Vail, Co July 28, 2014

Monday, July 28, 2014

We woke up and went through our usual morning routine. I opened the blinds and to my surprise, I saw three hotair balloons lifting off and floating over the valley towards the foothills. It was amazing!

We got things ready and packed up the truck for an overnight in Vail. We left at 9:00 and headed west on I-70. We started going the same way we had gone on Sunday. Bob pointed out the “space house” that was used in a Woody Allen movie in the 70’s.

This is one of the prettiest views on this highway as we traveled through the valley and climbed into the mountains.

There was construction work going on at the Twin Tunnels today. They would be blasting rock from the hillside at 3:30 to add an additional lane to the highway going through the tunnel. Suzy said it can get very congested here and another lane is needed.

We passed the turnoff for St. Mary Glacier and were on a section of highway that we hadn’t traveled on yesterday. This was all new to me. We stopped near Georgetown for a restroom break and continued on into the mountains. There were remnants of gold and silver mines tucked into the hillsides along the highway from days gone by.

This section of the Rocky Mountains is very rugged and craggy-looking. The highway is protected from rock slides by putting up these chainlike fences and netting along some of the cliff areas near the highway.

The higher we climbed, the closer we got to the snow-capped mountains above the treeline.

We passed Loveland Ski Area. I only remember most of these areas from skiing here in the winter. They look so different in the summer.

From there, we passed through the Eisenhower Tunnel which is 1.693 miles long. It was completed in 1973 and passes under the Continental Divide. It is considered the longest mountain tunnel on the I-system. It is also the highest vehicular tunnel in the U.S.

Coming out on the other side, we had some amazing views.

We descended Loveland Pass on a 7% grade and it was all downhill from there. It was quite a steep fall.

They had quite a few runaway truck ramps along this part of the highway. Bob remembers seeing trucks up there after they lost the use of their brakes. Yikes!

We passed all the old familiar ski hills when we used to ski out West in winter years ago….Breckenridge, Arapahoe, and Keystone. This is the town of Dillon.

Further on, we got a great view of Dillon Reservoir. What a pretty sight!

The highway took us past Copper Mountain Ski Area–one of my favorites places to ski and we could see how much it had grown.

On a small patch of snow up on the hill, we saw some skiers doing what they love even in the summer.

We left the rugged mountain peaks behind as we drove toward Vail Pass Summit (El. 10, 603).

Then it was all downhill from there. 

We saw bikers using the bike trail that paralleled the highway for miles and miles over Vail Pass. We saw some bikers going down and others going up. My muscles ached just watching them! Bob’s sister rides this pass on her bike! What a woman!

We arrived in Vail at 11:15, but kept on going all the way to Avon. Bob gave me a running commentary on how things had changed from what he remembered from when he lived here from 1974-1978. Avon had really changed and grown a lot. The rough, craggy peaks transformed into the soft, rounded foothills.

We got off I-70 at Avon and took scenic Highway 6 through Avon and Minturn along the Eagle River. It was beautiful. Arrowhead and Beaver Creek Ski Areas were visible from the highway. Minturn is a bedroom community of Vail, but has never gotten overrun by tourists. It stayed pretty much the same as he remembered it. 

We ate our lunch with a great view of the mountains and turned around when the road headed up into the foothills.

We headed back on I-70 to West Vail where Bob showed me where he lived BC (before Cindy). He had a great view of the valley from his place on the hillside.

From there, we drove into Vail Village and parked the car ($12 for an hour). The main streets in Vail Village have now become pedestrian only.

In the Village, this area was new and very beautiful.

On our walk through the Village, there were flowers everywhere and Bob noticed this hummingbird. We watched him for quite awhile, but he never seemed to notice us.

Bob wanted to check out where he used to work at the Bully Three. It had been renovated in 1992, so it looked different and was now called the Bully Ranch. 

He had such good memories of working there. His brother, Steve, had also come to live and work in Vail when Bob was there, so Bob showed me where his brother had worked as a chef. The location was correct, but the restaurant had changed.

Some of the other restaurants were still there…a testament to a good reputation, great service and food.

Some of the places we both remembered from when we used to ski out West for many winters were still there…..and some were gone. Vail was always meant to look like a Swiss village. We found the fountain that Bob remembered and there were others now too.

We finally found the covered bridge that we both remembered. It was a landmark and still is. Someone offered to take our picture there. Now we have that summer memory together.

Bob and his friend, Corky, took inner tubes down this river and over the “falls” through Vail on a dare back in the day. 

This is the fire station where Suzy’s husband worked when they first met right in the heart of Vail.

It was very nostalgic to be in Vail and see some of the things we remembered. One of the places we wanted to find was an apres ski place called The Slope. We used to go there after skiing and watch ski movies. It was unique because you would lay on the floor with cushions. It was THE place to go. We couldn’t find it, so I suggested we ask someone in a realty office who might know the history of Vail. Bob went into the Vail Realty office and sure enough, he found someone who has been living in Vail since 1973. He remembered everything that Bob could remember. He had a great time reminiscing about some of the old familiar places.

The man in the realty office pointed out where The Slope used to be. The building had been renovated so The Slope wasn’t there anymore and neither was the building, but it was nice to talk to someone who knew where it used to be. This is the location of where it used to be.

We walked over to the ski slope at the base of the hill and right in town. The old triple chairlift had now become a gondola.

In the summer, people can ride the gondola to the middle of the mountain at Midvale or ride their bikes up or down on the trails.

We went back to the parking garage after about an hour of walking around. It was perfect timing because just as we were leaving the garage, it started to rain with big drops. We drove back to West Vail to check in at the Holiday Inn. Luckily, our room was ready so we could relax a little before dinner. Auggie loved his new digs and took a nap after sniffing around a bit. He slept soundly in the plush bed.

We watched a movie as it thundered and rained lightly. Around 5:00, we walked to one of the four restaurants, West Side Cafe, in the Holiday Inn complex for dinner. We lucked out. Monday was cheeseburger and a draft beer for $9.99 night. We had a great meal and returned to our room. Bob walked Auggie after dinner. We enjoyed our “comforts” in Vail as evening fell. What a treat it was to eat out and sleep in a plush bed away from the camper! It was part two of our anniversary treat to ourselves. Tomorrow we have a few more things to check out on the way home and then we’ll head back to Littleton. What a wonderful time we’ve had!

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