Springtime escape: the Colorado finale.

On our last morning in Boulder, I woke up with a bad backache.

I’d been feeling better (aside from a pretty severe allergic reaction my skin was having to some herbal patches from my acupuncturist), so I’d been lax about the anti-inflammatory pills I was supposed to be taking. Whoops. With seven hours in the car slated for our day, it was not the best time to learn my lesson.

The drive to reach Boulder was epic. We’d spent 3 fantastic days based out of a rustic, sweet cabin at Boulder Mountain Guest Ranch, soaking up the desert sun and exploring incredible landscape of Southern Utah. The second half of our springtime escape would be spent in Colorado, back in my old stomping grounds- Durango. We were looking forward to spending time with my folks and seeing dear friends, and we had a special opportunity to end our trip in another little cabin. Fun! John had set up two little nests in the car, one for me and one for Cholula. We’d picked up breakfast to GO from our favorite spot and headed East.

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I’ve spent plenty of time behind the wheel on solo road trips over the years, but it’s a different experience from the passenger’s seat. My back felt relief with the seat somewhat reclined, and I felt like I was watching a National Geographic special on desert terrain as we drove through multi-colored canyons, my yoga mix on the iPod filling the car with mellow beats. Red cliffs flanked the road and snowy mountain peaks leant perspective in the distance.

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To stretch puppy legs and Mama backs, we stopped at the tip of Lake Powell in Glen Canyon Recreation Area, feeling tiny as we stood on the edge of a massive cliff to take in the view. We picked up our usual fresh wraps for lunch at the Peace Tree in Monticello and cheered as we passed the “Welcome to Colorado” sign. Before long, I was sliding my feet into hand-knit slippers and my mom was handing me a glass of wine. After a long, semi-uncomfortable day in the car, the saying felt true: “Home is where your Mom is.”

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For the next couple of days, John dove headfirst into his new job while I spent quality time with my folks. We savored the family time: delish, home-cooked meals; a happy, squirrel-chasing dog in Grandma’s yard; time spent with coffee and a box of old family photos; and a (somewhat) competitive card game called 31 that I think I won only once. BOO. I even snuck away for a fun lunch with my Durango crew of girlfriends!

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The trip had already felt so long, so full of fun, that I couldn’t believe we still had two more nights in Colorado as we packed up our suitcases to move into another cabin. Situated slightly out of town, somewhere up Lightner Creek Road, one of John’s co-workers had a home with a cabin guest house that she’d offered us. It sounded interesting and romantic, though we had no idea what to expect. Would it be rustic and bare, like the one at Boulder Mountain Guest Ranch? Did it have an indoor bathroom? Did we need to bring coffee or firewood or toilet paper or sleeping bags? We followed the directions she’d written on the back of an envelope to her property, winding past the “Pavement Ends” sign, past an old homestead farmhouse, and down a dirt road with the peaks of the La Plata Mountains poking up on the horizon.

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As we pulled up to our home for the last two nights of our vacation, we laughed. This wasn’t a teeny, rustic cabin. Sure, it was made from logs and had cowboy-ish, rustic touches everywhere, but this was a home. A perfect, cozy, mountain home with two bedrooms (no sleeping bags needed), a full bathroom (complete with toilet paper), a fat wood-burning stove (firewood galore), a fully-appointed kitchen (my favorite Steaming Bean coffee was on the counter), and gorgeous views from every window. Can I live here?

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I wanted to snuzzle in with my book in front of the fire for longer, but we had a date night planned that I’d been looking forward to for a week. We met Sarah and Cordell for tasty cocktails at the new 6512 Restaurant downtown before heading to Chimayo for dinner. It was here that I fell in love with the strawberry basil martini (I tried to recreate it later). The pulled pork tacos were divine, and I “forgot about” Project Reduce Gluten when a Nutella strawberry pizza landed on the table. It was a fabulous night with fabulous friends.

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John and I took advantage of the quiet setting and slept late. Even Cholula stayed in bed, snoozing away until the sunshine through the windows made it impossible to sleep longer. Intermittent cell service and no television at the cabin made for a peaceful cup of coffee, wrapped up in a furry blanket by the fire.

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It was our last day in Durango. These were our last hours of vacation. We tried to relish the moments of the day, enjoying a lazy breakfast at the College Drive Café (an old haunt for us both). We stopped by some friends’ house to get hugs and see their glorious kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom remodel. We hosted my parents at the cabin for an awesome farewell happy hour, complete with tasty snacks and a jug of margaritas a la Pops. We met old friends in town for a delicious dinner at East by Southwest, and watched the fire with one last glass of wine on the couch together before calling it a night.

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No matter how wonderful a trip has been, the end of a vacation is a bummer. We awoke early on the morning of our departure, a long day in the car ahead. We efficiently packed up our belongings and tidied up the amazing little un-cabin, talking little. We said goodbye to John’s co-worker, thanking her profusely for the chance to stay in such a special place. Cholula said goodbye to her boyfriend, Amos.

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Before I’d had a chance to really get sad about the end of the incredible week, we were on the road again. We drove past the beautiful old homestead again. There were those gorgeous red cliffs. There were those snowy peaks. My back felt good enough to let Cholula ride in my lap (her preferred spot).

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We spent the hours in the car talking about all of the different, incredible pieces of our trip. It WAS about fabulous locations. It was the timing. It was all about the things we did and the people we saw. The food was fantastic and we’d needed the break from routine. All of those things melded together into an unforgettable trip- a series of special moments. As we felt that “Ahhhhh” feeling of walking into HOME after a trip, I knew we wouldn’t forget those moments. They’re what makes a great vacation.

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It’s the moments that we’ll remember. 

For the first two installments of the Springtime Escape adventure, go here and then go here

**Like to read about my travels? Check out the Travel Bug link above and get lost!**

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