Monday, August 10, 2009

Back from the Mountains

Well, I miss those Rocky Mountains already, even missed them as we drove east through eastern Colorado with the mountains at our backs. My consolation will be playing with the pictures I took to make a scrap book--I've decided to do an old-fashioned scrap book so I can include postcards, maps, etc.

But I will post a few pics here, too!
Heading west was new to Robbie and Eli, who'd never been west of Des Moines. (Before you feel sorry for them, they've visited Niagara Falls, Washington DC, Atlanta and the southeast coast, London, and, of course, Cedar Point.)

We drove as far as western Nebraska the first night and stayed in a former cowboy town, Ogallala, complete with a "Boot Hill" where they buried people with their boots on.
But our main goal was Rocky Mountain National Park. We got there early afternoon the next day, and moved into our cabin in Estes. I would recommend a KOA Kamping Kabin (above is the one we stayed in--nice view, eh?) for any of you out there who'd like the camping experience without the tent :-) It was rustic, but comfortable, and a bit warmer than a tent on those frigid mornings!

That day, we hiked and picniked in the mountains, starting with a hike up Deer Mountain.

Robbie said the mountains were "mountaintastic," and they were.

And so were the wildflowers.
The next day, we did some of the trails near Bear Lake: first Alberta Falls, which was spectacular.
Then we hiked to Nymph Lake, cool and beautiful with its water lilies.
We had lunch there, then went back to the car for a drive over the Trail Ridge Road, the highest US highway! We saw many things: Elk
Alpine wildflowers

Great views

And, at the Alpine Visitors' Center, marmots, to Eli's delight!
On Tuesday, we drove to the outskirts of Fort Collins where Robbie and Bruce got on a whitewater rafting tour on the Poudre river. Eli didn't want to go, so I took him into downtown Fort Collins for some fun at a history/science museum, and a visit to some antique shops. After that, we went back to the RMNP for a dinner picnic at Endovalley, where we saw water ouzels, and a ranger talk at Bever Meadows.

That was our last day at RMNP. The next day we headed to Boulder, where we toured Celestial Seasonings!

Everyone enjoyed it. The automated factory is fascinating, and the mint room was sinus-clearing!

We met my college friend Becky, and her daughter Sarah, for lunch in Boulder, and then visited the Center for Atmospheric Research, up on a hill. Cool exhibits on climate.

From there we drove to Colorado Springs, arriving around 7, where we stayed the night.

Colorado Springs is a contrast to Estes Park. It's more desert-y, with red sands and sandstone, and cactus, and hot temps. We went out early to Garden of the Gods Park, which, despite the hokey name, is a beautiful city park (free!) filled with unusual rock formations.

From there, we visited an old tourist spot, Manitou Cliff Dwellings, which had all sorts of native American cliff-dwellings that you could walk through, and cool artifacts (clearly scavanged and stolen, as was the early 20th century custom!)

Then on to Manitou Springs, another old tourist spot, famous for its mineral springs, which we tasted. There were all kinds of cool shops here--we enjoyed the bookstore, dulcimer shop, odd crystal shops, coffee shop, and the boys loved the old arcade with late-70s video games! Robbie beat "Donkey Kong" so his initials are there!

Our last stop was the Money Museum at Colorado College. They had excellent exhibits on the Civil War and "Good and Bad Faces" on money (a coin with Idi Amin, for example)
That night we attended a Colorado Springs Sky Sox game--very fun, as minor league games are. You can see the action very clearly because it's not a big stadium. There's a cute mascot, funny between-the-innings games, and it was a beautiful night! Here is their new logo, Pikes Peak with "angry cloud eyebrows" :-)
The drive back was through Kansas, hot and windy. We stayed in Lawrence, and got back at about 3 on Saturday.

I think everyone enjoyed the trip. There was only minimal bickering from the boys--too much to interest them--and I think it brought our family together. Oh, and now we're all hooked on mountains!


wclaspy said...

looks like a great trip! mountains are addictive! :-)

Val said...

on the trip there, it seems like you took highway 80; what did you take on the way back east? highway 50 (through pueblo) is my old "stomping grounds"