Friday, October 20, 2017

Colorado: A visit to the Rocky Mountains

Sunset behind the Rocky Mountains from the campground.

October 2, 2017
Longmont, Colorado
Wyoming in the rear view mirror we headed south to Colorado.
Visiting this beautiful state has been on our list since we started full time RVing nearly 3 years ago and the weather forecast looked promising for the next several days, even at this higher elevation.
It was difficult to find a place to stay. There are not a lot of options in the surrounding area and those that we called were full. We ended up at the Boulder County Fairground in Longmont and it was a pleasant surprise. The Campground is water and electric only but has a very well kept bathhouse. The fairground sits right next to a park and greenway so there was a lot of room to walk and ride bikes. We had a fantastic view of the Flat Irons and the Rocky Mountains snow covered front range.

Along the Creek Trail

October 3, 2017
We wanted to get a closer look at the mountains today so took a drive over to Eldorado Canyon State Park. I have to admit that we chose it because of the name wanting to Ride, boldly ride til we found Eldorado. Fred loves that movie.
To get to the State Park you must find your way through the village of Eldorado Springs, population 557. The houses in El Dorado Springs are built right into the base of the mountain with a narrow road in front. There seemed to be a number of workshops and at least one art gallery. This was a resort town in the early 1900’s boasting an artesian spring fed pool that was the largest in the country. People came from miles around on horseback and by train to bathe in its therapeutic water. The pool is still there but it closed on Labor Day so we were not able to experience it.

Rock climbers on the Flat Irons.

We found the State Park and stopped to watch some rock climbers scaling the sheer surface of the famous golden cliffs of “Eldo”. We learned that there are over 500 rock climbing routes here and that some are considered world class drawing International mountaineers to test their skills. We enjoyed watching them with our feet firmly planted on the ground.

View from Fowler Trail
The park offers a number of hiking opportunities. We chose the stream trail first, a short but spectacular ½ mile between the rushing water of a creek and the steep canyon wall.

Cave on the Creek Trail
We then moved on to the Fowler Trail which climbed above the canyon and gave us spectacular views of the valley. We saw more rock climbers on this side of the cliff. I had to marvel at them. It was a chilly day and i can’t imagine how cold their hands must have gotten gripping the exposed rock.

We were ready for some lunch by the time we finished so headed over to the Celestial Seasonings Tea Factory for sandwiches and a tour. We registered for the 3 o’clock tour and headed over to the cafe. Our tickets were packets of Blueberry tea bags, Bonus!

Our tickets to the Factory Tour.
The Cafe has great food. I enjoyed a salad that they fixed there so much that we have made it several times at home. It was a bed of mixed greens topped with roasted brussel sprouts and sweet potatoes. There was a slice of feta cheese and walnuts sprinkled on top and it was drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette.
While waiting for your tour the guides encourage you to enjoy the tasting room where you are given a cup to sample as many teas as you wish. There are a half dozen urns of pre made tea to choose from and there was a menu of teas that they would steep for you on request. We each tried several including Emperors Choice and Sangria Zinger.
The free tour was very interesting. There is a short film that describes the Hippie beginnings of the company and then a guided tour through the factory that included a walk through the herb storage area. The smells are out of this world. Fred, and a number of other people in the group, found the peppermint room overwhelming but overall it was a great experience.

Our nephew Cral gave us a locals tour of Denver.

October 4, 2017
Downtown Denver is a fun place and we had our own personal tour guide, our nephew Carl. Carl lives just a few minutes west of Denver and had offered us a locals tour. We drove to his house to meet up and to see his new home.  We met his energetic puppy Sadie and walked around his property talking about renovation plans.  Talking about such ambitious work made me glad that those days are behind me and that our kids and nieces and nephews are enjoying them now.
Carl drove as we headed out for our sightseeing adventure.
He pointed out Colfax Ave the longest wickedest street in America.
We drove through neighborhoods of beautifully restored Victorian homes that reminded us of New England cities. We talked about breweries and coffee shops and restaurants including one called Linger whose building was once a mortuary. It seems that the chef/owner has embraced the history of the building without crossing the line to tacky. It sounded interesting in a macabre kind of way and apparently is a hip place to eat and be seen in Denver.
He drove us past the tourist areas including the 16th Street Mall and Pedestrian Promenade.

Union Station
Our first stop was Union Station the restored train transportation hub of the city that boasts trendy restaurants live music and boutique type shopping opportunities. The Romanesque architecture is impressive and the pleasant environment even more sore.

Coors Field
We took a walk for a few blocks in order to see Coors Field. Unfortunately Denver’s baseball season is finished so we didn’t have a chance to see a game.
We left the station area and Carl took us to a coffee shop that he enjoys. The inside is decorated with vintage hand crank coffee grinders and the coffee was terrific.
Thanks Carl for a whirlwind tour of your city. We loved seeing you and where you live. You have chosen a beautiful place to call home.

Rocky Mountain houses on the way to Estes Park
October 5, 2017
We spent our last day in the Denver Area driving north to Estes Park and the Rocky Mountain National Park. We wanted to get a closer look at the mountains and Carl encouraged us to make the trip when we talked to him yesterday. The high peaks roads were closed due to the recent snowfall but elk are moving around in the park and in the town of Estes Park itself.

We headed to the Visitor Center to get some hints about where we could drive to see them. The drive to Estes Park is a slow climb. We gained nearly 5000 feet in elevation from our campground in Longmont to the highest point we were able to drive in the park (10,800 feet).

We drove through the park on two different trails stopping at all of the scenic overlooks to admire the scenery of the high peaks. We saw no elk at all until we left the National Park and were driving through a rural residential area. Fred looked down into a ravine and spotted a small herd that was resting quietly in the shade of some trees.

We found them!
Some were grazing and some laying down they seemed very content and didn’t seem to mind us looking at them. It made our day to spot them and to be able to see them so close by.

We stopped at Coffee on the Rocks a great small coffee shop/cafe for coffee and sandwiches before heading back to Longmont. It was warm enough to eat outdoors on the patio overlooking a small lake.
We will visit Rocky Mountain National Park again and make sure that we go earlier in the year so that we can stand at the top of America’s backbone and cross the Continental Divide.

Eldorado Canyon State Park
9 Kneale Rd
Eldorado Springs, Colorado

Celestial Seasonings Factory
4600 Sleepytime Dr
Boulder, Colorado

Union Station
1701 Wycoop St
Denver Colorado

Coors Field
2001 Blake St
Denver, Colorado

Rocky Mountain National Park
Beaver Meadows Visitor Center
1000 US Hwy 36
Estes Park, Colorado

Coffee on the Rocks
510 Moraine Ave

Estes Park, Colorado

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