Hello, I’ve recently added an updated post about the Bar N I Ranch that includes things to do in the area. You can access the updated post here.
I don’t wish to betray my home state of Texas, but Colorado is my favorite state! It’s the region that I’ve spent the most time in other than Texas. I appreciate the warm weather where I live in Houston, but there’s nothing like the mountains and wildlife of Colorado. Some impeccable timing allowed me to make the 1-week trip. Here are all the details.
We stayed at the Bar N I Ranch in Stonewall, Colorado. This is southern CO, about an hour west of Trinidad. One could say it’s not an area that tourists often frequent and it’s no ski resort. Stonewall is full of vast wilderness and is as rustic as it comes. The Bar N I Ranch is a private ranch spanning over 40,000 acres. Last I heard, they are considering opening it up to the public for summer bookings. The ranch is owned by the Cabot family who also owns the company that my grandfather retired from. Former and current executives can bring their families to the ranch for a summer vacation.
Real address for the Bar N I Ranch is 6614 State Hwy 12 in Westin, CO and here’s link for their Facebook, Bar N I
The porch of the lodge with plenty of room to relax and gaze at the nearby Spanish Peaks.
My family has been coming to the ranch since the 1970s. My first time at the ranch was when I was far too little to remember. We’ve visited so many times that I view the place as our family reunion spot. We stay in the lodge, which has a cooking staff that prepares every meal. Our main activities consist of hiking, horseback riding, and just catching up with long-distance relatives.
Some of the hikes are rugged and consist of crossing streams. I was really thankful that my husband was looking out for me!
Making our way to the top. We look so small!
In the past I have been able to add another quick trip in, like Breckenridge or Boulder, but this visit was only the Colorado Springs Airport and the ranch. The impeccable timing of it was that I thought I was not going to be able to travel at all. I had limited vacation days and was scheduled to work during the reunion. Surprisingly, I was offered a new job and had one week in between leaving my old workplace and starting the new job. That week fell exactly during the week of the family trip to Colorado! I still am stunned that it all worked out so well.
Here are the rocks as we cleared the tree line. It was almost like looking at another planet. I loved seeing earth in its most natural state. A place where no man can live (or live comfortably at least). I struggled to catch my breath in the thin air.
Reached the top (approx 12,000ft). We are very cautious to not spend too much time above the tree line. The weather can change very quickly at such high altitudes.
Animals All Around
This was also my first trip with a nice camera. I was fortunate to capture some wildlife.
The Bar N I Ranch gets an influx of hummingbirds during the summer. This was taken right outside of the lodge.
The deer weren’t shy but the Elk kept their distance. I was so excited that we came upon some mothers with their calves.
Just before dusk, I took an evening drive around the countryside to see what animals were out. I wanted to get some nice nature photos and was really hoping to see a bear. My family normally sees at least one bear each year, but this time we were not so lucky. That’s when I saw a pair of coyotes! I would be terrified if I ran into them while hiking. Bears, mountain lions, and coyotes are just a few of the reasons why I would never sleep in a tent in Colorado.
Here you can see the carcass they were checking out.
Life Changes that led me to Colorado
I pulled a typical millennial move by leaving my first job out of college after just 1.5 years. The time I spent there really did teach me a ton and I am grateful for the job. I was working as an event coordinator for a museum. People would tell me “wow you must love your job!” or “I wish I worked at this place”. It truly is extraordinary to work at a museum. I spent many nights there managing events.
The problem was that the job just wasn’t right for me. I got tired of the late nights away from my husband and puppy. I longed for us to have the same work schedule and be able to have dinner together each night. My commute was a nightmare. One evening I had to stop in the city to eat dinner by myself since the traffic was going to take me over 2 hours to get back. I wasn’t just working late nights, but weekends too. There were many times that I worked 6 days in a row and some of those days exceeded 14 hours. My husband and I had just purchased our first house, and I wasn’t there enough to enjoy it.
I knew what I needed, and that was a new industry, better pay, and normal 8-5 hours. My prayers were answered when I was offered a job working in logistics for a pipe distribution company. I accepted the position and then had the stressful task of leaving my job as gracefully as possible. Leaving wasn’t easy. They asked me to work a full week after turning in my resignation letter (couldn’t they have just let me leave?). The final hours were so freeing! I left Texas with no obligations. Zero emails to check! It was like I had climbed a mountain. I had just conquered a milestone in leaving my first job out of school and beginning a whole new career path. The only thing left to do now was to free my mind while climbing an actual mountain the inspiring, Colorado.
The second that I looked out the plane window and saw the snow-capped mountains, I felt at ease. The quick vacation was wonderful. I loved being rid of my stressful job and getting to catch up with family. Time with family really puts everything into perspective. I used to never be a fan of hiking, but this time I really enjoyed every bit of it. The rough terrain, the clean air, being surrounded by forest. It was refreshing to get out of the city and into a place where elk and bear outnumbered the people. The great outdoors are majestic, but I like the shopping and touristy parts of Colorado too. I hope to keep returning to Colorado and would like to eventually try out skiing. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll live there.
I only have a couple pictures from our second hike because a storm swiftly blew in the moment we reached our destination. This place is called Lost Lake and is located over 11,000 feet up in the mountains.
We did manage to see some wildlife on the hike. This cute little furry thing is called a marmot. He watched us from his rock wondering what the heck we were.
This was after making our descent and doing our best to avoid the storm. Lost Lake is located behind us here up high in the peaks. I always wonder who had the nerve to seek out the lake. It’s in such a remote place.
This is one of my favorite places to visit. Cordova Pass is an easy walk and it leads you to a cliff where you can see for miles.
Look at this incredible view!
And one of the whole gang.
After a Great Vacation
I can happily say that I have been at my new job for almost 4 months now and still feel confident in my decision to change careers. There was so much fear of what a new job would be like. Would things actually be better or would I regret my choice?
I do have moments where I miss the museum, but I find that I only miss the exhibits and the people. There is nothing that I miss about the actual work I was doing there. In the past couple months, I’ve learned so much more than I ever have at any job before. I really like that I am gaining knowledge of the pipe industry while also learning logistics involving everything from truck loads to ocean freight. The skills I am acquiring will be useful no matter where I end up, even internationally!
Like all jobs, it still works and not always easy. Having weekends and getting to spend more time with my family is so worth it! Having a larger paycheck doesn’t hurt either! I find that I am still very interested in history and hope to visit the museum I left behind soon to see their new exhibits. I still don’t have the vacation time I would like, but I am actively saving up so that I can experience some more of Colorado.
Thank you for reading.