Wednesday was devoted to spending time with our son, Dan. Jane and I awoke early and took advantage of the breakfast provided at the Holiday Inn Express in Montrose. Dan’s flight was due to arrive at 11:30, so we had some time to kill. Initially I identified some short drives and hikes in the surrounding hills, and we were about to embark on one of these trips to nearby vistas. The guide book that I picked up in the hotel lobby suggested these destinations for viewing the gorgeous sunsets that are apparently prevalent in the area.
Before we left the parking lot, however, I glanced at the map and spotted a nearby park that bordered the Umcompahgre River. The area was named Baldridge Park, and Jane and I both agreed that we preferred hiking nearby. Of course I leaped at the opportunity to scout a river for possible future fly fishing trips.
We hiked the trail that followed the river for a half hour and then returned to the Santa Fe. The park was very nice with soccer fields, baseball fields, picnic areas, a roller blade rink, and exercise stations. There was even a water park with man-made stream improvement structures to create interest for kayakers. The same structural features probably enhanced the fish habitat, but I did not spot any fish during my cursory survey of the stream. A light dusting of snow from the previous evening left its mark, and several shaded spots along the trail retained patches of remnant snow cover. On our return trip we passed some ponds, and a small cluster of large birds hovered along the edge of the water. Eventually we heard the telltale squawk of sand hill cranes. The crane call reminds me of a hoarse turkey gobble, and it also prods me to recollect our camping trip among the sand hill cranes at Steamboat Lake last June.
After our Baldridge Park hike we continued our journey and found the nearby Montrose Airport. Unlike large urban airports, this one was small and provided free close by parking. When we entered the foyer, we discovered that we were at the gates, baggage claim and restaurant; as the small building made everything conveniently located near the entrance. The main generator of air traffic through Montrose is apparently Telluride Ski Area, as a fleet of shuttle vans were stationed just outside the entrance.
Eventually Dan appeared off to the side of the baggage claim area, and we quickly collected his luggage and departed for lunch. Dan consulted his phone and chose a small Mediterranean bistro along Main Street and slightly south of Townsend Avenue. We enjoyed some gyros, and then returned to the car for the 1.5 hour trip to Telluride. We were not sure whether Dan’s lodging for the week was in the town or on the other side of the ridge at the ski area base, but we decided to explore town a bit as our first stop. We found a parking space along Aspen Street and then strolled along Colorado Avenue; the main thoroughfare in the old mining town. As we were doing this, we checked out restaurants for dinner possibilities.
On the return along Colorado Avenue we gazed down a side street and spotted the loading station for the gondola, so we approached and noticed a sign that stated that the ride was free. It was not dinner time, so we leaped at the opportunity to enjoy a free gondola ride. The aerial transportation car carried us high above the town and over the next ridge until we eventually off loaded at a large developed base complex that included bars and restaurants and condominiums. We paused here for some photos and then reloaded for the return trip. Quite a few skiers were also gathered for the ride back to Telluride, as the clock advanced to 4PM.
Once we reached the gondola base, we resumed our walk, but this time we followed Pacific Avenue which was closer to the boundary with the ski area. Dan had the address of the lodging, and by now we determined that it was in Telluride and not at the ski area base. After a fifteen minute stroll we approached the sought after address, and once Dan placed a call to his friend Adam, voices and faces appeared on the second floor balcony. We turned the corner and found the entrance and climbed the stairs to the destination condo unit. Five of Dan’s friends were already present, and Adam offered beers while we received a tour of the unit. The number of skiers exceeded the capacity of the condo unit we were in, so Adam led us up the street to a second accommodation that he rented for the same period of time. This unit had a better picture window view of the mountain, so we remained here and drank our beers while chatting for thirty minutes.
Once we finished our beers, our appetites took control, so we bid our farewells and returned to east Colorado Avenue to a Mexican restaurant that we flagged on our initial walk. The restaurant was named La Cocina De Luz, and it proved to be a delectable find. We inhaled the chips and salsa and then consumed our favorite entrees before declining dessert, since we stretched our bellies to their limit. I ordered my favorite Mexican dish, tamales, and I was not disappointed.
After dinner we dropped Dan off at his condominium, and then Jane and I proceeded on a two hour drive to Cortez, CO, where we found the Hampton Inn and the room that we reserved for the night. A half day with Dan was a great bonus to our nine day road trip to Arizona.