Estes Park Adventure

Wednesday, October 8: Edith and I left my place around 8:30 am which was the official start of our annual adventure to celebrate our birthdays. This year, Edith is reaching a milestone so I am treating her to 4 nights at a resort outside Estes Park which have condos along the Fall River. We stopped for an early lunch at Perkins in Council Bluufs. Filled the car with gas and headed on toward Kearney, NB for our first night stop. Was going to stop at Cabela’s in Omaha but did not see it. There was a visitors center right inside Nebraska so we stopped and got some information about Kearney and they suggested we go to the Cabela’s at Sidney because it was the original one and there was lots to see there so we changed our route for the next day planning to take their suggestion. Arrived at Kearney about 4:00 pm, checked into BW Kearney Plus, went to Whiskey Creek for an early dinner. After dinner, we took a walk along the bike/walking trail which went alongside a stream. Back at the hotel, since neither of us slept well the night before, we were both quite tired so it was an early night.

Thursday, October 9: Had breakfast at the hotel and got an early start leaving Kearney around 7:30. We drove to Sidney and stopped at Cabela’s which was disappointing but I did find the socks and gloves that I was looking for.

Center aisle at Cabela's

Center aisle at Cabela’s

Rock of goats surrounded by other critters

Rock of goats surrounded by other critters

We then went to Walmart where we purchased some groceries for our condo stay. Instead of taking a state highway to met I76, we decided to keep on I80 to Cheyene, WY and the catch I25 into Colorado. At Cheyene, we stopped at Denny’s for lunch; both of us were pleased with our food. While in the area, we filled up with gas and were on our way. Stopped at a visitor center once we got into Colorado and got information on Estes Park plus Rocky Mountain Park. At Loveland, we stopped and took some pictures of the mountains behind Boyd Lake.

Boyd Lake scene

Boyd Lake scene

Then on with our drive on Hwy. 34 into Estes Park. Once we hit Thompson Canyon, we were in some beautiful country. And we arrived in Estes Park where we stopped at Safeway for a few more supplies. Onward to our lodging for the next 4 nights at a place called Stone River and Bear Paw Resort. What a beautiful resort with wonderful people in the office! Our condo was two levels with balcony area above the kitchen and main floor bedroom. The living room, with fireplace, faces the river; there is a deck area outside the living room with chairs and gas grill; from here, you can hear the water rushing down over the rocks.

Fall River flowing outside our condo

Fall River flowing outside our condo

Outside our condo

Outside our condo

We settled in with Edi taking the lower bedroom. For the evening meal, each of us had a salad with slice of hot bread. Entertainment for the evening was watching the DVD “Hope Springs”. Up to bed and lights out around 10:30.

Friday, October 10: We did not hurry out this morning with drinking coffee and having a leisurely breakfast. After taking showers and getting dressed, we headed into Rocky Mountain Park; our plan was to do a quick 10-mile loop, connecting to Hwy. 36 which took us back toward Estes Park, in hopes of seeing the RV park that our brother had stayed the previous year but we did not locate it.

View inside the park

View inside the park

Upon entering Estes Park, we stopped at the visitor center where we got information regarding the park, town, and the Stanley Hotel. We found the river walk which we walked until it ended on the west side; turned around and walked back to the visitor center.

Thompson River flowing

Thompson River flowing

Enjoying the day and walk

Enjoying the day and walk

At this point, we decided to drive to the Stanley Hotel to inquire about tours; we signed up for the 1:00 tour called “The Stanley Tour” which lasted 90 minutes. With time to kill before the tour, we decided to eat lunch on the outside patio at the hotel. Good food, good scenery, good conversation. And it then was time for the tour. Co-inventor of the Stanley Steamer automobile and entrepreneur, F.O. Stanley, opened the luxury Stanley Hotel in 1909; he built it for his wife to convince her to live in Estes Park during the summer months. The tour included the history and architecture of the hotel along with seeing some beautiful state rooms, the hallways of the haunted fourth floor, and the tunnel which allowed servants to enter and exit without being seen. We also learned how the Stanley inspired Stephen King’s fictional Overlook Hotel in his bestselling novel The Shining.

In front of Stanley Hotel

In front of Stanley Hotel

Wood frame of original Stanley automobile

Wood frame of original Stanley automobile

Stanley automobile from early 1900's

Stanley automobile from early 1900’s

Inside the Stanley

Inside the Stanley

Looking down from upper staircase

Looking down from upper staircase

After the tour we returned to the condo where Edith took a nap while I typed my notes from the previous two days. Edi got up and worked on getting her iPhone and iPad operational. When she got everything working, we went to Safeway to purchase items for our meals the last two nights. Returned to the condo and had our evening meal. Found out the Chicago Cubs/St. Louis MLB game was not on TV so we decided to watch the DVD “The In-Laws” starring Michael Douglas. After the movie, I read for awhile and went up to my room to prepare for tomorrow; lights out around 10:00.

Saturday, October 11: We were up early, made our breakfast, and got ready for driving the Trail Ridge Road in the Rocky Mountain National Park. The National Park Service is celebrating the park’s centennial this year. The park has a stunning array of mountain peaks, 77 of which have elevations of 12,000 feet or more. Being the highest national park in the country, it protects over 265,000 acres. We made numerous stops as we wound our way to the Alpine Visitor Center. The most exciting stop was along an uphill side where there were a herd of elk; both of us were able to get a couple pictures. There was much color with the changing of the leaves this time of the year and we “ohh, aww’d” over the beauty of the various meadows, streams, and peaks. Reached the top, with elevation of 11,795 ft., and discovered the center was closed because of the lateness of the season; there was a trail which took a person up to the top of the peak and I thought I would climb it but decided against it as I started the climb in the cold, brisk mountain air.

A meadow within the park

A meadow within the park

Elk herd with male in front

Elk herd with male in front

View from close to the top

View from close to the top

Another mountain view of valley below

Another mountain view of valley below

There's snow up there

There’s snow up there

Pretty scene

Pretty scene

We started back down with the thought of stopping at two lakes which have paths around them for our daily walk. However, we discovered one of the parking lots were full and we would of had to take shuttle in so we decided against. Due to the wonderful weather conditions, it being a 3-day week end, and the color there were crowds. Once we got out of the park, we stopped at the DNR visitor center to talk to one of the park rangers about animal sightings. She said bear and moose were now starting their hibernation so were rare to see but elk are plentiful. Got back into the car, went into Estes Park where there were many people, and found parking at the center where we were the day before. And there, resting in a meadow, were herds of elk. What a sight! A local policeman told us it was not uncommon for them to come down for a time during the day due to the abundance of green grass.

Elk herd

Elk herd

Can you spot the fishermen?

Can you spot the fishermen?

Sisters having good time

Sisters having good time

We went down the river walk and found a place for lunch called Ed’s Cantina. After a good lunch, we headed to the shops where both of us found some items for purchase. Returned to the condo where we relaxed outside on our deck while doing a load of laundry. We grilled pork chops and vegetables for our evening meal and, after clean up, sat and talked the evening away. We adjourned to our respective bedrooms. I got ready for bed, read, and turned out the lights around 10:30. Tomorrow we are going to take the scenic drive called Peak to Peak.

Sunday, October 11: The weather was warm and sunny for our scenic drive; however, the wind was breezy with gusts up to 35 mph. We planned on leaving Estes Park on Hwy. 7, pick up Hwy. 72 at Raymond, go as far as Nederland, and take Hwy. 119 to Boulder where we picked up Hwy. 36 for our return to Estes Park. We had been told that each of the small mountain towns along the way had many gift and antique shops but we either did not know where to look and missed them or they did not exist. As we began the day’s adventure, we came upon Lake Lily which had a walking trail all the way around it so we decided to get in our daily walk. However, the wind was so breezy that it made the walk uncomfortable and chilly so we did not go far. As we came back to my vehicle, the couple parked next to us rolled down their window and asked where Benton County in Iowa was. It turns out they are from Atlantic, Iowa; they had spent four weeks in the area and had one more week before returning home. We continued our drive through some spectacular mountain vistas within the Rocky Mountain National Park and Roosevelt National Forest. Once we arrived at Nederland, we stopped for some shopping and lunch. At the visitors center, we were told to visit the Carousel of Happiness which is a restored 1910 Looff carousel with 56 playful hand-carved animals. The carousel was rescued by a former Marine Gunner named Scott Harrison. It took him a little over 26 years to hand-carve all the animals. Because of such a beautiful day, there were many people in the small town and the carousel was especially filled with children excited about getting a ride. We checked a couple places for lunch but each one had over a 30 minute wait so we ventured into the First Street Pub and Grill. What an excellent choice! Not crowded, there was an outside table in the shade, our waitress was very efficient, the hostess quite friendly, and food very good.

Peaks with snow

Peaks with snow

Creek as seen from Nederland bridge

Creek as seen from Nederland bridge

Carousel of Happiness

Carousel of Happiness

Relaxing lunch stop

Relaxing lunch stop

After lunch, we decided to continue on our journey. We stopped at the small town Lyons on Highway 36 to check out a couple shops plus I had to get an ice cream cone…yummy!! We stopped in Estes Park for our daily walk; we got on the bike/walk trail around Lake Estes.

Walk scene

Walk scene

Path of trail

Path of trail

Flock of geese

Flock of geese

After our walk, drove to our condo and arrived late afternoon. That evening we grilled chicken and asparagus for our meal. After dinner, we were sitting on our deck watching what looked to be a gorgeous sunset when Edi suggested we go into the park to view it. So that is what we did…what a good suggestion! Not only was the sunset beautiful but there was a herd of elk heading across the open meadow to the creek for drinks. It was interesting to watch; one followed the other and went into the creek. Shortly thereafter, the male followed behind everyone bellowing his lungs out!

Sun going down

Sun going down

Lots of color

Lots of color

Elk herd

Elk herd

Bellowing male

Bellowing male

Male getting drink

Male getting drink

We finally decided it was getting too dark so we headed back to the condo. On the way, we saw a gift shop that was open so, naturally, we had to explore it. When we got back our lodging, we sat around and talked until it was time for bed. Even though we were leaving for home the next day, we had no plans as to what time we were going to get up and depart.

Monday, October 12, and Tuesday, October 13: Both of us were up relatively early on the 12th and, after breakfast, we headed out around 7:30 Mountain time. Both days were uneventful. We drove as far as Lincoln, NB the first night where we checked into the Best Western Lincoln Inn which had just opened in July. Dinner was at the Red Lobster and we both ordered their grilled shrimp. After dinner, we stopped at JC Penney where I purchased some moisturizer like Edi uses. Back at the room, we found the Cubs game and were delighted that they won. On Tuesday, we got a good start after eating breakfast at the hotel. We made good time and arrived at my place around noon.

Another good, fun trip with my sister celebrating our birthdays. It always makes me happy that Edi and I have a good, sisterly relationship; she is truly a good traveling companion.

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