Mouse potatoes its time to get high, go fast and use your wrists for something else. After days on end of computering to the point of numbness there is nothing better than to hop in the the car for a day trip to the mountains.
Living at the foot of America's playground offers many delightful outdoor sports. Some are harder than others but in Colorado there is a sport for everyone.
Today I took my visiting family to Grand Lake, located about 2.5 hours from Denver. This time of year the only way to get there from here is over Berthoud Pass and the Continental Divide (elevation 11,207) thru Winter Park, Fraser and Granby.
Winter playground it is. We took the obligatory photos on top of Berthoud, standing next to The Sign, then it was downhill to Winter Park. Just north of town, we saw 3 dogsleds running in a snow field with a snow covered peak as a backdrop. The site was so beautiful I nearly drove into oncoming traffic (not recommeded). The dogs were off and running before I was able to pull my Canon out, darn another great shot got away!
Our party of six, geared up on three double snowmobiles. The rules are, licensed drivers only. Children depending on their age can either ride for free or a small additional fee. The cost was less than $275 for us and it included the technical clothing, helmets and boots. After a few minutes of instructions, we were off in a dull roar.
Now I must tell you, not all in our party were experienced riders. Two out of the three drivers had motocross experience, the inexperienced driver was also the only one who did not dump the machine. (that would be me :)
Trail riding was very friendly, the route was well signed so we had a general idea of where we were most of the time. The side trails were narrow and some were steep, providing additional challenge for those wanting to be wild. For the most part I found the experience to be easy enough for a gentle driver to enjoy without too much fear.
The driver controls the speed on the handle bar by squeezing the accelerator. As soon as it is released the machine slows down. The brake is on the opposite handle bar. Since there is no foot clutch, operating this powerful machine was extremely easy.
One must keep in mind several things. You can get into danger by turning on a slope. Yup, I watched the motocross guy (my little brother) dump the machine by turning too soon. I was schooled on his experience, but even without watching his goof, I doubt that I ever would do that, its against my natural instinct!
The trails get worn into lateral moguls creating a roller coaster effect. This is fun at a medium speed, the machine bounces causing me to feel like I'm on a bucking bronco. My biggest fear was to lose my 13 year old neice off the back end and not know it. She was a trouper and held on tight, we managed to arrive together all the time.
We also discovered not to get into situations that require "reverse." Although the machine was equipted with a reverse gear, we never did figure out how that worked. It was easier for my brawny brothers to physically turn the thing around. Next time we vowed to pay better attention at instruction time!
Our tour took us into Rocky Mountain National Park and up to the timberline. We had a great sunny day with temps in the 30's, at times it was almost too hot dressed in the rented gear. The views along the way are nothing short of spectacular.
If you are looking for a good time, I would suggest you try snowmobiling. Even as a novice, I can say snowmobiling is a great way to experience Colorado in the wintertime. Using your normal driving skills, some common sense, a few dollars and a day off you will create a memorable experience, one you will be anxious to repeat.
Don't forget your camera.