Twelve Hours to Estes Park, Colorado (Part One)

I’m on a mission to see the world before I die. What’s the use of working your ass off, saving your money, and then sitting on it?

I believe in working hard, and playing hard.

So about twice a year, for the past several years, Kevin and I have been going on trips – sometimes they’re just a few days, sometimes it’s an entire week – it just depends on what we want to do.

Let me set the record straight – you should save your money. You never know what sort of curve ball life will throw at you – be prepared. And if you can’t afford take go anyplace for a few years, then fine, save your money for when you CAN go.

I have no intention of leaving our boys a lot of money when we die. They will get our material possessions (the house, any cars we have, etc), but moolah?

Don’t count on being rich, boys.

You can’t take it with you, so why not enjoy it while you’re living? The world is SO BIG – there is SO MUCH TO SEE. And I want to see, at least a small portion of it before I get too old to travel comfortably.

Kevin feels the same way, though I have to sort of fight him on going anywhere with me. He usually resists at first until 1. I either talk him into it, 2. get his permission to go ahead and book it and 3. when it’s time to go and he’s suddenly asking me if we have our tickets, our reservations, our passports … etc.

Dude. I’ve got it covered.

We had already planned on cruising to Alaska this year. That’s a destination that Kevin was absolutely NOT into – at all. But I sweet talked him into it and we’re booked to go in September.

But in the meantime, we had several months before our cruise and I carefully pulled out the idea of going someplace for a few days … we both work so much that we don’t have a lot of time to spend with each other. Even when we’re home, we sequester (is that a dirty word now? Just wondering …) ourselves into our self-imposed cocoons and either read, or watch our shows, or go to bed early (that would be me). And then the weekends, we’re busy catching up chores and whatnot.

So when there’s a chance to get away, just the two of us (because honestly, the boys could care less to spend time with us anymore and honestly, rightly so), we snatch it up.

The last time we went to Colorado, I was having, erhm, physical issues. Unbeknownst to me, my large intestine had become a pretzel and I couldn’t, erhm, release anything, whether gassy, or solid. It wasn’t as bad as it got at the end before my surgery, but let’s just say, hiking in the mountains WAS NOT FUN.

AT ALL.

But apparently, I did a good job of hiding it from my guys, because when I mentioned something about wanting to go back to the Rocky Mountains, that I really wanted a chance to you know, actually enjoy them this time without feeling like my insides were going to burst, Kevin looked genuinely surprised.

I should have been an actress.

The last time we drove out to Estes Park in Colorado, we took the boys and were pulling our hybrid trailer. (We’ve since sold it to this nice, young family who were so excited about camping, we couldn’t help but have second thoughts on whether we should have kept it – well, I felt that way, Kevin had been ready to get rid of it for years prior). We camped out there for a week and the weather was awesome – cool, nary a bug to be seen buzzing around our heads.

So. We knew what to expect. We knew it was a long drive, but it was a relaxing drive – the drive across Kansas is straight and nice. And we thought, “heck, why not?” My car got great gas mileage, we’d take turns driving … let’s do it.

So. We did it.

It actually took us nearly 14 hours to get there. I started out driving and we stopped at a rest stop just inside the Kansas State Line at a rest stop and had wraps that we took in a cooler. (I don’t know WHY we didn’t do that before – faster, healthier and soooo much cheaper than eating someplace). I drove for about 8 hours, then Kevin drove the rest of the way.

The weather was perfect. We hit one little patch of rain on the way, but it quickly cleared up. It was hot, but not unbearable and my car ended up getting about 36 miles to the gallon. Not bad for a six-year old car!

When we finally reached Denver, we pulled over and ate dinner at Qdoba – we got to our hotel around 9ish in the evening. We were tired, but not exhausted as we both dozed on and off the whole way.

We stayed at this lodge:

It was called “Crags’ Lodge” and it was literally built into the side of a mountain. In fact, here is a tour of our room …

Kevin had a head cold the entire time we were there. In fact, I don’t think he started feeling better until we left, poor guy.

After we checked into our hotel, we went shopping at Safeway to buy breakfast foods. That’s the biggest reason we reserved, and will probably always reserve, a room with a kitchenette. It’s sooooo nice to just be able to lounge around in the morning, have breakfast, get ready at our leisure as opposed to starving while trying to make yourself presentable.

Not to mention, it saves a ton of money.

In fact, we did REALLY well on the food this trip. We bought more sandwich foods and ended up making wraps and packing our cooler the entire time we were there, so we really only ate out at dinner time.

We were pretty proud of ourselves. Food is always an issue with us because Kevin is one of those men who HAS to eat or he gets shaky and really grumpy. Me? I can survive on sandwiches, but not Kevin. At least, he used to be like that. He’s not so bad anymore – sandwiches will usually satisfy him now – must be his old age. Ha!

The next day, we walked around town. Estes Park is small, but really pretty and quaint.

They had some sort of craft bazaar going on at the time, so we enjoyed walking through and admiring all of the crafts on display.

After we walked through the town,

we headed to the Rocky Mountain National Park where we spent the majority of our time in Colorado. They have numerous trails which all lead to some pretty spectacular spots … unfortunately, Kevin and I were so out of shape, that we didn’t do very many trails … we tried one trail, got, what we thought was halfway up the trail, only to discover that we were only about 1/4 of the way and said, “screw it.” We gave up and went back down. (In our defense, it was uphill, over huge rocks and OMG, was sooo hard).

We drove the tundra our first day there. We drove it last time with the boys and stopped at a stop nearly at the top of the mountain and walked another trail from that area, but we went the first part of June and there was still a lot of snow on the ground, so we were unable to walk the same trail due to it being covered and not safe for travelers.

So we drove on and went to the Continental Divide.

Why we didn’t drive the short distance and do this with the boys when we there last, we’ll never know. But Kevin really enjoyed visiting the Continental Divide and “check” – another thing checked off the Bucket List.

You’re not supposed to walk on the grassy area in the Tundra. They say that because of the cold temperatures, the grass only grows about an inch every year (I think, I could be wrong on the exact amount, but it’s incredibly slow), but of course, people didn’t read the signs and walked all over the grass anyway.

There were a ton of people driving the Tundra with us. It’s pretty incredible views …

Driving through the Tundra was actually pretty hard on my brakes. The roads are steep and you’re constantly having to stop to allow the wildlife passage.

But that’s okay – we’ll respect the Elk.

(To be continued …)