I stopped by Karen and Beau’s cabin in Colorado on my way back across the country. The drive took me from California, diagonally across Arizona and through four corners into Colorado and then through the Rockies and north to Fairplay where their cabin is situated in the foothills. I arrived after sunset, but managed to find the place based on Beau’s detailed directions.

They arrived from Colorado Springs half an hour later and gave me the grand tour of their modest, rustic cabin in the mountains. I was re-introduced to Waimea, their golden-doodle, who was a puppy when last I saw her and met Estrella, their labradoodle who looks remarkably like a middle-aged Einstein, for the first time.

The cabin is delightful. They bought the place about a year ago and have done a lot of work since and it has taken on that familiar “Buder” charm that fills every place that they live in. Antiques from around the world seem at home next to simple rough cut plank shelving and second hand furniture. It is all tied together with Karen’s sense of decorum.

Karen whipped up a delicious meal of grilled salmon over salad and we shared a bottle of red wine I had brought. We took the dogs out for a walk in the crisp night air and gazed at the stars, so vibrant at 10,000 feet. When we got back, Beau made sure we all drank plenty of water to avoid altitude sickness. We were all pretty tired, so we retired early.

The next morning, we were all up before dawn. The snow that had been forecast avoided us and the sky was clear and blue. After breakfast, we went for a hike in the national forest that borders their property. There was still half a foot of old snow on the ground and it was well below freezing. I noticed the altitude right away as my lungs started working hard a lot sooner than expected – I’ll attribute it to altitude and not my being horribly out of shape 😉

We hiked in the crisp air for about an hour along a forest road that led through some aspens and into the foothills. Upon returning to the cabin, we all warmed up around the wood-burning stove and then Beau suggested we start working on a puzzle they had bought. Once we got started, around lunchtime, it was was hard to pull away and it took a command-like decision from Beau to get out us out of the cabin and on the road to Breckenridge for some dinner. Snow had begun falling earlier in the afternoon and the roads, though clear, were greasy. I was glad for once to not be driving and that Maya was safe on top of my car back at the cabin. The drive took about 45 minutes and I am sure the view would have been amazing during daylight. Breckenridge still showed its ample charm in the evening and a nice stroll through the streets, though cold, was welcome. We ended up at a gourmet pizza place and ordered more than we could possibly eat, so we took a box home with us.

The next morning, we were again up early and we went for another hike, this time to the top of the hill we hiked the day before where there are some ruins of an old mining camp. From the top we had a great vista over the valley to the mountains in the distance. We returned to the cabin and did some wiring, bringing the previous owner’s shoddy workmanship much closer to code. After lunch, we spent several hours drawing up a planned expansion to their rear balcony that would add stairs and a ground-level deck around a hot tub. I used Google SketchUp to roughly model the addition, which their son Brandon will eventually engineer and use to get the appropriate building permits.

Karen made a delicious veggie lasagna with an “Italian Ice Pie” for dessert which was probably not Italian, did not involve ice and wasn’t really a pie, but was amazing all the same. We resolved to work on the puzzle some more that evening but ended watching Die Hard 4 instead.

The next morning we all prepared to depart. We made arrangements to meet Brandon in Boulder on our way, me heading out on my long journey back to Pittsburgh and Karen and Beau returning to Colorado Springs where they had work the following day. We meet at Brandon’s apartment which he is sharing with some other students. We went out for brunch, eating much more than necessary before saying our farewells and heading in our various directions. It was a really nice visit, one I aim to repeat soon…

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