Last weekend we did the short tour of the Denver area. In four days we managed to hike, drink, hike, drink and then do a little hiking and drinking.
Within an hour off the plane I was cursing the steps leading up to the Red Rocks amphitheater…jesus I’m out of shape. Then spent the rest of the morning hiking the beautiful Red Rocks trails. I stepped on a rattlesnake hole. Sweet. Our long weekend was non-stop action. From touch down to take off, there was nary a dull moment. Throughout the weekend we did a fair amount of hiking and exploring, Golden, Littleton, Denver, Ft. Collins, Idaho Springs, Golden Gate State Park, Lookout Mountain, hell I even went to Buffalo Bill’s grave. (Don’t ask, the nieces wanted to see it.) But that’s not what I want to talk about here. I want to talk about one of the most glorious things I saw in Colorado. One of my favorite things in life. Something very dear to me, one of my greatest loves. I want to talk about beer.
The various craft beers produced in Colorado are nearly enough to get me to plant roots and send for the children. Because beautiful high desert Colorado isn’t amazing enough, right? Add to the abundance of sunshine, mountain views, skiing, hiking, biking, rafting etc — lovingly crafted, fresh, delicious beer. It’s fair to say that we spent an equal amount of time on beer tasting, beer touring and beer discussion as we did hiking and exploring. If you enjoy beer, please add Colorado to your Foursquare to-do list. You won’t be disappointed.
In particular, I had the opportunity to visit the brewery of some of my most favorite beers, New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, CO. Holy crap I love this place! It is a wind and solar powered paradise. The brewery itself is beautiful, a balance of form and function topped off with the happiest “co-workers” (it’s employee owned) you have ever met. Augie had to tear me away from the tasting room at the end of the two hour tour.
So, a gigantic THANK YOU to Tom (our tour guide) and all of the folks at New Belgium that lovingly produce some of my favorite beverages. Thanks for a great day, lots of delicious beer, and letting me Tweet my way through the brewery. :)
Yep. That’s really what he said. My beautiful, thoughtful, romantic husband’s honest-to-goodness first words upon first view of the Grand Canyon. Holy balls. I tried to think of what I would’ve said, had I not been laughing so hard. I guess maybe there isn’t anything to say. To quote Nicole Krauss, “Maybe there just aren’t words for everything.” On that thought, after Augie’s first verbal reaction, our immediate reactions were identical:
The Santiagos just shut up for a minute.
(For those of you that know us, you realize that both of us not talking is nothing less than a miracle.) It is awesome in the truest sense of the word. It’s a word so terribly overused today. “My playstation is awesome dude.” “That chocolate cake was awesome.” “You’re so awesome man.” You get the idea. We forget the real potential of that adjective until we witness something that is honestly something in which to stand in awe. The vistas and points and trails and history of this place are awesome, inspiring, sacred, and even when you are standing right there on the South rim, somewhat unbelievable. I could try to go on and on here and make you understand the beauty and serenity of this place, but it wouldn’t do it justice anyway. I will say this: go there, you’ll see.
The trip was great. Here we were, heading to the Grand Canyon to see some dear friends exchange vows atop the beautiful Shoshone Point. We flew into Phoenix, hopped into our rented convertible and headed North through the desert in search of adventure, lots of laughter, much anticipated romance, and this big crazy hole in the ground where we would meet up with some of our favorite people on Earth. Our road trip was just the beginning of our adventure, but it was good old-fashioned road trippin’ fun. We had beautiful scenery, lots of sun block, excellent tunes and each other.
We arrived at the canyon around four and after checking in decided to stroll a few blocks from our hotel room door to see this big “holy balls” looking hole. Wow. (But we’ve already covered that.) Next, we decided to stroll along the rim to see if we might bump into anyone. Lo and behold, sitting outside the steak house that Augie had his heart set on was the bride to be! We were so lucky to run into them and we had a lovely dinner before checking out their way cool Prius Hybrid rental car. This thing actually turns on with a power button (like a computer for real), loved it. Very cool. They had much to do so we decided to hike down (a short way) into the canyon to see it in the moonlight. Beautiful. Scary at times, but beautiful.
The next day Augie and I rose early to begin our hike down to the 3 mile rest house along Bright Angel trail. We thought seeing the canyon from the top was amazing, hiking the trail that the Indians built to get down to the water was equally indescribable. What I will describe though, is the feeling in your legs when you reach the top. Holy shit is that a work out. It felt good in that “I hope I packed the ibuprofen” kind of way. We were so excited when we reached the top we gave Gracie a shout out with a big “We dill it!”
That night was filled with more fun as we all gathered for the welcome dinner at the Maswik Lodge. The food was great; the friends (old and new) were even better. Augie and I truly feel that we made several new friends at this wedding, which is fitting, because Shan, Charlotte and Jess tend to bring good things into my life, whether they know it or not, it just seems to happen that way.
The Big Day!
Let me begin by saying that although all of my girlfriends were beautiful brides, to see Shannon in a gown that was “made for her” against the purple, pink, and orange shadows of the canyon really took my breath away. She was glowing, really. The fantastic four was a sight to see on top of that canyon, three beautiful ladies and their very handsome man. I love them all very much and could not have been happier for them at that moment. Their harpist played their song. People cried through their huge smiles. Mom cried, Dad cried, Shannon cried and I think that Tom even got Jeremy to well up a little! (Excellent work Tom! – Tee Hee.) A champagne toast and a few hours to play atop Shoshone Point. Fantastic. Just Fantastic.
After a major photo shoot, we caravanned back to Thunderbird Lodge to party the night away in a banquet hall that overlooked the canyon. Brian taught me how to don a hiking pack during the ride back from the point. Brian is one of those guys that just knows a lot of stuff about a lot of stuff. Anyway, even the ride back was fun. A delicious dinner followed by a huge piece of wedding cake, good vibes, good friends, a great couple of newlyweds…what a night. Augie and I will not soon forget the day that Shannon and Jeremy stood at such great heights and said “We’ll Stay”. I’m totally bawling again just thinking of it.
The next morning we awoke to a light knock on the door. There stood the beautiful Mrs. McCumber, who, with all she had going on this busy weekend, came to wish me a Happy Mother’s Day and hand deliver a sweet card. Dammit I love that gal. Then it was off to breakfast with the Strands to start the day. From there we hit the road to get back on Route 66 through Flagstaff and eventually into the Sedona red rock country. We drove the Oak Creek Canyon route and stopped at the tiny little deli stuck right in the rock for lunch. We drove up the winding roads into Jerome, but I was so freaked out that I couldn’t let go of the armrest to take any pictures up there. We headed into Phoenix around 3:30 and opted for soaking our feet and ordering room service (my pick for my Mother’s Day dinner). It was great. We sat in front of a wall of windows in our room on the 21st floor and watched the sun set into the mountains as we sipped Shiraz and devoured chocolate cake.
As we set off for the airport the next morning, I was now desperately missing the girls. I did very well all weekend, but now my willpower was shaky and the tears were welling. I started counting down the hours, minutes, miles, and beverage carts until I could wrap my arms around Gracie and smell Nora’s head. When we pulled up at the house I dropped the bags on the sidewalk and sprinted into the house. The look on Gracie’s face was precious and the feeling I got when she jumped into my arms was, well, “sometimes there just aren’t words for everything.”
Every time I type “McCumber”, my spell check wants to change it to “Cucumber”. I am finding this rather amusing right now, so…