Monday, July 19, 2010
Disclaimer: It is my blog day today and I already know I cannot compete with Janel and John as far as witty writing so I am not going to try. You will not get wry comment or snazzy turns of phrases in this post. What you will get is a straightforward account of our day. If you are looking forward to a clever reparte – better skip this post.
Today is our whitewater rafting day and we have set the alarm for 6:30 in order to meet at our rafting location by 9:00. Naturally, the alarm does not go off and I awake with a start at 7:14. We manage to get up, get ready and slam down some breakfast before heading off to Canon City. Canon City is about 1 hour east of Salida. Little did we know that the road to Canon City (hwy 50) would be stunning. It is a beautifully scenic drive following the Arkansas River through a winding mountain road. We love it.
As per our usual we are listening to our Sirius Satellite radio and are scouring the channels for interesting song titles. The titles of note we have heard so far are:
“Let’s Talk Dirty in Hawaiian” (previously referenced by Janel)
“I Don’t Like Half the Folks I Love”
“I’m Gonna Drink Canada Dry Before I Die”
We don’t hear any more candidates this morning, but are hoping for the best.
After making a slight directional mistake, we call the raft company and they “talk us in” to their place near the Royal Gorge. The Royal Gorge is a very famous area where there is a really cool suspension bridge (built in 1929) and a scenic railroad that tourists must pay $$$ to enter. We will get to be smack in the middle of it as we navigate the whitewater on our rafts. Cool.
Just as a side note: I have already whined this morning that I feel today is an unfair blog day for me. This is due to the fact that we cannot take a camera on our raft trip (since we don’t want to risk it getting tossed overboard) and therefore will not have many good pics today. Neither Janel nor John feel any sympathy for me. In fact, they both have basically told me that it is too bad and that I can draw my pictures . . . “Paint with a track pad” (computer geeks will understand)
When we finally arrive at Performance Tours, the first order of business is one we are very familiar with from our scuba diving trips – signing waiver forms. We don’t even bother to read them anymore. We just sign our lives away like we have no good sense. Then it is time to gear up.
We don our lifejackets (pulled super tight), our helmets and grab our paddles. Ready to go! Our guide, Roel is great. We start off in pretty calm water while he explains the comands to us. There are six people in our raft and his commands are simple: “Left forward one” “Right forward two” Both forward one” “Left back two” etc. ( all are indications of which side should paddle, how many strokes and which direction.) He ensures us that if we all paddle correctly nobody will exit the raft prematurely.
We make our way through some Class III and IV rapids with names like “Boat Eater, Sledgehammer and Wall Slammer.” Johnny is in the front on our side and takes the brunt of the waves like a champ. We delight in the fact that none of us has been thrown overboard. This takes on a whole new meaning when we pass by our first set of really tough rapids and then relax in the eddy while we watch several other rafts attempt the same passage. We watch in mixed horror and fascination as rafts dislodge several passengers among the swirling whitewater and bodies are being swept downriver past us as the guides yell “SWIM! SWIM!” Fortunately everyone finally gets rescued and no one is too worse for the wear.
We pass through incredible scenery in the Royal Gorge and paddle directly under the suspension bridge (built in 1929) where folks have paid $$$ just to drive over and peer into the abyss that we are floating on. It is a marvelous way to see the Gorge and we tell the people passing by on the “scenic train” that we are definitely having more fun than they are.
After navigating several more rapids we are finally in a relaxing section of the river and enjoy our trip back to shore. It is time to load up the rafts and equipment and make our way back to the headquarters. We have had a wonderful morning on the river and are now setting our sites on our afternoon planned zipline adventure.
It is around 12:30 and we need to be back in Salida (an hour away) by 2:00 and we are STARVING. We decide to munch from our cooler and snack box and find a scenic spot beside the river on our way to Salida. We enjoy meat, pb&j (stolen from breakfast), nut-trition (don’t ask), yogurt and apples. When we arrive in Salida Janel and I need a caffeine break and run the the McD’s drive through for coffee. John decides to indulge in a “Niller” ( vanilla cone) and we are all fat and happy.
Captain Zipline’s office is in downtown Salida and is a pretty non-descript place. When we show up there are already about 8 people in the office and you can hear a pin drop. The whole scene is kind of strangely quiet and subdued for a group that is planning on zinging through the mountains harnessed to a cable. We think it is a little weird, but sign our lives away once again on their waiver forms.
After a bit of milling around it becomes obvious that we are going to be driving to the zipline area (suprise!). We follow the caravan east of Salida and off a dirt road up into the mountains – cool. Finally when we arrive at the zipline area people begin to relax and open up. The guide start to joke around and everyone is anticipating their upcoming rides. Janel and I ziplined in Costa Rica so we know kind of what to expect. John has no idea and I am looking forward to seeing him zip.
We don all our equipment and the guides carefully check to see that we have everything secure. We practice on the “bunny cable” and then we are off for real. It is truly an exilarating experience to be riding a cable alone across a beautiful valley. We all love it! We hike from cable to cable and each one becomes longer and steeper than the next.
The experience ends all too soon and it is time to head back into town. We have already decided that we are in the mood for steak and asked around the other guests to see what is good in town. The concensus is Quincy’s. However, we had already looked online and noticed that it doesn’t get very good reviews. We decide to check the internet when we get back to the room.
One more side note: Last night I discovered that I left my brand new, purchased 3 days ago, prescription, COACH framed glasses at our hotel in Santa Fe. I called the hotel and of course they didn’t find them. They told me to call back today when housekeeping was around and check one more time. I was soooo bummed. I called back today and talked with a really nice guy at the desk. He took my number and told me he would get right on it. Finally he left me a voice mail saying that they had scoured the place and did not find them. I decided to take one more look in my bag. Ok – they were there all the time. I confess. Who knew? I just couldn’t call the guy back and tell him I had them all the time – what would you do?
On the way to our motel, John decides he wants to stop at McD’s and get a sweet tea. This makes Janel and I think that we would rather stop at the liquor store and get a six pack. So we find the local package store and get into an argument with a lady about how to pronounce “Salida” (it is Sa-lI-da – long I) and how “salida” (sa-lEE-da) in Spanish means exit (and also entrance according to the woman. . .). We finally go in the store and purchase a great-looking organic beer called “Mothership.”
When we get to our room we quickly realize we don’t have a bottle opener. Duh. I traipse down to the desk to beg for an opener and also to get the proprietor’s take on a good place for steak. She suggests the “Twisted Cork” ( or as I like to call it – “Twisted Sister”) Cafe. We look it up online and it looks fantastic! Done. Reservations are made. Beer is open and drunk. Internet connections are hooked up and we sit for about an hour just enjoying the quiet.
Johnny drives us to dinner
and the restaurant is great. It is right on the river and we sit on the patio. We order a bottle of their local wine – a Merlot/Raspberry (yes, really) blend. We order 3 different dinners with plans to share: Ribeye Steak, Chipotle Salmon, and Lemon Chicken. We eat it up and even order the White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake for dessert. I am pretty sure we solved several of the worlds problems at our table tonight. At least I know we closed up the place.
This was a great day. We have really enjoyed Colorado – it definitely has exceeded any expectations on my part. Tomorrow we plan to head east following what we have heard to be a very scenic route through Cripple Creek. Time for sleep. . .