Fort Collins, Longmont, Blanca, Alamosa, Great Sand Dunes NP, South Fork, Pagosa Springs

‘Welcome home!’ we thought as we crossed the border into Colorado from Cheyenne, Wyoming. As we got closer though, it didn’t look like home. Smoke from the two huge wildfires that were burning in the mountains to the west had turned Fort Collins into something out of a nightmare. We couldn’t see the mountains, the sun was dark red in the sky, and ash fell everywhere.

It was a deeply depressing arrival. But we were excited to see our friends and visit some of our favorite places – it seems this year, you just accept the depressing things, cuz there’s a lot of them, and find happiness where you can. We parked in the alley behind our friend Paul’s house. He famously created Apolonio’s Barshed in his backyard, which became a favorite hang out spot and ‘home away from home’ for our Colorado crew. Apolonio’s is complete with a kegerator, projector, Marvel arcade machine, all the collected artworks and knick-knacks and of course an ever growing amount of knomes that you’ll find tucked away on every shelf, nook, and cranny. Hi Natalie & Luke! We we also lucky to spend some time with our friends Drew & Sarah at Odell and Matt & Kimi at Equinox – just being able to talk, laugh, reminisce, vent about the year, and share craft beer with great friends….oh, man, that’s where it’s at 🙂 Hoppy purpose in its essence.

After Fort Collins we headed south to hang out with our friends Jason & Cheryle in Longmont. They have a spare room and were awesome hosts! Thank you both so much for being amazing people and awesome friends. We all like to play board games except Jason who is forced to play anyway. There were lots of tasty beers and whiskies had together and we even got out with John & Ann before they headed home.

Having spent a good time with friends, we had about a week and a half before we flew back home for my cousin Rachel’s wedding. So we went to southwest Colorado to explore some places we hadn’t gotten to yet!

Our first stop was Blanca where we reserved a campsite just south of Great Sand Dunes National Park. We met our friends who lived in the area the next day for a hike to the top of the dunes! It was awesome, but we definitely didn’t make it to the top of the highest dune. It was SUPER windy and the higher we climbed, the more we all just ate sand. Also: Hiking sand dunes is way harder than normal hiking because your feet don’t stop on the firm ground. They sink. You take two steps, you sink back one. The next day, our calves, shins, and hip flexors were all sore as hell.

Anyway, we had fun climbing as far as we could, and then the best part…running down like a fool as fast as you can! A total blast.

Our friends Ben & Kittra had just gotten ENGAGED and were renting a dope 5 bedroom condo in South Fork so we stayed with them for a night to celebrate. Congrats again, you two fools! They took us to a dope wood-fired pizza place which was great ‘post-dunes-hike-fail’ grub. The next day we headed over Wolf Creek Pass where the fall color of the largest living species on earth was in full effect: The Trembling Aspen tree! It was awesome to drive through.

On the other end of Wolf Creek Pass is Pagosa Springs. Pagosa Springs has a hot spring aquifer called the “Mother Spring”, which is the Guinness World Record holder for the world’s deepest hot spring. 1,002 feet!

This Mother Spring is too hot for soaking, but a resort right next to it called The Springs @ Pagosa Springs lays claim to it and has built up soaking pools all around. They have over 30 different pools of varying temperatures and sizes, most of which filter in hot water from the Mother Spring. Each of the soaking pools has a different name, amusing things like Lobster Pot, Sunset Social Club or Coffee in the Clouds. The resort is right next to the San Juan River, so every pool has scenic riverside views.

The mineral formations that have been created over time from the calcification of the hard water are really beautiful and totally unique! You can see some of them in the background of our pictures below. We relaxed and enjoyed all day and all evening until they kicked us out at closing time, 9:30 pm. These would be clutch after skiing all day.

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