Tuesday, July 8, 2008

2002, Camping/Rafting in CO


Left for Colorado after work. Arrived in North Platte late to stay with Tom's brother and family.


Left North Platte and headed for Canon City, CO. Possibly the most boring drive ever!! Eastern Colorado is worse than driving across Nebraska...never thought I'd find anything more boring. :-) We finally arrived at the campground (KOA with trees) and set up camp. We then learned to make sure we park the camper close enough to the power pole to plug the camper in (yes, we purchased a camper after last year's wind storm, in NE Toadstool park...we wanted a bed on wheels, so we bought a pop-up camper. Love it!!) Anyway...as you can probably guess, we got stuff set up THEN realized the camper was too far away from the power to be plugged in. So, we put it all away, then moved the camper closer to the pole. Then....well....after getting stuff set up again, we found out the site they put us in has the wrong kind of power for our camper. (I'm not sure on the numbers, but we needed at 30 amp, and this was a regular site...or something like that)....so we had the campground switch us to the correct electrical site...and set everything up AGAIN. Ugh!!!! We went driving to see Royal Gorge bridge, $17.00 per person to drive across....hello!!! (or should I say, hell no!) We turned around. When we got back to camp, Tom looks up from the chairs we're sitting in. In the distance - the Royal Gorge bridge. Guess that's why this campground is called the Royal Gorge View Campground....ugh!!! Time for bed...what a day!!!


Hummingbirds - tons of them...everywhere!!! I could watch them all day and all night long! The campground has a shower and laundry building. As I was waiting for Tom to finish...I sat down in same chairs on a patio just outside the facilities. The hummingbirds were coming right up to my face. How wonderful!!!!!! I'm in love!!!!!!

Today we went whitewater rafting down the Arkansas River through the Royal Gorge. Wow Wow Wow!!!!! The water level was really low this year, but it was still awesome. The waves and water weren't as high...so the rapids were a lower 'class' this year...but there were tons of boulders and such that you normally raft right over...sticking up and making travel allot more technical than usual. We paid for a regular rafting trip. There needed to be 6 other people signed up, or the trip would be cancelled. As we're waiting for the trip in River Runner's parking lot...we noticed there weren't many cars. Well....we were the only ones that showed up that day...but they didn't cancel our trip...they upgraded it for free instead. We got a private raft ride with just us and a guide (Carlos)...in the 'adventure' raft. It's this tiny little raft...crazy!!!! He was a tall, thin, very tan dude...dressed head to toe in lightweight cool max material - he looked like he belonged in the Arabian dessert with a camel. He never put a helmet on and started the trip with a really fake "you're a tourist, I've done this trip a million times, so I'll fake laugh at everything" voice. Quite annoying...but it got better as the trip went on. I think he was upset that he had to do the trip, when so many people cancelled. By the end of the trip, I'd decided he was pretty cool...and would raft with him again any day!!!

We started the rafting trip with a small set of ripples/rapids. The outfitter had camera men posted along the trip in different spots, for photo ops. This was the first one. Well.....we got stuck...really, really stuck. In the middle of the rapids. In fact, if I hadn't been sitting right in front of Carlos...I would have been swimming right then. We hit hard...and I was on my way out of the boat...when he grabbed my PFD and pulled me back in. We finally got loose...and he started joking. In the office, he said they have a wall of shame. Where the photographer posts pics of them looking stupid, or doing dumb things. He said this would make the wall...for sure!!!! The other guides would never let him live it down! The rest of the morning was pretty uneventful - meaning, we didn't get stuck again....and had a really good time!!! At lunch, we stopped alongside the river, a group of two college aged girls met us there with lunch. Quite the spread really...wonderful lunch. It turns out that those two girls are guides in training and were also there to finish the trip with us. We couldn't handle the Royal Gorge section with only three people. At one point....because the river bottle-necks into some pretty gnarly rapids, we had to stop and tie the boat up along the river. There was a line of people waiting to run the rapids. Carlos walked us alongside the river...so we could go down river and watch people shoot the rapids. 100% of the boats we watched go through lost a minimum of one person in the water...if not the entire boat full. Why am I doing this again? Why is someone who is terrified of the water doing this?!?!?!?!?! It was finally our turn. I would have been fine, had we not sat there and watched all those people go in the water. Our boat did awesome. We all stayed in the boat...and we actually got some applause from the other people watching us go through. At one point....we were in a spot...and he said that we're going diagonally across the river to the other side. So, off we went....well, when we got there....we got stuck. Not because we hit bottom...but because we were more powerful than he expected...we overshot the place he wanted to end up. We actually were sitting on a wave of sorts...surfing. No one was doing anything, the water was swirling, and we were standing still, riding the wave. At this time, I was still not aware that we overshot where he wanted us. What gave it away? Carlos, very calmly says behind me, "well...I've never been here before....hmmmm.....wonder how we get out of this?" The people alongside the river are cheering...because they think we're playing around and showing off.....while we're actually stuck, and wondering how the heck we get out of this spot in the middle of the river. We did finally get unstuck and proceeded through the rest of that set of rapids. We all made it through...with big grins on our faces!!!!! The rest of the trip was pretty mild...and my butt hurt horribly by the time we were finally done. Sunburned beyond belief, but had fun!!! As we were rafting through the gorge...we all noticed the sky way above us smokey..really smokey. One of the girls said there were wildfires to the north of us. That must explain the smoke. When we got back to the campsite....we found our camper moved...almost 45 degrees actually. The door was wide open...and our stuff was hanging out. One of the beds was off it's supports and just hanging there. Tom found out from the class A campers around us, that there was a horrible windstorm while we were gone...and now our camper is full of dust and dirt. The campers said that a number of them came out to see if the people in the pop up were OK. It's nice to see that someone was watching out for us, even if we weren't there!!! After getting the camper put back together, and a shower...we went out driving. We asked the rafting people how to get to the bridge without paying...and they drew us a very basic (and confusing) map through back roads and such. What a view!!! We sat with our feet dangling over the edge of the gorge, looking at the small little river that we had rafted earlier. OK, so that river isn't so small, we're a long ways up!!! The bridge was closed anyway....it was basically on fire. That wildfire that was supposed to be north of us, was actually right on top of us. They had to close the bridge down, and we could barely see it from where we were sitting (which wasn't far away). The mountains here are really ugly. Well, maybe that's harsh. They are covered in scraggly trees and bushes, and there isn't any green to be seen. It's all kinda red and dessert-like. Tomorrow we leave to drive north to Estes Park...and MOUNTAINS...the mountains I want to see!!!!!


We made it to our next campground. Mom and Dad tell me that they were tracking our progress North. It seems there were wildfires all along the road on our way north, and mom and dad were laughing about it. But anyway....what a drive!!! Now these are mountains! Tall, snow capped...well, maybe not capped...but there is snow still up there!!! Most of it is looking pretty dirty, but it's June, and it's been a warm summer so far. Tall trees - not desert scrub. Hummingbirds here like we have black birds at home. You can hear them everywhere!!! We set up camp (and argued a little) at Estes Park Campground. Wonderful little private campground just outside an entrance to the Rocky Mountain National Park. Once camp was set up, we took off for the park. Amazing!!!!!!! (you have to remember this is the first time I've seen mountains like these!)


Hiking today! Dream Lake and Emerald Lake. Killer!!!! And it's really one of the shorter, lower altitude hikes. Man, is this place beautiful! Slippery, rocky slopes...up, up and up. Boy am I out of shape...ugh! Dream Lake is gorgeous. When we arrived at Emerald Lake...well, what is supposed to be Emerald Lake....we just laughed. The fog was so thick, you couldn't see it, at all. We decided to find somewhere to sit and eat lunch, and wait to see if the fog would clear. We found the most awesome outcropping of rocks, and heated up our MRE. It started sleeting on us...but we were completely out of the weather...what a perfect spot to sit and eat lunch. The sleet broke for a while, and the fog cleared. Wow!!! They call it Emerald Lake because it's so green...but as cloudy as it was, we couldn't see the greenness....but the lake was still gorgeous without it!!! After eating, we changed into rain gear (it had started sleeting really hard again), and started back down. The trip down was slick and sloppier than the way up. We'll go do some more hiking in a day or so. Some of the trails that we'd like the hike are snowed in from a storm that hit last night. They had to close Trail Ridge Road (the road that goes from the east across to the west side of the park) due to a winter storm. Now those kinda snow capped mountains yesterday are totally snow capped with fresh white snow today!! It's great! Can't wait for it to stop sleeting and raining on us, so I can start taking pics.


It finally stopped raining!!!! Blue skies, upper 60's to lower 70's - perfect!!! My legs are suffering greatly from rafting and then hiking. We went today and played 9 holes of golf at the Lake Estes golf course. I started off playing well...but ended playing horrible, as usual. :-) We had fun though, and that's what we headed out to do. It was the two of us...and then a bunch of older groups. Retirement USA. :-) We had to sit at either the second or third hole and wait for an elk to make his way across the fairway. He just strolled through like he owned the place. Colorado, gotta love it!!!

Tom decided that the small peak in view from our campsite was way to inviting....so he took off that afternoon to hike to the top. I could see him when he got to the top....but with our small camera lens, the picture I took makes him look like a little ant up there!!! :-)


Got up and went to the local hiking , etc outfitter in town. I took a pair of their hiking poles out for a spin. But we didn't get very far into the hike and we had to turn around. I had put insoles in my hiking shoes before we left for vacation and I was getting some serious blisters. Bummer and Ouch!!!! So, we did just like any adult should do on vacation....we came back, ate some hot dogs, played some cards, and then I took a nap while Tom read his book. Aren't we exciting!!! :-) Only 3 days left before we return to the working world. It's gone way too fast, but has been worth it!!!


Last night in Estes. :-( We went hiking again today. Either my allergies just kicked in today, or I have a pretty good sinus infection brewing. Whichever it was, it made out hike pretty miserable. I wouldn't let Tom turn us around though. I'm stubborn that way. I didn't feel good...but that was no reason to keep him from getting to our destination. Good thing we didn't stop...Mills Lake was great. We were there maybe 5 minutes and then turned around to go back down. I went through about 70 million Kleenexes and never stopped sneezing the entire time. This has got to be allergies...ugh!!!!! I felt so bad, sniffling and sneezing the whole trip. :-( As usual, some nasty storm clouds moved in...and we were rained on the entire way down. We're actually getting quite used to those afternoon showers. Every day...usually between 1 and 3 pm. :-)

Once down the mountain, we decided to drive up Trial Ridge Road. Got some pretty good pics of a couple of photographic woodchuck like creatures. Darn thing are so domesticated. My first glimpse of the first one, was of him eating a Cheetos. Darn tourists!!! :-)

We're driving home tomorrow. Will miss this beautiful weather. Back to the nasty Iowa summer weather.

1 comment:

robin said...

This vacation looks like you guys had tons of fun!!!!