Pretty wiped out tonight, I left for Colorado last Saturday morning at 8, flew on South West out of Love Field at 11 AM, funny how SWA has never gone bankrupt isn’t it? They provide better fares, better service, and run a better airline, yet, the other “bigger” names never seem to think to themselves that maybe SWA is worth emulating. I guess their CEO’s are just too smart for their own good. But I will save my rant on how dumbed down so many corporations seem to be for another time. My sister, niece, who will be three in November, and I landed in Denver just after noon Mountain time, and picked up our rental from Enterprise, another company who I use if at all possible. Again, better rates, far better service, and no hassles. I have to ask why anyone would pay MORE, for less at other rental giants that shall remain nameless.
From Denver, I took the E-470 toll road, North to I-25 North, finally exiting on to Highway 66 heading West. It is a route I have driven almost every year since 2003. A route that takes me to beautiful Estes Park, Colorado, nestled right next to the most beautiful place I have ever seen, Rocky Mountain National Park. Like all of our national Parks, Rocky is a treasure, there are opportunities for everyone to fall in love with it. Fishing, hiking, my personal favorite activity, camping, wildlife watching, photography, picnicking, or just relaxing. Right now, the elk are in the rut, which means you must give those 750-1100 pound bulls with their massive 40 plus pound antlers plenty of respect. Elk are everywhere, including in town, on the golf course, and right outside your cabin sometimes. In 2008, I walked out of the Safeway, my cart full of groceries, including some great Colorado craft beers, and right there, in the parking lot, 30-40 elk milled around, taking their time moving towards the golf course. Funny that I, nor anyone else really seemed to mind the delay. The golfers might have minded, I imagine, but, who cares about anyone who dresses like some golfers.
Over the years I have seen black bears, one up close and personal in 2010, We had a small dispute over who could use the trail up to Fern Falls, and after close consideration, I let the bear have the right of way. This past Wednesday night, a big male, which the locals say has a real affinity for pizza, turned over the large dumpster near my cabin. There are not many bears in Rocky, and they do not grow as large as black bears in other areas, but, they are incredibly powerful.
I have seen two sets of mountain lion tracks, which filled me with awe, and a lot of caution, I would love to see a mountain lion, but the idea of having to take a hungry one on does not appeal to me in the least. I have also seen moose, the most dangerous animal not only in Rocky, but in the West, they kill more people than bears do. They are massive, and not nearly as common as their elk cousins, but to see a big bull, is incredible. Coyotes are common, and big horn sheep are sometimes seen on the East side of the park too.
I took my sister and niece on a wild 4-wheel-drive ride thru the Roosevelt National Forest, and by took, I mean I paid someone with a kick ass Hummer to take us on said wild ride. My niece, who turns three in November loved the bumps, and dips, and insisted the we “do that again” repeatedly, before falling asleep for the last twenty minutes or so. My sister also did a ghost hunt at the legendary, and allegedly haunted Stanley Hotel. I am not much for hunting ghosts myself, but the Stanley has a ton of great history, and is worth checking out.
As I said, I love hiking in Rocky, but, this trip, thanks to a sore knee, I did very little of that, but still had an absolute blast. And, next year, at this time, I will likely be in Rocky once more, hopefully hiking up to the many waterfalls, or mountain lakes, stopping every so often to be amazed at the splendor and magnificence of this place. The first time I ever came here, I stopped and took a short hike on the Deer Mountain trail. As I looked around I remember thinking that no one could possibly be here and NOT believe in God. That was in 2001, I decided I wanted to see the Rockies, and took my vacation, staying in Denver, and driving to different areas. I ended up staying most of my time in Rocky. After that short hike on Deer Mountain, I went into town, but a back pack, hat, sunglasses, first aid kit, some quality hiking boots, and other hiking essentials. It was there that my love of hiking was born, and it is a love that still excites me.
So, now, as I prepare to get back to work, and back to blogging, I am already counting the days till I can get back to this place I love so.