Vail, Colorado in summer is also an eye-opening experience.

I had driven east-to-west through Vail many times on Interstate 70 between Denver and Grand Junction. Have stayed just to the west of Vail in Glenwood Springs, where a famous large hot springs pool sits right next to an Olympic-sized swimming pool. One summer, we ran the Colorado River that goes through Glenwood Springs, in a raft with two young grandchildren hanging on for dear life.

Just 50 miles from Glenwood Springs, up into the mountains, lies Aspen and the Maroon Bells which is a hike that will never be forgotten. The two mountains, both fourteeners, are supposed to be the most photographed site in the whole of Colorado.

Further west on I70 is Rifle Falls, pretty much a secret, but one of the most imposing waterfalls I’ve ever seen.

Grand Junction is where the famous Palisade peaches come from this time of year. They challenge Porter peaches, from Oklahoma, to be the perfect peaches in USA. Sorry, Georgia.

Even further west is Green River, named after the mighty river of the desert that joins the Colorado River south of Interstate 70. The junction is not far from Moab, Utah, the popular jeep town of red rocks and Arches National Monument.

On this trip to Vail, I got right down in there…
“Vail remained a peaceful home for sheep ranchers until 1939, when construction began on Highway 6, running from Denver through the Gore Valley. Charlie Vail, the project’s engineer, lent his name to the road–the Vail Pass–and eventually to the Town of Vail, too.”

Driving north from Albuquerque toward Vail, I found these mountains near Buena Vista, Colorado, that are probably close to 14,000 ft high (called fourteeners).

Buena Vista has a beautiful mountain river, and lots of rafting and kayaking.

I was invited to Vail by friends from Houston, Dewey and Linda, who accepted a kind offer for lodging by their friends Ken and Kathi, also from Houston. In this picture, Dewey and Linda and I are standing in front of Dillon Lake, a little east of Vail. I was told this lake is the water supply for Denver. It was lunchtime for three squirrels – dad and mom and junior.

Our apartment was on the third story with a balcony overlooking the Gore River. The mountains were blazing green while the scotch pines stood tall next to the river. The second pic is the Gore River in Vail Village, just half a mile walk from our unit.

Vail has a population of almost 6,000. The median age is 49 and the median household income is almost $83,000. So it’s a well-to-do city.

The day after we arrived, a Farmers Market put up their tents in Vail Village. I bought some Palisade peaches and they were very good. The second pic features shops in the main part of Vail Village.

Kids playing in Gore River close to Vail Village. The village is surrounded by condos like this one — many built in the 1960s apparently.

Two different restaurants in the center of Vail Village. Water, water everywhere…

Pickleball is alive and well in Vail. Our Houston friends were all keen to play. Its become a community thing. You find a public gathering, and lay your paddle down to get in line to play. When its your turn, you introduce yourself and then try your hardest to beat your new acquaintance. This goes on for a couple hours and you can make new friends quickly. Next day, you can do it again.

Then when you return to your time-share a year later, you do the very same thing again. So it’s not just an addictive pastime, but the game is a way to enlarge the community. I predict this sport will continue to expand like crazy across the US.

Gerald and Betty Ford have beautiful gardens named after them, like the above, as they were instrumental in Vail’s history:
“Jerry and Betty Ford started coming to Vail in the 1960s when he was a Michigan congressman. The skiing was world-class, and the Village squeezed between the river and the ski lift made it a perfect getaway from back east.

Lawmakers didn’t make all that much money in those days and they wanted their own place in Vail.
So, Jerry and Betty, parents to a houseful of delightful children, raised the money for the down payment on a Vail condo by borrowing against the cash value of their children’s life insurance policies.

They bought an end unit in The Lodge at Vail facing Vail Mountain. They stayed there until Jerry Ford ascended to the presidency when the Secret Service said, ‘Not a chance are you living there now!’

Vail’s history is rich and colorful; Jerry and Betty Ford’s spotlight focused the world’s attention on it.”

I stopped in Leadville, 40 miles from Vail, on my way home. The painted buildings along the main street are a reminder of the old mining settlement it used to be.

The biggest molybdenum mine in the world is still humming along in Leadville. Molybdenum is used to make alloys of steel that increase its strength and electrical conductivity.

I bought a mocha frap and a slice of Swedish roll cake (called a rulltarta) and pointed my SUV toward Albuquerque.
BLOG TOPICS: I write in-depth blogs about a mix of topics: Health and Hiking, and Science and Energy, and Inspiration and Hope.
The Gray Nomad ….. I found out what everyone else seems to know : that Vail is truly a delight in summertime.
For he will be like a tree planted by the water,
That extends its roots by a stream
And will not fear when the heat comes;
But its leaves will be green,
And it will not be anxious in a year of drought
Nor cease to yield fruit.

(Jeremiah, chapter 17)

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Don Compton
Don Compton
7 months ago

Ian…Great sharing of your trip to Vail and back to ABQ. I never really knew this much about the history of Vail.
Don Compton

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