Buena Vista, CO: summer 2020 trip, social distancing edition

This summer, we had planned to go New York City.

Given the state of the COVID-19 pandemic 😷 , New York being the epicenter at one point, Broadway shows cancelled through September, and the Statue of Liberty and Empire State Building still closed, we cancelled our trip.

Instead, we planned an “outdoor activity trip” in Colorado. Sometimes our vacations are what I call “activity trips:” vacations that involve minimal downtime and relaxation. Our ski trips are “activity trips,” as was our trip to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon last year.

Monday, June 22

Driving day. We brought Ali with us this time! It’s a rough ride for a dog.

Instead of I-70, we took the Kansas back roads. KS-96 west to Hutchinson, then highway 50 west to in Dodge City, then 400 west into Colorado. Then back to 50 in Carlton, CO. Then a series of state and county highways, and a winding two lane road through Guffey, CO and the Pike National Forest, up to Hartsel, CO. Then south on highway 24 into Buena Vista (which means “good view” in Spanish). Not much going on here.

We stopped at Midway USA (Kinsely, KS) and took our pic at the famous New York/San Francisco sign.

Here’s the story about the sign: In 1939 there were two World’s Fairs, one in San Francisco and one in New York City. Kinsley became famous when the cover of the Saturday Evening Post featured Kinsley, with a ‘Midway USA’ sign referencing the equal distances from Kinsley going out west and east to the two large coastal cities.

Since Ali was with us, we packed a lunch and ate in a little park in Syracuse, KS, population 1,741. The park had a little disc golf course, so the boys spent 20 minutes playing a few holes. They had brought discs to play in Colorado.

Arrived in Buena Vista around 7 p.m. We had rented a farmhouse that was built in 1896.

It’s been remodeled and has a huge fenced in backyard with grill, tire swing, horseshoes, firepit, art studio, and treehouse. It’s in a great location and big enough for everyone to spread out.

Tuesday, June 23

Scott and I headed to get groceries while the boys slept in. Then, the boys fit in a quick round of disc golf. Ali and I watched for a while, then I took her down by the Arkansas River (pronounced ark-kan-saw, like the state, in Colorado. In Kansas, it’s the ar-kansas river).

There are a ton of trails and people fishing, hiking and biking… and of course dogs. Ali was not well behaved. She did fall into the river at one point.

Next up – riding ATVs. We had two vehicles and were able to switch out drivers with the boys. It was fun, but noisy. And we got terribly dusty!

At one point, the ATV Zach and I were in started sputtering and then died. Turns out a spark plug had been jostled loose! Our guide fixed it and we were back in business.

Back home to grill out hamburgers and hot dogs. We also played on the tire swing (all of us…), sat out by the fire pit, and played horseshoes.

Wednesday, June 24

Up early to go horseback riding! The weather was perfect for our two-hour ride.

Zach rode Jake, Adam’s horse was Big Gray, Scott had Spade and mine was named Stormy. We rode through streams and up in the mountains a bit and saw antelope roaming and blue hering nests.

After lunch at the house, the boys played disc golf again and Ali and I hung out at home. A storm blew through and she found her hiding spot under an end table in the corner of the living room. Eventually, we went back downtown and hiked a little.

Tonight we grilled chicken and salmon. We were going to start a fire again, but the neighbor next door informed us there was a fire ban, with a fine up to $1,000. Doh!

Thursday, June 25

While the boys were still sleeping, Scott and I walked downtown for coffee and ice tea. Only outdoor seating available, and the tables were spread out.

In the afternoon, the much anticipated white water rafting. In 1996 when Scott graduated from the Air Force Academy, his graduation present was white water rafting. It was 40 degrees and cloudy that day, so he wasn’t able to go. Finally… 25 years later!

We did class II-III rapids through Browns Canyon National Monument on the Arkansas River. The rating system is I-VI (I is safest, VI involves risk of life). In a “normal” raft trip, we would be with other people. COVID-19 doesn’t allow anyone but family members and the guide in the raft. So we kind of got our own private raft trip!

Not many pictures of us actually rafting because it’s not good when your phone gets wet. 🤣 It was a bit chilly, but we were all required to wear wetsuits so that helped. The boys and I wore jackets too. The insulated water shoes were a lifesaver. The sun came out at the very end…

To warm up at home, Scott made hot tea. FYI: the trivet doesn’t go on the stove. We bought the owners of the house a new tea kettle.

Leftovers for dinner tonight … then downtown for ice cream.

Lots of people are wearing masks (more than where we live). The sign on the door to the ice cream shop says:

  • Do not enter if you have a fever or cough
  • Leave 6 feet of space
  • You must be wearing a mask or face covering
  • Limit one family in store

Friday, June 26

Driving day. Uneventful, but I finally got to visit Mushroom Rock State Park! 🤣

I’ve been talking about wanting to see rocks shaped like mushrooms for several months now, but no one wanted to drive two hours to see them. Since the park was “kind of” on the way (it added 10 minutes to our trip), the boys decided it was worth it to see so I’d shut up about going.

Home by 10 p.m.

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