[This Flickr photo set has all of the photos from this trip. Well, not all of them, but the ones that matter.]
Our good friends Pete and Stacey, as a wedding gift, gave us a stay at a lodge in Crested Butte. It took us two years to finally make it up there, and it’s too bad we hadn’t taken advantage of the trip sooner. Dorrie and I both loved every minute of trip. Even the drive was awesome.
We chose a weekend late in September so we could catch some of the fall color in the mountains. I think we chose the exact right time of the year because every birch and aspen tree between our home and Crested Butte was in peak color. (Unfortunately, every photo I took of the fall color was in mid-day light, so the photos aren’t so spectacular.) I had never driven up Highway 285 past Pine Junction. The drive through the plains of Park County and the mountain passes to Gunnison are now my favorite Colorado drive.
It had snowed lightly in the mountains the night before we left, so there was a light blanket of snow everywhere. If we had chosen to stop to photograph whenever we found a something scenic, it would have taken us three days to make the four-hour drive. One of our few stops was along Monarch Pass near the continental divide. The cloudy skies and the snow that had dusted the pine trees the night before made for some pictures that I think I’ll be able to print and frame. Seriously, take a look at some of the photos in this Flickr photo set to see what I mean.
Our actual stay in Crested Butte was filled with a whole lot of… um, well… not much. We used the weekend to relax, mostly. We stayed at a quaint, 17-room lodge called Cristiana Guesthaus. The lodge, while being nothing special, was really just what we needed: quiet and comfortable and filled with friendly people that all wanted to watch the Broncos beat the Patriots. Dorrie and I spent quite a bit of time in various restaurants in town. Our most notable meal was at Le Bosquet. I’ll leave the review of our meal to Dorrie, but I can say that we thoroughly enjoyed the food and especially the South African wine that we tried.
The oddest part of our mini-vacation was that we just happened to choose the weekend of the Vinotok Fall Festival. This is strange… we still don’t have a freaking clue what the festival was about. The first night of our stay, as we were walking back to the lodge after dinner, we walked past a large pile of pallets and brush arranged in a manner that, if lit on fire, would burn very bright and very large. Sure enough, around 9:00 that night, right outside the lodge, a large crowd of rowdy, young whippersnappers gathered around the pile of soon-to-be-burning material and started chanting, “We’re not drunk!” or, perhaps it was “Burn that witch!” or something else. Like I said, Dorrie and I still don’t know what the festival was about or what the crowd was chanting. We had a perfect view of the bonfire from the balcony of the lodge and I was able to manage a few photographs of the pagan children dancing in the flames.
On our last day we chose at random an out-and-back hike in the mountains outside the lodge. We chose the Oh-Be-Joyful trail, and our choice was a good one. I got to finally do some serious off-roading in my Jeep Wrangler to get to the trailhead. The hike was nice, although we found it strange that there was a large number of cows in the mountains at 10,000 feet above see level. Mountain Moomonsters is what the locals call them. (“Cows. Why did it have to be cows.” – Harrison Ford, Raiders of the Lost Ark)