My cousin Dick has been driving around the Western Slope in his fifth-wheel RV the last couple of weeks with his wife Cheryl, and we decided to hookup at Tennessee Pass this weekend.
It didn’t occur to me that asking a 79 year old to hike 1.3 miles at nearly 11,000 feet, to camp out in a yurt, might be a bit much. He joined the Marines at 15 to drive an M47 Sherman Tank, I figured he could do it. He hiked back and forth several times in fact, to retrieve the bread, mustard and Argentinian Malbec from his RV, parked back at the Nordic Center.
Dick was born in Davenport, Iowa, same as me, but his mom Ethyl, my Grandma’s sister, moved to San Diego when he was a kid. He met Cheryl there, who grew up at China Lake. She tells a funny story about the worst Chinese restaurant ever at China Lake.
They live in Ventura, California, about three miles from the beach, but 300 feet up a bluff with views of the bay and Santa Cruz Island. Brittany is staying there now, through August and September, to attend acting classes and auditions.
I joined Dick and Cheryl on Friday, but Karen and Ellie drove up Saturday, so that Ellie wouldn’t miss her first high school cross country race Friday afternoon. This is Ellie and me on a hike this morning with Mount Elbert in the background.
We got the idea to camp at the yurts from our neighbors who camped here two weekends earlier. You park and check in at the Cooper Ski Resort Nordic Center, about nine miles north of Leadville on Hwy 24. They haul up your bags while you hike 1.3 miles through the peaceful forest. The trail passes the cookhouse after one mile. This is where we had dinner.
As rustic as this experience is, the cookhouse is clearly the best restaurant within thirty miles of Leadville. Ellie and I had the lamb, Karen and Cheryl the elk tenderloin, the best meal, and Dick ate the pheasant.
We had to hike a quarter mile to dinner and back, but others drove in and hiked the full mile to dine here and enjoy the sunset. A true destination restaurant.
We dined inside but are pictured here enjoying drinks and the views of Mount Elbert, Mount Massive, and the Holy Cross Wilderness Area before dinner. We caught up on family history and learned details about Dick and Cheryl’s family, whom live so far off in California. We might visit them soon to drive Brittany home in another month.