Under the Shadows of the San Juan

Some places exist only in fantasy. A place where dragons soar and elves tread softly. There's always been something about these fantasy lands that always called to me. Maybe it is because that these places seem so unobtainable to us in the "real world", where the closest thing to a dragon is a dragonfly. In all of our minds, we have this idea of a fantasy world and some of us spend entire lifetimes trying to find it. 

While I may not have the budget to go to0 far of places, I do try to find these lands where I can. Over the weekend, my family and I visited Ouray and Telluride, Colorado. These two places couldn't be more different. Ouray is a small, tiny town of a single Main Street and dirt roads, the buildings retain their mining town heritage of wooden planks and hand-drawn lettering. Or at least they look like it. Telluride, however, is a mountain playground, surrounded by massive mountains and a towering ski resort. Parking is hard to come by and there's new construction around every corner. 

There is one thing that they share though, and its the towering peaks around them. The San Juan mountain range is the closest to that fantasy I've dreamed of. This area is filled with old mines and mining towns like Ouray, dozens of bare, rocky peaks over 12,000 feet, mountainsides covered in the light greens of aspen trees and the dark green of the pines. Now, don't get me wrong, I love the Rockies that are here in Boulder, but there is something about these peaks that command attention, a shame it's five hours away. These exposed mountain ridges have held me, despite the fact that they've made me feel rather insignificant. I suppose that's they're the best quality. They humble us, they keep us grounded, and they let us know that no matter what we as individuals or as a society accomplish, they have stood for longer, and always will. 

Places like this remind me of why I love living in Colorado. It's a place where I can indulge in coffee from shops like The Phoenix Bean in Telluride but also look down on the town from the tops of a mountain. And because this is a state where dogs live and people visit, everywhere we went, we were able to bring Rocky, our old, salty chihuahua. While he tends to prefer blankets and a bed over rocky (heh) terrain and trees, he began to warm up to it by the end of the trip, happily sniffing the trees. 

This trip will definitely go down as one of my favorites since there is something just so peaceful about this area. So if any of you are looking for a place to spend the weekend to kick up your feet, hike a bit, and eat some really great food, I can't recommend this enough. The dense forests and the highest peaks will have you constantly looking for ways to explore them, and as the old cliche says;

"the mountains are calling, and I must go"