Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Rocky Mountain High

"If there's mountains involved, I'm in." This is most likely the reason why my favorite destinations include Switzerland, Hawaii and Norway - they all have the beauty of the majestic mountains. Perhaps that's even why I have a photo card set by that name - the mountains keep drawing me to their mystery. 

So in July I had a great opportunity to return to the mountains a little closer to home - the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. My first visit to Colorado and the Rocky Mountains was back in 1975 when our family went on a camping trip to attend my cousin's wedding. Since then I'd visited Colorado several other times including road tripping in college to ski the slopes of Breckenridge, Vail and Copper Mountain, and at other times for work clients or stopovers during flights to the West coast. But this time it was different. I came to Colorado to visit friends and just enjoy the mountain scenery. And this time I brought my camera :o)

The plan for the weekend was to visit some of the natural beauty and famous landmarks that the Denver area had to offer. The Rockies are spread out over 3,000 miles from Canada to New Mexico, so this trip would only include some of the highlights in this expansive mountainous area, but that was fine with me! Anytime I have the opportunity to experience something new I jump in with both feet.

Over the extended weekend my buddy Ric did most of the driving (thank you) and we hit several of the local landmarks in and out of the Rocky Mountains area. Some of the weekend highlights on the first day included Red Rocks (and the amazing outdoor amphitheater), Idaho Springs, Central City, Blackhawk, and the highlight of the day: Mount Evans in the Arapapho National Forest - over 14,000 feet above the Colorado plains. Stunning! We drove above the tree line, then the cloud line, and soon we joined the mountain goats on the top of the mountains. I truly felt like I was on top of the world.

The second day's adventures included more sites such as the Garden of the Gods - an incredible collection of rock formations amongst the trees and rolling hills; a drive down to Colorado Springs, through Pueblo, and into Canon City, home of the Royal Gorge - the world's highest suspended bridge - 1,053 feet high. Breathtaking! I rode on the world's longest single aerial tram over the gorge - 1,178 feet above the Arkansas River. Awesome! And after a day out in the summer heat I had the world's largest appetite. Excellent! A fun day all around.

Another one of my favorite sites the entire weekend was having Pike's Peak and the mountains as a continuous backdrop the whole time - just like having a constant companion. Mountains show you their different faces during the day with the angles of the sun, the beautiful sunsets, and the silhouettes at dusk. Truly a natural and beautiful wonder.

The mountains were powerful and so was the final stop on my way back to the airport - the Columbine Memorial, a place of peace, comfort and reflection remembering all who were affected by the events of the Columbine High School shootings on April 20, 1999. The memorial was a very moving and powerful experience. An introspective moment, indeed - and a wonderful way to bring a sense of appreciation to my trip.

Get out and experience the world

The Ambassador