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Butte, Colorado is a beautiful little ski town converted from a
historic mining town nestled at about 9000 feet in the Rocky Mountains, in some
of the most gorgeous surroundings you'll ever see (they claim the title of
"wildflower capital of Colorado"). The town is a National Historic District
which preserves its Victorian architecture. I began coming here 20 years
ago when I was writing for Micro Cornucopia magazine, at the suggestion of one
of its editors, Gary Entsminger, who is involved with the Rocky Mountain
Biological Laboratory in Gothic, 8 1/2 miles north of Crested Butte. To the
right is a picture of Gothic.
I spent the summers of 97 & 98 in Crested Butte (a lot of work on "Thinking in Java" was accomplished here), and then decided it would be a great place to hold seminars in the summer.
Crested Butte is the blue star on the map below. There's a highway (not shown, but which will appear on all road maps) that goes directly from Gunnison into the town.
Make sure you look at this interactive map for more details.
The most expedient way to get to Crested Butte is to fly into Gunnison airport which is 30 miles South of CB, then rent a car and drive the 30 miles (a beautiful drive) up the valley into the town. If you're staying in the town of Crested Butte (not Mount Crested Butte; see below for the distinction) you don't need a car; you can easily walk everywhere. So if you fly into Gunnison and don't want to rent a car, you can get a shuttle to and from Crested Butte via the Alpine Express.
The Gunnison airport has a very large landing strip and in the winter they fly in 757's full of skiers. However, the summer traffic is much lighter and so they use prop planes to fly from Denver airport in about 30 minutes. Generally these are decent-sized prop planes, not the tiny ones, but they are prop planes nonetheless and you are flying from Denver up into the Rockies.
Some people don't like that (Summer afternoon rides, in particular, can be bumpy). I am one of those people, and so I choose to take the less-expedient but very scenic drive from Denver airport. You should allow at least 5 hours for the drive (although people have been known to do it in 3.5), and more if you tend to dawdle and gawk at the scenery (I do), but it's really beautiful and very relaxing. I also find that it helps me acclimate to the altitude a little better, especially if I get a gallon bottle of water in Denver and try to get through most of it by the time I get to CB. On the return drive, you should allow 6 hours from when your plane takes off to get back to the airport.
Look here for detailed driving instructions from the Denver airport.Don't use MapQuest. If you are driving, don't use MapQuest to find Crested Butte. It will route you through Marble, which requires a real Jeep (not just a 4-wheel drive vehicle) and strong skills in order to get through. When someone shows up in the townlet of Marble looking for Crested Butte, the locals just say "you used Mapquest, didn't you?" Here's a blog from one guy who ignored this instruction. Note that he was using a GPS, so double check your route if you're using one.
Another option is to fly into Grand Junction and make a 3.5 hour drive from there, or into the (smaller) Montrose airport and a 2 hour drive. Both of these are on the Western side of the divide; Crested Butte is also on the Western slope so you don't go over a pass.
If your budget is seriously constrained, the least expensive approach is to use a low-cost ticketing service like priceline.com or cheaptickets.com, or go directly to a discount airline like JetBlue.com or and fly into Denver Airport (DIA). From there you can take the bus (www.GreyHound.com) into Gunnison (but note that car rentals at DIA may still be cheaper and more useful than the bus).
Seminar Location and Coffee/Food location
The seminar is located near the corner of 4th and Sopris, as seen on the map below. From the corner, go slightly East on Sopris and turn left into the parking lot. The building is on your right as you enter the lot. If you get lost, ask anyone in town where the Camp4 Coffee is. The folks at Camp4 can point out the seminar building, which is almost next door.
During the seminar, we use Camp4 Coffee for our coffee breaks. This is right around the corner from the seminar location. This has won several awards for "Best Coffee in Colorado," and they also have breakfast burritos and other breakfast items, sandwiches for lunch and smoothies and shakes during the summer. Please remember to tip the server!
The first day of the event we'll meet at 8:30. You'll be given the schedule for the rest of the days at that time. (Different events will have different schedules).
During the mid-day breaks we generally have an optional hike or similar outdoor activity. Also, there are informal evening events such as potluck barbeques. There are plenty of restaurants in town and attendees are encouraged to go to dinner in groups.
Lodging, Meals, and Activites
You can find full lodging and eating details here.
There are activities such as horseback riding, bicycling (Crested Butte has some fabulous mountain biking trails), hiking, ballooning, fishing, rafting, and a golf course. You can learn more about and make reservations for those events here. I typically allow a long break in the middle of the day for outdoor activities and often lead hikes.
You'll generally want to reserve early to get the best spots. During special events in the summer it can be hard to get a place in town if you don't reserve early, but at the worst you'll end up in a hotel in Mount CB with a lovely little commute in the morning.
If you stay in town, it's small and easy to walk everywhere, so a rental car isn't absolutely required (although it's nice for trips into the mountains). You can get a shuttle from the Gunnison airport in this case.
If you want a gym, the Crested Butte Club in town can provide you with a short-term membership (they also have lodging).
Because we will be at 9000 feet, the altitude can have an effect on people. This usually seems to come as a result of dehydration, which sneaks up on you. You may not be particularly thirsty, but if you get headaches etc it is usually the result of your cells getting dehydrated. Although you can often drink a glass of water for temporary relief, I find the real solution is to begin to saturate your cells before you get up into the altitude. This means making a concerted effort to begin drinking lots of water, ideally several days before you arrive, since it takes your cells awhile to absorb it. As mentioned above, I will usually get a gallon of water in Denver and start drinking it on the drive up. Although this eventually causes a lot of pitstops, it saves you from unpleasantness later. Once you're at CB, keep drinking more than you normally do because the altitude tends to dry you out.
If you do get altitude effects, they often disappear in the first 24 hours. Take it easy for the first 2-3 days in terms of physical activity. We'll have some long breaks during the workshop days so if you find you need to take naps you'll have time to recover. Crested Butte Family & Sports Medicine is available for more serious problems (970-349-0321).
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