Sunday, August 09, 2009

Estes Park and the Rocky Mountains

We had a fun vacation at Estes Park, CO. We were fortunate to get to use the cabin that Adrian's dad is offered every other year from his former company. It was so beautiful and right in the boundary of Rocky Mountain National Park.

Olsen was actually pretty good on the ride over. We started in the evening and stopped after about 1.5 hours in Evanston, WY so Olsen could crawl around in the park. Then we stopped again in this complex called Little America (a respite from the desolate WY landscape with a hotel, restaurant, travel center, playground and 50-cent icecream cones!) to eat dinner. By that time, it was about Olsen's bedtime so he pretty much slept the rest of the way to Fort Collins.

The next day we went to our cabin and settled in.

Olsen loved the piano in the cabin.

The views were incredible from the big picture windows. We played some shuffleboard and explored Estes Park and the downtown area.

On Sunday, we decided to hike a trail right behind our cabin, the Deer Mountain Trail. Our cabin sits at 8300 feet, so the elevation is a bit higher than Logan (4500 feet) and we felt it! It was a nice hike but later we found out we didn't quite reach the top. Oh well, we got to hike and I was a little anxious to get back before Olsen got too much sun.

Monday: We decided to take it easy and went to explore the Bear Lake area in RMNP. The trails around the lakes there are accessible to wheelchairs so we brought Olsen's stroller. The Bear Lake area is very popular and the parking lot fills up very quickly in the morning, so we had to ride the shuttle bus over. Olsen enjoyed people watching on the bus and two older Aggies asked if Olsen was named after Olsen Field after noting his name on his helmet. Bear Lake and Nymph Lake were nice and we saw a friend of ours who is doing her graduate work in the area and took her survey on visitor perceptions. I was pretty surprised at how many people were in the Park. I expected crowds in places like Smoky Mountains and Yosemite but for some reason, I didn't expect the degree of crowding that we encountered in Rocky Mountain. In some ways, I feel like the large crowd can detract from the experience but then at the same time, I think it's great that a lot of people want to come out to national parks and experience the wilderness. Perhaps, national parks are not really the place to go if one is in seek of solitude.

The lilies were in bloom at Nymph Lake

Tuesday: We drove along Trail Ridge Road in the Park. We stopped at the Alpine Visitor Center (the highest visitor center in the park system) and hiked a short trail to a look-out where we saw a lot of elk. On the trail, we met several Aggies (we are truly everywhere!). One was a Navasota teacher that I worked with when I was a master's student at A&M.

It was windy up there. We think Olsen looks like a superhero in this picture with his intense eyes, clenched fist, and hair flying out of his helmet.

Wednesday: Adrian hiked Long's Peark, the highest point in the Park and one of the Colarado 14'ers, while Olsen had his day of rest. He crawled around and played a lot AND practiced his walking!

Thursday: We strolled around Lily Lake and showed Olsen the ducks and baby ducks. Then we went to the Baldpate Inn, which has the world's largest collection of keys.

They even have a key of the White House, sent by George Bush, Sr. Many people leave keys there as well. We ate the famous bread, salad, and soup buffet at the Inn. It was really good. One lady told us that her oldest child wore a helmet when she was younger. It's nice when people do that, because we did get a lot of stares this week - I guess because we were exposed to a lot more people the whole week. Oh well, I think Olsen looks really cute in his helmet. It seems to emphasize his cute face. We spent the rest of the day walking along downtown Estes Park.

Friday: We went down to the Wild Basin area of the Park and did a very short hike to Copeland Falls. If we ever come back to the Park, I'd like to continue on the trail to the Calypso Cascades and Ouzel Falls, but we needed to get back to the cabin so we could clean it before we left.

We left Estes at about 5:30 pm and drove through to get back to Logan. Olsen was really nice and pretty much slept after we stopped for dinner. He had one moment where he was upset but we were in WY and there was nowhere to stop for 30 miles. By the time we reached a place to stop, he had fallen back asleep, poor thing. We arrived back in Logan at 3 in the morning.

It was a great vacation. Olsen really improved his pointing skills and took his first steps in the cabin. He loved watching the hummingbirds and chipmunks that hung out around the cabin. Now, we are back to reality and have to get back to work! :)


Nikki said...

Super fun! I love Olsen's super hero picture. He is so adorable! I also like the lettering on his helmet.

I love Colorado, I wish that Texas had more mountains. Did you guys ever make down to Big Bend while you were here. We went once and it was fantastic.

Lisa said...

We have been to Big Bend. I think it will always be one of my favorite parks. :)