Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Back To Life, Back To Reality! 07.08.17

Sigh...We have to go home! This is the worst part about vacation, and it has me dreaming that someday, maybe, we could do a long term trip in our T@b. Until then, we will go back to reality.

Leaving Estes, there are tons of amazing views! Andy was very patient with me as I made him pull over repeatedly to catch a cool pic.

First, we tried to get a pic in downtown Estes Park. It didn't communicate the charm of the downtown, and traffic was busy enough that we thought it best not to keep trying, so down the mountain we went.

I made him stop for this one:

Little T@b, Big Thompson River!

Then, I thought this pic would be even better:

This is a pic of the T@b and the Big Thompson River. Again.

Then I thought this would be a pretty picture:

Yeah, it's almost the same...

So then we tried this one:

Too much power line, not enough river and T@b...

So, this one?

Lots of T@b and mountain, but no river. Pretty though...


No T@b at all, but that was a really pretty bit of scenery, so... had to be done.

Back to T@b pics:

Am I ever going to get one I like? Sheesh. Like I said. Andy was very, very patient with me.

I give up.

While I never got THE picture I envisioned, I sure enjoyed stopping a lot and seeing the pretty views!

We drove straight outa Colorado and into the LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG state of Nebraska.  On the way, desperate for some sign of life and/or entertainment, we kept seeing signs for Fort Cody Trading Post! The signs made promises of a museum and shopping and souvenirs and history...the list goes on! We figured we HAD to stop...right?

Oh dear. Well, maybe it was a bit of a tourist trap. But it least it made for a couple of good photos! HA!

We stopped for the night at Bessey Recreation Complex near Halsey, Nebraska. Interesting factoid about Nebraska: it has FORESTS in it, and this was where Bessey Recreation Complex was located. Who knew?

Here we encountered our first real issue with our camping reservations. Andy had made the reservations here before we ever left home, knowing we would need a stop somewhere on the way home, and this looked like a winner: on the Middle River, in a National Forest area. Our kind of spot! Andy reserved a site right across from the river.

We arrived and drove to our site, at the end of a long, bumpy dirt road. (I should also mention here that Nebraska was experiencing a significant heat wave, and it was about 95 degrees with no breeze.) Anyway, we find our reserved site and see that a very large camper was set up there, with no indications they would be leaving soon. Hmm....

Doing the smart thing, we drove back to the campground host's site and got their attention. A lovely woman came out to help us, listened to our predicament, consulted her clipboard, then told us to hang tight, and she'd be right back. She zipped off in her golf cart, down the long, bumpy dirt road to see what was happening.

She came back soon enough and informed us that she had made a rather large mistake. Our reservation was on page 2 of her clipboard, and she hadn't realized it was there. When a camper came up as a walk-in looking for a spot, she gave them ours.

Fortunately, the campground was not full that night, so she helped us find another spot to our liking. We assured her we were easy going people, and as long as we didn't have to get back on the road and drive any more today, we were happy with whatever we could get. We ended up with a shady spot, right across the road from the river. Nice!

Not too bad, huh?  We did a minimal setup, as you can see, because we were only here for the night and planned an early departure the next morning.

We enjoyed the private campsite and sat outside listening to music. We walked to the river and sat out watching all the floaters coming in after a day on the river. A very relaxing experience, all the way around.

The T@b's air conditioner worked like a charm that night, and we enjoyed a peaceful, restful, comfortable night's sleep before heading home the next morning.

The entire trip was simply fantastic. We packed so much fun and activity in, but managed lots of soothing easy moments as well. 10 out of 10 would recommend again!

Happy camping!

Sunday, February 18, 2018

The Day I Accidentally Climbed Half A Mountain 07.07.17

I really did. It was not a pleasant experience, exactly, but it is worth bragging about a little. Meet Emerald Mountain:

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Kathy and I set out to go for a nice, relaxing walk. Andy was on his way to go check out a lake for possible fishing options, and gave us directions to a path that would be easy to walk and would be sandal friendly. Great! Off we went. Me, wearing my Sketcher's sandals:

So, a moment to be real. I actually find these sandals extremely comfortable, and can wear them on long walks, shopping, day to day stuff...but I do NOT recommend them for climbing half a mountain.

It started off innocently enough. Nice curving path through prairie grasses. Even this nice little trail map that doesn't clue us in to anything unusual.

Do YOU see a mountain on this map? Me neither...

After a nice saunter through the prairie grasses, the trail took a turn...well...up. This was the gentle beginning of the problem, but we reasoned it would flatten out "somewhere around those trees."

We reached a plateau and thought it was a brilliant time to rest, (hello, heart rate!) and met another walker who took our picture with this fantastic view. After gulping down water and getting my heart rate back to something not death worthy, we kept on climbing, figuring it would flatten out "somewhere around those trees..."

Well, as we reached "those trees," we encountered two hikers coming DOWN the path. I inquired, "At what point does the trail even out and stop going up?" Their reply?

"Well, if you keep going on this path, you'll follow it the rest of the way up to Emerald Mountain." The rest of the way up. Um...

After looking at my chosen footwear, he adds, "Or, you can take the left fork here that goes pretty flat over to a nice lookout. I don't think you'll make it any further up in those shoes." Any further up.

Clearly, my dehydrated, rapid heart rate self chose the path to the left. I was greeted with some awesome views, and a reality check about how much I had been climbing. UP A MOUNTAIN!

Kathy and I with the slant of the mountain behind us.

Holy crap, look how steep that is, and how high I am! (elevation wise, you guys. Geez...)

I'm on top of the world! Sorta. Half way on top.

I called it quits. I had very little left in my water bottle and didn't want to risk running out, so I stopped. Kathy was going to go on ahead as we also got word that the Park Rangers were present along the trail putting in new trail signs. (Coulda used those a little lower down, but thanks.)

There she goes...onward and UPward! Like some kind of mountain climbing maniac! I stayed put for a while, marveling at my accidental accomplishment, and then headed back down half a mountain to camp. Kathy arrived safely some time later, and funny enough...returned with ANDY, who did NOT go to his stated destination, but instead, after meeting the same two hikers we met, decided to climb Emerald Mountain! (We all scolded his unsafe hiking choice.)

Well, there it is. The exciting tale promised to you at the beginning of this blog post. I hope it entertained you!

Thanks for reading, and happy camping!

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Twin Owls & Family History 7.06.17

Thursday night, after a fun-filled day, we all went for drinks on the porch of the Stanley Hotel, then dinner at Twin Owls Steakhouse, site of Andy's and my wedding as well as my parents' wedding. What a cool thing to share with our friends. I want you all to notice how nice we all look. Campers getting fancy, right here!

First stop, the Stanley Hotel. This is truly an interesting place, (Kathy and I already visited this trip!) and the architecture, history, and ghost stories are fascinating. Our whole purpose in coming was to get drinks at the bar and enjoy them on the porch to take in the amazing views.

All lined up at the bar, going over the menu choices and getting recommendations from the bartender. I chose chardonnay, but I've also had the world's most amazing Moscow Mules here, and would highly recommend.

I love the mirrors on the back of the bar, reflecting the beautiful decor. Style done right!

Out to the porch we go...

Kathy and Jeff, kicking back and relaxing. I've done this "drink on the porch" thing here a handful of times, and I've always been able to get a seat, no problem. This particular evening, hardly anyone else was there. Fine by us!

Andy and I standing on the porch and capturing us with the pretty view behind us. If you look in the background, you'll see their hedge maze. Kinda fun.

I like to take pics of the reflections in my wine glass. This one has the mountain upside down!

After we sipped and sat, we left for Twin Owls Steakhouse at the Black Canyon Inn.

The restaurant (and surrounding cabins) have that perfect Colorado charm! Log sided, rustic, open, warm, and beautiful. We took some time showing Jeff and Kathy the wedding spot and reenacted some photos from our wedding. We were surprised by the many changes!

Standing in the general area where we officially were married. The area where are wedding was held is now a reception area.

Still funny after 15 years! So strong!

Lots of good scenery for photo backdrops.

In the background, above my head, you'll see the twin owls in the rock outcroppings.

This gorgeous cabin is at the site of the reception hall where we had our reception. It was torn down a few years ago and replaced with the cabin. We were sad!

Inside the restaurant, we had a table upstairs. Upstairs is where I waited til wedding time!

We enjoyed a seriously great meal. Appetizers, wine, dinner, and even dessert were ordered! We were there a couple of hours, just chatting and sharing, reminiscing about our wedding, and also my parents' 50th anniversary celebration held in this same room in 2015. Such amazing memories here, and it truly has a special place in my heart. I can't wait to go back again.

Happy camping!

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Rocky Mountain National Park 7.06.17

Today we visited Rocky Mountain National Park! Jeff really wanted to drive up the often closed Fall River Road, which is gravel and dirt, one way, (up) and has lots of switchbacks and steep climbs. We were all game and piled in the Jeep!

I could definitely see why this road was often closed to vehicles! It would be absolutely impassible in wet or snowy conditions, but this day happened to be a perfect day to drive it.

We made stops along the way up to sight see.

One of my favorite pictures from the trip. I'm wearing my cute shirt designed by my friend Michelle, and standing in front of the Roaring River, a tributary of the Fall River.

A great spot to get out and see some amazing views from part way up the mountain.

We also saw some beautiful scenery right from the car:

I will never, ever tire of Colorado blue skies, mountains, and lakes. It's just amazing.

Once we got to the top, we decided to hike up to the tippy top point at the Visitors' Center. For Kathy and Andy, this was NBD. For Jeff and me, it was a VERY big deal. We were crazy winded by the time we got to the top, but you know what? We did it! I couldn't do it two years earlier, so I was really proud.

We're a bunch of freaking rock stars!

We took our time looking around and of course, souvenir shopping at the gift shop!

As we left, we drove down Trail Ridge Road to the opposite side of the Rockies and into Grand Lake, CO, where none of us had ever been.

We found a picnic spot right on the lake. Gorgeous views!

On the way back to Estes, we stopped at the Continental Divide and saw a few other special sites as well.

How about some elk? Anyone want to see a herd of elk?

That was pretty cool, and a great use of the Jeep's retractable sun roof.

Our day wasn't done, but I'll save the evening's activities for the next post.

Happy camping!