice.
Our most memorable sights, however, were found driving along the Million Dollar Highway, climbing the mountain to Clear Lake, braving the dead-end that overlooked Silverton, and surviving Ophir Pass’ sheer-drop-off shelf road. If you add these routes to your bucket list, go with an experienced driver and be willing to shamelessly pee your pants a little. Genesee recommends diapers.
Silvershield Twin Peaks Trail (hiked by Joel)
Woohoo! Let’s get this thing started!
Last Dollar Road
G and Grandma take in the view at Alta Lakes
My happy dance!
Braving Ophir Pass
Elevation: 11,789 Feet
I just woke up… glad I missed that scary part.
Smile, since we lived to tell the story!
Heading to the Million Dollar Highway from Ophir Pass
I love our convertible top!
Aspiring Jeep Model
“Look ma! No roof!!”
California Pass: 12,960 Feet
The view overlooking California Pass
An old mine shaft at Lake Como
Lake Como from afar
See those cool lines? They’re actually roads!
Pit stop on the way to Clear Lake
There’s a waterfall behind my parents, but it’s hard to see in this picture.
We found the lake, 12,000 feet above sea level!
Brrr… it’s a little windy up here!
Me and sis
This jeep can go anywhere!
Grandma and Grandpa
Yankee Boy Basin
Stopping at a switchback on Kendall Mountain Road
A dead end, overlooking Silverton
Now what do we do?!
Mom and Dad take a selfie on top of the world
Dad took a picture of Mom and Grandma in case we didn’t live to tell about it.
Panoramic view of Silverton
The famous Silverton to Durango steam train
Still, although we truly enjoyed the ride, no amazing landscape or thrilling jeep route can rival the simple family time that Genesee and I treasured most. There’s just nothing quite like playing Scavenger hunt along the Interstate stretch with Mom, peek-a-booing in the middle row with Grandma, wrestling on the bunk bed like only siblings can, eating a ham-wrapped string cheese “sandwich” in a park with loved ones, opening daily presents from Grandma, exploring the fancy playground in Telluride, tossing a frisbee across the backyard with Grandpa, fishing in the cool Colorado waters with Dad, soaking in mineral water at the Ouray hot springs, “watering the flowers” in front of a mountain range backdrop, hearing the steam engines leave Silverton, and visiting the local toy store to find a red model jeep.
Getting gas at Story City
G playing peek-a-boo with Grandma
Stopping for lunch at Glenwood Springs
Exploring the rest area
Taking G for a walk
Me and G wrestling on the bunk bed
Breakfast in the backyard
Frisbee with Grandpa
Lunch under the gazebo at Silverton Park
How did my hat get up this flagpole?!
“Here I come!”
“Catch me, dad!”
The Durango & Silverton Train
Fishing at Alta Lakes
“Catch a big one, dad!”
“Watering the flowers”
Hot Springs at Ouray
We LOVE the warm water!!
Even mom went swimming!
A family that swims together, stays together
Check out my new ride!
G loves her floaty too!
The whole complex
Feeding the fishies
Panoramic view of Ouray Hot Springs
G snuggling with Grandma
Driver in training
Yankee Boy Basin
Last stop: Toy Store!
Ouray, you gained another superfan! So, this isn’t goodbye; it’s just “see you later.” And by “later,” I don’t mean 15 years…. got that, parents? Until next time, thanks for the memories!