So much to see in the wild, wild, west!
This morning we got up early again and headed out at about 8 a.m. from Alamosa. Our first 50 miles of driving was highway 17, which went absolutely straight, with no hills through a large flat plain between mountain ranges. There was one very long line of electric poles/lines that broke the horizon view, but otherwise, only a few trees that grew near the sparsely placed homesteads.
From there we entered the beginning of the mountains, driving primarily along the Arkansas river. We were concerned about what the road through the mountains would be like, but it was really nice, with only an occasional steep climb or drop, and very little traffic. We arrived in Leadville around 11:00 a.m. and got out to look around briefly, but decided not to spend any time there, as there was still much to see later in the day and more driving to do. We continued on, enjoying the views of Mt. Elbert, the highest 14-er (mountain with an elevation of 14,000 feet or more) in Colorado, with 14,433 feet of elevation. Our girls are learning terms like "sea level," "elevation," and "altitude," terms we don't use much at home in Michigan.
After a very scenic drive on Hwys. 24, 91, and 70, past ski resorts like Keystone and Breckenridge, we finally arrived at "Idaho Springs," where we had a quick lunch at Quiznos. Then we decided to tour an old gold mine operation. We thought we'd go the Phoenix mine outside of town, rather than the Argo, which seemed a little pricier. We drove up a very steep gravel road and arrived at a very old mine--it's been closed since 1985. Turns out it was no cheaper than the one in town (their brochure was just misleading), but we had an interesting time anyway. Not sure if it was worth the nearly $60 we paid for the 5 of us, considering we found no gold when we went panning for it after our tour. But the kids loved the chipmunks that were literally everywhere that would come up and eat out of their hands!
Next we headed down to Golden to see the Buffalo Bill museum and gravesite. The museum was really pretty interesting and nicely done. We only had about 15 minutes to see it as we had arrived just before closing. We then walked up to the gravesite and then spent a few moments (but no money!) in the giftshop. One of the best things was being at the top of "Lookout Mountain" and being able to look out over Golden, Colorado, and even all the way out to Denver. It was a beautiful view!
Although we wanted to squeeze more into our day, it was about 5:45, and the Boettcher mansion was closed so we just walked around outside of it, peering in through the windows. We then headed to our hotel. Dinner tonight was at the historic El Rancho (walking distance from our hotel), where we sat outside on the deck and played silly games while we waited for our food. The barbecued buffalo brisket sandwich was quite tasty.