Thirteen members and friends of the Peoples Bank Platinum Club ended their summer with a nine-day tour of the beautiful state of Colorado, glad to be back on the road again after a year of travel cancellations due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ten Simpson countians, James and Dianne Smith, Bill and Ginger Caughman and Oliver and Donna McLean, all of Magee, and Steven and Deborah Ammann and Eric and Ellen Grantham of Mendenhall were joined by friends Patsy Nicholson of Forest and Bob and Vickie Smith of Mechanicsburg, Vir., to travel with the Platinum Club, leaving on August 27. In Denver, Colo., they were met by 31 other travelers from all over the country for the tour hosted by Collette, one of the oldest tour companies in America.
Collette provided a professional tour guide and bus driver who met the group on arrival at the Denver Airport and traveled with them the entire time.
Staying in downtown Denver for two nights, the group enjoyed a unique Italian welcome dinner of served family style and another night on which they were able to choose a dining spot from among the many choices along the 16th Street Mall, just outside their hotel. This area of traditional storefronts, restaurants and entertainment venues is closed to traffic and now offers shopping, dining and street entertainment for visitors who stroll the festive area.
On Sunday the troup boarded their luxury motor coach for a trip through Rocky Mountain National Park, stopping for photo ops and souvenir shopping along the way and enjoying the magnificent scenery and cool air.
On Monday they left the Front Range of the state and headed back into the mountains past famous ski resorts like Vail and Beaver Creek and onto the Western Slope to visit the canyons of the Colorado National Monument, then on to Grand Junction.
From there, on Tuesday, they rode into Utah to Arches National Park, an other-worldly setting of red sandstone monoliths from which the centers have eroded away, leaving only an open arch of stone. Some of the group hiked up closer to the arch formations, a hot and strenuous but interesting way to get in those 10,000 steps!
The day also included a stop at Dead Horse Point, a miniature Grand Canyon which was the actual site of the last scene from the film Thelma and Louise, in which the two friends drive their car over the cliff. Before returning to Grand Junction for the night, their route also led the travelers to Canyonlands National Park.
Another day’s travel brought them to the silver mining town of Silverton, where they loaded onto the 1881 coal-fired steam engine Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge train for a journey through the San Juan Mountains to Durango. The four-hour ride combined pleasant scenic passages across mountain meadows with nail-biting views straight down into narrow gorges where the Animas River rushes over the rocks 1000 feet below.
In Durango, the historic Strater Hotel with its authentic Victorian decor and architecture from Colorado’s silver and gold mining days was their home for the next two days. Wednesday’s tour found them at Mesa Verde National Park, home of the ancient cave dwellers, the Ancestral Puebloans.
That night the group enjoyed their most “interesting” dinner--a farm-to-table meal at the James Family Ranch in Durango, where the beef is all grass-fed and raised on the ranch, the cheese is made at the ranch diary and all vegetables are organically grown on site.
After an all day ride Thursday, stopping to take in more breath-taking views along the way, the group arrived at Colorado Springs, back on the Front Range, for the night. With that city as their base, they explored the Garden of the Gods the next day, then moved on to Canon City for a two-hour train ride through the 100-foot deep Royal Gorge, following the tumbling Arkansas River and watching for groups of rafters along the way. Returning to Colorado Springs, they were ready for a farewell dinner in the city’s pleasant downtown area.
On Sept. 4, the Platinum Club travelers departed for their flight back to Jackson and Simpson County to enjoy the rest of the Labor Day weekend. They had made a loop around the state of over 1700 miles, making many photos, many new friends and many memories along the way.
Platinum Club directors James and Dianne Smith and Collette liaison Deborah Ammann planned the Colorado adventure for the group.