Sometimes we want to get away from, well, everything, and go to a place where nothing happens and we can just sit back and enjoy life.  Fortunately, such a place exists just a short plane trip away: Blue River, Colorado.

Somewhere, between love and honor, between courage and not courage, between Kansas and Utah, there lies Blue River.

Somewhere, between love and honor, between courage and not courage, between Kansas and Utah, there lies Blue River.

Blue River

According to wikipedia, Blue River is a Statutory Town in Summit County, Colorado, with a population of about 900. It’s about 6.0 square kilometers, and about 8 kilometers south of Breckenridge.

Mmmmm, breakfast.

Mmmmm, breakfast.

We are traveling in off-season and many establishments are closed.  However, a healthy breakfast of unfertilized chicken embryos, toasted flour flavored with cow extract and smashed fruit, with a glass of fruit liquid, and we are ready to start our day!

wtf, Apple?

wtf, Apple?

We use our iPhone to check the weather, and discover that it thinks conditions in Blue River are unhealthy.  🤕

Our rugged VW Atlas, suitable for mountains outside of the Maghreb, too.

Our rugged VW Atlas, suitable for mountains outside of the Maghreb, too.

A long time ago, we would rent convertibles when touring, thinking that the open top would be advantageous.  Wrong.  Much better to be higher up in an SUV and have complete climate control.  A few hours driving, exposed to the elements, gets pretty tedious.

Yes, I'm a troll.

Yes, I’m a troll.

When we started the car, the message read, “Welcome Driver 1.”  It seems we could program the various functions for up to 4 drivers, and each driver could have a nickname.  I wonder if the next driver will be superstitious… 😈 

Okay, so let’s see what there is to see in and around Blue River.  

Houses

People have to live somewhere, right?

This house gets a lot of air flow.

This house gets a lot of air flow.

There are many abandoned buildings in Blue River, along with the obligatory “Private Property” or “Keep Out” signs that pervade Colorado. We hope these signs are due to draconian Colorado insurance regulations and not hostile attitudes towards visitors.  

The homestead, nestled in the trees.

The homestead, nestled in the trees.

Although this looks cozy, we wonder how these people survive the winter in this part of Colorado, where they get up to 30 feet of snow.  Fortunately, we do not have to find out.

Hope you don't mind climbing a lot of stairs.

Hope you don’t mind climbing a lot of stairs.

The photograph is a bit blown out (it can be difficult to balance the settings in a panorama), but you can see the long, long stairs leading from the driveway to the house.  It’s May, and there is still snow, reminding us that these folks traverse these stairs in slippery conditions for perhaps eight months each year.

Abe Lincoln grew up in a house like this.

Abe Lincoln grew up in a house like this.

Here we see one of the more stereotypical rural houses found in Colorado.  It’s oversized because folks must spend so much time indoors in winter, and it has a facade of logs, because Colorado.

Continental Divide

All rain eventually reaches the ocean…but, which one?

Wait, something is wrong here.

Wait, something is wrong here.

Go to Google.com and look up “Hoosier Pass”.  Zoom in.  You’ll see that the highway runs north and south, and this sign is on the west side of the highway…meaning, the have the location of the oceans mixed up. 

The view to the east...apparently, towards the Pacific ocean.

The view to the east…apparently, towards the Pacific ocean.

We drive over the divide and head west towards Fairplay, a town known for being the visual basis for the town of South Park, from the cartoon of the same name.  As we descend, we see that the mountain forests give way to wider valleys and a number of open pit mines.  This is the ugly side of Colorado, I guess.  So we turn around in Fairplay and head back to the forests and mountains.

Forests

Colorado has 11 national forests and two national grasslands, totaling about 14.5 million acres.

Can't see the forest for the trees.

Can’t see the forest for the trees.

Although this is not a common sight in Colorado, it tends to be the one we remember: a mountain of trees, blue sky with puffy clouds, and a house tucked in an opening in the forest.

There is snow in them-thar hills.

There is snow in them-thar hills.

Despite the warm-ish weather and bright sun, the snow still manages to linger amongst the trees.  At this time of the year, most of the snow sublimates rather than melts.

There is even a forest of pussy willows to enjoy.

There is even a forest of pussy willows to enjoy.

An old man is sitting on his front porch watching the sun rise. His son walks by carrying something big under his arm.  “Hey son, whatcha got there?”

“A roll of chicken wire. Gonna catch some chickens.”

“You damn fool! You can’t catch chickens with chicken wire!”

His son just laughs and keeps walking. That evening at sunset, his son comes home, dragging behind him the chicken wire with about 10 chickens caught in it.

The next morning, the old man is out watching the sun rise, and his son walks by carrying something in his hand. “Hey son, whatcha got there?”

“Roll of duct tape. Gonna catch me some ducks.”

“You damn fool! You can’t catch ducks with duct tape!”

His son just laughs and keeps walking.That night around sunset, his son comes home, trailing behind him the unrolled roll of duct tape with a half-dozen ducks caught in it.

The next morning, the old man sees his son carrying what looks like a long reed with something fuzzy on the end. ”Hey boy, whatcha got there?”

“It’s a pussy willow.”

“Wait up…I’ll get my hat.”

😀

Mountains

How many mountains does Colorado have?  Well, that’s impossible to say, because no one knows where one mountain ends and another begins.  Like, does a tunnel go through a mountain or under a mountain?  Anyway, the internet claims that Colorado has 55 peaks exceed 4000 meters (13,123 feet) elevation and 117 peaks exceed 3000 meters (9843 feet) elevation.

A classic Colorado vista.

A classic Colorado vista.

North of Blue River is the Dillon Reservoir, and on the west side of the Blue River Arm is Sapphire Point Overlook, which has a short hiking trail and views such as this, which is looking westward. Those snowy ribbons running down the mountain are ski runs.

I think that is Full Dome, the big brother of Half Dome.

I think that is Full Dome, the big brother of Half Dome.

This is the view from the same overlook, this time looking north towards Silverthorne.

Yes, Colorado has these types of mountains, too.

Yes, Colorado has these types of mountains, too.

From Blue River, if you drive north on highway 9 to Kremmling, then turn east on highway 40 and drive through Hot Sulphur Springs to Granby, you will pass through Byers Canyon, a short gorge approximately 8 miles (13 km) long. The Union Pacific Railroad’s Moffat Route travels through the canyon (notice the railroad tracks), and you get to see these mountains.

Water

Colorado is the seventh driest state in America.  But you’d never know it around here.

Let's go to the beach!

Let’s go to the beach!

It’s only about 60 degrees and a bit windy, but that doesn’t stop the hardy Coloradons from spending a day at the beach.  We linger to take a quick cheesecake photograph.  😎  

It's a canoe.  It's a paddle board.  Wait!  It's both!

It’s a canoe. It’s a paddle board. Wait! It’s both!

It is a bit windy here, but the bright sun provides some heat, and the locals enjoy the water.  Notice that there are islands that can be paddled to, so that the more adventurous can imagine themselves on a secluded tropical paradise.

A streaming image, old school.

A streaming image, old school.

There is an abundance of streams in this part of Colorado, shallow and cold.  We spend some time looking, but we see no fish.  We expect this stream is just a bit too shallow.

Hey!  That's my ancestor.

Hey! That’s my ancestor.

In the flat area near rivers, we find a number of ponds full of algae.  We expect that, within a few weeks, the ponds will be alive with insects, tadpoles, small fish, and other aquatic delights.

Another view of Byers Canyon.

Another view of Byers Canyon.

Here we see the upper Colorado River running through Byers Canyon. Hard to believe this little thing carved the Grand Canyon….

A mighty waterfall carves a mountain valley.

A mighty waterfall carves a mountain valley.

This cute little waterfall is in someone’s front yard, directing a small stream of runoff under the snow and down the hill.

More water for you to enjoy.

Critters

You might expect Colorado to have a plethora of wildlife, and you’d be correct.

Wha chew lookin' at?

Wha chew lookin’ at?

The first animal we see in Blue River is moose, a.k.a. Alces alces, the largest and heaviest species of Cervidae.  An adult female can weigh 1,000 pounds, and we respect her authority.   (I took the photograph with a 70-200mm zoom lens, so, indeed, I was quite a distance away.)

Bearded lady?

Bearded lady?

In this photograph, you can see the moose’s dewlap.  No one knows what the dewlap is used for, but it probably makes them look wiser.

I smell moose.

I smell moose.

We found ample moose scat near our house, included here to reassure you that everyone poops.

A red fox poses for me.

A red fox poses for me.

On two mornings, a red fox (Vulpes vulpes) traveled the same route past our house.  Both times, it stopped for a few moments and stared at us before disappearing into the brush.

What a nut!

What a nut!

This pine squirrel, probably Tamiasciurus hudsonicus, is fairly indifferent to our presence.  It allowed us to approach closely before climbing higher in the tree.

Least but not last.

Least but not last.

We encounter a number of least chipmunks (Neotamias minimus) on the hiking trail of Sapphire Point Overlook.  They approach us brazenly, as if they are accustomed to receiving food from humans.

You can never have too many chipmunks.

A Coloradon goose.

A Coloradon goose.

A Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) is at home in Colorado, feeding on algae in ponds.

Not a turd, but a turdus!

Not a turd, but a turdus!

American Robins (Turdus migratorius), although migratory, reside in Colorado year-round.

A passerine perches on a power line; perfect.

A passerine perches on a power line; perfect.

A white-crowned sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys) poses for us.  This birds is migratory, and we do not see many of them while we are here.

Hey!  Turn around!

Hey! Turn around!

This is probably a mountain bluebird (Sialia currucoides), although I can’t be certain because I could photograph only its back and most photographs that help identify birds do not show the backside.  Still, it’s a beautiful bird.

Yes, Colorado has hummingbirds.

Yes, Colorado has hummingbirds.

A broad-tailed hummingbird (Selasphorus platycercus) opens his wings in the morning sun, and I am lucky enough to take a photograph at the exact moment.

Breckenridge

Breckenridge is just a few miles north of Blue River, so let’s pay a visit.

Well, it is the off-season...

Well, it is the off-season…

Breckenridge is a ski town, and when there is no snow to ski on, there is apparently little reason to be in Breckenridge.  At least we don’t have to worry about traffic jams.

Respect my history!

Respect my history!

This old wagon under the whispering pines has a small red sign reminding folks that they don’t respect history if they climb on the wagon.  However, leaving it out in the rain and snow is a-okay.  Ah, those wacky Coloradons!

Welcome!  We're closed!

Welcome! We’re closed!

The Breck Connect Gondola has its own website, where you can learn all sorts of fascinating facts.  And this website tells us that is a favorite attraction among visitors and locals alike.  Not much else to do here, I guess.

But we like the sign informing skiers to remove their skis before entering the gondola.  I mean, they wrote that because it must be an issue, right?  But eight people climbing in the car wearing their skis would be worth seeing, don’t you agree?

Riverwalk

The area around Breckenridge has many paved hiking and biking trails, and the trail that runs through Breckenridge adjacent to the Blue River is called the Riverwalk.

They had to put the riverwalk here, to be near the Riverwalk Center.

They had to put the riverwalk here, to be near the Riverwalk Center.

In the town itself, there is a riverwalk on both sides of the river.  On the left, near the bridge, you can see a few folks sitting on the steps enjoying the warm-ish spring day.

Poppin' a squat.

Poppin’ a squat.

Just outside of town, a fly fisherman spends the afternoon hoping to catch a small fish.  We took a fly-fishing course once.  It involves A LOT of standing around by yourself and hoping to find a stupid fish.  But, to each his own…

Well, which is it?

Well, which is it?

We did not know that there were things called “e-bikes“, and now we find out that there are even different classes of them.  What an age we live in!

More strange signs.

More strange signs.

We already know that motorized vehicles are not allowed, but, if you decide to break that law, please do not jump your motorcycle over an ATC.  And we are not sure if the “open carry” refers to alcohol or firearms.  Ah, Colorado: a land of mystery.

Hey!  It's a river WALK, not a river CYCLE.

Hey! It’s a river WALK, not a river CYCLE.

The day becomes overcast, and the hardy Coloradons must bundle up to enjoy their activities. Brrrr, it’s starting to get cold!

Spring Snow

It’s a well-know fact that April showers bring May flowers, but Colorado has its own set of rules.

A storm is a-brewin'!

A storm is a-brewin’!

The skies continue to fill with clouds, and we see rain falling in the distance.  Maybe it will just pass over us, and we’ll again have sunny skies.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

Nope.  It’s not long before the skies darken, the winds blow, and we are treated to a spring snowfall.

Panoramic Colorado snowfall.

Panoramic Colorado snowfall.

It’s cold and windy, but still kinda cool for a couple of folks who live in Southern California.  🏄🏻‍♀️

Why is everyone (else) on the road now?

Why is everyone (else) on the road now?

This is the perfect time to go for a drive in the country, so off we go!  We expect something more like our adventure in Chicago, but this is what we get instead.

We take a video of the snow from our car window.  If you like Spring snow, this is the place to be.

I'm freezing my nips off here.

I’m freezing my nips off here.

Thus, our weekend getaway in Blue River, Colorado draws to a close, and it’s back to sunny California!  It’s a nice change-of-pace for us, and we hope to return someday in winter when we can actually have fun in the snow.  Until then….

awa Travels Tip: You don’t have to travel very far to have a wacky adventure.  Just get in your car, get off the beaten path, and enjoy what life has to offer.