Today was the last full day that Dad and I had on our trip. We started out by having breakfast at a nearby Panera. Dad had oatmeal, and I had a breakfast sandwich. Usually Panera is pretty good, however we were both disappointed by the lack of service, and by how dirty the place was.
After breakfast we drove to Exotics Racing on the south end of Las Vegas so that I could do some laps in a Lamborghini Gallardo. We arrived about 30 minutes early, but we passed the time with chatting, and a few phone calls. After check-in, I was required to take a classroom session on how the course was laid out, how to drive the car, and what the general instructions were. Following the classroom session we were split out into groups of 4 and taken out for two laps in a Porsche Cayenne SUV to become familiar with the course. The first lap was conducted at a fairly moderate pace, and the second lap was completed to the full potential of the vehicle. I had never experience g-forces like that before. After completing the two introductory laps I took my seven laps in a black Lamborghini Gallardo. It’s not the fastest car that they offer to drive, however the engine note is my favourite of all the vehicles they offer, because it’s a V10, as opposed to a V8 or V12. V10’s offer very distinct engine notes. The car can accelerate from 0-60mph in 3.9 seconds with its 550hp 5.2l V10! I had such a blast and would do it again in a heartbeat!
It was time to grab some lunch, so we drove to a nearby Albertson’s grocery store to pickup some food, and then drove out to Red Rock Canyon, about 30 minutes west of Las Vegas. Unfortunately the park is so busy now that you have to book a time slot, so we didn’t have a chance to go in. When Dad and I were there a few years ago we could just drive in, and there was few people there. We found an overlook nearby and had our lunch, before driving back to our hotel.
After arriving back at the hotel I opted to go out and explore the city, while Dad had a nap. After he woke up he explored around with me for a bit. We walked our way through Bellagio, ARIA, Park MGM, New York-New York, Excalibur, and Tropicana. When we arrived at the Tropicana my dad put $5 into a slot machine and increased it to $9.10 before cashing out.
It was time to get some dinner. We originally tried to eat at “America”, an americana restaurant, however the service was so poor that we left. We walked across the street to Olive Garden, where the service was much better. After dinner we walked back to the hotel and relaxed for a bit before it was time to drive to the Neon Museum, where we had a 9:30pm tour.
The Neon Museum has certainly changed a lot since I visited it back in September 2017. The Neon Museum, opened on October 27th 2012, features signs from old casinos and other businesses from the Las Vegas area. The main feature is the fully restored lobby shell from the defunct La Concha Motel as it’s main visitor center, as well as the newly restored Hard Rock Guitar that was restored and unveiled in August 2021.
Today was the big day of our hike to The Wave in the Coyote Buttes North area of Utah. The Wave hike is 10.8km and has 376 metres of elevation gain, however most of it is at the end. This is one of the most stunning hikes I’ve ever been on, and I was extremely happy to be able to do it with my father. You must obtain a Coyote Buttes North permit before hiking, and that is done by a random lottery. Only 64 people a day are allowed in the area, with 48 lottery permits issued four months in advance, and 16 daily lottery permits issued two days before. Permitting started in 1984 with only 8 daily permits issued. The area became more popular after Windows 7 was launched on July 22nd 2009, and social media became more prevalent. The number of permits allowed has slowly been increased over the years.
We took a tour with Dreamland Tours with Robert. The drive to The Wave takes about 45 minutes, however 20 minutes are on an extremely rough road that was somewhat washed out, although they had graded it by the time we were on the way back. We took our time on the hike, learning about the different types of geological formations, including Moqui Marbles, which are brownish-black balls composed of iron oxide that surrounds sandstone that formed underground when iron minerals that precipitated from flowing groundwater.
At The Wave we took a bunch of photos, including the signature “desktop background” photo, before settling in for some delicious sandwiches, which were provided for lunch. After lunch we walked to the Second Wave, before looping back to the Wave, and then to the Mini Wave. We started heading back after exploring the area and taking all the photos that we wanted to. The total time on the tour was 8 hours including the 45 minute drive each way, and the stop for lunch.
After hiking we relaxed at our hotel for a bit, booked our Las Vegas Hotel, and went to Rocking V Cafe for dinner. I had a burger and a salad, and my dad had lasagna.
Today we woke up around 6:00am so that we could make it in time for our orientation in Kanab. We had breakfast at our hotel, packed up, and hit the road towards Kanab. The drive took 1.5 hours. The orientation for The Wave was pretty straight forward, and was more so a cover their butt kind of thing.
After the orientation we drove North towards a small hike called The Belly of the Dragon, which is a cave-like tunnel that was created as a water culvert under Highway 89. The hike took about 20 minutes, and wasn’t difficult, with exception to a 6-7 foot drop at the beginning of the hike which takes some navigating skills.
After that we drove to Orderville for another hike that didn’t work out due to the gate being closed off, however we made lemonade out of the situation by stopping in at the Rock Shop for some coffee and donuts. We enjoyed them outside on some seats while we chatted.
Afterwards we drove about 30 minutes Southwest towards the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. The dunes are formed from the erosion of pink-coloured Navajo Sandstone surrounding the park. High winds passing through the notch between the Moquith and Moccasin Mountains pick up loose sand particles and drop them onto the dunes due to the venturi effect. The dunes are roughly 15000 years old. We walked around the dunes for a bit before packing up and heading to Kanab for lunch.
In Kanab we stopped at Wild Thyme Cafe for some delicious salads before continuing our adventure Eastbound towards The Nautilus, about an hour’s drive away. The Nautilus, also known as the White Wave, resembles a big oyster shell from a distance and has a large notch in the middle, which is caused by erosion due to water. The hike is quite easy, and only takes about 20 minutes.
The last stop of the day was the Toadstool Hoodoos Trail, which we had visited back in 2017 if I recall correctly. The hike took about 40 minutes to complete and was fairly easy. At the end of the hike you’re presented with some toadstool formations, which look pretty neat.
We then drove back to Kanab and checked into our hotel; La Quinta Inn & Suites. The hotel is brand new, and the beds feel quite comfortable. After checking into our hotel we researched where the best place is to have dinner. We settled on Peekaboo Canyon Wood Fired Kitchen, which features delicious and elegant vegan dishes. We both had pizza there. I ended up having a pizza called the Hot Mess, which featured marinara, vegan Italian sausage, sweet drop, shishito and serrano peppers, chèvre, smoked gouda, drizzled with a bourbon reduction. Dad had Peekaboo Pear, which featured fresh sage, fresh pear, mozzarella and topped with fresh arugula, gorgonzola, pumpkin seeds and drizzled with champagne vinaigrette.
After dinner we picked up some snacks for tomorrow’s hike, and relaxed in the hotel for the remainder of the evening.
On January 1st 2023 I embarked on a trip to explore more of Eastern Europe. My trip will bring me to the cities of Tbilisi (Georgia), Baku (Azerbaijan), Dubai (UAE), and Yerevan (Armenia).
I had to take a bit of a milk run to get to Tbilisi due to it being so far East. My first flight was on an Air Canada Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner from Calgary to Frankfurt. I was originally booked in Premium Economy, however I was upgraded to Air Canada’s Signature Class for a couple hundred dollars. After arriving in Frankfurt I was prepared for the usual chaos of having to clear security, then passport control, and then security, however they appeared to have changed things since I last visited. You now just have to clear passport control, which was a breeze. Despite only having 1.25 hours to connect to my next flight to Warsaw, I had ample time.
The next flight to Warsaw was on a 28 year old Lufthansa A321. I was upgraded to the front area (for free), which has significantly more leg room. The 1.25 hour flight was a bit turbulent at the beginning, however smoothed out afterwards.
In Warsaw I had a nearly 9 hour layover, so I checked into the Courtyard by Marriot at the airport. The room was only $70, which is quite the bargain, however we have to consider that Poland is still fairly poor compared to Canada, so the prices are reflective of this. I slept for about 6 hours, which felt amazing.
It was then time to walk across the street back into the airport. There was no lineup at security so I probably could have slept for another hour, however I didn’t know what I would be in store for and didn’t want to chance it. I found a quiet spot in the airport and did some work until it was time to board my last flight to Tbilisi, Georgia on a LOT Polish Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8. The flight was about 3.5 hours and was one of the smoothest flights I had been on in years. It was really neat to fly over the Black Sea and see Russia on one side of the plane, and Turkey on the other side of the plane.
When I arrived in Tbilisi I picked up my rental car, a fairly old Renault Duster with nearly 200,000km on it. Apparently, this is quite common in Georgia to have older rental cars. When we were filling out the paperwork for the car the Alamo rental car agent ran out of room to mark up all the scratches and dents on the car. I would soon find out why this was the case, as the vast majority of roads don’t have line markings and people are fairly crazy drivers.
Before we dive into my adventures in Georgia, let’s take a brief look at the history of Georgia, and then at the history of Tbilisi.
The Kingdom of Georgia was very unified as a kingdom under the Bagrationi Dynasty by King Bagrat III in the early 11th century, after a number of predecessor states of the ancient kingdoms of Colchis and Iberia. The Kingdom of Georgia grew an immense amount under the ruling of King David IV and Queen Tamar The Great the Builder between the 10th and 12th centuries. By 1490, Georgia was split up into many small kingdoms and principalities, which struggled to maintain their autonomy against the Ottoman and Iranian empires, until they were finally annexed by the Russian Empire in the 19th century. After a brief independence with the Democratic Republic of Georgia between 1918 and 1921, Georgia was part of the Transcaucasian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic between 1922 and 1936, and was then formed into the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic until the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The current republic of Georgia has maintained it’s independence since 1991.
Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, was the starting point of my second Eastern Europe trip. The name Tbilisi is derived from the word “tpili”, which means warm. The city was given its name because of the areas surrounding sulfuric hot springs. The city was originally named Tiflis until 1946, when it was ordered by the Soviet leadership to use official Russian names that closely match the local language, in which it was renamed T’pilisi, or Tbilisi in English. The capital city was founded in 455 AD, and is home to 1.2 million people.
After picking up the car I drove to my first stop; the Chronicle of Georgia. The Chronicle of Georgia is a historical monument located near the Tbilisi Sea, which is not actually a real sea, but rather a man-made artificial lake. It was created by Zurab Tsereteli in 1985, however was never officially finished. The monument sits at the top of a large set of stairs and contains 16 pillars that are 30-35 metres tall, with the top half featuring kings, queens, and heroes, and the bottom half depicting stories from the life of Christ. There is also a chapel, and a cross of St. Nino. The reason why the monument was never finished was likely due to the collapse of the former Soviet Union. The views from the top were breathtaking.
Next stop was the Former Archaeology Museum, which is a fantastic example of Soviet architecture. The museum was established in 1988 by Georgian archeologist Rostom Abramishvili. The museum houses monuments that were discovered by archeological excavations in Tbilisi. Sadly, the museum hasn’t been operational since at least 2017, and it’s hard to find information online as to when it shut down. There was about a dozen stray dogs here that were barking a fair amount and approaching me, so I didn’t stay too long.
It was then time to leave the city for a bit to explore some Monastery’s and a Cathedral. The first monastery was Jvari Monastery. Jvari Monastery is a sixth-century Georgian Orthodox monastery located near the historic town of Mtskheta, Georgia. It is a recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1994. Jvari is a rare example of the Early Medieval Georgian style that survives to this day, relatively unchanged. It was built atop of Jvari Mountain, which stands 656 metres above sea level overlooking the confluence of the Mtkvari and Aragvi rivers, and the town of Mtskheta. In the 4th century Saint Nino, a female evangelist erected a large wooden cross on the tie of a pagan temple. The cross reportedly was able to work miracles on the locals and drew people from all over the area. A small church was eventually erected over the remnants of the wooden cross in 545 AD during the ruling of Guaram I, and named the Small Church of Jvari. The small church wasn’t able to satisfy the needs of the huge influx of Pilgrims, so the present building, known as the Greg Church of Jvari, was built between 590 and 605 AD by Guarum’s son Erismtavari Stepanoz I. In 914 the church was set alight by the Arabs, and was able to survive with only minor repairs. The importance of the complex increased over the time, and was fortified many times, especially during the Middle Ages, with the introduction of a stone wall and gate, many of which still survive.
Georgia is home to a very unique scenario where the White Aragvi and the Black Aragvi rivers meet, however don’t technically combine. You can see this from the top of Jvari Monastery. The rivers both have their unique colours, and don’t really truly mix or combine. I can only think of one other confluence like this, which is the Rio Negro and the Amazon River meeting in Brazil.
Also, from the top of Jvari Monastery you can see my next stop, which was Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, which was about a 15 minute drive away. Svetitskhoveli Cathedral is an Orthodox Christian cathedral located in the historic town of Mtskheta, Georgia. The cathedral is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1994. The cathedral dates back to the 4th century, and is currently the second largest church in Georgia, after the Holy Trinity Cathedral. Throughout the centuries the cathedral served as the burial place for kings. The current structure on site was completed between 1010 and 1029 AD by the medieval Georgian architect Konstantine Arsukisdze.
The final monastery for the day was Shiomgvime Monastery, a medieval monastic complex near the town of Mtskheta. It is located in a narrow limestone canyon on the northern bank of the Kura River, which also flows through Tbilisi. The history of the monastery dates back to about the 6th century when Monk Shio setup the monastery. The earliest building, the Monastery of St. John the Baptist, dates back to 560-580 AD. The church has an octagonal dome covered with a conic floor. The monastery underwent many changes throughout the 11th and 18th centuries, however it has largely maintained its original structure. An archaeological expedition revealed in 1937 a 2 km (1.2 mile) long aqueduct supplying the monastic communities of the nearby village of Skhaltba. The aqueduct was constructed by Bishop Anton of Chkondidi in 1202.
I noticed early on after leaving the airport that my phone wasn’t getting any data signals, which was making it hard to navigate, so I decided that it was best to get a local sim card. I stopped at a Beeline location and picked up a 2GB sim card for $4. I had to wait about 40 minutes in line, and submit my passport, but it was worth it being back on the grid.
I then ventured out again about an hours drive away from Tbilisi to Didgori Battle Memorial and Memorial Estate Statue. Wow, what a drive that was going through the mountains. It’s extremely beautiful in the Georgian mountains. The Didgori Battle Memorial is dedicated to one of the most famous battles in Georgian History, the Battle of Didgori. IN 1121, the king David the Builder won the great victory in the Battle of Didgori against numerous Turkish-Seljuk armies.
Close by is St. George Church, although I couldn’t find much information on the church. It is a small domed church that looks to be built relatively recently.
Continuing along my drive I completed a loop back into Tbilisi from the South side. The decent back into Tbilisi provided incredible views of the city below. I stopped to enjoy the view, and also saw an interesting old bus that was setup on the side of the road as a display piece.
I dropped off the vehicle and settled into my hotel; Hotel Myriam-R. The hotel looked nicer online that it did in person, but provided a clean and comfortable bed. After checking into the hotel I walked around Old Tbilisi for a while, but I won’t go into detail of the buildings I saw until tomorrow when I cover them in more detail.
It was eventually time for dinner. I ended up having Khachapuri, also known as Gerogian Cheese Bread, at a restaurant called Kebab House. Khachapuri is a warm boat-shaped yeast bread stuffed with multiple kinds of cheese and features a runny egg in the center. It was delicious!
It was about 8:30pm by the time I got back to my hotel room. I was barely able to keep my eyes open so I went to bed. I was woken up fairly regularly throughout the night with the noise of fire crackers going off, however it settled down around 3:00am. This is apparently a common issue in Tbilisi and they’re trying to crack down on it. I find it extremely inconsiderate, however I’m becoming a grumpy old man that doesn’t like noise.
Recently we completed a very short trip to Palm Springs, California. Palm Springs is a desert resort city that was founded in 1938, and currently has a population of about 45000 people. It is a popular destination for retired people, Canadian snowbirds, the LBGTQ+ community, and more! It is also one of the best preserved mid-century modern capitals of the world. I captured some photos of my favorite buildings while I was here, and I also visited the Living Desert Zoo, and Joshua Tree National Park
Palm Springs Living Desert Zoo
The Palm Springs Living Desert Zoo is a non-profit zoo and desert botanical garden located in Palm Desert, California. The zoo is home to over 500 animals representing over 150 species. The zoo receives over 500000 visitors annually, and despite its small size, is one of my favorite zoos. The zoo is home to gazelles, giraffes, ostriches, wallabies, kangaroos, rhinos, cheetahs, turtles, bobcats, and more!
Joshua Tree National Park
An hour’s drive from Palm Springs is Joshua Tree National Park. It is named after the Joshua Trees, also known as Yucca Brevifolia, which are native to the area. The park was declared a national monument in 1936, and redesignated a national park in 1994. It spans a huge area of 3200 square kilometres (1240 square miles). The park features rugged rock formations, the famous Joshua Tree, Chuckwalla Cholla Cactus, the Cailfornia Fan Palm, and more!
At the tail end of summer we hiked to Lille, a ghost town located in Crowsnest Pass, which is located in Southern Alberta. The town was originally incorporated in February 1904 as a purpose-built coal mining community, and eventually grew to about 400 people. The mines in Lille closed in 1912, due to collapsing coal prices, increased production costs, and the very poor quality of the coal. The town withered away until its last person left in 1916, and the town was finally dissolved in 1919. All that remains today is the Bernard-style coke ovens that were imported from Belgium, the foundations of the Lille Hotel, and a huge pile of coal slack near the ovens. On the Bernard-style coke ovens you’ll notice a bunch of numbers, which were used to reassemble the ovens after they were transported from Belgium.
There are two options to complete this hike. If you have a low clearance car it’s suggested to hike the 15 kilometre return trip from the Frank Slide Interpretive center, however if you have a higher clearance vehicle, or are crazy like I am, then you can drive down a very bumpy unmaintained logging road to get to a grassy area, which turns the hike into a more manageable 6.3 kilometre hike. I drive a Toyota Prius, and have a lot of experience navigating high clearance roads, so I don’t recommend this in a low clearance vehicle unless you trust your skillset. Be prepared to take 20-30 minutes to drive those 9 kilometres. Overall, the hike is fairly easy, and can be completed by most people, including children.
Today is we slept in until about 8:00am. We got ready and checked out of our hotel. We had a bit of time to kill before our trip on the Georgetown Railway Loop at 10:00am, so we decided to grab some coffee at the Happy Cooker Restaurant. The lovely lady there named Michaela gave us the coffee for free. We walked around town for a bit sipping our coffees to kill some more time.
10:00am was fast approaching and it was time to drive the short distance to the Georgetown Railway Station, about a mile away. The Georgetown Loop Railroad was originally completed in 1884, and was considered quite the engineering marvel at its time. It linked Georgetown and Silver Plume. While these towns were only 3.2 kilometres (2 miles) apart, they have 183 metres (600 feet) in elevation differential between them. Engineers designed a corkscrew route that traveled nearly twice that distance to connect them, slowly gaining the elevation required. The route includes horseshoe shaped curves, 4% grades, and four bridges; the most famous being Devil’s Gate High Bridge. The Georgetown, Breckenridge, and Leadville Railroad was former in 1881 under the Union Pacific Railroad. It was utilized to haul gold during the Gold Rush, and later on Silver Ore from the mines at Silver Plume, until 1893 when Colorado and Southern Railway took over the line and used it for passenger and freight use until 1938. The line was dismantled in 1939, and was later restored in the 1980’s to be used as a tourist railroad.
The train ride up to Silver Plume took about 30 minutes. What a breathtaking journey! It was so neat riding on the old train. Our locomotive, Number 111, was built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in Pennsylvania in 1926. It spent most of its working life in Central America before returning to America in 1973 to Sundown & Southern RR in Hudson, Colorado. Despite that, it was never run and was auctioned off in 2002 to the town of Breckenridge, Colorado for display at the Highline Railroad Park. It remained there until 2008, when it was acquired and restored between 2013-2016. This was the first time it was used in over 50 years!
On the way down from Silver Plume we were dropped off at the Lebanon Mine. The mine consists of six levels and was used from 1878 To 1893, when it was closed due to silver prices plummeting. The mine produced a profit of over $250 million (which is $5.2 billion in today’s money). After the mine tour we re-boarded the train and took it back down to the Georgetown Terminal.
It was time to eat some lunch, so we went back to the Happy Cooker Restaurant to have grilled cheese sandwiches. It turns out a staff member had quit that morning, so they were very short staffed, hence the free coffee. They didn’t even have time to ring in the coffee.
Following lunch we drove to Denver and visited the Forney Museum of Transport, which was established in 1961. The museum has over 500 exhibits on display. What an incredible museum! It was one of the best museums I’ve ever visited.
It was time to checkin to our hotel, the Hampton In. & Suites Denver Tech Center. After checking into our hotel we went to Holidaily Brewery for a flight of beer. The majority of the beers there are gluten free since one of the owners is celiac.
After having dinner we went to Darcy’s Bistro Pub for dinner, which was next to our hotel. I had two mini brisket sliders, and dad had some Irish Nachos.
Today was a day of exploring old ghost towns. We woke up around 8:00am, got ready, and had breakfast at our hotel. Breakfast was French toast, sausages, and scrambled eggs. I ended up skipping the French toast.
First stop was Ashcroft Ghost Town. Ashcroft was a silver mining town that was founded in 1880. At the height of Ashcroft’s boom, over 2000 people lived there. High transportation costs, poor shallow silver deposits, competition from nearby Aspen, and the 1893 silver market crash ultimately lead to the demise of the town. By 1895 the population of the town decreased to less than 100 people. In 1912 the U.S. Postal Service stopped mail delivery, which ended up being the final blow to the town.
Most of the homes in Ashcroft were insulated with burlap or newspapers. This was necessary because the town, nestled around 10000 feet above sea level, received over 18 feet of snow annually and was quite cold. The homes were built in an East / West orientation to receive as much warmth as possible from the sunlight.
At its peak, Ashcroft had 20 saloons. Nearly 75% of the population were single males. Saloons, bars, and men’s clubs offered the lonely miners a distraction from their hard work. The average employee spent about 10-15% of his $142 yearly income on liquor.
After visiting Ashcroft we drove North to Glenwood Springs, and then headed East towards Georgetown. On our way to Georgetown we stopped in Eagle to have some delicious sandwiches at Pickeld Kitchen & Pantry. I had an Italian sandwich, and I can honestly say it was one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had.
After having lunch we continue driving towards Georgetown, with a slight detour towards Eagle Mine, and the historic Town of Redcliff.
Eagle Mine is an abandoned mine near Gilman. Mining at Eagle Mine began in the 1880’s, initially for gold and silver, but eventually zinc in its later years. The mine was operational until 1984. After the closure of the mine in 1984, a 235 acre area, which included 8 million tons of mine waste, was designated as an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Superfund Site. EPA Superfund sites are designed to investigate and cleanup sides contaminated with hazardous substances. 70% of the time the responsibly parties pay for the cleanup, with 30% of the time the cleanup is unable to be funded by the responsible parties. According to the EPA, the mining operations at Eagle Mine left a huge amount of arsenic, cadmium, copper, lead and zinc in the soil and were leaching into the Eagle River, which threatened the dinking water supply in nearby Minturn. By the early 2000’s it was concluded that the remediation efforts of the EPA had significantly reduced the public health risks and improved the water quality in the Eagle River.
After looking at the mine from afar, since it was all blocked off, we drove to Redcliff. Redcliff was incorporated in 1879 and currently has a population of 282 people. It is a former mining camp situated in the canyon of the upper Eagle River. The town site is concealed below Highway 24, which passes over the Red Cliff Truss Bridge.
The Red Cliff Truss Bridge spans 471 feet (144 metres) over the Eagle River, and was built in 1940 for a cost of $372000. The bridge went more than 60 years before needed remediation work. In 2004 the bridge deck was replaced with a widened deck, and the steel was repainted, for a total cost of $3.6 million.
After our little side adventure we continued on our drive to Georgetown. We checked into our hotel, the Georgetown Lodge. It was a no-frills motel with two queen sized beds for about $100/night. After checking into our hotel we walked around town exploring the 1870-1890’s property’s before going for dinner at the Silverbrick Tavern, which is joined to Guanella Pass Brewing Company. We enjoyed a beer and had a meat lovers pizza to share. It was Chicago Deep Dish pizza style, and absolutely delicious.
Today our main highlight was hiking in Maroon Bells. Maroon Bells is Colorado’s premier fall hiking location, featuring Maroon Lake surrounded by mountains and beautiful fall foliage. The area gets its name from two 14000 mountains named Maroon Peak and North Maroon Peak. Maroon Bells is only about a 30 minute drive from Aspen.
We arrived around 7:50am, as the parking lot closes at 8:00am. We had to reserve our spot, which we did over six months ago. While we were there we completed two hikes; The Scenic Loop Trail (3 Miles, 120 feet Elevation), and The Crater Lake Trail (3.6 Miles, 500 feet Elevation).
The Scenic Loop follows the North side of Maroon Lake, and loops around on the West side.
The Crater Lake Trail essentially follows the same route, around the lake, but then branches off on the West side of the lake and continues through the Valley until you reach Crater Lake.
It was about 11am when we finished the two hikes. We drove back to our hotel to grab a cup of coffee, and our bathing suits, before heading out again.
Next stop was The Grotto Trail, about a 20 minute drive the other direction from our lodging in Aspen. It was back the same we drove in from yesterday. The Grottos Trail features an ice cave, smooth cascading granite from the water running over it for thousands of years, and a beautiful cascading waterfall. The hike isn’t very hard and only takes about 20-30 minutes to complete. It was pouring rain for the majority of the hike, but was worth it.
Next stop was Glenwood Hot Springs Pool located in Glenwood Springs. The area was originally inhabited by Indigenous people before Americans colonized the area. Glenwood Springs, originally known as Defiance, was established in 1883 as a camp of tents, saloons and brothels. The town was founded by Isaac Cooper. The town was mostly populated with gambles, gunslingers, and prostitutes, and stayed as a small encampment until the larger mining town of Carbonate lost its position as a county seat, until some bribery occurred to shut down the post office in Carbonate, and moved the post office to Glenwood Springs. The city then thrived and became the main town where miners in the area lived.
The therapeutic springs waters, called Yampah, also known as Big Medicine by the aboriginals (Ute Native Americans) were used as a sacred place of healing since atleast the 1860’s. In 1890 the original red sandstone bathhouse and lodge was built for $100000. It was designed by Austrian architect Theodore von Rosenberg, who’s buildings I have definitely seen before in Vienna. The bathhouse features tubs, vapor baths, a ladies parlor, physicians office, gymnasium, smoking rooms, and reading rooms. The building houses 44 bathing rooms. The main pool is 405 feet long by 105 feet wide and contains 1.07 million gallons of water that is kept at 32° C. The hot “therapy” pool is 100 feet long by 105 feet wide and contains 91000 gallons of water kept at 40° C.
During World War II the resort Hotel Colorado and Hot Springs Bathhouse) was exclusively used as a US Naval Convalescent Hospital. It was the only time in history that the bathhouse was closed to the public. In 1970 an upgraded water filtration system was installed to filter the 3.5 million gallons per day of 52° C water. In 1986 a 107 room lodge was built on the North side of the pool.
After visiting the pool we walked around the town for a bit before driving back to our hotel.
Once we were back at the hotel we walked to White House Tavern, where I had a delicious chuck steak burger, and dad had a French beef dip sandwich. We spent the rest of the evening relaxing and chatting before it was time to go to bed.
Today we slept in since we had nothing pressing on the go. We decided to walk to Kopi & Kue for breakfast. Online they had advertised that they had gluten free bread, however when we arrived they had a reduced menu due to Covid-19. Julie ended up having some oatmeal, and an iced latte. I had a toasted cheese sandwich and some coffee. The coffee, which they roast on location, is very smooth.
After breakfast we walked down the main street in Kuta, where Julie purchased some gifts for Christmas, before we walked back to the hotel. We spent the morning hanging out in the main pool doing some reading, relaxing, and playing catch with the ball. The main pool overlooks the ocean, and the views were amazing!
At lunch we went to Riva Bar & Restaurant, which is located right in the hotel. I had some delicious beef ravioli, while Julie had salad rolls and chicken wings.
I was really beginning to feel like crap, so I decided to go back to the main room for a bit, while Julie spent some time in our private plunge pool. I ended up just resting for a bit, since I couldn’t get settled enough to sleep.
In the evening we went for a walk along the beach, while watching the sunset, before walking to a restaurant called Little Italy, where we had dinner. Julie ended up having some pasta, and I ended up having a huge calzone.
We spent the remainder of the evening lounging in bed and watching Neflix.