things I learned in Colorado

If you read my last post closely, you know that I went to Colorado for a vacation with some girl friends this month to celebrate my friend KVOs 30th birthday. It. Was. Awesome.

We flew into Denver from our respective cities (Minneapolis and LA) on Thursday morning, rented a car, and drove about 2.5-3 hours to Nathrop, Co to Mt. Princeton Hot Springs Resort. On the way, we stopped at Dorothy's Homemade Tamales in Fairplay because it was featured on the Food Network's Best Think I Ever Ate show for their ... well, tamales.

Once we got to the resort, we checked in and then hit the pools. They had natural hot springs, man-made hot tub things with natural hot water, and heated pools. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. It. Was. Awesome. We drove "into town" to Buena Vista and had some great Asian food for dinner.

On Friday, we split up from one-another for a while. A couple of the girls got massages, another went for a run, and I grabbed breakfast and then took my camera out. I figured since I took a class last summer to learn what all the buttons on it mean, I should try to practice with it. Here's one of them:

We got back together around noon and sat by/in the pools some more, and then went for a hike into the mountains to see some "falls" - which, when we got up there, seemed to be water flowing down rocks in the hill... not giant falls. But, it was still cool and we got some great pictures there, too.

Friday night, we went to "into (the other) town" and had dinner at the Boathouse in Salida, Co. By this point, I think I can safely say we've eaten some pretty great food. We went back to the resorts, put our suits back on, and headed back to the hot tub/spring things to look at the stars for a while. I SOOO wish we could have gotten a picture of the stars. Amazing. We may or may not have had some wine, too.

Saturday, we took our time getting ready and I took the opportunity to enjoy our view from the patio on our room one last time.

We headed back to Denver to celebrate the last night of our vacation, which conveniently was on St. Patty's day. We took a different route back than we came on so we could see some more things. We drove through Breckenridge and went through the Johnson Tunnel.

I didn't have many pictures on my camera from our night in Denver, but we went to eat at a nice steakhouse and then went to a couple of bars, although I think we were still home by midnight or 12:30 a.m. We are party animals. But, we had fun - we'll leave it at that.

On Sunday, we walked around the 16th street mall that is similar to the Nicollet mall area in Minneapolis, if you're familiar. Then, we headed back toward the airport and stopped at the Denver Botanical Gardens for a bit.

Then, rental car return (in a dust storm), airport, and return flight home.

It was a great trip, and I learned some things, too. All of our experiences should be educational, right?
    1. Altitude is weird. We definitely noticed the difference in altitude. Denver is over 5,000 feet above sea level... it's called the mile-high city for a reason. The resort area was nearly 8,000 feet above sea level (if not more in places). For some point of reference, Minneapolis is around 700 or 800 feet. Los Angeles is around 300 feet. It's fine when just sitting or walking level, but going up big hills or steps caused me to be a bit winded... much more easily than normal, anyway. Speaking of which... 
    2. There is no such thing as too much water. Turns out it's true that altitude can affect levels of hydration, which I found out the hard way on our first day. I didn't drink much water and ended up with a really annoying headache later in the day... and when you add that to the lack of sleep from the night prior, the altitude (see above), and the dry air there, I was a little crabby for a while. But, we figured it out and stopped at the grocery store Thursday evening and bought four gallons of water for our room. By Saturday morning, we had finished 3.5 of them, I think, and that doesn't include the times we filled up at the water fountains by the pool/spa area. I can't speak for the girls, but the more water I drank, the better I felt.
    3. Taking time for yourself is a good thing. Not because we weren't getting along, but we all had a chance to do something we wanted to do without toting everyone else with us. I wouldn't have gotten to take some of the photos I got if we didn't separate for a bit because they wouldn't have thought my geekiness was fun. And they would have had a harder time going for runs or getting massages. But, we also did lots of fun stuff together that we all enjoyed a lot, like the mountain hike, eating great food, and sitting in hot springs.
    4. Waking up to the mountains rocks. I got used to sitting on the patio in the morning, reading my Nook, drinking a cup of coffee, and looking at the mountains, even though we were only there for two days. It was difficult to wake up to the townhouse across the street for the first day or two after we got back.
    5. I know a lot of country songs. At times, the only station available on the radio was country. I knew way more than I thought I would because I hardly listen to it on the radio here. They must have been playing some "oldies, but goodies" I guess. I think I would have won if there were a contest for knowing the most country song words in our car.
    6. Girlfriends are great. We all traveled well together (at least I think so... I hope they thought the same!) and we had a lot of fun. KVOs birthday trip was a success and we all got to do something we hadn't done before. 

    All in all, I recommend it. It was relaxing, beautiful, and full of laughs. It's not Vegas, but it's not supposed to be. It was exactly what we were hoping.

    For those of you not on Facebook, you can check out the pics on this Kodak Gallery album.

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