Thursday, June 14, 2018

An Independence Day at Colorado's Independence Pass

While on our float trip in Grand Junction, Colorado last year, our guide mentioned that Aspen threw a heckuva Independence Day Celebration. There would be a military jet flyover and a parade - and since we hadn't been to Aspen before, we thought we'd give it a go. 

We got up bright and early and began our hour and a half drive through the mountains of Colorado. We were pretty excited to see the military flyover, but not for long as we ran into a traffic jam about 20 miles away from Aspen. So this is how it was gonna be, huh? We turned around and found a very large parking lot with free parking and a free shuttle - with a very long line waiting to ride it. We finally made it on the shuttle and knew we would barely make it to the town for the start of the parade. By the time we made it to Aspen, there was a small bi-plane flowing over the town and the parade route. So this was the military fly0ver? How disappointing! We found a spot to stand for the parade - in the shade no less - and enjoyed a bit of it. Lots of fire trucks, red,white & blue and marching groups. Since we were about the 4th row back from the street and the parade looked to be ending, we decided we better find something to eat before all the crowds let loose. We stopped into the first restaurant we found and picked outside as our choice on where to sit. The hostess led us to a table that was already taken - and proceeded to tell the patrons at the table to move and make room for us. Nothing doing. So we moved inside and managed to place an order as things were really crowding up.

I had no idea that Aspen's Fourth of July Celebration was such a huge deal. Not being from that part of the country, I was clueless. It was a tad crowded for my liking - and I'm afraid I didn't get a good impression of Aspen this time around. I'd like to go back on a regular ole Tuesday or Wednesday and see what it's like then. But I decided that their Independence Day Celebration wasn't for me - nice as it was.

But the day started looking up as we headed back to Denver on Colorado State Highway 82 which passes over the Continental Divide between Aspen and Leadville. This high mountain pass - at 12,095 feet - in the Rockies is 20 miles long and is one of the highest in North America. To call it scenic is an understatement. Closed between October and May, cars line up for miles on opening day to experience the wonder of the Pass.

We stopped at the scenic overlook which offers views of Mt. Elbert, Colorado's highest peak and the second highest peak in the continental US. What I found the most amazing was spotting two back country skiers - that's right, skiers in JULY - skiing by the overlook. Where I live it can reach temps in the high 90's and 100's in July so the thought of skiing over July 4th weekend is just too much for me to wrap my mind around. 

There are two vertical dots in the lower right of the zoomed in photo above - those are the skiers!

It was a majestic and scenic drive - mountain peaks, aspen trees and curvy roads through the pass to Twin Lakes which is popular for boating, hiking and camping. In fact, it one of my son's and his fiance's favorite places to camp in Colorado. Sitting at the base of Mt. Elbert, Twin Lakes may just be some of the most beautiful scenery in the state.

So if you're looking to go to Aspen's Fourth of July shindig, I'd suggest to go early and be prepared for crowds. And I'd highly recommend a drive through Independence Pass. It's some of the most gorgeous mountain scenery - and that's something to be said for a state with an abundance of gorgeous mountain scenery!

How about you? Have you been to Aspen? What did you think? And have you celebrated the July 4th holiday there? Any tips for next time?

Linking up with: WATW at Communal Global, The Weekly Postcard and The Weekend Wanderlust Weekend Travel Blog Party!

Thursday, June 7, 2018

STAY: Tides Folly Beach

Tides Folly Beach, located just outside of Charleston, South Carolina, is a high-rise, oceanfront hotel. Driving down the Main Street of Folly, it's hard not to notice the Tides looming at the end of the road. A former Holiday Inn, the Tides is now an independently owned property - and it's also one of my favorite hotels. 

First off, the friendliness of the staff is beyond any other place I've stayed. Members of the staff greet you every time you walk into the lobby, they always say hi when you're walking around the grounds and the bar and wait staff engage you in conversation while you're waiting on your food or drinks. 

Service is fantastic, also. I've never waited more than a  few minutes for anything. If you need something, the staff will make sure you get it.

Location - right on the beach, next to the pier and within walking distance of several shops and restaurants - is the best around, too. Folly is such a small town that you don't have to drive far to get to what you need but the Tides is right amongst the action. If you want to visit Charleston for the day or evening, it's only a short 9 miles away. So you get the best of both worlds - city and beach.

There is a restaurant - Blu - on the grounds, an oceanfront bar, an oceanfront and heated swimming pool and a coffee shop for your morning coffee needs (and ice cream if you need that, too) They play movies every week on the beach that are free of charge, hold a killer New Years Eve party (so I'm told),host a New Years Day Oyster Roast and there is free parking for hotel guests. And, of course, if you want to get married on the beach, Tides Folly Beach can play host for your wedding - or they have elopement packages.

Every room has an ocean view - which means you have a view of the Folly Beach pier and the sunrise over it. They also have beachfront patio rooms so if you're there for the long haul, you can enjoy a first floor patio with a very short walk to the beach.

I'm most definitely a fan. Here's hoping I can make my way back there soon!

How about you? Have you been to Folly Beach? 

Find out more info about Tides Folly Beach here

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Linking up with: WATW at Communal Global, The Weekly Postcard at Travel Notes and Beyond, Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox and The Weekend Wanderlust Weekend Travel Blog Party!