“Coming Around”

I am finally “coming around” after landing home seven days ago. My expectation of a quick recovery was highly inflated. With 10 days spent above 5,300′, five of those above 10,500′, I have been slow to settle back in my daily routine, much preferring to read, sleep and generally avoid everyone. John has “come around” a bit sooner but still shows his own signs of exhaustion by day’s end.

We spent less than 24 hours in Denver (5279′), 48 hours in Boulder (5318′) and about 24 hours in Centennial, WY (8,074′). Coming from a city at 886′, the time spent acclimating eased us into our higher elevation activity, a five-day backpack in Wyoming’s Snowy Mountains in the Medicine Bow Wilderness. Here we traversed between 10,500′-11,300′.

Our travel companions (our group totaled seven) were the usual group of late-summer, early-fall backpackers, some that we have hiked with for 20 years, some a few years less. Our ages ranged from 67 to 80, a fact I mention because age has affected our last couple of backpacks (trip planner is 80). This year the effect was pronounced enough that I am left wondering if there will be another.

Not unlike other group trips, this one had some memorable highs and some difficult lows. As I sort through my thoughts, photos and notes, I will leave you with several photos and comments on my fear of flying and our days in Denver and Boulder.

Flights are often a major piece of a travel itinerary and for me a great source of anxiety. Even on the best travel days, I am not a happy flyer. Since I am unwilling to give up visiting the places that air travel takes me, I grit my teeth and go. With this in mind, I reluctantly booked a low-cost airline, Frontier, for a direct flight that departed at 9:30 AM and got us into Denver at 10:30 AM (I irrationally distrust low-cost carriers). Even with “the works” travel package (luggage, assigned seats, preferred boarding), our tickets were half that of name brand carriers.

Unfortunately, not long after the purchase, we received a change of flight notice indicating our flight had been rescheduled to depart at 9:30 PM and arrive in Denver at 10:30 PM. This change resulted in a 12:00 AM hotel check-in (2:00 AM Knoxville time) and a crazy, gut bomb, wee morning hour meal at Denny’s. Sigh.

But, for two weeks prior to departure, I was short on sleep and filled with anxiety. Every night, lightning and thunder lit up the black sky. I remember several conversations with John about flights and weather. I am sure he got tired of my obsessing, I know I did. Then, on departure night, a stunning sunset lit up the evening sky and the stars appeared, no storms. We experienced one the smoothest flights I can remember, and I remember most of my flights!

Sunset and the Knoxville airport on departure night.

Our time in Denver was short. REI-Denver (one of two REI flagship stores) was a must stop for our group (of three at this time), though I am not sure why. We have more outdoor gear than we need right now. John was willing to look at paddle boards and kayaks, which leaves me hopeful for a future purchase. I enjoyed walking along the Platte River greenway, watching ducks, children and dogs play in the water. As we walked, Denver’s temperature rose quickly indicating that summer still had a tight grip on the city.

REI on Platte Street is located in the restored 1901 Denver Tramway Building.

Lunch (we were now a group of four) was at the Denver vegetarian restaurant, City O’ City on 13th Street. Our group had one committed vegetarian and one semi-vegetarian. The food was good, I think I had some semblance of a BLT.

City O’ City mural
Patio dining at City O’ City

Next stop, a couple of nights in Boulder. Again, greenway walking just footsteps from our hotel, The Millennium Harvest Hotel, which I would rate 2.0 stars. But we weren’t there for the hotel.

Most memorable was lunch at The Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse on our last day in Boulder. Initially, in Denver, when there were only three of us, I mentioned having high tea at the Boulder Teahouse. Will and John completely dismissed me. Twelve hours later, after we had picked up Joan, she mentioned lunch at The Teahouse. I was amazed how quickly the guys thought it was a great idea. I am going to guess the initial reaction was to “high tea” but it just shows my level of respect around here😂.

Front of The Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse on 13th Street. To the left is the entrance, to the right, outdoor seating.

The Dushanbe Teahouse is a Persian Teahouse hand-built and painted in Dushanbe, Tajikistan then disassembled, crated and shipped halfway across the world to its sister city, Boulder. Work on the Teahouse began in 1987. The Teahouse was publicly opened in Boulder in 1998.

Inside the Teahouse with intricate paintings and carvings. The wooden poles are beautiful.
We were a group of seven by this time and chose to eat outside. From left: Will, Joan, Bob, John behind Bob (at another table, ordering) and Paul. Missing: Tom and me.
I had the most delicious Koren Fried Noodles.

Finally, before we left for Wyoming, we drove west of Boulder along Boulder Canyon Drive (SR 119) for about 11-miles to see Boulder Falls. The falls (a series of small and large cascades) are located on 5 acres of property, once held for mining claims and eventually gifted to the city of Boulder. The hike to the falls is short, about .1-mile from the highway parking lot though the falls are not visible from the highway.

Short hike to Boulder Falls.

With this picture of beautiful Boulder Falls, I will close. We pick up our van (post here) in a couple of weeks and have several fall camping trips planned but I hope to share the balance of this trip before then.

This entry was posted in Art, Backpacking, Colorado, Friends, Outside, Travel, Uncategorized, Wyoming. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to “Coming Around”

  1. lexklein says:

    You guys are awesome! I hope I’m still backpacking at ages 67-80!

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