Sunday, October 14, 2012

Happiness Lives High on a Mountain

Telluride, Colorado. Perfection in the form of a small town. Seriously, y'all, I'm this close to putting a down payment one of the cutest darn houses you have ever seen, because I am that ready to live there. I know I exaggerate, but no jokes here. Well, yeah, there will most likely be jokes, but that wasn't one.

They say that the name Telluride comes from an old expression "To hell you ride," with reference to the forbidding terrain surrounding this breathtaking mountain oasis (in the days before Jeep Cherokee Limiteds with automatic transmission and heated seats). I don't know who "they" are, but I really hope that's true. And they have magnets that say that for sale in the pharmacy across the street from our hotel. If a magnet says it, it must be true. Oh, and I just checked Wikipedia, and it makes reference to the same legend. The Wiki-gods have spoken. And we all know that you can't put anything on the internet that isn't true. So there you have it. To Hell U Ride...Telluride. And hell could not be farther from the truth. Telluride is officially my happy place. Or one of my happy places, since I can't seem to decide. Close call between this and Kiama, really. But I digress.

This trip was planned by my sister. She was working media ops for the USA Pro Challenge this summer, and Stage 1 wound through the Rockies from Durango to Telluride. As she tells it, she stepped into town, picked her jaw up off the ground, shook her head in disbelief that she had lived in Colorado for more than a decade and never been there, and then promptly began planning our return. The day after the Pro Challenge finished (and she recovered from a killer after party), she sat down and booked us three nights at The New Sheridan on Main Street.

The last week of September was chosen for its merits in the fall foliage department, and it could not have been more perfect. We woke up the first morning to this.

Swells the heart and brings tears to your eyes, doesn't it?

We spent the weekend sleeping in, eating delicious food, shopping, eating delicious food, hiking, eating in adorable restaurants, and staring all around us in disbelief that this exists on earth and is not overrun by people constantly. Oh, and riding the gondola. And eating.

The gondola is a really awesome form of free public transportation that takes you over Coonskin Ridge between Telluride and Mountain Village. The view is breathtaking on both sides of the mountain. Also, if you get to Allred's (the restaurant at Station St. Sophia at the summit) right at 5:00 for happy hour, you can snag the table in the corner and get a view like this to enjoy your drinks. And burgers. And truffle fries. Drool.
Dinner with a view.
...if you can tear your eyes away from the truffle fries...

Riding the gondola for the 8000th time.

On the gondola riding back from Mountain Village.

We had breakfast at The Floradora Saloon on Saturday morning...and enjoyed it so much that we returned the next morning and all ordered the same thing. Go there asap and get "The Trucker." Perfect biscuits, topped with crispy bacon, topped with two eggs over easy, topped with the best sausage gravy I have ever tasted. With a side of potatoes that are not even possible to describe with words. Why didn't I take a picture of it, you ask? Well, partly because I plain old didn't think of it in my rapture of breakfast deliciousness, and partly because the plate barely touched the table before all three of us were shoveling it into our mouths like some kind of crazed starving...something. Something that's starving. Words fail me. It was a gravybath. For those of you unfamiliar with that term (which is everyone, because it's made up), that's like a bloodbath, but with creamy, peppery sausage gravy instead. In case you didn't get it.

If you're there on the right weekends, you can catch the cutest little farmer's market you've ever seen.

We spent a morning there buying too much jewelry, and eating curried pumpkin pasties, spicy beef burritos, fresh kettle corn, apple tarts I would swim through shark-infested waters for, and this Colorado-made cider. A great way to spend a fall morning.

We hiked twice that weekend, once up to Bridal Veil falls in the box canyon, and once on Bear Creek Trail to another waterfall (not sure what that one was called...).

Back towards town from the box canyon on the way to Bridal Veil Falls.
About halfway up the Bear Creek Trail, you will find a clearing in which people have been constructing cairns. Like, for years. There are hundreds. It's a spiritual feeling to stand there, with that view, and see these little pieces of people who have stood there before you. It sounds cheesy, but when you see it, you'll know. We each built our own  before continuing on up the mountain.

The shopping there is great. It is the epitome of a small town, with only a couple blocks of shopping, but you'd be surprised. Every store was a gem. I spent way too much money.

The only thing that was less than perfect about the weekend was the fact that I did not realize until about 2 hours into the 6 hour drive that I had left my camera (my precious...(who read that in a Gollum voice? Be honest...)) sitting on the foot of my bed, all packed up in its best traveling outfit and ready to have a weekend in Telluride. I would say I was devastated, but I guess there are worse things. Are there worse things? Luckily, Telluride, being a ridiculously charming truly small town, pulled through, and more than one person offered the use of their own personal DSLRs. The concierge at the hotel and the guy that owned the computer store across the street (both of whom I had met within mere seconds of the offer) said I could have their Canons for the weekend. I do wish I had my own sweet Nikon, but that's the way the cookie crumbles, and thankfully I had the willpower to not let it spoil the weekend. And I got some OK shots out of the deal. The shots in this post are either from that camera or my iPhone.

Oh, fun fact. Did you know that Butch Cassidy's first bank robbery was in Telluride? Huh. I didn't. Anyway, excuse the strange lighting in this picture, but there you have it. The plaque says "Mahr Building - 1892 - Site of the San Miguel Valley Bank - Butch Cassidy's first bank robbery - June 24, 1889"

Thank you to my beautiful sister for planning this trip. It was a wonderful girls' weekend.

One last look on our way back to reality.
Go there. You'll thank me when you do. Happiness really does live high on a mountain.