Saturday, November 23, 2013

Flight Benefits plus an open weekend equal spontaneous getaway

Last weekend was one of those magical weekends where you have no plans. No football games to watch, no parties to attend, no major household projects to complete. So my husband Chad suggested on Friday that we hop on a flight to Montrose, Colorado and have a family adventure exploring the Black Canyons.

How could I say no to a weekend in the mountains?

Sometimes it is like pulling teeth to get my husband to agree to a weekend getaway especially now that we have a baby. Finances and timing do not always align and so it’s not often we can get away. Montrose is about a five hour drive which is not ideal when you have a baby who doesn’t enjoy sitting in her car seat that long. The benefit of my flight attendant job is free flights so we checked the loads and the flights were wide open going there and back. I had my barre class subbed out on Saturday and it was off to the airport we went for a family adventure. The 45 minute flight was a breeze and after renting a car for $35 for the weekend we were on our way to visit Telluride. We decided to check out the Black Canyons on Sunday and make it an all day affair before our flight home which meant Saturday afternoon was free to explore. I had not been to Telluride or Ouray since the Ice Climbing Festival two years prior so I was excited to return. Many of the businesses were closed for fall break before ski season opens so we had the town to ourselves. This was just fine by me. I love mingling with the locals and having a beer at the neighborhood brewery rather than fighting for a table at the restaurants. We went up to the airport in Telluride and took in the spectacular views of the San Juans which were covered in snow although the ground remained dry. Telluride is in a box canyon which makes it so special because there is only one way in and out of the cowboy town. Driving from the town of Ridgeway into Telluride make sure and keep an eye out for Ralph Lauren’s double RL ranch on the left hand side. The fence marking his property fence stretches 30 miles and marks his 17,000 acre ranch.

view of the san juans from the Telluride airport

part of the double RL ranch
Next stop was Ouray. My first glimpse of Ouray was about 6 years ago as we drove over Red Mountain pass on our way to Durango for a wedding. It’s a blink and you miss it kind of town whose main attraction is the free ice park. Unlike Telluride, there are no skiing mountains around so people mostly stop there on their way over to Durango or take the opportunity to soak in the hot springs there. We decided to eat at a local Mexican restaurant that had the best fish tacos I have ever tasted. Though the town is small it is home to the Ouray brewery as well as a bar called Grumpy Pants that one simply must visit when there. Grumpy Pants can often be seen at the bar himself swinging back and forth on his homemade swing behind the bar and hoisting his stein of home brewed beer around.

The real reason for our weekend getaway was, however, visiting the Black Canyons of Gunnison National Forest. The canyon has two rims you can drive around, north and south and while the north is paved the south is not. We were fortunate that we caught the last weekend where the north rim road would be open to cars as once the heavy snows hit the road is open to cross country skiing only. Normally it is $15 a car but since we were considered to be in winter season there was no fee. The weather was brisk at the top and I suggest no matter what time of year you visit, bringing layers to protect against the cold. We had brought hiking boots and had planned to hike down into the canyon but the south rim, we later discovered, is where most of those trails are. The north side has ten stop off points where you can park and walk 100-1,000 yards down to take in the sites of various parts of the canyon. This turned out to be perfect since we had Charlotte with us as we could still get our walking in without having to worry about the hikes being too long for her. She loved the brisk weather and was squealing with delight at each stop off point. I made Chad hold her in the baby carrier as I was so intimidated with the views I had crazy visions of falling off the side of the cliff with her. Another bonus to being at the canyon this time of year was that there were hardly any people there. We only saw about 6 others all day. This was nice because some of the overlooks are small and you can imagine what a hassle it would be trying to take photos with other people standing in the way. Although I took many photos this is just one of those sites that you must see for yourself in order to take in the beauty of the place. I highly recommend a weekend trip there if you have never been to visit.



At the airport that afternoon I remarked to Chad, “We should do things like this more often.” He was quick to point out that money, prior commitments and the time it takes to travel were the things most preventing us from having a spontaneous getaway every weekend. “I know,” I said, “I mean more family stuff. More family adventures like this.” Chad and I are both very social people who don’t have any family that lives in Colorado so our friends are our family so we often fill our time with friends. This trip reminded me that while time with friends is wonderful in its own right, there’s something to be said for taking a weekend away with your family. The family you chose and created for yourself. We may not be able to be spontaneous and get away all the time, but then again it wouldn’t be so special when we did would it?