I kept the sombrero.

I guess it’s clear by now that I have a soft spot for Colorado.

Just a couple of days after returning from quaint and beautiful Carmel, I was off on another road trip, with Cholula as my copilot. I was Durango-bound. It’s a town that holds my parents, some very dear friends, lots of my personal history, and a large chunk of my heart. (The furry beast in the car was NO help navigating whatsoever.)


I know the drive between HOME and OTHER HOME in Durango like the back of my hand. The fall colors made this drive particularly enjoyable. When I arrived at my parents’ home, we spent some time in their backyard, throwing the ball for Cholula and sipping wine. Mom made a tasty version of Mini Mac n’ Cheeses for dinner- I’ll have to get the recipe to share with you, because they were really good!


A morning walk with Cholula revealed that it was truly the most lovely time of year in Durango. The red cliffs of Hermosa fit right in with all of the golden aspens and rust-hued brush.  I met a chubby toad and decided he was GOOD LUCK. Such a special place!


My folks and I decided to take a short drive and go to lunch. We only had a day together before I was to head off on a girl’s adventure. We sat outside, the air still warm enough to be on the patio. Cocktails and a view- yes, please!


On Saturday, Sarah and Jessica picked me up and off we went. The plan was to head up into the mountains, past Silverton, over Red Mountain Pass, down into glorious Ouray, and on to Ridgway where Chipeta Sun Lodge awaited with spa appointments, hot springs soaking, dinner, hiking, ahhhhhhhh. That part of the world is completely stunning any time of year, but we hit the peak fall colors. We stopped a lot along the way, and gasped and pointed often.


Ouray is a tiny town tucked into a bowl created by steep mountains on all sides. It’s called the “Little Switzerland of America” and it’s where we decided to have lunch. As I got out of the car, the first “bachelorette-y” thing was given to me- an authentic, velvety blue sombrero to wear around town.

I kind of liked it.


We met up with the last of our fun foursome, Christina. Delish margaritas, chile rellenos, and fried ice cream at Buen Tiempo were just the ticket for lunch (especially considering my headwear).  But we had appointments set at the spa, and we had to keep moving.


Ridgway is an even teenier town between Ouray and Telluride, a sleepy place with dirt roads and wagging dogs and the Chipeta Sun Lodge. The vibe there is Southwestern, and a glance at the pool and soaking tub made me instantly relax. We walked past a lovely tea bar and headed upstairs to a fab two-bedroom condo. Might as well open a bottle of wine, right?


After our spa treatments (an 80-minute massage for me), we chilled out by the pool and soaked in the hot tub (fed by natural hot springs). I should probably mention the 5th person in our party- Pancho. Luckily he’s a blow-up doll so he didn’t drink up all of our wine. (More bachelorette-ness!)

We had a tasty dinner, scrumptious cocktails, and dessert. I got a photo with our waiter, though I was denied wearing his fancy hat, despite asking very sweetly. And often. The evening ended back at the condo with nightcaps and silly, silly girls.


We began the next morning sipping coffee in the soaking tub, taking in the view. Heavenly. We had and awesome breakfast at Kate’s Place before heading back through Ouray for a hike in the colorful mountains.


The weather was threatening rain, so we opted for the Perimeter Trail. It’s a pretty mellow hike that goes all the way around the town of Ouray. We didn’t complete the circle, but had incredible views of this charming town. From gingerbread homes to Victorian mansions to log cabins, there’s a little bit of everything in the neighborhoods here. I’d take any of them.


Before we headed back town into Durango, we enjoyed a mimosa on the deck of the Ouray Brewing Company, right after a swing at their bar.


These wonderful ladies made me feel very loved and special.

I waved goodbye to my girlfriends and recapped the trip to my folks. Then we spent the evening at my dear friends’ home for a BBQ. As I snuggled in for the night with Little Miss Bed Hog, I realized yet another trip to Durango was almost over.


The drive home the next morning was quiet. It rained on me for quite awhile, and Cholula’s sleepy-dog sighs fit right in with Neil Young’s “Sugar Mountain.”


The drive is really lovely- long stretches of classic American farmland, the roads occasionally lined with flowers. I appreciated the open road, the moment of solitude in the midst of a time of madness in our lives. It gave me time to reflect on the past weekend, and the weekend before, both filled with friends and love. I thought about the weekend ahead, knowing John and I would be on a plane to Charleston in just a couple of days. And before I know it, I’ll be walking down the aisle toward the most important person in my life.

I pointed the car into the rain, toward him, feeling like a very lucky girl. 


  1. Can I just tell you how much I LOVE your posts, especially since you take the time and effort to include so many photos? They tell such a beautiful story. As I lay here in bed sipping coffee and trying to figure out what to do with my day, I want to run in a million directions. I just moved to Bayfield last week (I had to come back after moving away from Creede two years ago) and am having my own rekindling of a Colorado romance. Your post makes me want to do everything at once! I think we might get coffee in downtown Pagosa and drive Wolf Creek Pass today… will report back 🙂

    I’ll keep a good watch over Durango for you – such a wonderful, special town. I am lucky to be back home.

    Thanks again for sharing!!

    1. I wish I could join you on that drive! I haven’t been over toward Pagosa for a handful of years but it’s so lovely. A soak in the springs would feel good in the crisp fall air! I am looking forward to continuing to read your adventures- and now I’ll recognize the area! Thanks so much for reading. 🙂

  2. Beautifully written, Amber. The last paragraphs seem like an excerpt from a novel. I love Ouray! I haven’t been since I was a teen, but I remember falling in love with the setting, just like you captured it. Those aspens are gorgeous. You’re so lucky to have parents that live in such a scenic locale!

  3. btw, we live about 500′ away from the Chipeta in case your next visit finds you in need of cerveza or a place for your puppy to chill while you get pampered!

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