"Never go on trips with anyone you do not love" - Ernest Hemingway
It's off season in Telluride. That means a few things. The summer crowds clear out, we can hike, bike and ski 'til our hearts content, and most importantly, we can take the time to travel. I don't think I know anyone who stays in Telluride all off season. Given that almost everyone in Telluride comes from somewhere, and almost everyone living here has a pretty good sense of adventure, traveling is virtually part of our DNA.
A road trip to California has been a big bucket list item for us, ever since we decided to live in the US six years ago. After finishing my office job a few months ago, we felt like a solid road trip was long overdue. We packed up our 'trusty' (more on that later) 1996 Subaru and beetled off in a westerly direction. We set off mid morning, in the middle of a snow storm gunning for western Utah. A night at the Super 8 in Salina, UT (and a hilarious introduction to a truckie named Mel - who incidentally has an Australian passport, and has a ranch in Montana right next door to where Willi spent his first months in the US in 1994). From Salina we headed across Nevada on Highway 50. Apparently this is 'America's loneliest highway'. We thought it was kind of awesome. Did you know Nevada is America's second most mountainous state after Idaho? We suffered what was easily the coldest night camping either of us had ever experienced. It was 18 degrees when we got up at 7am. Thankfully, Oma had sent an early Christmas present to our baby Tilly in the form if a pink ski suit. It arrived the day we left and we thought we would throw it in 'just in case'. Turned out to be our saving grace. I can handle a cold night but I can't handle a cold night with a screaming, cold baby! Thanks Oma. Saved the day.
Right before we crossed into California, we spotted the Bunny Ranch in Mound House near Carson City. I've watched a few late night HBO TV shows on the Bunny Ranch in my time so I was quite excited to see this infamous 'entertainment venue' in real life.
We arrived in Truckee, California for the weekend to stay with some friends who are recent expats of Telluride. Kelley and Wayne moved to Truckee to be closer to family (and civilization), and were also looking for a change of scene after living in Telluride for 14 years. In true Telluride style, we have been living in a one bedroom condo, trying to get a start in a town that isn't exactly known for it's affordable real estate. So we were a little envious of the gorgeous home that Kelley and Wayne now occupy with their 2 wonderful girls Olive and Violet. After a weekend of touring Lake Tahoe, wine drinking, catching up, baby wrangling, more wine drinking, amazing food and cosy comforts, we hit the road again, this time heading south towards Lee Vining, CA. Lee Vining is now the home of another Telluride expat named Con, who kindly housed us for 2 nights, despite the fact that his home was a total construction zone. From Lee Vining, we were able to take a trip into Yosemite National Park for a day. I have always admired the sites of Yosemite in magazines and movies - El Capitan and Half Dome. The beautiful valley with the waterfall cascading down one side and the dramatic granite peaks bursting into the ski. However seeing Yosemite in real life was definitely one of the major highlights of all my North American travels.
From Lee Vining, we headed south through Bishop, admiring the lofty peaks of Mt Whitney, reclining in the Benton Hot Springs and delving into the dry hotbed of Death Valley. We thought we were in serious trouble at one point. As we were charging downhill in Death Valley, trying to make the campsite before dark, the old Subi started billowing blue smoke. If you've ever been to Death Valley, this is probably the last place you would ever want to break down. Willi went a shade of white I had never seen before. We pulled over at a gas station, where the billowing subsided, and decided to keep on trucking. Thankfully the blue smoke has not returned. We have had countless conversations about the car, and the need to upgrade to something more recent. Of course, I am the one voicing my concern over the cars reliability, and Willi is usually telling me that I'm over reacting. Our car has almost 250,000 miles on the clicker, so we are on borrowed time. Despite the car making a good recovery, I think the experience gave Willi enough of a fright to get him to agree to start the search for new wheels.
From Death Valley, we skipped over to Joshua Tree National Park. Along the way we met a group of young Germans who were taking 6 months to drive from Canada to South America. They were all piled into a van and had a sparkle in their eyes. Reminded me of my own adventures across Europe almost a decade ago. In Joshua Tree we met up with Babsi (RE:treat Co-Founder and auntie to baby Tilly) for one night only of catch ups.
The final leg of our journey was back to Telluride through Arizona. We were lucky enough to spend 2 nights with some family friends in Prescott, AZ which is a gorgeous rural town north of Phoenix. Again, it was nice to have some homely comforts, great company, delicious food and a reprieve from the slug of driving all day.
The final day was a big one. We drove from Prescott to Telluride with baby on board - about 12 hours in the car altogether. Tilly was a trooper and we rolled into town just after 9pm.
Check out our happy snaps below. Enjoy!