What a day full of awe and beauty! Today we decided to drive to Estes Park.
We had met a guy at the Meetup potluck the other night that owns and runs Blue Stone rock stop in Loveland. So I mapped our route to leave Estes and head to Loveland, Colorado to see his store.
After breakfast, I checked email. I sent an email to Arlene in Broomfield confirming that we had arrived in the area and still planned on cat and house sitting for her starting this coming weekend. I asked when we could come by to get instructions and meet Gus the cat.
Then I mapped our route on my ipad and wrote the directions on paper in case I lost cell service.
I made our picnic lunch of fruit, veggies, and pb&j sandwiches. It was after nine by the time we loaded up the car and left for the day.
We found Hwy 36 West that would take us up to Estes Park the city and entrance to the National Park.
On the way there was a wide shoulder and a steady stream of bikers. I said to George it looked like a pilgrimage. I had assumed they were all headed to the top of the park.
When the hwy turned the corner we saw our first Canabas shop.
We stopped for gas and next door was a Whisky shop with this cool old car out front.
The shoulder disappeared and so did the bicyclists. It was strange to seeing at least one every mile to seeing no bicyclists. I wondered if there is a trail or a different route they take. Or maybe these were all workers on their morning exercise ride.
We came to a scenic overlook before we entered the town of Estes Park.
The area between our seats in the car gets quite cluttered. Our waters, my coffee, my phone, my camera, today my paper written directions, and the sunguard.
As long as we were at the city park, we might as well use the restrooms. The first stall in the women's restroom was a mess. Someone had loose bowels and had exploded before their bottom hit the toilet seat.
I looked around for a number to call to let the park know, but I did not find a phone number.
The lake at the park had a trail all the way around it. The water was crystal clear. George and I used this beautiful spot to go through some of his exercises. I have been neglecting this daily routine.
We stopped in the visitors center and the clerk was hospitable but it was clear she was burnt out. She pointed out that the Bear Lake parking lots were already full so we won't be able to get in there.
She said we would probably enjoy the Alluvial Flow. Alluvial... now there is another scrabble word... "of, relating to or derived from alluvium" says a google search... So if you don't have three l's and you have an "m" you can make the word alluviam. :-)
So here is my dilema. I SAY I am environmentally conscious. I THINK of myself as an environmental advocate. No herbicides, natural landscaping, ride your bike and walk, energy efficiency and all that.
But I didn't want to wait a half hour. I didn't want to give up control of when I stopped, where I stopped, and how long I stopped on our journey up the mountain.
It was clear that someday soon they would have to make bus travel the mandatory way to travel within Estes National Park. There were a LOT of people at the info center and a LOT of cars in the parking lot.
I said to George, I would not last long at that job. The same questions over and over again, I would go postal, I said. George laughed.
We didn't take the bus. I drove.
I took a picture of the three lanes of traffic going into Estes National Park.
Our first stop was an overlook that had all kinds of warnings about not approaching wildlife and about goats crossing the road, etc. We saw no animals.
The next stop was the Alluvial Flow. Again, we approached without knowing what it was. It appears there was a flash flood and it pushed a bunch of huge rocks and sand down the mountain.
We parked and hiked in, picking our way over the rocky path.
We got to a place where we could touch the water. Cold and clear.
Later a kiosk explained that an old dam up on the mountain had some old caulking fail. And the water came rushing down bringing with it rock that loosened up more rock and trees.
It then overwhelmed the dam in a lake at a lower elevation and that broke. Finally a third dam held.. fortunately, saving the city and residents of Estes Park.
Only three people died.
This occurred in 1982. Over 30 years ago. The grow-back has been slow.
We are learning and experiencing and smiling a lot.
It appears instead of trying to scoop all the rock out of the way, they poured sand over it and put the road right on top of the flow.
I had thought that if we take the narrow, gravel road to the top, we would be among just a few other adventurous travelers.
But there was a steady stream of cars. I would pull over and let some pass because I wanted to go slow and enjoy the ride. The speed limit was 15 mph. I was going about 5-10 mph.
And sometimes, with steep drop-offs I was making sounds that made George laugh.
A bunch of cars were parked at one pull out so we stopped. The car right next to us was from Florida too. They were from the Orlando area and this was their 4th day of travel. I smiled big, "this is our 65th day of travel."
Lots of people walking the steps down to see the falls.
Back in the car, each switch back, each time we came around a curve a new and awesome sight had me saying over and over, "Oh my!" and "Wow!" and "Isn't that beautiful?" and "I got to stop and take a picture.
But the pictures came out bleached out and flat. Like this picture of a falls across the valley...
All through the day in the park we kept seeing this big-black van. We knew it was the same van because it had a dent in the back door.
I was getting hungry. So was George. We could see the visitors center at the top of the mountain, several switch backs away.
At one switch back I saw a large trail. And there was only room for about 3 cars to park. So I parked and we grabbed our waters and our lunch and my camera and headed for the trail.
Looking back at our car parked at the switch-back. The silver van was parked there too.
Right away I saw a pit-toilet! Wow, convenience in our picnic spot!
And then I saw a lodge. It must be a place for road workers or forestry folks to stay while doing their work. The sign posted just said it was a federal building and doing damage to it was a federal offense.
And in front of the building!!!! A picnic table with a beautiful vista over a flower covered meadow!
I could hear a creek. So after lunch we walked down to the creek. I started moving rocks around to adjust the flow of the creek. I could have played like that for hours. George tossed a couple rocks, and then just stood and watched.
OK, time to keep moving...
Back at the pit-toilet, I carefully entered. I was afraid of scaring any critters that would in-turn scare me.
But there were just LOTS of flies of all different sizes.
I did my business quickly. I asked George if he had to go. "No," he shook his head. I do that now. Every time we pass a toilet I ask if he has to use it. Most the time he says, "No".
We were walking back to our van after our picnic and there going through the switch back is the big black van.
Below is a yellow bellied marmot. I slowed way down and creeped forward. The marmot didn't seem to be bothered we were approaching.
I had been wondering where we would come into the Visitor Center. I didn't remember seeing a gravel road when we were at the visitors center with my brother entering from the West/Rocky Mountain National Park side.
But as we approached, I said "OH!!! This is where we come in." I had thought it was a service road that went in front of the building with the tall poles outlining it. It is outlined with tall poles because in winter drifted snow is so deep they need to mark where the building is.
The parking lot was FULL. People were parked along the road. Rangers or volunteers were out helping direct traffic. I found a spot. I just wanted to re-fill our waters. I used the restroom. I asked George.... "No," he said and shook his head.
An article in a kiosk talks about the thinner air up at this altitude. It talks about the people that historically live in such high places are short and stocky to conserve heat and their lung capacity is larger.
I pulled off to look at a large meadow and we saw ELK!!! Yeah! I am always pleased to see wildlife.
My camera... zoomed in...
George pulled out his camera and I asked if the lens was the telescopic one.
"No," he said. So I helped him find the right lens. His pictures... zoomed in...
Later we stopped at a busy overlook. There were two buses parked in the lot.
George's camera... This is showing the Alluvial Flow we had stopped at earlier in the day.
But the scenery was always changing and each scene was unique and.... well, just one more...
As you can tell, I took a lot of pictures while driving. Right through the buggy windshield.
I climbed down to a river. It was quite a slippery decent. George stayed up on the road.
After leaving the park we went through a beautiful gorge. There weren't many pull-offs. So I just took pictures while driving. "WOW!" "Awesome!" ... "Cool!"
MILES OF SMILES!!!
I got out of the car and smelled human poop. Someone had discarded their dirty underwear right there in the parking lot. EWWWW!
The view was over some electrical station and the falls were over the cement dam. Anti-climatic...
A few more miles and we entered Loveland and right away drove into the Blue Stone store.
Wow, I didn't know rocks did that.
Gerry, the owner we met at meetup was there. He explained that the peacock arrived with two hens two years ago.
They had chicks but the chicks were picked off by an owl. So he gave some of the peacocks away to protect them. The male survived.
The other day the owl was on the deck railing. The peacock got on the roof of another building and swooped over with an offense move against the owl and scared the owl off. That is how this peacock has survived.
Gerry showed me some of the drums and bells they have. A tabetian singing bowl that rings when rubbed like you would a class to make it sing. There were several bowls mad with different materials.
The round "drum" makes wonderful tones. And I thought what a great gift that would make for our drumming friends, Connie, Jerry, and Charlotte. But the brown one with the best tone was $420. Ummmm.. I love you guys... but...
I spent a long time looking at earrings. They do an artistic wire wrap to some of their rocks that is great, but I had my heart set on something in purple...
Then I saw some feather shaped items with a wire wrap. They are made of bone by a local woman.
I got a necklace and earrings. I put them on right away. $101.
George said, "Happy Anniversary!"
Thank you, George! I love them.
We were hungry. We passed a Perkins. I asked George if he would prefer something local.
"Something local," he said. So I followed the signs to downtown Loveland.
We parked and found "CACTUS".
Look at this menu, they offer spicey margaritas! I didn't try any, I was driving.
George got a veggie wrap and I got a black bean burger. A side option was mac and cheese.
It had a kick to it too!
The Longmont Social Club was meeting at a park for another free music concert. We went right there... the park is at 2011 100 year party court. I am not kidding you. I put the address in my navigator and it found it right away!
Steve who had hosted the potluck had told me he would display the US flag so we could find them. There it was, easy to spot.
I kept smiling at George and waving him to come up and join us, but he never did.
We waved goodbye to the group and left at the last song.
Tomorrow, exercise, paperwork, travel journal, and post office. I know George will get tired of sitting as I take care of stuff, maybe I can have him color more postcards.