• Plan A Travels: Spain→Andorra→France
  • Duration: 3 weeks
  • Status: ruined
  • Cause: coronavirus
  • Plan B Travels: Colorado→Utah→Colorado
  • Duration: 3 weeks
  • Status: completed

After three luxurious nights at the B&B near Fairplay, we were back to the hardscrabble life of the campground-dweller.  This time, we were located in Estes Park.  Abutting Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes is a town we’d been to 18 years before, loved, and had always hoped to revisit.

However, you know that quote by Heraclitus (updated by me to reflect, you know, half of humanity)?

No (wo)man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and (s)he’s not the same (wo)man.

Well, it was kind of like that with Estes Park.  It felt different—much more touristy than we’d remembered.  I mean, it wasn’t awful or anything, but there were a lot more T-shirt and taffy shops than one would expect in your average town of 6,000 souls. (True confessions: I did enjoy a rather large bag of salt water taffy—an assortment of flavors with cinnamon and piña colada ranking best and second best, respectively—so put me down as part of the problem.)

On the plus side, the husband was able to cross off another item of his five-part Dust-Farm-Pail List goal of cycling the five highest paved roads in the continental US.  More specifically, he biked from one side of Rocky Mountain National Park to the other via the Trail Ridge Road.  (Pike’s Peak and Mount Evans, he’s coming for you next.)

Somewhere near the highest point on the ride [elevation: 12,183 ft (3,713 m)]

I rode the Trail Ridge Road, too . . . in the truck. This didn’t give me the same bragging rights or calorie burn that the husband got, but it gave me gorgeous scenery, very little traffic (so I could drive slowly and actually look at the scenery), and the ability to fill the interior with pleasantly ambient music without having to share “radio time” with the husband, who would of course opt for U2 at volume 10 if given the opportunity.

It also gave the husband his own personal action-shot photographer, and who wouldn’t love that?

I saw lots of animals, including a deer that ran right across the road in front of me, as well as this guy (look closely—it’s definitely a guy, and I’m not referring to the horns), who appeared to be showing off his multi-tasking abilities: eating grass and repelling (or attracting?) other bighorn sheep.

Or maybe it’s a yoga pose. Downward sheep.

In any case, I got some very nice views without having to break a sweat.

We also got a look at Long’s Peak.  That’s one 14er you’ll never see me on.

Exposure: HIGH, Rockfall potential: CONSIDERABLE, Route-finding: HIGH, Commitment: HIGH

Besides, at 15 miles round-trip, it takes 12-15 hours to complete and is one of those 14ers people start at 2:00 a.m . . . nope, not happenin.’

The next day—our last before starting the long drive home—we awoke to rain, and the forecast called for thunderstorms on and off all day.  Further, the husband awoke feeling ill again.  This time it wasn’t the heat or being “overserved” whiskey.  It was improper fueling during and after the Rocky Mountain ride (headslap!).

No matter.  We scratched our loose plan to hike in the national park and instead hatched a scheme (in other words, we “scratched-n-hatched”) that had us driving 45 minutes through some of the most gorgeous mountain scenery ever—this hadn’t changed from 18 years ago—to the city of Fort Collins, home of:

New Belgium brewery.

Scrounged from around the house: empty beer bottle, unfinished candle, beer glass

Waterpik®.

Taffy-induced cavities are not a problem in Ft. Collins. Source: http://www.waterpik.com

And my sister and her family.

Good grief. We look like a ragtag band of inept bank robbers.

After browsing downtown Fort Collins with its excellent kitchen store and fantabulous garden/decor store, we swung by my sister’s for a surprise visit.  She knew we were staying in Estes Park, but we’d agreed not to get together because of the Viral Menace.  But when a spontaneous day trip puts you three miles from your sister’s house, you just gotta pay a visit.

Sisterly hug, COVID-style.

Early the next morning, we made for home, but not before one final Rocky Mountain mini-adventure.  Just as we were approaching the Estes city limits, the husband slammed on the brakes and pulled over.  What he momentarily thought was a fiberglass replica of an elk on the side of the road was in fact a flesh-and-blood elk on the side of the road.

Fiberglass my ass

And despite my furious whisper-yelling for him to keep away, the husband donned his foolish elk-whisperer hat and attempted to commune with nature.

Classic dumb tourist move

Fortunately, the elk decided the husband wasn’t worth goring, so I can wrap up this blog series here instead of ending with a horrific When Bad Things Happen to Good Travelers post.


23 thoughts

  1. Fort Collins is one of our favorite getaways (5 hours from home)—especially since it’s the closest town with a Trader Joe’s. We usually go twice a year, but alas, that probably won’t be happening in 2020. Last September, we made the jaunt to Estes Park because I just had to see the Stanley Hotel in person (though sadly, outside the locked gate). There was an arts and crafts fair happening, so we strolled through that and had a fantastic brunch. Definitely enjoyed the town, but then again, I didn’t have an experience 16 years earlier with which to compare.

    While I love your husband’s music choice (U2 FTW!), I can’t say I’d ever approach an elk like that. Not even a fiberglass one!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had an “aha!” moment the other day regarding the block editor. The problem was when I had several paragraphs written in a classic block and wanted to go back and insert a photo. Yes, I could do it, but I couldn’t insert an image block between two paragraphs of a classic block. I finally realized that I cannot have several paragraphs within a classic block. Instead, I need to get in the habit of making each paragraph its own classic block. Then I’ll be able to insert other blocks in between. This is definitely a work-around rather than a solution, and perhaps other, more tech-savvy users will respond with a “well duh,” or intuit an even better way, but I’m slow on the uptake with these blasted computer programs. For me, this realization goes in the “win” category!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. THANK YOU. What you say makes sense to me and I’m sure I won’t intuit it when I face up to using the block editor. For me and my short choppy conversational writing style this is going to be more bother, but if I know how to do it I can make it work. A definite win for you. *yay*

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Nice to see that also Plan B can be so good. It is fun to see how many that have found great alternatives this year to their original travel plans. For our own part it meant that we instead of leaving for leaving Sweden, took a road trip up north across the Arctic Circle. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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