In the last 22 years, I have been to 40 Phish shows. While I have outgrown certain venues, I will make a special trip to see this band. Last Labor Day, I planned a trip to Colorado to see their Friday-night show at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
I flew in, made it to the show, and then went off on a Colorado road trip. I have visited Colorado several times. My first trip, at thirteen, took me to Pikes Peak, Garden of the Gods, and the Air Force Academy. Since then, I’ve been a few times: a travel-softball tournament, a cross-country road trip through the state, a friend visit in Vail, and a quite lucky trip to the Aspen Food & Wine Festival.
We chose a clockwise route, Denver to Great Sand Dunes National Park, Crestone to Aspen, Aspen to Evergreen, and back to Denver.
On the way to Great Sand Dunes, we had lunch with friends at Breckenridge Brewing in Littleton, drove through a very busy Garden of the Gods, and stopped in Salida to take pictures. Salida seemed very lovely at golden hour. I’d like to return. We were the only ones on the road to Crestone, at sunset. Crestone is one of the closest towns to Great Sand Dunes. The scenery was pretty classic Rocky Mountain High. In Crestone, we had dinner at Crestone Brewing Company. The town is very, very small and options are limited. But Crestone has great beer.
In the morning, we walked to the Crestone Ziggurat. The town, overall, has a pretty magical feel. The number of retreats, peace flags, and very unique homes we passed, was surprising. Crestone is a 3.5-hour drive from Denver. I loved how remote it felt.
After a cloudy trip to Great Sand Dunes, we drove to Aspen. I’ve been to Aspen, twice. It’s a weird, weird place: a fancy retreat, where I can feel the town/gown anxiety in the air. Quite apropos of Aspen, we found one of the most absurdly gorgeous Airbnbs I’ve ever stayed in – in a multi-million-dollar house. The very sweet host asked us if we “scuba” and proceeded to show us a well-cared for fish tank (what one would see at a certain depth) in our spa-like, lower-level of the house, Airbnb. We walked downtown for dinner and took a short hike up Smuggler Mountain.
Next, we drove to Breckenridge, on the way to Evergreen. I recall Leadville and the Pass, from one of my drives to Aspen. The pass was freezing, as I remembered, and Leadville was weird. Our reasons for stopping in Breckenridge were twofold: an alpine coaster and beer. Alpine coasters are gravity-driven metal coasters set on mountains with toboggan-like, single-person cars that allow the rider to control the speed. Breckenridge has a coaster and it’s was the few minutes of fun I hoped it would be. After the coaster we went to have beers at Broken Compass Brewing. Then, we drove to Evergreen and had dinner at a pretty local spot: Two Bears Tap and Grill.
In the morning, we drove up through the mountains, west of Boulder. We had wanted to go to a hand-carved carousel, in Nederland, but it was closed. We had coffee and beers in Boulder, at OZO coffee and BRU, respectively. Then, we drove back to the airport.
I enjoy Colorado. I could see myself living there. After a recent visit to Vermont, I think that Colorado, Vermont, and California (in no particular order) are my favorite states. Crestone has an energy that I’ve only felt in a few other places: Marfa, TX and Monument Valley, AZ/UT. There’s nothing terribly wrong with where I live, but I enjoy the idea of somewhere else. Someday.