Saturday, July 29, 2017

Colorado - Estes Park - 2nd stop

Estes Park

Colorado has been full of surprises for us, all good ones so far. Estes Park is just minutes from the entrance to the Rocky Mountain National Park. The drive there took us through Denver where we spotted the Mile High Stadium and we were treated to mountain views in every direction. Even in the rain it was beautiful.

We arrived here on July 3. 2017. Driving through downtown Estes Park as we headed to Spruce Lake Campground reminded us of driving in Traverse City, MI. Wall to wall tourists.
The campground is just on the west side of town with beautiful views of the mountains and a fast moving creek running through it. This is a large campground with just over 100 sites.
The sites are wide but fairly short, we saw a number of people having difficulties backing into some of the sites. There is a picnic table and ours had full hook-ups. We paid $66.49 a night with our Good Sam discount, the highest we have ever paid. There is a pool, fishing pond, swimming pool and a play ground. The WiFi did not work at all even though the signal was at the back of our RV. Our Verizon signal was strong and our MiFi worked well.

Moraine Park
Rocky Mountain National Park offered spectacular mountain views. Les has been here before, but this was the first time for Nancy. She has seen pictures and heard people rave about these mountains but nothing can prepare you for the beauty that awaits you. Ranges that tower over 12,000 feet, covered in snow in some places and grass, flowers and trees in other places, To see wildflowers at 10,000+ feet was pretty amazing.
Proudre Lake 
The first day through the park we drove Trail Ridge Road so we could determine if the RV could handle the trip to our next stop. There are five switchbacks in a row but they are not super tight curves. As it turned out we didn't need to worry about that - more on that in the tip.

This trip of course gave us mountain views but also Elk, lakes, valleys and lava cliffs.
Lake Irene

Kawuneedhe Valley
"Valley of the Coyote"

Cloud Reflection
Lava Cliffs

As you can imagine the drive was up and down and around a number of curves. Nancy did surprisingly well, she only sat in the back seat for a short time, which gives Mielikki a great view out the front window.

There are many over looks to stop at and enjoy the views.

Bear Lake
It took three tries to get to Bear Lake, there were so many people in the park that this road was closed. Our third attempt was at 7:30 at night after a rain storm.
Sprague Lake

Our perseverance paid off, as each stop had very few people and Nancy was able to get the picture she had been dreaming about, plus there was a full moon to light our way home. 

Bear Lake
Sunset reflecting on the mountains. 
Boulder was about a half hour away and we enjoyed a stroll through Pearl Street Mall.
While most of the shops are pretty high-end, and we don't really do "shopping" very well we enjoyed the atmosphere of the place and some Ben and Jerry's ice cream.
It is a three block long walking mall.
The road is closed to traffic and they have filled the promenade with art sculptures, flower gardens, plenty of places to sit and people watch along with playscapes for the kids.

You can also be entertained by local artists. Music, magic shows and a juggler on a unicycle. This part reminded us of the street artists in Asheville.

One of the art pieces was a giant water wall. There were plants laying along the bottom for you to play with and create your own art. The RedFox sign made us think of our friend Anne Fox, as this is her nickname.

Roadside oddities in the area ran the gambit from Mork and Mindy's house to Muffler Men.
Lyons is a cute little artsy town east of Estes Park. There we found a banjo player, giant bear, random sculptures and really cool newspaper boxes.

In Boulder we found Mork and Mindy's house, or the one used in the show. Oh how we loved that show.

Heading north out of Boulder we found Chainsaw Indians, in Niwot.

The Muffler Man lives in Longmount and now holds a pitch fork. We had hoped to find the largest Sticker Ball but the office was closed. We left one of Nancy's drawings in hope they would add it, but alas we never heard from them.

A cameraman was waiting for us in Loveland along with a giant Adirondack chair, the Statue of Liberty and murals.

At last we can cross off another Peter "Wolf" Toth Indian from our list. This one in Loveland now sits on private property after being moved from its original location by the lake. It is surrounded by a herd of cows so we couldn't get close. It is nice to see that they are trying to keep it preserved. This is the 31st carving and was carved out of Cottonwood in 1979. It stands 37-feet tall and is titled Redman.

The highlight of our stop was seeing Gabi Aelabouni. Eons ago Nancy worked as the receptionist at Antioch Lutheran Church in Farmington Hills, MI. Each year a new intern came to work at the church. One year it was Gabi. He arrived on the day of the big East Coast Black-Out and had to move in with no electricity. He came full of The Spirit and full of life, with a smile that would light up the darkest room. He has since preached in Chicago and now works for the ELCA Synod. He lives in Fort Collins with his wife and three kids.
He arranged a tour of the New Belgium Brewery (now we really have to tour the one in Asheville when we are back). Gabi and Nancy enjoyed the tour while Les kept Mielikki company in the picnic area. It is a beautiful brewery with touches of art every where. The tanks are surrounded by mosaic tiles and the ceiling is beautiful wood.
There are chandeliers made from bottles and cans along with informative art work. We got to sample some delicious sours, aged in wine barrels. There was even a touch of Asheville, with a sticker from Bruisin' Ales.

It was so wonderful seeing him and catching up with each other. Of course these visits are never long enough so we will just have to come back. While in Fort Collins we also checked out the Horsetooth Reservoir. A beautiful recreation area.

Up next is a one night stop in Kremmling and then onto Rangely.

Till we meet again...

Happy Trails to You!

Tips and things we have learned along the way
~ Check your tires - every stop!
A flat tire, or a tire blow out is always a bad thing to have happen. In an RV the consequences can be deadly. If a tire blows while driving it can and has caused RV's to roll - it doesn't take much imagination to figure out how devastating that would be. Les checks our tires at every stop.
He checks the tire pressure (thanks to our portable air compressor we can take care of low tires easily), he also checks for cracks and wear. This time he found two cracks in one of the rear tires. So off to a tire place in Longmount we went on the morning we left. This delayed our departure and put us an hour in the wrong direction but we sure didn't want to cross the Rocky's with a bad tire.

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