Tom gets home from work at 7:00 am we head out. I'd spent the day before packing the car and cleaning the house for our week gone. Rowan (our diabetic, blind dog) is at the vet...and the family is going to stop by and check on the other animals while we're gone.
RMNP...here we come!!! Well....we left town and immediately found ourselves in the middle of a HUGE thunderstorm. Like this area needs any more water...or any more severe weather. We decided it was best to stop for breakfast....and let the weather pass over us a little. I was pretty darned white knuckled by then....driving only 40 mph on the interstate...and hydroplaning like crazy. Not the safest weather! It was really, really deep on the road...there's no where for it to go anymore. :-( After we finished our Micky D's...we hit the road...again. RMNP...here we come!!!! Tom was asleep within seconds...and slept to almost North Platte. But we weren't stopping for more than lunch and fuel. We drove straight through...what an ugly, boring, long drive!!!!!!! (I know, I say that every year!) I LOVE that first turn on Highway 34 when you get the first glimpse of mountains. You can just barely see them on the horizon, and it takes my breath away!!!! We found a campsite in the same campground as last year...but a different site. #23 this year. After setting up the tent, we went into town for some food. Wapiti Bar and Grill....same place we meet the BMW couple last year. Meal wasn't too memorable...but what was, was the fact that what Tom ordered was too spicy for him. I'd never seen that happen before!!!! After dinner, to camp and to bed...we were both bushed!
We're in Colorado...and turkeys woke us up. Funny!!! We could hear a hen and a tom talking to each other from opposite ends of the campground. Awesome!!! We caught a glimpse of the Tom running frantically across the park...to his woman. We got out of bed at 6:00 (Omaha time)....ate some oatmeal (ick!!!) and sat down to decide what we were going to do for the day. We decided on our hike...packed our packs with supplies, lunch, etc....and headed out. First stop - three guesses....Starbucks!!!! We drank coffee along the river that runs behind the shop...then head off to the Lumpy Ridge Trail head. To get there, you drive past the Stanley Hotel.....it was where they filmed the remake of The Shining. Gorgeous hotel....white with a red tile roof. All the building around it match....perfect setting!!!! After that, you drive across some private property - the McGregor Ranch...I'm told all proceeds from the ranch go to charity and such...per the last living McGregor relative. Anyway, we got to the trail head to hike the Gem Lake trail. 2.1 miles to Gem Lake - past Paul Bunyon's boot. Gem Lake itself is small, but marvelous. We stopped there to eat lunch...and while we were eating...a local rodent of some sort (ground squirrel looking thing) came out and stole some nuts from our trail mix bag. Ballsy little sh*t...no fear. It kept coming up to check us out...and I was able to touch it. How cool!!! We decided to continue on to Balanced Rock from there. This part of the hike (another 2.1 miles) was beautiful!!! I ran the battery in my camera to nothing!!! Balanced Rock was pretty cool. Not - for Mel's benefit - I feel I must mention that I officially used the "urinator" for the first time. Men have it so good!!! Anyway............the hike back wasn't so cool. I mean, it was beautiful and all....but Tom's boots were bugging him (yes - the SAME boots as last year!!! men!!!) He was also brewing a really good sinus infection. The three torn calf muscles in my right leg were not happy with me (and rightfully so). There was no stopping on the way back...and very little talking. It was all we could do to get back to the car. I was barely able to stand on that leg...and Tom couldn't breathe. When we got back to camp, I took a nap, and Tom read a little. Then we made our Dutch Oven pizza bake, did the dishes (walking down to the restrooms to wash dishes in the sink provided down there took forever....I could barely walk at all....so not cool!!!)
Tom went to the tent to lay down...and it was then that I noticed fluids dripping out from under my car. *$&^(*$^%#&%#*%!!!!!!! I alerted Tom...and long story short...after emptying the trunk three times....we figured out the problem. Tom hadn't closed the valve on his camelback. It seems that if you set a cooler on top of a camelback with an open valve...all the water will come spilling out into your car...and then drains out of the car at the nearest possible weak spot. The foam of the back seat of my car (under the leather) was soaked!!!! So we loaded the trunk back up (again) and let out a couple sighs of relief. Water, we can deal with.
A fox visited our campsite today while we were making supper. He/she wandered right past us...really didn't seem to mind we were there. He/she walked back by with a big old mouse or something in it's mouth just after we finished loading the trunk of the car.
Today we were awakened by Alvin...or one of his brothers. In the tree right above our tent. By the sounds of it, he wasn't happy of our presence under his tree. I forgot to mention that we found our new favorite outdoors store here in Estes yesterday. I can't remember the name right now....but I have it written down at home. I'll have to post it, so we don't forget next time we come. It's right by the Estes Park Lake dam. We went because Tom realized he packed no shorts...well...he packed a pair, but they were mine. So he needed some. I bought a Buff...best purchase yet. You know, those things that the Survivor people wear on TV? Between the weather, and the lack of daily showers....it's a must to wrangle my hair into submission!!! :-) After breakfast we decided to make today the driving day. I could barely walk...it wasn't good...and we thought we'd give my torn calf muscles a rest. First stop...Dad's for a much needed shower and laundry. We decided to bring only three changes of clothes each this trip...and just go laundry every third day when we do a shower. It worked perfectly! We played some cards and drank Starbucks (from the Safeway next door) while the laundry finished up. When it was done, we packed the car and headed for Grand Lake. Which after last year, we decided is NOT grand at all. But the jewelry store and brewery make it a.....necessary evil. About 10 minutes into the trip across, I realized my Starbucks was NOT getting along with my belly. We FINALLY made it to he visitor center on top...and all the pipes were frozen. Across the parking lot to the outhouses I ran...or tried to run. Between my belly and my calf...it was probably quite the sight! :-)
Once we got to Grand Lake, I was starting to feel much better..and actually hungry!! We went to Poncho and Lefty's to eat...on the recommendation of Paul, a co-worker. Good guacamole...good food in general...great choice!!! Tom had his beer at the brewery....and bought me a bracelet at our jewelry store. then we went back across. Grand Lake....we're just not excited about it.
At camp, we made hot dogs for dinner. Tom taught me how to play Gin Rummy. I see so many movies with people playing (most recently, The Bucket List)...and was excited to find out he knew how and would teach me!!!!!
We walked (hobbled) to the river flowing through the campground...and messed around with taking moving water pictures with my camera. And followed a 5x5 elk around for a while on our way back. My calf muscles are toast, and it scares me that we won't be able to do the hiking we want to on this trip. Argh!!!!
The bugs started biting, so we went into the tent....played some more cards until the lantern went out. Need to charge it back up tomorrow.
Woke up late today, but it felt great. Got some sleep last night finally. Let me just say the mummy style sleeping bags are NOT the friend of a claustrophobic. This year, I bought some silk sheets, and made sleeping bag liners for both of us. I can sleep in it (I made mine VERY roomie)...and use the sleeping bag as a blanket. Problem solved!!! (plus, we can take the liners to the laundry with us, and the tent doesn't smell of bug spray and BO at the end of the week - two birds, one stone!!!) We ate an oatmeal (ick!) breakfast, then got on our way. Safeway for groceries and then our new favorite outdoor store. Why this time you ask?? Well, you know those boots that caused the nasty, blooding, seeping wounds on Tom feet last year, that he's wearing this year (and are, again, hurting his feet badly)? Well....we're getting rid of them, and I'm throwing them away here in CO so they never made an appearance on his feet again!!! :-)
After purchasing his new shoes, we left for the Wild Basin area. Copeland Falls, Calypso Cascades and Ouzel Falls. Great hike!!! We would have gone further...but Tom's feet felt great, and my calfs were actually not doing so badly...we didn't want to press our luck. The trail follows the water the entire way. It's never too far away. Calypso Cascades were gorgeous. You just keeping looking up and up and up...and they just keep going. I tried taking pics, but none of them will do it justice, not even close!!!! We passed a gentleman on the trail with a prosthetic leg...and he was wearing Tom's new shoes. (no reason to mention it, except why not!!!) We ate lunch at the cascades...sharing a log with an older couple also on their way to Ouzel Falls. The falls were great! I wasn't standing all that close when I was taking pics...but had to move quite quickly....I was getting soaked. It's CRAZY how much water is flowing down this river....I just can't believe it!!!! It's ROARING by us...and it's not shallow! On the way down, you can see the normal storm clouds edging towards us...but we actually didn't get rained on this trip. We didn't know how to handle it. :-)
Last year, we took in a movie one afternoon. So, we thought maybe today would be a good day for that (as it WAS raining when we got back to town). "Don't Mess with the Zohan"....no SERIOUSLY...DON'T mess with the Zohan. Just don't. Horrible movie!! So bad, we were going to leave....but thought we'd give it a shot. Man, we should have left.....HORRIBLE!!!!!! :-(
After the torture session...we went back to camp and made chicken and rice with the Jetboil system. Yes, we actually used it for food. Tom was having a hard time with the idea of using it for anything other than boiling water. He's so silly sometimes. I finally convinced him that it's there to COOK with...so we did. He's totally sold on it now. :-) After dinner, we did dishes, played some rummy (I won!), and then walked up to the entrance of the campground to buy ice cream. They have a little shack that they sell firewood and ice out of for a few hours a day. We heard a rumor that they also sold ice cream out of the ice freezer. The rumor was correct!!!
On a side note...you should see the pollen on everything here. All of our gear that's outside, tables...tent...everything is yellow!! Completely coated with it. And you can wash it off, but it's covered again, in a 1/2 hour. No wonder Tom is miserable. Sinus infection...and then all this pollen. Poor guy!!!!
After eating ice cream, and watching a rather large elk walk past us...we decided to take a drive. It was dusk...and we hoped to see some more wildlife. We weren't let down...we saw a ton of elk...and one baby elk standing along side the road...just staring at us...how cute!!!! We happened upon a place called the Alleuvial Fan. It's a ravine that runs down one of the mountains....with a mountain river....at one time, it had flooded quite badly. The Fan was surrounded by downed trees and cleared ground....I can imagine how wild that must have been to see when it happened!! Anyway....we grabbed the camera and went to investigate. Neither of us were wearing shoes...just flip flops for me, and Keens for Tom. We had become the tourists we make fun of every year. Climbing mountains wearing flip flops. :-) :-) Tom played mountain goat again....I went as far as I could....in flip flops carrying my camera. I did leave my shoes at one point, and climbed for a while barefoot...less slippery that way. What a cool spot!!!! At one point, I lost track of Tom. He finally came into view, at the top.....wwwwaaaaayyyy up there. He was looking around, trying to get down...you could see "crap, how did I get up here" all over his face. He cracks me up!!!!!! After that, we saw one of the most gorgeous sunsets ever. It had this pinkish/purple hue to it....with mountains in the background....wow!!!!!
The people in the site across from us are a strange (but cool) group. They are from all over the country, but the driver (and his license plate) are from Polk County, IA. It seems his daughter and new son in law are on their honeymoon...and they invited a big group to spend the week with them. There are probably 6 or so people total - most of them are very granola. One guy is a big time backpacker....he introduced Tom to the Nalgene bottle coffee french press attachment. Actually....Tom went over and asked him about it - you know Tom!!! He said he'd bring coffee over for Tom in the am, so he can try it out. Very nice people....very granola. :-)
Up late again this morning. It's getting harder and harder to wake up and get moving. It rained on us really well last night. Temporarily washed all the pollen off of everything. Neither of us are in shape this year. Tom's sinuses, my leg, and then the fact that neither of us have been working out.....we're actually contemplating coming home early. After making 'mess' for breakfast, we decided to head into town. We wanted to see if we could find a tshirt for the year...and see what else we find.
A very large bull elk wandered right through the campground today. I was maybe 15 feet or so away from it...."hiding" behind a tree for the most part. I wasn't going to mess with him....and he walked up to us, not the other way around. We've had a fox, a deer, allot of elk and turkeys either in or right by our campsite this year....the only thing we're missing is a bear....but that's OK.
We wandered around Estes for a while, but our hearts just weren't into it. Tom called his brother and we let them know that we were leaving Estes early, and wanted to see if they were going to be home. Maybe we'll take these extra days and spend some time with them. We love this area to death...but we both need a change of scenery for vacation. We love seeing new things...and although this place has a ton of stuff we haven't seen...it's all at high elevations, and hiking just isn't working this year.
Erin was ecstatic to see Uncle Tom!!!!!! He took her out on the jet ski and I don't know how had a bigger grin!!!! Bob ended up having to deliver babies all night, so we stayed and watched Erin.
We got up and Bob had to go back to work. Deb, Erin, Tom and I ran some errands and then came back to spend all day on the lake. Tom spend almost the whole day on the jet ski, giving rides...entertaining himself, and the kids. Deb and I took the boat out...and made some wakes for them to jump with the jet ski. We came in to eat dinner at about 5:00, then headed for the Nebraskaland Days rodeo. After the rodeo, we went to their neighbor's house for drinks. INSANE house....huge!!!!!!!
We left about 9:00 for home. I love home!!!! My couch feels great....and I plan on seeing allot of it today and tomorrow. :-) Vacations are great!!!!