I started off the morning of 30 December by passing a final training test for a job I'll be starting in March (nothing too exciting, but it's nice to pass!). N arrived shortly thereafter and we ate some ham and cheese sandwiches, gathered up my immense pile of stuff for the next few days, and then headed off to the mountains. Just like last Christmastime, we went to the Mt Princeton Hot Springs near Buena Vista in the valley of the Arkansas River. Unlike last year, however, when it was warm and there was no snow, this year was excruciatingly cold. We left the Denver area just after a snowstorm had started causing road chaos, and the trip along Highway 285 to South Park was incredibly slow, icy, and occasionally whited-out. Once we crossed Kenosha Pass (Elevation exactly -- suspiciously exactly -- 10,000 ft) and descended into the wide open valley of South Park, the snow and wind slowed, but the bitter cold remained. Eventually, we reached our hotel, opened our Christmas gifts to each other (I received a new Thomas Pynchon novel and a fantastic camelbak backpack), ate some dinner, and then went for our first dip in the hot springs.
|The Chalk Cliffs near Mt Princeton|
The hot springs at Mt Princeton are arranged into large, man-made pools and then small rock pools that lie along a creek. There was a new set of pools on the other side of the creek from the lodge, reachable by ascending a short metal staircase and crossing a bridge. Therefore, our night alternated between hot hot pools and icy, dripping barefoot sprints across rocks and bridges. There was a lot of cursing and a lot of undignified running. The next morning dawned even colder and our morning hot pool time was equally frigid. From there we drove back to Kenosha Pass and suited up in our warmest clothes for a brief hike through gorgeous snow-laden pines.
I think I speak for everyone on earth when I say that this is one of the most beautiful sights imaginable.
Following our hike, we drove back to Denver, made some dinner, and then put all our warm clothes back on and climbed up on N's roof. From there, we had an excellent view of the fireworks over downtown Denver. They were quite spectacular and afterwards we managed to slip our way down the ladder back into his building without killing ourselves (though we did leave a pile of snow on the floor in the hallway).
We then went over to the traditional New Year's Party at A and A's new house. We got there in time to play some excellent games of dominoes, see Ke$ha completely plonkered with her blue lipstick smeared around her mouth on the Times Square Ball Drop Mountain Time Zone Repeat, and then continue to party long into the night. It's always great to hang out with old friends who can make you laugh so much your stomach hurts. I shivered my way into the New Year on a foldout couch on the basement, and woke up with cold toes, luckily not having been mauled by A and A's homicidal cat in the night.
N and I spent a lazy day playing board games, doing crossword puzzles, and just talking with A and L until we finally pushed off and headed over to J and J's. There we played still more board games, and I won a stunning victory in the feat of settling the hexagonally-resourced island nation of Catan (it was a really, really good victory). After that, N, J, and I went to see Black Swan, which was ... weird ... and then N and I headed home and finally got some sleep.
All in all, a delightful way to ring in 2011, and I hope yours was just as much fun!