Colorado-Taking the High Road
The Glorious Highway 9
I love to travel! It is a love that is never satisfiedt in the fabric of my soul. Meandering spontaneously on road trips through my current home state of Colorado never disappoints.
It's always a new adventure as I opt for the back roads. I made trips often in my life as a community correctional and recovery chaplain, exploring alternative routes generally less travelled. As those who I work with know: if you call me, I'll respond without hesitation rain, snow, or sunshine. I am thankfully led by God, and thus certainly going to enjoy the journey.
I rarely leave home without at least one camera, and I have learned the best shots are found on the move, but not as I drive! If you drive behind me, there's no need to worry, I know how to get on and off the road quickly and safely to take the shots I want. I live in the moment, and leave plenty of time in my schedule so I can stop into places that look interesting, and I meet amazing folks along the routes I take on every trip.
I don't worry about perfection, I take as many shots as I want, sometimes surprised at the quality that emerges as I review them. That's why digital cameras are so valuable: you can sort them out later. That process is a good part of the fun, seeing them afterwards and being surprised at the great shots I forgot about. Those that are great, make it to my travel articles, the rest are stored for scrapbooking, deleted, or after editing used for other graphic projects.
There are so many small historical towns in Colorado that are gratefully, uncluttered by excessive tourism. Their counterparts are still worth visiting, but I am focusing these articles on the ones that can be adequately encompassed in a day's visit. One of my favorites is Leadville, where you can usually walk the streets freely, and admire the architecture.
When I travel, I meet the most incredible people!. People are exquisite, unique and therefore, worth engaging, where possible. I consider it an art to bring people out during my interaction with them. Some of these exceptional people will find their way into future articles about their unique businesses by way of their hospitality and graciousness during my visits.
This first article is about Colorado Hwy 9. You can travel south from westbound I-70 through Lake Dillon, Frisco, Breckenridge, Blue River, Hoosier Pass, and Alma until you reach Fairplay. Fairplay is the home of Old South Park City, a town that has a small historical section with original buildings which is the first thing you see as you enter town.
It is a breathtaking drive along the mountains, summer or winter. The mountains run continuously all the way to Fairplay, and you will have little reason not to enjoy them as the curves on Hoosier Pass slow you down enough to pay attention.
As you travel through Frisco, Main Street is a right turn that is approximately one mile south. There are specialty shops and restaurants, most of which can be explored in a short time. Along the road before you reach town their are grocery stores, gas stations and restaurants for the quick stop items and snacks you may have forgotten to bring with you.
The town of Breckenridge is extensive mostly by virtue of the myriad stores on Main Street. I can easily become a distraction as I pass through Main Street. With all its colorful, unique specialty stores, spas, coffee shops and restaurants, which I am perusing on the 15 mph drive through town.
I highly suggest you take a 3 day weekend in "Breck" as the locals call it, to adequately explore and enjoy the town. The stores aren't usually open super early as the town wakes up from skiers enjoying late night parties. When you pop into any of the stores to visualize the unique wares, you will meet friendly locals for a real touch of hospitality.
If you want to stop on the way through briefly, don't miss the Cool River Coffee Shop, by the "Boat" just before the signal on the west side of the street before you head south. Cool River is the funnest place ever to grab a cup of coffee, Chai tea, juice or whatever sounds good. You will be dazzled with their selection of pastries and muffins and their variety of light breakfasts.
I particularly love this drive it in the spring when the flowers are blooming everywhere, and the fall when the leaves are changing color. During the winter months it can be a little challenging, for anyone not experienced in driving winding, icy roads, but it is worth it.
After passing through Breckenridge, you come to Blue River, a residential community dotted by a beautiful small roadside lake, and the Blue River, which runs through it.
As you continue south, you will reach Hoosier Pass Summit where you can stop and take pictures, if you like. Continuing on, you come to Alma, a quaint artsy town with a spiritual flavor according to the people in the community.
There is a little breakfast cafe, a sheepskin store, and of course, AL-MART, (the alternative to Walmart, which mountain residents all over Colorado have a huge aversion to).
There is a lovely rustic building in the middle of town that houses a great boutique, appropriate called Motherlode in this land of old mines. I learned that it recently changed ownership and underwent transformation by Angie, the gracious new proprietor.
Her attention and generous encouragement help was delightful. I took and hour to explore the beautiful clothing and jewelry in her shop and try on some beautiful and unique new additions to my wardrobe. I think that will become a regular, intentional stop on my frequent trips to Fairplay, since I am sure there will always be something new.
Afterwards, I continued on to Fairplay where I stopped to look at the latest South Park shirts and sweatshirts available at the shops in the middle of town. Dinner is always at Millonzi's (my favorite Italian restaurant in Colorado) on the "Beach" as it has a patio that overlooks the Blue River.
There is a hotel in town, several small coffee shops and an art gallery for local artists who are often in to meet you. The rock store has a great selection of beads so unique you won't find them anywhere else. The owners will help you put your selection together if you don't have the skills, for a very reasonable cost.
As in most mountain town, there are other gift shops, including a great western specialty store. There is also a candle shop, a local "goodies" store, a saloon, an old-fashioned ice cream shop and a resale store for your exploration and enjoyment.
Old South Park City, known as the main attraction, is fun for the family and young children. Once admission is paid, you have a good portion of the day here to roam through the original buildings, and visit the museum and gift shop for souvenirs.
After some quality time with my friends and a jacuzzi on that cold night I had a good night's sleep at their home in Fairplay which is a regular stay. Kristen and Colin live in a rural area outside of town that is graced with aspen trees and delightful for great sunsets and sunrises.
The following morning, I made the choice to I retrace my drive home with some great memories and pictures, more of which I will be sharing in future hubs. In the summer months, I take a different road home, with a whole different type of scenery, which I will share. Thanks for joining me on my journey!
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