On to Winter Park, Part 2
Guanella Pass Summit:
Zahra at the top:
At first, as we began to descend on CR62, I was afraid there were going to be a lot of tight switchbacks, and there were, but they turned out to be fun. I was tired from lack of sleep (again), which always makes me more apprehensive than necessary, but somehow I can always manage to ride. When Hal got to one of the switchbacks (he was in front), he called into the microphone, “Stop! Stop where you are!” I didn’t know why, so, being curious, I crept down closer until I could see him near the apex of the switchback – with a huge herd of mountain goats directly in front of him!
We stood, holding the bikes on the steep grade, until the goats decided to meander off on their own, the cute babies trailing behind, trying to catch up to the adults. Another driver, in a pickup, was on the other side of the switchback watching the herd as well. He smiled and gave us the thumbs-up as we passed.
On the next switchback, we saw another herd of mountain goats, but they were already in the forest above us in the deepest part of that switchback. We slowed down and watched them disappear into the trees. It was a breathtaking sight to see the animals against the backdrop of spectacular, high Colorado mountains.
Soon we saw the amazing town of Georgetown far below us. It looked like a model train enthusiast’s layout of a quaint little town. We were still far above the rooftops, and there wasn’t much distance left to ride, which meant that there were a lot of steep switchbacks still to come. It didn’t take too long, though, and then we were in the relatively flat streets of Georgetown. Hal pulled over to put his camera away, and then we rode through town to get onto I-70. So, within a matter of a few minutes, I was riding slowly through steep switchbacks, and then in contrast, riding in speeding traffic on the interstate. What a great bike my F650GS is!
After only four miles on the interstate, we took the exit for Hwy. 40, another twisty, climbing road. By this time, it was raining again (more energetically this time) but Hwy. 40 eventually led us to Winter Park, CO! I had been there in the late 1980s with my parents, but had never been back. I had enjoyed my stay in Winter Park then, and had fond memories. The town had changed a lot, though, as you might imagine, but it was pretty and looked like a fun place to be. However, we kept going through Winter Park, and then left it behind.
It continued to rain, and by then it was starting to get dark. I thought, really, Hal? There weren’t any places to stay in town? Apparently, it had been a challenge to find any place to stay, and I was feeling guilty for being ungrateful. Hal works very hard to make our trips fun and memorable, and I appreciate him a lot. However, we had to ride about 10 more miles to someplace out in the middle of nowhere. I was dead tired by then and wanted to be off the bike.
We kept going, getting farther and farther into nothingness. The heavy overcast made it seem darker and later than it really was. After getting off the divided highway, we wound down a road that kept getting smaller and smaller. At last we saw it, a decent luxury lodge. Thank goodness, I thought. I wasn’t thrilled, it wasn’t really my kind of place, but as I said, I was ready to be off the bike for the day.
We weren’t finished yet, though. When Hal went to check in, he found out that we actually had been booked into another property owned by the same company, but back in Winter Park. I couldn’t believe I had to get back on the bike and ride back to town. But, isn’t that what I’d thought when I had come through town? That I’d rather stay there? As it often happens, this slight inconvenience turned out to be the best thing in the world. It didn’t take too long to ride back to Winter Park, and when we got there, we found it was the perfect place for us to stay, brand new and clean, and we were able to park our bikes right outside the rooms. Many times, things that at first don’t seem to be ideal, work out for the best.
We de-geared, settled in, and then walked across the street to a restaurant to have a lovely dinner and a glass of wine. By the time we finished, we both went to our rooms and collapsed into sleep right away.
Yes, it was a long riding day, but full of beauty and adventure. I was looking forward to spending the next day in Winter Park!
Next: Enjoying Winter Park, CO