Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Michael, Where Have You Been?!?!

So, another break in blogging...but I have a good reason!  Look!

I was in my favorite little mountain town, Estes Park, Colorado!  It's so beautiful there.  I saw a quote on a t-shirt while I was there that said "The mountains are calling and I must go." ~ John Muir.  This sums it up perfectly.  I love this little town, and I've been planning a trip there for at least 7 months now.  I can't believe how much fun it was and how fast it went by!  So, today you get to see some photos (don't worry - I'm not posting all 215 photos that I took!).

First of all, as you are driving I-70 through western Kansas and eastern Colorado, this is the view out of your car window...this goes on for hundreds of miles.  It almost is a deterrent from making the trip.  However, I braved my way through the wilderness and made it to just took a 12.5 hour car trip.  I'm glad the Buick is so comfortable - the perfect road trip car!

So, my main reason for this trip was to enjoy the mountains and go hiking.  So, here are some hiking views!

First, here is Alberta Falls, one of the easy hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park.  Very beautiful, but very crowded.  I rested here for a bit and traveled on.  I'm seeking seclusion.

I made my way to Mills Lake.  Still several people, but not as many.  I spent a little time here, sitting on the shore and dipping my feet in the icy cold water.  I could build a house here and never be seen or heard from again!

As I got back into town on the second day, I noticed a lot of smoke.  I noticed a little smoke the previous evening, but nothing like this.  From what I found out on the news, there was a fire in Rocky Mountain National Park (in the opposite direction from where I wanted to be, thankfully).  The Cow Creek Fire at Estes Park had a lot of people stopping in their tracks to watch.  All you could see was smoke, so I just snapped a photo and carried on.  The next day you couldn't see the smoke, but the fire was still burning.  From what I've read, anywhere from 800 to 1500 acres of the park was on fire.  They believe that it started from a lightning strike.  It was neat to see the helicopters flying overhead with the big water buckets.

So, after hiking somewhere around 12 miles plus the first day, I had a nasty blister on my big toe.  How?  I don't know...never had a blister on my big toe before.  So, the second day I decided to drive through the park some.  I took highway 34 aka Trail Ridge Road.  The highest continuously paved highway in the US. You can see some of the highway at the right side of the above photo.

I took this photo at the Alpine Visitor Center, the highest point of the road, before traveling on through the park.

I finally made it to the Continental Divide!  It was really neat.  This is the point where water flow changes direction.  The water in the creek on the left will flow, eventually, into the Missouri River and then the Mississippi River and into the Gulf of Mexico (part of the Atlantic Ocean).  The water in the creek on the right of the sign will flow into the Colorado River and into the Gulf of California (part of the Pacific Ocean).  I thought it was really neat!

After driving back through the park on day 2, I decided I felt up to a little hiking, so I visited Bierstadt Lake, which was pretty, but I liked the beautiful tall pines that I hiked through even better.

The trail up to Beirstadt Lake was really steep, and when I came across these little Aspen trees I thought for a split second that I was back at Mick's with the miniature trees that surround the Casablanca.  :)

Day 3 brought on my most ambitious hike.  It was my last day before the long car trip home.  I had to make this one good!  Above you see beautiful Bear Lake, so calm and peaceful.  I love the reflection of the mountains and pines in the water.

This hike took me to a few different mountain lakes.  But first, I had to make it to the first one.  Where did my trail go?  After looking around for a little bit and following the tracks of all the other lost hikers, I found my way and continued on.

There were some breathtaking views on this hike!

The third lake that I came to was one of the prettiest.  Fern Lake has an altitude gain of over 2,000 feet from the beginning of the trail, but it is lower than the first two lakes.  I'm tired all over again just looking at the picture!  There were several people fishing in Fern Lake.

As I was about 2/3 of the way through the hike, I came to "The Pool".  Very pretty.  Most of the rest of the hike had me climbing another mountain (and finding me repeating the motto of the Little Engine that Could..."I think I can, I think I can...") and finally I made it back to Bear Lake (this course was a huge 12 mile loop).  I was so sore.  My knee hurt as well as my hip.  Good thing it was the last day!  I feel fine now, but it did take a couple of days...maybe I need to work out and stretch a little more before my hikes...

So, back to Estes Park.  Here is a photo of Elkhorn Drive, which is the main street.  You have to travel through this street to to get to either of the eastern entrances to Rocky Mountain National Park.  Lots of tourist shops on this stretch of road.

The historic Park Theatre.  There is green neon on the tower that is on at night.  There was a shopping mall full of tourist shops next to this up until last fall, when an unfortunate fire took it out and thus brought an end to the Park Theatre Mall.

Across the street from the Park Theatre is an honest to goodness 5 & 10.  It was closed, so I didn't get to go inside, but looking in the windows, it carried everything that I remember the 5 & 10 here in my hometown carrying until it closed due to the competition from Walmart.  This was a nice trip down memory lane.  Next time I go out, I'll have to visit the Estes Park 5 & 10.

This may not look like much, but once you know what it is, you'll understand.  This is the intersection of two rivers.  The river to the left is the Big Thompson River and the river on the right is Fall River.  Here they combine and become the Big Thompson River, flowing into Lake Estes and then on through the Big Thompson River and the Big Thompson Canyon.

Estes Park has an incredibly interesting history that I couldn't even begin to touch on the blog.  I will tell you this, if you ever ask me to recommend a vacation destination, I'm gonna tell you "Estes Park, Colorado!"

Finally the time came for me to go home.  Another 12 plus hour car ride.  Oh boy!  About an hour and a half from home, the sky was so beautiful with the sunset that I had to snap a quick picture.

I love that little mountain town, and have considered moving there several times, but every time I come home, to my little house that's nestled in the land where the Ozarks meet the prairies, I can't imagine living anywhere else.

Have a great Wednesday!


  1. Lovely pictures! I would love to see the continental divide someday but it seems everytime I go south I end up on the shore...I love the water. I live by it and travel to see some more.

    Too bad the 5 & 10 was closed. Thanks for the trip :)

  2. Wonderful photos! Glad you had a great time. =D Glad you are back!

  3. What a wonderful trip! The photo's are just amazing, My mothers who has now become an "over the shoulder blog reader" keeps whispering 'That could be screen saver!' what a great trip, haha little trees.

  4. Gorgeous pics!!! And what an awesome road trip- I LOVE road trips!! I'd never really heard of Estes Park before, but I'll have to check it out now! Sounds and looks like a ton of fun!

  5. Looks like a beautiful place to visit! Welcome back :)


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