“Copper Creek Golf Course at Copper Mountain Ski Resort was the most scenic golf course I’ve ever played, with forested mountains spanning in every direction,” said Joe Kazmar.

Joe Kazmar – For The Record

This year’s vacation for wife Susan and I was a bit different than most others because it involved us accepting an invitation to spend a few days with friends from Orange at their lovely three-story condominium high in the Colorado Rocky Mountains.

Orange City Attorney Jack Smith and his wife Juliet plus their dogs Newby and Archie and now-famous cat Mr. Kitty entertained us and treated us to a fabulous vacation last week at Silverthorne, a former mining town right in the heart of the winter skiing resorts.

The Smith’s condo is high in the Rockies at an elevation of around 9,900 feet surrounded by snow-capped mountain peaks. About 300 yards of wetlands meadow separates the condo from the forested mountains of the Arapahoe National Forest.

The wetlands meadow is ideal habitat for the Colorado moose that the Smith’s occasionally observe during their summer stay.

The Smith’s were hopeful that Susan and I would be fortunate enough to see some moose while we were there.

Jack had planned for us to take it easy on Tuesday and allow our bodies to get acclimated to the thin mountain air and the seven percent humidity that was always prevalent.

However Tuesday’s weather forecast called for a magnificently beautiful day without much wind so we decided to save $40 each in green fees and play golf at the twilight rate at nearby Copper Creek Golf Course at Copper Mountain Ski Resort.

It was the most scenic golf course I’ve ever played, with forested mountains spanning in every direction. As long as you hit the golf ball in the fairway, it was sitting up nicely for the next shot.

When we teed off on the 411-yard Par 4 No. 6 hole, we were on the highest tee box in North America—9,963 feet above sea level.

Neither of us set the world on fire with our golf scores, but it sure was comfortable playing golf with temperatures in the 70’s instead of what we must endure here in Orange.

And while we were on the golf course, Susan and Juliet got to see a huge bull moose off the condo balcony.

On Wednesday Jack and Juliet took us on a car tour to nearby Lake Dillon, a man-made reservoir that supplies water to not only to those former mining towns in that area, but also to the entire city of Denver.

After lunch we took off to see the famous Continental Divide at Loveland Pass at an elevation of 11,990 feet above sea level on the paved highway (12,126 feet on the highest unpaved Colorado road) which provided us with breath-taking scenic views.

Strangely enough, the only other wild animal we saw the entire trip was a furry beaver, which was trying to cross the road at Loveland Pass. I’ve never seen a dry beaver out of water and couldn’t believe how thick his fur looked and really couldn’t imagine what it was doing at that elevation without much visible water around.

When we got back to the condo, lo and behold, we got to see one huge bull moose and four others that were either female or young moose and felt like we hit the jackpot.

We were supposed to get up early Wednesday morning and play a round of golf at a nine-hole course in Leadville, one of the earliest mining cities in Colorado, but that cool mountain air in the low 40’s was responsible for us oversleeping.

We got to Leadville in the late morning and visited the historic Tabor Opera House which was built in 1879 in a mere 100 days by mining tycoon Horace Tabor and had been graced by entertainers such as Oscar Wilde, Harry Houdini and Judy Collins. The building was only one of four in the country at the time, joining the opera houses in New York, San Francisco and Kansas City as a circuit for performers. It is still hosting performances today.

After eating a great lunch, we left Leadville and traveled to Camp Hale, the base of the 10th Mountain Division–the only all-volunteer mountain and ski patrol that was formed and trained for combat against World War II enemies entrenched in the Apennine Mountains of Italy.

We ate at several of the Smith’s favorite places during our stay, but on this day Juliet and Susan packed a picnic lunch for us to eat that evening while we enjoyed the concert Northern Lights by the Philadelphia Orchestra at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in Vail.

We were pretty much all-in when we returned to the condo later that night and had no problem sleeping soundly on our last night in Colorado.

Throughout the week Jack and I had several serious conversations about the future football fortunes of his two alma maters—Baylor and the University of Texas.

We were welcomed back to the Lone Star State with temperatures and humidity in the 90’s. Those 40 degree nights and 75-85 daytime temperatures of Colorado are sadly becoming a thing of the past.

KWICKIES…The Houston Astros started off the second half of the season after the All-Star game by taking two-of-three from the Mariners in Seattle. Houston trails the AL West division-leading Texas Rangers by 4½ games and has moved on to Oakland and played the A’s in a three-game series than began Monday night.

And speaking of the Houston Astros, their star second baseman Jose Altuve continues to rip the cover off the baseball with his league-leading .346 batting average going into Monday’s three-game series at Oakland. Altuve is hitting .492 over his last 16 road games and has reached base safely in 32 straight away games.

Veteran Miami Marlins star Ichiro Suzuki went into this week needing only six base hits to reach that magical 3,000 plateau.

Denver Broncos fans all over the state of Colorado were in a panic most of last week worried that Super Bowl 50 MVP Von Miller would hold true to his threat to sit out the 2016 NFL season if he didn’t get the $70 million in guaranteed money. Everyone was happy Friday when Von and team president John Elway made the deal for the six-year, $114.5 million contract.

JUST BETWEEN US…Phil Mickelson must be snake-bit to shoot 17-under par in a major golf tournament and not win. That’s because Henrik Stenson was determined to capture his first major and responded with an almost unbelievable 20-under 284. Lefty, who has won five major tourneys has also finished second 11 times and joins some pretty good runner-up company—Jack Nicklaus 19, Arnold Palmer 10, Greg Norman, Sam Snead and Tom Watson all with eight second place major finishes.