We had another great house swap with people from Vail, Colorado so drove from Chicago out there (saw more corn than I ever need to again). It was a nice condo and certainly is a beautiful area. The three older boys and I lived in Colorado Springs back in mid 90s so it was nice to go back and see old spots.

House swapping really is a great system and we have stayed in some lovely places around the world for free! If you would like to sign up here is a link that gets both of us some extra guest points just to get you started:


One day we drove up to Leadville and took the old train trip. Darwin really enjoyed it too! And Leadville is lovely and much more old-style and characteristic than Vail I have to say. Not sure I could handle the extreme snow or cold as it’s 10,000 feet and we were told gets cut off easily. But still lovely in summer.

In Vail the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens are lovely to wander around and free! There are lots of shows in the amphitheater there but we didn’t manage to time it well to see any.

Another day had us driving to the Rocky Mountain Park and taking the Trail Ridge Road from Estes Park to Grand Lake. It’s an elevation of 11,500 foot so be prepared for dizziness at the top!

In Estes Park I was disappointed to not recognize anything due to such growth nor did we see any of the elk that used to wander around the town. Maybe it was too early in the year but I was also surprised to not see any real snow on the Trail Ridge Road. Back in the 90s there was loads that had lasted all summer long. Global warming?

Another sad thing was the large areas of dead trees due to the mountain pine beetle infestation. They are battling it in the park but wow there were acres and acres of dead trees.

Despite all of this it is still an absolutely beautiful place to visit. The landscapes in Colorado change so rapidly that a drive is never boring!