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Getting high near Telluride, Colorado



Man we got high near Telluride!

At 9,500 feet in elevation, the Matterhorn Campground just south of Telluride, CO was the highest place we’ve overnighted yet on this Great Roadtreking Family Vacation of 2013. Son-in-law, Dan, noticeably felt the effects of the altitude and all of us noticed a bit of dizzyness on exertion, especially when hiking.

The Matterhorn Campground is just off Colorado Highway 145, about an hour and a half’s drive from our stay at Mesa Verde National Park. Run by the USDA Forest Service, it has 28 spots and we chose two offering full hookups for Wendy and Dan and the granddaughters in the travel trailer and Jeff and Aimee in the Roadtrek SS.

Jennifer and I put the eTrek in one of the dry camping spots.

The campground also has showers and flush toilets, though the showers were a bit challenging, bursting out blasts of scalding hot water for 20 seconds, then abruptly shutting off until you waited six seconds and then pushed the button again. When I say scalding hot, I mean hot enough to make you howl if they hadn’t shut off when they did. Man, too hot is just as bad as too cold.

We loved this campground, nestled in a valley and surrounded by panoramic views of the mountains in all directions. On the day we arrived snow had fallen on one of the mountain tops to our east. Right from the tent area of the campground runs the Galloping Goose Trail, a 15 mile trail great for hiking. The trail features over 20 footbridges, winds past historical landmarks and through the deep gullies of Uncompahgre National Forest—some of Colorado’s most beautiful scenery. And the famed Lizard Head Wilderness is only about 3 miles away.

The big attraction in the areas is the nearby town of Telluride, described by locals as “the new Aspen.” To get to Telluride, we are advised by the campground host to drive up 145 to the nearby Mountain Village ski and golf resort community and take the free gondola ride into town. Since that was the only place I could get a solid Internet connection, I opted to stay in the Roadtrek in the parking lot while the rest of the family rode the gondolas.

It’s a pretty cool service, free transportation that is supposed to take 13 minutes. Wendy and Dan took their Goldendoodle, Charley, the youngest of our three dogs and an energetic ball of energy that is game for anything.

Sequouia, Jeff’s 120 pound part St. Bernard and partMalamute, is 12 and with, Tai, our 70-pound Norwegian Elkhound, opted to stay with me in the air conditioned Roadtrek.

While I cranked out work on a fast 4g signal with the two dogs, the others found themselves stranded. Their gondola just stopped and hung there, swaying in the wind 6,000 feet above the valley leading to town and sweltering in the sun. While the adults and kids groaned, Charlie’s long tail thumped out a happy rhythm as it hit the side window of the gondola. He was with all his favorite people and all close together. What gets better than that? Maybe a little breeze but, hey, Charlie was happy anyway.

They stayed like that for more than a half hour getting hotter and hotter. The first I learned about it was when I saw Wendy and Jeff updating Facebook about their plight.

y the time I reached them on the phone, I offered to drive into Telluride and pick them up in the Roadtrek for the return trip. Jeff, Jennifer and Aimee readily agreed. Once on the gondola was enough for them.

Wendy, Dan and Rachel considered it all a grand adventure and, with Charlie, took the gondola back to the village, where they had left their car. Hua Hua rode back with us in the Roadtrek.

The town is very dog friendly so we brought all three of ours and even had them sit with us while we ate in the patio of a little restaurant area used by a nearby Mexican and Middle Eastern restaurants on Colorado Street. Our dogs looked downright shabby compared to the oh-so-upscale dogs of the well heeled Telluride residents. The “in” dog in Telluride is the massive Burmese Mountain Dog. If you have to ask how much such a pooch costs, you cant afford it. A puppy of average pedigree starts about $1,500.

Telluride is a former silver mining camp on the San Miguel River that has great winter skiing and is a very popular Blues and Brews Festival each fall. Lots of Hollywood types have made their way here and have no problem shelling out $3 million for a vacation home on the edges of the box canyon that the town is built in.

We walked the streets, stocked up on groceries and headed to the northern end of Main Street for a look at the spectacular 365-foot Bridal Falls.

Then it was back to Matterhorn and quiet night beneath a stunning star canopy that takes your breath away, though at that 9,500-foot elevation, there was not much breath you could get. But even if you weren’t at such an altitude, those Colorado stars will get you high all by themselves.

This is why we RV.


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