Awesome Compared to Awesome
Surfing while at the Great Barrier Reef. Sipping hundred year old wine on top of Mount Everest. Batman sitting on Superman’s shoulders. How do you compare epic things when they are literally packed on top of each other without A) Sounding like a lame pitch for NBC’s fall lineup or B) Making one sound less awesome by comparison? That’s the problem with today, Colorado brought us some of the biggest activity highlights of our entire trip, with each one being so super-cool-awesome-outrageous that there is no way to talk about them without providing the disclaimer that this recap itinerary might blow your mind off (make sure all electronics are outside the splash zone).
First, today brought Charlie back, essentially the ‘Return of the Jedi’. Now, I’m not trying to say Charlie is a legend, but, if the OK Corral had been a sporting event, there would be only one survivor. This isn’t something I imagined, people here use Charlie as a point of reference for where most others shouldn’t go (‘Oh, I couldn’t do it, people may have died trying, but Charlie would do it on a day off’), and, today, Charlie taught us stand-up paddleboarding in the world’s largest hot springs pool. Not to over use the ‘Star Wars’ references but, since people in this area attribute the creation of river paddleboarding to Charlie, learning paddleboarding from Charlie is essentially learning the Force from Yoda.
Now, not only did we tower over the other pool guests, while learning a sport most watching had never heard of, Charlie had us outfitted in full river gear. The immediate reaction from on lookers was ‘it’s a bit silly to wear helmets in a pool’. Charlie can’t hear criticism, and I think maybe Charlie’s mind operates on a different frequency, one that turns everything up to eleven, the way he lead our charge out into the chest deep, temperate water was the same way college football teams are lead onto the field; this might have been a lesson for beginners or a challenge Charlie lay upon himself to beat the hot springs into submission. I don’t know, but either way, within minutes, everyone was standing up on their board, and, by the end of the lesson, Charlie had most of us working on pivot turns. If you aren’t familiar with Stand-Up Paddleboarding, the fact that pretty much everyone was completely new to the sport and we were all still able to stand confidently in a matter of minutes is impressive, tantamount to each of us standing on a see-saw while either end tossed mercilessly up and down.
After going over the basics, Charlie lead us to the Glenwood Whitewater Park, a man-made wave in the Colorado River that pumps 365 days a year/24 hours a day. These wave parks enables surfers or kayakers of all different levels to build on their skills in real current, while eliminating many of the dangers that can pop up in a river’s wild sections. Also, this particular wave is used by a crowd of surfers that are super nurturing, there is never the worry of dropping in or cutting another surfer off and people respect each other’s work in the water.
Ripping it up in this water park was the event I was most excited about, but the water was too high for anyone other than Charlie to attempt it. I can’t wait to head back and get in their myself, but it will always be bittersweet because unfortunately this wave park was the last we saw of Charlie. Our next stop was ziplining, which probably isn’t Charlie’s thing because I’m sure, if he wanted to, he could just fly.
Zip Lining over the Colorado River
The zipline at Glenwood Canyon Zipline Adventures, is great for both experienced zipliners and zip newbies. For first timers, like Jade and Anna, this zipline rips across the Colorado River giving riders a taste of the speed and thrill of the ride in combination with a very unique view of the water. Even better though, a trip on this zipline is actually two flights, one across and one back, with a high ropes course-esk bridge linking the two. Especially for someone who has never zipped before, the cut-out bridge adds an extra thrill while not challenging the more timid too much. For the more experienced zipliner, this particular line flew us closer to the river than any zipline I have ever ridden, only yards from the flowing current. While the ride isn’t as long as those found in Central America, the view is unique to most the lines in the world.
Our most shocking and defiantly once-in-lifetime event still lay ahead of us though as we left Glenwood Springs for Snowmass. Let me preface this with, I think everyone on earth wants to do this, even if it’s not on their bucket list. We were staying at the Viceroy in Snowmass, which is the most luxurious hotel I have ever stayed in (even topping Blue Hotel Sydney which is run by Taj Hotel), and, after checking into their rooms, every member of our group wanted to move in. I’m not being facetious, our room was bigger and better than our apartment, washer and dryer in unit, but this was more of an amazing surprise than a totally life fulfilling event, which lay ahead in a ziplock storage box.
The box was on the bar when we headed into the Viceroy’s restaurant for dinner, and looked more like an poorly placed bar prop than a discovery. Not necessarily close by, a jovial, bald faced man in his thirties, Ian, was laughing with other members of our group. This box was his, and he couldn’t have cared less that this contents were out of his reach. After a few minutes of talking about mud and eras, he strode over to the container and pulled out a mastodon fossil. That’s right, he pulled out a hundred thousand year old fossil that he had plucked out of the ground at the dig site such a short time ago that he had only had time to rinse it in the sink before bringing it to us. Then we got to hold it. I held a fossil!
I had no idea how much I wanted to hold a fossil until I was actually doing it. It was like all those years of pushing on the velvet rope stanchions at various historical museums had paid off. I was casually handling something I thought was reserved only for the academic elite (and Harrison Ford). Bone dust came off in my hands as I shuffled the jaw bone around to get a better look at the teeth. This was amazing. Throughout the night, I held the bone three more times, picking it up each time because I was suddenly overcome with the fact that I was in a position to hold a actual fossil, a relic of Earth’s history, on a whim and as casually as I pleased.
So, how do I explain that these three events were each totally awesome without making them compete for the title of ‘most awesome’. I can’t, and if I had to choose one of the three, I wouldn’t know which to pick. While handling the fossil was definitely the most glamorous for me, the time spent with Charlie is going to bring us back to Colorado and onto a paddleboard in the river (something I had never considered before) and ziping over the Colorado made both Anna and Jade push themselves, in the end giving them each the same ‘Wow, I can’t believe I had it in me to do this’ smile. While every other day has been marked by how amazing the communities and people of Colorado are, today stood out for the over all experiences that can be had here.
This video is part of our On The Go: Documenting While Traveling Project. Each video in this series was shot, edited, and uploaded using only mobile devices. The music featured in our intro is courtesy of Tim.