In the Saddle: Fruita next best thing to the ocean |

In the Saddle: Fruita next best thing to the ocean

Bob Ward
The Aspen times
Aspen CO, Colorado

FRUITA, Colo. ” Long ago in California, my wife and I began this one memorable day with a swim in the ocean near Big Sur and ended with a cross-country ski in the central Sierra.

At the time we thought we were pretty cool. We’d experienced one of the remarkable things about the Golden State, where it’s physically possible to surf and ski in a single day with a few hours of drive time.

Colorado, of course, has no ocean. But we do have superior warm-weather getaways that rival the delights of the coast. I’m referring, of course, to the deserts of extreme western Colorado and eastern Utah, where we camp, bike, paddle, hike and goof off ” places where the temperatures are routinely 10 to 20 degrees warmer than they are up here in the central Rockies.

Today in Aspen the forecasters expected a high in the mid-50s and lows in the 20s with a chance of snow or rain. In Fruita, by contrast, the daytime high was supposed to be 66 ” a great temperature for an afternoon mountain bike ride ” and around freezing at night, with mostly sunny skies.

Last weekend, which I spent in and around Fruita riding my mountain bike and camping out, temperatures reached the 70s and 80s during the day, and it was so mild at night that I never even donned long pants. It was like having an extended summer; I wore my flip-flops around camp, got myself a farmer’s tan and turned on the AC during brief spells behind the wheel.

The bike trails in Fruita were in prime condition. We spent one day riding around Rabbit Valley and another closer to Grand Junction, off the road to Colorado National Monument. There were dusty spots where it was clear no rain had fallen for quite some time, but there was virtually no wind to kick up the dust, and the temperatures were never uncomfortably hot.

We had great exercise during the day and big laughs around the campfire under a starry sky (at least until the moon rose, late at night). The beers were cold and went down easily after a day in the sun.

Almost like a weekend at the beach.

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