Every fall Coloradans get to enjoy a different kind of gold rush, the turning of the aspen leaves. Do yourself a favor

if you are anywhere near Colorado, hop into the car and get yourself to where the aspens grow. I can assure you it will not only be worth the trip, but will lift your spirits and tickle your senses.

We found the best route to take for optimum viewing of the aspens was Highway 285 through Conifer, to Buena Vista, then onto Twin Lakes and over Independence Pass to Aspen.

Driving this way the road is shrouded with brilliantly colored aspens. Mountain vistas of slightly snow capped peaks and the ever-changing sky are delightful to the eye.

We left at the last minute on Saturday and managed to get into Aspen just after dark. Had we planned better, it would have been nice to cross Independence Pass in the daylight. Instead I had the shear delight of photographing an old red barn with farm equipment at the day's last light. It was shear serendipity.

As I readied to hop in the car I glanced to the west just in time to see the brilliantly violet, red sun setting over the golden aspens. A perfect ending to a perfect day.

Our luck stayed with us as we pulling into the charming town of Aspen and found the very last room at the Innsbruck Hotel. It was a new room with hot tub in the front of the hotel and a steam shower in our private bath. After a soak and a steam we were reduced to Gumby that night! Aspen is the place to go for pampering.

The next morning we were up and out to catch first light at the intended destination, Maroon Bells. It was a perfect morning as the sun came up over the peaks of North America's most photographed mountain. I got a nice photo, but you can tell I was half asleep when I took it. After all the postering for a position with the many photographers on the shoreline, I still managed not to see the group of photographers off to the right in my frame. DUH!

Just the same, one can tell why this is a favorite spot for photographers and nature lovers alike!

If you go, don't forget to bring $10 per car to enter the park. It's a small price to pay to preserve this beauty.

Later that morning while it was still early for the rest of the world, we enjoyed a fabulous breakfast at the Main Street Bakery in Aspen. The restaurant offered a wonderful breakfast and we could see why the customers didn't mind waiting for their turn as we left. Getting up early has it's benefits.

We left Aspen traveling back over Independence Pass with a quick stop at the ghost town of Independence I will forever marvel at the bravery and fortitude of our ancestors who came here in search of gold. They blazed a path for us to follow, how they did it will always amaze me. The high country of Independence is magnificent and brutal.

Our entire trip took just over 24 hours. Living in Colorado has it's advantages, in a moments notice we can pack our bags in search of adventure, yet still be home ready to go back to work on Monday.

Life is good!

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