Colorado: Pit Stops and Rocky Mountains

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Our post on Colorado won’t be very long. We did some work for a Minneapolis client in Denver, so much of the week was spent prepping for (and working on) those video shoots. That said, we did manage to squeeze in a few non-work adventures!

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We came up into the southwestern corner of Colorado from New Mexico, and made the world’s quickest stop at Mesa Verde National Park. We didn’t know much about this park before our trip, but on recommendation from a friend we decided that we had to see it. It was dark, rainy, and nearly sunset- but dang it, we wanted to see those cliff dwellings! We raced to the top of the mountain where some of the dwellings could be seen from above. The road closed at sundown, but it was well worth the precious little time we spent looking down upon the intricate stone cities.

This National Park wins the gold “must-return” award. It features several cliff dwellings built by Pueblo Indians between the late 1290’s and 1300 AD. The structures tell of a history both rich and mysterious, since there is some question as to why the dwellings were ultimately abandoned in the 1300’s. In warmer months, the dwellings are accessible to visitors via difficult hikes that often require shimmying through tunnels and climbing ladders. Even though our visit was blink-of-an-eye quick, we were so glad we made it there.

We spent the weekend driving through the mountains and winding our way towards Denver.

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We stopped in Colorado Springs to check out Garden of the Gods, which is such a fun and stunning state park- full of beautiful red rock formations, it’s close enough to civilization that people jog and walk their dogs here in the morning.

We also swung by the house where Carl’s grandparents used to live before they passed away in 2008. It stirred up some healthy nostalgia and was surprisingly therapeutic. It reminded us how powerful it can be to visit places that we no longer have physical connections to. Long-forgotten memories can rear their heads in unexpected ways.

Then it was off to Denver, where we executed the video shoots for our MN client. I can’t think of a poetic way to say that we stayed at a cheap Quality Inn on the outskirts of town, where pot fumes seeped out from under the doors and management didn’t bat an eyelash. Our work days were long and didn’t leave much time for exploring the city, but we managed a couple of beers and a movie or two (plus a visit with Carl’s cousins). Although we didn’t take any photos in the city, we had a good visit and were reminded why Denver is such a sweet town.

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After Denver, we had to high-tail it West to get to Salt Lake City in time to meet a friend. Geographically, it didn’t make a lot of sense to go to Salt Lake- but we were itching to see the Bonneville Salt Flats and connect with some familiar faces, so we did it anyway. We spent the night in Glenwood Springs and did the hike to Hanging Lake the next day. We highly recommend this hike if you’re ever in the area! This was a really fun trek- we went up, up into the mountains to find a pure green lake nestled on the side of a mountain.

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Colorado was brief, which is unfortunate. It might be the most beautiful and dynamic state we’ve visited yet. If we’re honest, we were feeling pretty tired of moving from place to place, and the exhaustion really set in when we crossed into this state. “Overwhelmed” is becoming a common feeling here, but balance isn’t easy for us to achieve when our travel schedule is as rigorous as it is. Carl and I are both the type of people to prefer a more in-depth look at something as opposed to a whirlwind tour. With this trip, we’ve had to pick and choose what gets a closer look- and to be frank, nothing gets as close a look as it deserves. My friend Aaron noted, “you are taking the most grueling trip in modern US history, aside from maybe a presidential campaign”. He’s right! If we had to do it over again, I’m not sure we’d have planned it the same way. Let’s check in once December rolls around and see if we’ve changed our minds. Even though we look at each other often and question this concept, we’re in too deep! For now, we are holding onto the idea that the consistency of the trip will be worthwhile in the end.

More next week on travels in Utah!

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US Anywhere is a year-long, cross-country documentary project by newlyweds Carl and Anna. They are taking the 52 weeks of 2016 and are using them to travel the country and make short films about all 50 states (plus Washington, D.C.). The project will seek to illuminate the states and the hugely diverse urban and natural landscapes of the US. They hope to inspire others to dream, travel, explore, and connect with the United States.

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