“Investment in travel is an investment in yourself.” - Matthew Karsten
A friend of mine recently set out on a month-long trip across America. He hit the pause button on his career, packed his car, and left. He had no itinerary, no timeline. Upon his arrival home, we met for lunch at a local Mexican restaurant. The conversation quickly turned inquisitive when he asked me why I haven’t driven out west.
For me, traveling can be overwhelming. The idea of planning where to go and what to see stresses me out. I'm much more comfortable with day trips or escaping for a weekend getaway than planning a trip for multiple days far from home.
I’ve always wanted to venture west but life, as it often does, has been in the way. I held back from extended travel due to my feeling of obligation not to miss a day of work and a mild obsession with saving money. Why spend money to travel when I have everything I need at home? It made sense to me for a long time.
So there I sat, eating chips and salsa with my friend when he began to reflect on why he thinks travel should be a priority. "There is nothing wrong with taking time to see the world,” he says."We are conditioned to choose a path to success. Society tells us we should choose a profession quickly and work diligently to acquire things. If we feel the need to explore the world or find ourselves, or if our normal life's plans are derailed, people don't usually understand it."
As he wrapped up his thoughts on society, travel, and healthy minds, I wrapped up my thoughts on the bowl of tortilla chips in front of me. We began hypothetically tossing around the idea of driving out west. He was pretty convincing and I felt inspired. We paid our bill, walked outside to my car and, standing in the rain, I asked, “How long would it take to drive to Colorado?” We googled the distance and found that it would take around 22 hours of driving. Taking turns driving, we could be there by the end of the day tomorrow. I could even bring my laptop and work from coffee shops we find along the way.
It's important to stop here and note that you really have to watch out for crazy ideas and hypothetical situations. If you are wise, you'll change the subject before those ideas turn into reality.
In a spark of insanity, I told him we should pack up and drive to Colorado immediately. I dropped him off at his house, went home, and packed the car.
Surprisingly, the entire six-day trip was ultra-affordable, thanks to my Prius' high fuel efficiency and car-camping ability. Furthermore, our daily activities were mostly free of charge. We even met some kind folks in Arapahoe and Winter Park who gave us free "swag" in the form of hats, t-shirts, and energy drinks. The following photographs document our trip to Colorado.
DENVER, CO (Elevation = 5280 ft.)
The capital and the most populous municipality of Colorado is situated just east of the Rocky Mountains. I walked around downtown, watching people and bicycles go by, enjoying the creative details of Denver.
THE FLATIRONS | BOULDER, CO (Elevation = 8,148 ft.)
The Flatirons are rock formations in the western United States, near Boulder, Colorado, consisting of flatirons. We began walking a short trail leading to The Flatirons and, before we knew it, we were on our way to the peak. The view at the top was fully worth every second of the hike.
FRISCO, CO (Elevation = 9,075 ft.)
Frisco was founded by Henry Recen and was built because of the mining boom in the late 1800s. Walking the streets of Frisco, you really feel the old western history here. For a unique experience, check out Frisco Emporium, filled with antiques and unusual treasures.
DILLON, CO (Elevation = 9,111 ft.)
Named for Tom Dillon, an old west prospector, Dillon was built as a stage stop and trading post. We stayed overnight in Dillon for most of the trip as it served as a wonderful hub to venture out of and connect with towns west of Denver. This town was a favorite due to the friendly people, accessible stores, and an abundance of hiking and water sports located so close by.
ASPEN, CO (Elevation = 7,908 ft.)
Founded in 1889 during the area’s silver mining boom, today operates as a high-end ski-resort. Aspen was lovely and pristinely manicured. I didn't take many photos here but there are beautiful slopes and neat stores and cafes all around.
ARAPAHOE BASIN, CO (Elevation = 10,780 ft.)
An alpine ski-area located in the White River National Forest, among the highest skiable terrain in North America. We arrived and followed the sounds of live music and commotion to a central location at the base of the ski lifts. A race had just begun and we walked up just as the festivities were kicking off. We rode a ski lift up the mountain to gain an aerial view of the event.
Loveland Pass, CO (Elevation = 11,990 ft.)
Located on the Continental Divide, west of Denver on U.S. Hwy 6, with twisty road access that is particularly treacherous during winter months. This was a moderately strenuous hike. We made it to the top of Grizzly peak at 13,428 ft.
Winter Park, CO (Elevation = 9,052 ft.)
Winter Park began as two small settlements, Old Town and Hideaway Park. Today, it is the longest continually operated ski resort featuring over 3000 acres of award-winning terrain. We pulled up on Winter Park and from the parking lot could hear loudspeakers calling out contestant's names, the crowd cheering, and music filling the mountains. Stumbling upon a professional mountain bike competition in Winter Park was truly an awesome experience.