Rerun’s traveling “condo” installed by Volvo in the rear of the 2021 XC90 SUV was roomy and comfortable for both driver and furry passenger. (Julie L. Kessler/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Road tripping with Rerun – Part Two

A pandemic-era series chronicling a U.S. tour with a four-legged passenger

To read Part One, go here.

After a great day on Utah’s San Juan River I was loading my 2020 XC90, dubbed Vivien Valet Volvo, for an early-morning departure. The ease and comfort of driving her, coupled with space for everything I needed for a lengthy trip including Rerun the Lab’s own rear condo, made driving as enjoyable as the various destinations.

The death of a legal legend

As I was getting ready for dinner, I learned of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing. There are moments in life never forgotten. This was one of them. Larger than life despite her 5-foot stature, Justice Ginsburg enlightened and empowered countless young lawyers. She was a guiding beacon of light and a shining example of all we could be. Justice Ginsberg’s passing was an utterly irreplaceable loss at the worst possible moment in time. Despondent, I never made it to dinner.

Colorado bound

Passing Canyonlands and Arches National Parks, red rocks prevailed. Between Moab and Colorado’s state line, I saw two dead deer 10 miles apart and six police cars. I hoped that would be the last of both for the journey’s duration.

Just south of Grand Junction, I entered the Bangs Canyon Trailhead and hiked the dog-friendly Mica Mine trail. Alongside massive granite walls containing mica, Rerun was tempted by Ladder Creek. Sufficiently exercised, we climbed into Vivien Valet Volvo.

Gleeful in Glenwood Springs

Arriving to Glenwood Springs, known as the land of water both for proximity to the Colorado and Roaring Fork rivers and its mineral hot springs, I dropped Rerun off at Dog Holliday’s Pet Resort. Playing on Doc Holliday – more on Doc later – Rerun got playtime without me.

The illuminated, huge mineral pool at Glenwood Hot Springs is enticing. (Julie L. Kessler/Special to S.F. Examiner)

While Rerun enjoyed her resort, I checked out Iron Mountain Hot Springs a few minutes out of town. Sixteen sulfur pools of differing temperatures overlooking the Colorado River offered a pleasant respite. In historic downtown, Glenwood Hot Springs pool is the world’s largest mineral hot springs pool and is beautifully illuminated at night.

Downtown’s pet-friendly Hotel Denver is a historically significant property in arguably the town’s best location. My charming room had exposed brick, crystal chandeliers, modern art and antiques overlooking a small park and the Amtrak Station. Here the California Zephyr stops as it makes its way from San Francisco to Chicago.

Rooms at the historic, pet-friendly Hotel Denver in downtown Glenwood Springs are beautifully eclectic. (Julie L. Kessler/Special to S.F. Examiner)

One morning I walked up Bennett Avenue to Linwood Cemetery to see the alleged final resting place of Doc Holliday and Kid Curry. Doc, a dentist, was best known for his involvement with Wyatt Earp in Tombstone, Arizona’s O.K. Corral 1881 shootout. Suffering from tuberculosis, Doc came to Glenwood Springs in May 1887 probably for the hot spring vapors, but died in November. Kid Curry, an infamous outlaw, rode with Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’s Wild Bunch.

Doc’s marker says he’s “buried somewhere in this cemetery,” as no one is certain precisely where. That squarely fit with my odd cemetery fascination. Usually I walk around and let my imagination run wild thinking of what the dead’s lives were like. If I had to guess, the genesis of more than one novel was likely born out of cemetery strolls.

Rerun must’ve sensed something in the cemetery. Arriving the trailhead top, she sat stoically facing Doc’s tombstone and barked incessantly. When we crossed the cemetery to Kid Curry’s resting place, Rerun went to the side of his grave and started digging. While I’m hardly a dog whisperer and it may have been just crazy Lab puppy behavior, she may have been on to something.

Glenwood Springs is a lovely and charming town. Besides, how could one not adore a place that was once called Defiance?

Falling for fall in Breckenridge

With the rushing Colorado River on one side and majestic mountains on the other, the drive was intoxicating. Just past Vail the leaves started to change to a golden sunburst yellow.

Three miles from downtown, I checked into a modest, dog-friendly, 38-room LOGE Breckenridge mountain inn that had wonderful memory foam beds, oodles of USB ports, in-room hammocks and plenty of equipment for outdoor enthusiasts to borrow. Genial staff provided a dog bed and homemade canine treats.

The rear patio at Luigi’s Restaurant in downtown Breckenridge overlooks the rushing river. (Julie L. Kessler/Special to S.F. Examiner)

In response to COVID, Breckenridge’s Main Street containing cafés, galleries and shops has become pedestrian only. It’s so pleasant, the city may keep it that way. Naturally I ended up at For Pet’s Sake, a curated thrift shop benefiting rescue dogs. Breckenridge also has plenty of public art to admire.

Culinary Institute of America-trained sous chef Robbie Reyes of Breckenridge Distillery prepared an utterly delectable dinner of pistachio-encrusted crudo and halibut with curried sweet potatoes that had me swooning. Rerun made fast friends with a waiter who found a bone for her. For me, there was a pear-infused vodka craft cocktail like no other.

Radishes and peppers decorate the chef’s delectable crudo at Breckenridge Distillery. (Julie L. Kessler/Special to S.F. Examiner)

In response to COVID, the Breckenridge Film Festival showed films at a pop-up drive-in at a local college. Seeing the world premiere of “D-REP: Fight for Life,” a film chronicling the journey of a Flight for Life helicopter nurse who became a crash burn victim survivor was humbling.

My daughter arrived from New York and together with Rerun we hiked eight miles at nearby French Gulch. Rerun blissfully trotted amid breathtaking bright yellow changing Aspen leaves.

Rerun frolics amid a burst of changing Aspen leaves at Breckenridge’s French Gulch. (Julie L. Kessler/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Grabbing satisfying takeout at downtown’s Bangkok Happy Bowl, Vivian Valet Volvo took us up to Boreas Pass at sunset. Lined with aspens changing colors, it provided prime leaf-peeping during dinner at 11,481 feet above sea level. Originally the nation’s highest narrow-gauge railroad running from 1872 to 1938, during World War II, tracks were collected and repurposed.

Next up: Cowboys, horses and a recovering lawyer sleeps in a jail cell.

Julie L. Kessler is a journalist, attorney and legal columnist and the author of the award-winning travel memoir “Fifty-Fifty: The Clarity of Hindsight.” She can be reached at Some vendors hosted the writer, however content was not reviewed by them prior to publication and is solely the writer’s opinion.


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