With the help of Bandit, Colin and Brittany woke up at 7 while Alex and Joe slept until 8:45. With Monarch pass behind us we were thrilled that we only had one more climb in Colorado until we could say farewell to big changes in elevation. After a round of push ups, forced by Joe, we were ready to go. The first part of the ride was nice because we still had about 10 miles to descend from Monarch Pass. It was once we reached the bottom that we followed the road which curved along the Arkansas River, a beautiful sight. We all agreed that we would much rather blow up a tube and float down stream with a drink in our hand. But since there were no tubes or drinks in sight we decided biking alongside the river was the next best thing.
Once we hit Cotopaxi we began climbing towards the next city. Upon arrival to Westcliffe we found out that there were no campsites for tents that we could stay at so we had to keep going another 12 miles to the next campground. We weren’t thrilled because it was already 6:00 and we were hungry, but we pressed on. After a couple more miles we all turned around and said goodbye to Monarch Pass and the rest of the Rockies.
Finally, we made it to the campsite and finished our last climb in Colorado (we were upset for obvious reasons). We had to drive a couple miles down an uneven dirt road to reach the Ranch where there was camping. Had we known this van was going to be doing so much off-roading, we would have purchased bigger tires and a lift kit. The owner started to show us how to get to the tent camping on his 4-wheeler – golf cart hybrid. It quickly became clear that the over-packed minivan would not be able to make it up the hill as we began to skid out and roll backwards. Eventually we made it to our campsite set up camp, ate and passed out. Overall, it was a long day but knowing tomorrow will be an easy 45 miles made a big difference.
We all had a smile on our faces when we awoke this morning because of numerous reasons. First of all, it was going to be a short, easy day. Secondly, at the end of a short ride descending about 5,000 ft into Pueblo we were going to Pizza Hut to put a dent in their buffet. Thirdly, after filling our stomachs with all pizza we could we were driving to Alex’s Aunt’s house in Denver; which means a home cooked meal and a warm shower. Lastly, Friday morning we are going to Boulder and staying with a friend of ours, Paul Rightmyer, until Sunday.
With all of that ahead of us we packed up camp, got ready quickly, and were on our way! The first 20 miles of the ride was all downhill, making it so we barely had to pedal. Then, the rest of the ride was mostly rolling hills until reaching Pueblo. About 15 miles from our destination Colin, who may enjoy hospitals more than he should, had just learned how to ride his bike with no handlebars when Joe got a flat tire. After finding out that none of us had any spare tubes we had to call Brittany, let’s hope we learn from our mistakes. It was just our luck that the one day she went all the way to our end point that none of us had a spare tube. Once Joe changed his tire it was only about an hour ride into Pueblo where we ended at pizza hut. For the next hour we transformed into piggies and stuffed our faces. Then, we drove up to Denver to meet more of Alex’s family.
Upon pulling into the driveway, we saw there were balloons and a banner saying congratulations hung above their front entrance. With open arms Barb and Elaine welcomed us into their home. Not only did they offer us a place to sleep, but they bought us gas and took us to Costco to buy a few necessities in bulk: peanuts, veggie burgers, and Annie’s Macaroni and Cheese! They made us a delicious dinner followed by dessert, we have it rough here.
7/2/10 – 7/4/10
We woke up Friday morning with just the three of us as Alex had been dropped off at the airport earlier that morning. He was feeling homesick and decided to visit home for the weekend. More Colorado for us! Before leaving the lovely home of Alex’s relatives we shared an awesome breakfast with Barbara and Elaine. Since we were all new to this beautiful state we wanted to see what else it had to offer. Therefore, around 11 o’clock we headed out to the city of Boulder. Our first stop in this city was at the University of Colorado at Boulder. We walked around the campus and Joe checked out the engineering department to see what it had to offer (in a completely non-nerdy way). We couldn’t help but notice that not only the University, but the city itself is very biker friendly, as there are biker lanes in all the streets (if only the rest of the country could pick up this trend…). It was when we decided to walk around the shops that we noticed all of the excitement in this city. We sat and watched a folk group, a magician and clown who made incredible balloon animals/hats. Eventually though we left this place as we made our way over to our friend’s house, Paul Rightmyer. The five of us including Paul’s girlfriend, Lisa, had plans to spend the weekend together at Poudre Canyon near Fort Collins. We drove up and were able to find a campsite relatively quickly to our surprise. While the three of us were enjoying the great oudoors of Colorado, Alex had safely reached New York after a 3 hour delay in Washington DC. Shortly after arriving, Alex went out to a surprise (for some) dinner with his girlfriend Megan, her parents, and Dave and Elaine Kramer, friends of the Zagordas and parents of Mike Kramer, our go to guy and contact at LLS. It was nice to chat with everyone about our travels and the blog and to get some feedback. Almost everyone Alex visited this weekend told him how much they enjoy following our blog and it really makes us feel extremely gratified to know that people actually read this!
While eating breakfast the next morning, we all decided to look for a better campsite and within an hour or so we were able to obtain a secluded campsite with a fire pit, near a stream. We set up our tents, ate lunch and headed out to go bouldering. Bouldering is a form of rock climbing where you pretty much scale boulders with a mat below you in case you lose your grip. We were lucky to have Paul with us as he not only had all the equipment, but he is a very good climber who was able to help us reach the top. After we finished climbing we headed back to our campsite where we hung out by the stream ate dinner, and played banana grams (a less formal version of scrabble). It was after dinner and banana grams that Paul entertained us with his juggling skills, he is obviously part clown. After his performance we gathered around a fire where we talked until we were too tired to move our mouths…
Sunday was very similar to Saturday in that we decided to go bouldering once more. We climbed for a bit as our arms were fairly tired from the day before. (It surprised us too to find out that Joe and Colin’s upper bodies were sore…) After climbing a few boulders we grew quite hungry. On our way back to the car, Brittany glanced into a meadow and saw a moose grazing . After taking a few pictures we ate lunch by a stream and headed back to Boulder, leaving Paul and Lisa behind to enjoy another night of camping. We walked around Chautauqua Park which has trails that lead you to the 5 flatirons, a series of beautiful rock faces in Boulder; a must see! When it began to rain, we figured that was the perfect time to grab something to eat for dinner. After dinner we drove back to Denver where we once again were treated like royalty by Alex’s relatives…
It was a refreshing weekend to visit with a friend from home. It allowed us time to catch up with other friend’s lives while reminiscing about time past. Paul, one of Eric’s best friends, was able to evoke memories and feelings that made Eric seem even more vivid in our minds. It has become apparent on this trip that it is almost impossible to explain who Eric was to strangers as he is comparable to a rare few. Spending time with someone who knew Eric so well was a nice change of pace as there were no explanations needed, we could simply tell stories and laugh about times had with our friend.
As Paul and Lisa begin to drive east, we hope our paths will cross again in St. Louis; approximately 950 miles away!
Joe, Colin, Brittany, and Alex