Colorado July 2012

Dates: July 15 - July 24, 2012

People: Mark, Sarah, Luke, Jonah, Seth, Denny, Marcia, David, Grandma W.


  • 7-15 (Travel Day)
  • 7-16 (Travel Day)
  • 7-17 (Mt. Royal/Victoria)
  • 7-18 (Maroon Peak)
  • 7-19 (Hoosier Pass/North Star)
  • 7-20 (Family Day)
  • 7-21 (North Maroon Peak)
  • 7-22 (Mt. Sherman)
  • 7-23 (Travel Day)
  • 7-24 (Travel Day)


We departed from the Farm for the Colorado trip at 4:25pm. We had a great morning at church with everyone and then a tasty lunch at the pool house with swimming. The swimming was so great it was hard to drag ourselves out of the pool to pack. We did well to be left only 25 minutes past our goal. We left Sarah and Mark's red Dodge Caravan in a shed at the farm and packed into Marcia and Denny's van and Explorer. The Explorer group which included Mark, David, and Sarah left a few minutes early to get gas in Altamont.

We caravaned down interstate 70 heading west using FRS radios to talk back and forth between the cars. The boys had a fun time talking into the radios. We decided on a Hardees in Warrenton, MO for supper but as we stopped we found it to be closed. We settled upon a Taco Bell there instead at 7:20pm. After supper we drove another hour and found really cheap ($3.15) gas at Boonville, Missouri just before 9pm. From there we made the haul to our evening stop in Lawrence, KS at a Comfort Inn & Suites where we found great deals using points on two queen bed suites.

Sunday's driving: approximately 379.0 miles (David 146, Mark 233, Denny 379)


We opted for a 7am breakfast, which was the standard Choice Hotels fare, and to hit the road by 8am. It was 8:05am when we finally hopped back onto I-70. David and Denny did the driving for the first 2 hours from Lawrence and got us to Salina for gas just before 10am. Mark and Marcia took over driving from there and got us to the Golden Corral for a feast of a lunch in Hays, Kansas at 11:35am. The boys were thrilled to find they had a chocolate fountain and cotton candy.

Mark and Denny continued the driving after Hays and took us to a gas stop in Goodland, KS at 1:30pm. David and Denny drove from Goodland and finally got us into the state of Colorado. We drove on without a stop and made it to Denver at 4pm and hit gas near the airport. Mark and Denny drove us into the mountains from there. It was a hot and toasty 98 degrees there in Denver, as it had been for most the entire trip thus far. As we drove west through Denver we started to get sprinkles and we could see storms all over the mountains ahead of us. It rained the entire drive from Denver to Frisco and visibility got bad as we drove through clouds coming out of the Eisenhower Tunnel. We arrived in Frisco at 6pm to rain and a shocking 50 degree temperature. We had seen the temps fall 48 degrees over the 90 minute drive. We had supper at the Wendy's in town and then made our way over to the condo to get settled in. We realized the Peak One condos were ones we had stayed in with Bob and Joyce many years ago. We spent the evening settling in at the cabin while Mark, David, Denny and Marcia also got a big grocery shopping trip in to Walmart and Safeway.

Monday's driving: approximately 639.0 miles (David 318, Denny 545, Mark 321, Marcia 94)


Our day today began with a family hike up Mt. Royal

Mt. Royal + Victoria Hike is on my hiking blog

Grandma and Sarah had cooked leftovers from the anniversary party for the hiking group when they returned. Hamburgers, hot dogs, salad, fruit were all ready for us and made for a good lunch. That afternoon the boys napped, all tired from the elevation and the hiking. Sarah's eye condition from her ocular migraine had gotten worse enough that she called an opthalmologist in Denver and was able to get a 4:30 appointment. So Sarah and Mark hopped in the van and made the drive into Denver, leaving at 2pm, for the appointment. The traffic was off and on and they got into Denver about 20 minutes early.

Mark dropped Sarah off and decided it useful to hunt for an REI. At first the GPS found one nearby the doctor but this did not pan out. So he decided to drive to REI Flagship. Knowing I-25 north had terrible traffic he decided to use a route of side streets to shoot over there. Bad traffic and difficult turns got him off that route and it ended up taking about 45 minutes to get over there. He took 8 minutes to run in, grab a platypus reservoir for Jonah, trekking pole tips for Denny and David and ran out. Hee took I-25 back to the doc and got there with about 10 minutes to spare before Sarah was done. The doc said her vision was 8 steps off from normal (which is a lot!). Hoping the damage isn't permanent they want to see her back again on Friday to check things over. The drive back to Denver was mostly uneventful. We wanted to drive over Loveland Pass but the rest of the group was waiting on us for supper and we had a driving date to Aspen still to come. We returned at 7:15pm.

Supper was a carb-filled spaghetti and garlic bread. We loaded up on this good food and then proceeded to get our backpacks and other overnight gear ready for the drive to the Bells. We were on the road at 8:30pm for the Bells. We made the drive over Independence Pass to head there tonight and saw a fair amount of deer along the way. Mark slept much of the way being exhausted. We got into the Bells a little after 11pm. We parked the Explorer in the day-hiker's lot and put moth balls around the tires to protect from porcupines. David and Mark folded a seat down in the back of the Explorer and slept back there with some blankets we brought along. Denny slept in the driver's seat with it reclined back. None of us would get much sleep between the tight confines and the anxiety of the hiking ahead.

Tuesday's driving: approximately 98.0 miles



The hiking group spent the day on Maroon Peak before driving back to the condo in Frisco.

Maroon Peak Hike is on my hiking blog


The non-hiking group spent the day shopping in Silverthorne and found a wonderful playground at Rainbow Park in Silverthorne. The boys had a blast playing there for a few hours until the temps dropped rapidly. The hikers phoned the other group on their drive out of Aspen and it was determined they'd grab supper on the way back since the time was running late. The hiking group decided to look for a good place in Leadville and found Wild Bill's Hamburgers. It was a little hole-in-the-wall place. Things were pretty informal in there. They ordered at the counter and then sat down and waited for the food. Mark had a burger with onion straws, bacon, BBQ sauce and cheese on it. It was pretty good though the BBQ sauce was clearly KC Masterpiece and the burger was probably only a quarter-pounder at most. The other group headed over to Pizza Hut which kept the boys happy.

The group spent the rest of the evening in the condo checking out the hot tub.

Wednesday's driving: approximately 98.0 miles


Today began nice and slow and easy. The non-hikers had made efforts yesterday to hook up with Ken and the kids who were in Breckenridge because of a conference Cindy was attending. So this morning we worked out plans to go hiking with them at Hoosier Pass. We set to meet at 10am up at the pass but our group was a little late after getting everyone's hiking gear, plus a picnic lunch, together.

So we met Ken, Matthew, Katelyn just after 10am at Hoosier Pass. Denny, Marcia, Mark, and the boys all hiked with Ken's group up the road to the west from the Pass. Grandma W. and Sarah walked a little near the pass but didn't go too far. Jonah and Seth were not hiking nearly as well today as they did on Mt. Royal the other day. Their heads just weren't into it. This helped us decide on not pushing them on to Sherman on Sunday either. About halfway up the road we had the great idea of sending David back down the road to grab the Explorer as well as Grandma and Sarah to have everyone for a picnic up at the saddle. So David headed down to do just that.

About a quarter mile from the saddle we found a nice steep dirt path heading up the hill. This path actually heads up to the point at 12,200 where we would have the lunch picnic. The kids, minus Seth, plus Denny all hiked up it to have a little fun. As they returned David also joined us with the Explorer. Ken's group turned around at 11:15a as they had to head back to Breck to meet Cindy for lunch. With the Explorer now joining us we put Jonah and Seth in the vehicle and that group headed up to the saddle while the rest of us hiked it. At the saddle as we contemplated lunch we noticed there was more of a road heading up to the hilltop on Point 12,200. We decided doing lunch up there was a great idea. Mark and David decided heading for North Star Mountain was their choice. They made quick sandwiches out of the trunk and headed on their way.

North Star Mountain Hike is on my hiking blog

As Mark and David finished the North Star hike and found the Explorer at Hoosier Pass, they made plans to join the rest of the group which had gone on to Breckenridge to ride the gondola up to the Fun Park. The irony we found was we still had sun in our area at Hoosier Pass while Breckenridge, and the others, were getting rained on. We drove into Breck and parked in the lot next to the gondola and rode that up to the big tourist fun area at the base of Peak 8. As we arrived it was sprinkling lightly and the group said they had closed the alpine slide which was one thing we all wanted to do. We only spent a few minutes up there and then the group decided to head back down and to the condo for supper.At least we all got a free gondola ride out of it all. You can immediately tell what a tourist trap the whole setup is as the gondola ride is free and inviting, but everything up at the fun park is wildly expensive.

Back at the condo we had a relaxing evening. We did grilled chicken with potatoes and rice for supper and it was a winner. Great food all around. After two long days of hiking we had a great sit in the hot tub.

Thursday's driving: approximately 40 miles roundtrip.


Today was Family Day and the only day we didn't get any hiking in. Mark and Sarah had an ophthalmologist appointment in Denver at 9am so they were out the door of the condo before 7am. They wanted to be sure to beat the Denver traffic and sure enough they did. It was about 8:20am when they hit the doc's office. Sarah went in and amazingly the doc saw her early at about 8:45am and she was actually done with her checkup by just after 9am. Her eyes were getting better and that was good news.

David was also busy this morning. He had a breakfast date with a man he'd met regarding his 10th Mountain Division at Camp Hale book. This man wants to do a documentary on Camp Hale and was meeting with David to talk about it. It turned out the man also brought a veteran from Camp Hale with them and they wanted to head up to Camp Hale to visit. David ended up taking our other vehicle then while Mark and Sarah had the Explorer on the Denver run. The others were left with no vehicle and an 11am meeting with the rest of the family in Silverthorne.

Mark and Sarah got the call with the updated plans on the drive back to Frisco. Fortunately with Sarah's appointment ending so early they were on track to be back to Frisco by 11am. We had as a whole family talked about doing a Pontoon boat on Dillon Reservoir for the afternoon but could never work out the basic logistics. So we decided to go with the family picnic at the park route. Mark and Sarah made a drive over Loveland Pass on their return from Denver and enjoyed the views up there for a few minutes. They were back to the condo a few minutes before 11am and we packed up lunch and people to be ready to go. Ken's group swung by the condo to grab a few more in our group since we wouldn't all fit in the Explorer.

We headed over to Rainbow Park in Silverthorne where the non-hikers had spent time a few days ago. It is a fantastic park with pavilions, an open soccer field and a large playground. There was another large group renting out all the pavilions so we setup on blankets under a nice tree for shade. We got all of our family (minus David at first), Ken's group (minus Cindy), as well as Bob and Joyce. We did a nice picnic lunch with everyone sharing their offerings and the kids had a blast playing on the playground for much of the afternoon. We played ladder ball and frisbee out in the soccer field and visited. David joined us midway through the afternoon and shared with us his fun from the morning.

We stayed at Rainbow Park til 4:30pm and then headed back to the condo to resituate before the evening fun. Ken and Cindy invited us over to where they were staying in Breckenridge at the Beaver Run Resort. So we headed over there after our stop at the condo to pickup Sarah and grab a few things. Beaver Run Resort is in a nice location on the edge of town at the bottom of the ski hill. We were led by Ken up to the pool area to check things out and then went to the Skywalk Market to order supper. We grabbed a bunch of pizzas and headed outside to a patio to eat. The pizza was fantastic. We got a large meat lovers pizza and every bit of it was wonderful. Ryan and Rachel joined us while we were there and we had everyone together for a great family photo while outside.

After eating we went inside and gathered around a table by the pool. Denny and Mark along with all the kids hopped in the pool and swam. We had to bail on the pool for 30 minutes at one point because of lightning. The pool was half inside and half outside. The water must have been 85 degrees. The kids enjoyed it when Mark went into the sauna room which was completely foggy and actually hard to breathe in. The youngins' enjoyed the experience for a moment.

As the evening began to run late, Mark, David and Denny decided they would not drive to Aspen to sleep there tonight but would rather head back to the condo to sleep then drive. We left everyone around 8:30p then, and took Seth with us, to head back to the condo to pack while the others stayed and visited longer. We were back to the condo around 9 and spent half an hour packing and readying for the North Maroon hike and drive in a few hours. We were in bed and nearly asleep before the others got back. It was going to be a short night with alarms set for 1:15am.



The hiking group spent the day on North Maroon Peak before driving back to the condo in Frisco.

North Maroon Peak Hike is on my hiking blog


The non-hiking group spent the day shopping in Frisco having fun at the Frisco Marina.


For the drive back to Frisco we decided on Independence Pass again. This time the weather held fairly well for us and as usual we enjoyed the great views. With tacos on the menu tonight we decided no stops along the way and just made a straight run for Frisco. Dinner was indeed everything we wanted to be. Endless tacos and tasty ingredients. We filled up our hungry tummies and had a splendid evening with everyone at the condo. We worked with Luke for awhile getting him ready for the Sherman hike in the morning and had a call with Ken's group to setup our meeting time for Sherman.

Saturday's driving: approximately 233 miles


The hiking group started the day early heading out around 4:45am. Luke amazingly woke up while we were getting ready but then he fell asleep again on the drive down to Fairplay.

Sherman/Sheridan/Gemini Hike is on my hiking blog

The others slept in a bit but then went to church at Christ Lutheran, Breckenridge with Joyce and Rachel. They met the nice pastor their who was serving Breckenridge as part of a dual parish. The group then stayed in Breckenridge for shopping as well as lunch at Mi Casa. They were actually still at lunch when we pulled through Breckenridge after the hike.

The hiking group was getting back to the condo around 1:30pm and was hungry. We decided on eating the frozen pizzas that were still in the freezer and needing to be eaten. David and Mark did up a couple of them and the guys worked on these. Poor Luke was still fast asleep for the first few rounds of dinner. When the rest of the group returned from Breckenridge Luke woke up and started on his fair share of lunch.

Marcia, having missed out on hiking Sherman, wanted to get another hike in. She talked with Denny about Royal but they instead decided on a hike from Frisco up to Rainbow Lake. They talked David into joining them while Mark decided to stay at the condo and watch the kids. The Rainbow Lake hike was just under 2 miles each way and they had a great last hike for the trip.

For supper we mostly worked on leftovers and clearing out whatever food we could for our last meal. We spent most of the evening then packing things up and getting as much as we could ready to head out to the vehicles in the evening so we wouldn't have to in the morning. We got to bed at a fairly decent time to get some rest up for the long drives ahead.

Sunday's driving: approximately 90 miles


We decided to make a reasonably early start today. The goal was to get us within striking distance of the farm so Tuesday's drive wouldn't be so bad. We set to get up at 5 and leave by 6. For the most part we did well on this. The first car, including Sarah, Mark, and David got left at 6:10am headed for Denver International. It was pretty chilly as we got started, but we also knew this would be our last cool temperature of the trip. The other car got breakfast in Denver at a McDonald's while we hit Chambers Rd. near the airport for gas and a Burger King breakfast. We got David dropped off at the airport at 7:55am. The arrivals area in the West Terminal was under construction so they had a detour route heading around the northwest side to get us up there.

After dropping David off we made our way to I-470 and on down to I-70 to make our way east. We were intrigued by the license-plate tolling which meant we never saw a toll booth but will anticipate a bill in the mail. The airport car found themselves about 10 miles behind the other car as we headed east. We made great time and had a pair of morning stops: one at the Rest Area just west of Colby, and the other for gas in Wakeeney, KS. It was 104 out as we grabbed a quick break in Wakeeney. From there we decided to hit lunch in Hays. We found the Wendy's about a mile and a half south of the interstate for lunch at 1:55pm central.

After lunch Marcia and Sarah picked up the driving for awhile until we made it to another rest area in Junction City at 4:35pm. From there Mark and Denny started driving again and we figured we could make a run from there to our hotel destination in Grain Valley, MO. We were looking good until we found the Explorer was quicky running out of gas. Mark stopped for gas reinforcements at a BP in Bonner Springs for enough gas to get us a ways into Missouri. The other car went ahead to get checked in at the hotel. It was 7:15pm when we all finally made it to the Comfort Inn in Grain Valley, MO. We had two nice double queen rooms waiting us. We did supper at a Panda Express we had passed, 2 miles up the highway in Blue Springs. After supper the boys finally enjoyed a chance to get some good swimming in.

Monday's driving: approximately 694 miles (David 94, Denny 559, Mark 455, Sarah 135, Marcia 135)


The plan for our last day was to be up 6:30am, breakfast at 7am at the hotel, and leave by 7:30am. For the most part we held to this. Hotel breakfast was again standard fare. The Comfort Inn really disappointed us though when one of their workers lit up a cigarette right in the main lobby. We had been smelling cigarette smoke already in our 2nd floor hallway and wonder if this is related to that. He didn't have a Comfort Inn shirt on but we saw him behind the desk hugging on one of the other employees. When we checked out we told the clerk about this and we felt like she blew us off, as though we were possibly making it up. She said "Well we don't allow smoking in here."

The morning drive went well with a gas stop at Boonville again, though we were disappointed to find they were now at $3.35 and not the $3.15 we found on the way out. We also did a rest area at Wright City before finally leaving Missouri. We held off on lunch til Vandalia where we found a nice KFC/Taco Bell. Marcia was also picking up printed photos at Walmart there but didn't have a written release from the photographer for the Wachtel family photos and so Walmart did not give her the photos.

It was 1:45pm when we finally got the farm. Mark pulled the red van out of the shed and it was in great condition still. It was 104 degrees out though and they hadn't had rain since we were last there. We talked to Grandma and Grandpa and gathered the other items we had left there. Also ran into Gary who was dropping more rock around the drives of the farm. It was 2:35 when we left the farm, almost made our target time.

The Michigan/Indiana group headed on and plowed through the rest of Illinois and through Indianapolis before finally stopping for supper in Anderson, IN at an Arby's. This meant we could finally use Seth's coupon for a Jr. Arby's shake which he received from his t-ball coach. It was 6:30pm eastern when we hit Arby's and we were also pleasantly surprised to find gas there for $3.05/gallon. Sarah drove after Anderson finally giving Mark a break and she took us in to Ft. Wayne.

We arrived in Ft. Wayne around 8:45pm and we spent about 15 minutes helping Grandma unload and visiting with her and then hit the road one last time to get home. It was finally 11:30pm when we pulled into the garage. A very long two days of driving home.

Tuesday's driving: approximately 718 miles (Mark 624, Denny 545, Sarah 94)

The End.