Monday, June 29, 2015

Soaring to New Heights

I've been to Telluride many times in the past and have never been able to decide how I feel about it.  It is a gorgeous little town, but it is a town that caters to the rich and famous and I've generally felt out of place there.  Telluride sits in a box canyon, surrounded by breathtaking mountain views that include a stunning waterfall high on the mountain in front of you as you drive into town.

Telluride is full of shops and restaurants and it hosts several festivals throughout the year, including the Telluride Bluegrass Festival that ended just a few days before we arrived.   We really did not have a specific plan for how we would spend our time there; our primary goal in visiting Telluride when we do is to return to Ouray on a scenic backroad that we discovered on one of our early visits.

Our B&B host had suggested that we take the free gondola ride up to Mountain Village where the ski resort is located, so with no other plans in mind we decided to take his advice.   We had never been particularly interested in exploring the resort area, so we had no idea what to expect.  

Rising above Telluride

Up, Up and Away

Birds Eye View
It's a fifteen minute ride up and over the mountain to Mountain Village.  You get a panoramic view of  the ski trails, huge stands of aspens and snow-capped mountains as you ride in an enclosed car that is unexpectedly quiet enough that you hear the birds singing and the familiar rustling sound of the  aspen leaves in the breeze.

Mountain Village

Arriving in Mountain Village, we stopped at an information kiosk to inquire about a good place to eat and were directed to Black Iron, a restaurant connected to one of the hotels.  It turned out to be a great suggestion.  We enjoyed the unique atmosphere that included tables with gas fireplace inserts.  After lunch we strolled around a bit to see how the rich folks behave on vacation, then took the return gondola back to Telluride and spent some time exploring the shops.  David made some new friends along the way.

David visits with the shop dogs and official greeters at Dakota Home
We left Telluride having a whole new attitude about the place.  We thoroughly enjoyed our visit and if we are ever in Telluride again, we will be looking forward to that ride up the mountain and the chance to get above the world for awhile.

On the way to Telluride we had stopped at a favorite observation point just west of Ridgway to take photos of the Dallas Divide.  The views here are stupendous and, as a side note, most of the land in this area is the property of designer Ralph Lauren.

Dallas Divide
Returning to Ridgway from Telluride, we like to take Last Dollar Road, which runs behind Lauren's Double RL Ranch.  It's an easy 4-wheel drive road that we discovered on an early trip to the area and it has become a tradition for us.  You do have to negotiate some rock slide areas, some creeks that cross the roadway and the occasional flock of sheep in the road, but it's well worth the effort because the scenery is outstanding.

I took this same photo about 25 years ago.  Still a favorite place.
An aspen grove.  I have a weakness for aspens.
One of the little streams we had to cross.

A study in contrasts
See those tiny little people?  That's David and Karen on a
mission to recreate a favorite photo.
A field of sunflowers and the Dallas Divide.  Can't beat it.
Today we depart Ouray and head to Gunnison.  On the way we will visit the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, which to my mind is just as impressive as the Grand Canyon.  

We are getting drunk on the scenery and lots more to come.  Any hangover, however, will be awesome.


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