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Monday, July 11, 2011

Rocky Mountain National Park

     Before we start on RMNP, I wanted to include one shot taken from our campsite.  It is a picture looking southwest as the morning sun gradually creeps down the mountains creating a cinnamon landscape.  The weather is what one would expect here at this season and this altitude.  It gets into the high 70s or low 80s in the late afternoon until widely scattered thunderstorms rumble through the area.  Sometimes they hit you; sometimes they don't.  Overnight lows get down close to 50.
     Today, after Durelle watched the finale of the LPGA open from the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, we packed the camera, binoculars, the dog, and some water bottles and headed up route 34 to RNMP.  By the way, the Golden Age Pass saved us twenty bucks.  For you folks over 65, check it out or email me.
          This shot was taken before we had really started to climb.  We are well below timberline.  Whereas the dramatic pictures in this corner of the world are usually great barricades of snow covered peaks, I have always loved the high, upland meadows as shown here.  This is absolutely prime elk country.  Forty years ago on my only and unsuccessful elk hunt I watched the sun come up over just such a meadow in SW Colorado while listening to wolves serenading each other...wonderful memories,
  The title of this next picture is,"No Visible Means of Support".  At one of the pull offs we stopped to walk the pup and take a few pictures when I spotted these clumps of daisies (?) apparently growing out of bare rock.  As I came back toward the Jeep, Durelle said,"Did you get a picture of those flowers growing out of the bare rock?"  Hey, we agree on the important stuff.  We continued to climb, and soon passed 11,000 feet which is timberline.  

          Here things turn majestic.  The snow never goes away.  There were many places where the snow melt was running across the road.  We elected not to continue on to the Trail Ridge Road.  We probably should have.  Durelle wasn't too comfortable with the altitude and lack of guard rails.  That road is the highest major highway in the US and it tops out at 12,183 feet!  It is a spectacular place.  I highly recommend that you add this road to your bucket list, but take it easy and respect the altitude.  Old farts need plenty of oxygen.
     I included this picture, not for its beauty, but to document the beetle damage that is being done to the Ponderosa pines.  As far as I can see, the spruces and the aspen are not involved, but many large stands of pines are blighted.
     After we descended back to Estes Park, we left Baxter in the bus and headed into Estes Park for lunch and to get acquainted with the city.  Obviously it is a tourist mecca.  Souvenir and tee shirt shops abound.  There is a nice river walk through the city with many places to sit and watch the (high) water of the Fall River rushing through the city.  There are places where the water is diverted into wading pools where you can sit and cool you lower extremities in water that a few hours before was snow.  We chose to eat at a rooftop Mexican restaurant that is the real thing.  Below is a picture of my entre.
     I do not know what it was called.  It was served in a bowl of volcanic rock that must have weighed twenty pounds empty.  It was enough for two (or three).  When was the last time you saw Frank Cloutier use a take out box that contained more than he ate?  There was skirt steak, pork and chicken.  There were Poblano peppers, chilis, onions, peppers and tomatoes. The sides included tortillas (on the right) and beans, guacamole and pico d' gallo (on the left).  I'm still not sure if supper is necessary.
     This is great country.  The only negative is that the KingDome which finds our satellites for DirecTV has stopped working.  There is a dealer about twenty miles east of here in Loveland, and we can stop on our way out.  In the meantime we do have cable, but it does not meet Durelle's requirements.  We'll find a way to work it out.
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