2012-10-22 Our baby's getting new shoes

We are getting new tires for the RV tomorrow morning (trying out the Maxxis trailer tires which seem to have good reviews, though I really don't think it matters!), then back to our "new home" in Coffeyville, KS.

2012-10-09 freeway blowout on our way to Seneca

From Colorado Springs, we headed out to mom's in Seneca, MO. She sold her house, had a 30-day close (ouch) so we had planned to cut short any further exploration of Colorado. It's 12 hours from the Springs to Seneca. Our half-way point would be Salina, KS for a quick overnight stop at a Walmart. Unfortunately, about 1/2 hour short of our destination, we had a blowout on the trailer which took out most of the fender / sidewall as well. And we were stuck on the freeway for 3 hours. Our arrival at Walmart was somewhat later than planned.

New tires are on the agenda when we are set up at Amazon. After much research and investigation, I know the blowout was inevitable regardless of tire brand or mileage - we were travelling upwards of 70mph for 5+ hours, took a corner on the freeway at near 75mph, on 3-year-old tires which had essentially sat with RV weight on them for months. Though they were properly inflated and showed absolutely no sign of cracking / external wear, it was their time. We have learned a valuable lesson and the fender is a small price to pay. No one was hurt and we got to commune with some Kansas cows.

The repair was less costly than we thought; later in the Walmart parking lot I had that fender all fixed up. A little bactine and an advil....she feels much better now.

Limping on our spare, we arrived in Seneca on October 10 as planned. We set up at the new Indigo Sky Casino - Whispering Woods RV Park - $10 per night. Good deal and only a few blocks from mom's house.  Then spent 6 days packing (actually picking and packing, good practice for Amazon). Got about 25+ more boxes packed, and thank goodness Gary and I had packed up so much before we went out to Colorado!

Wish we had gotten everything packed but there was not enough time nor boxes. Mom arranged with the movers to finish the remainder along with the kitchen they had already contracted to pack. Moving day was scheduled for Oct 18 (movers come to pack everything) and Oct 19 (load the truck). However, we had already obligated ourselves to an Amazon start date of Oct 18. So we headed up to Coffeyville, KS.

2012-10 Colorado Springs, CO

On the way from Loveland down south to Colorado Springs, drove right by the Denver Broncos Stadium....on a Sunday.  Doh!  Fortunately, they had an away game. On the way, we went just a few miles out of our way for Hickory House barbeque ribs in Parker, on the south side of Denver. Gary has been craving their ribs since 2 years ago when we discovered them in Aspen. Yummy and a bargain - they have a weekday lunch special $11.95 whole rack with sides. On Sunday it was about $20 for two racks with sides, and it was very busy with all the locals who know this is where you go for ribs! Then another hour south into Colorado Springs.

We had one day to explore Colorado Springs. On our previous visit, we had just a couple hours - so this seemed like a luxurious amount of time. We had already discovered the high cost of just about everything around here, so we were opting for free activities only. First on our agenda is the North Cheyenne Canon Park  http://tfocc.org/ which happened to be just a few blocks from the RV park we were staying at. Enjoyed the scenery and just a touch of the trails. Saw more deer in one morning than we'd seen all summer.
our pics from North Cheyenne Canon Park

Our second big stop for the day was Garden of the Gods; previously we just drove through, this time we walked all around and enjoyed watching the many climbers ascending the walls. You absolutely must walk the paths and get up close...
our pics from Garden of the Gods

We stayed at Foot of the Rockies RV Park; it was very cheap with our Passport America discount and the folks running it were very helful and friendly, really very appreciative of our business and we would gladly go back. However, at the end of our day, we discovered a Rudy's BBQ in town (what a fantastic surprise, felt like I was back in San Antonio!) and just next door to Rudy's was another Passport America RV park, so next time through, I suspect that's where we'll stay, just for the BBQ. Two days in a row of great BBQ. I know where we'll eat if we pass through here again.

2012-10 A drive through Poudre Canyon, CO

We met several campers who were at Kelly Dahl only because their regular camping spots in Poudre canyon were evacuated. Many said it was their favorite place to camp. So while in Fort Collins area, we thought we best check it out for a possible future trip!

The weather was getting sketchy, cloudy-cold-rainy, so we didn't have the greatest weather for this drive, but it was the only day free we had. The High Park Fire which raged through this area in late spring and summer really took a toll. There were many signs along the canyon thanking firefighters, and it really was quite amazing that they saved some of these homes around which every ridge was blackened.http://www.denverpost.com/high park fire info

Along the way, we also stopped at Shambhala to check out the largest Stupa in the country. http://www.shambhalamountain.org/

our pics from cloudy Poudre Canyon and Shambhala

2012-10 Cools things to see in Fort Collins, CO

We took time to visit a few breweries...that's definitely a big thing to do in Fort Collins. There are many breweries, but we had very limited time. We stopped in at Coopersmith first, in downtown right next to the visitor center. (Unfortunately, the free Bike Library was closed so we were unable to check out some bicycles for the day!) Coopersmith's had my favorite beer, by far!...the green chile beer was unique, very tasty, a little spice - loved it! But they do not sell any beer except by growler - not sure I could handle a whole growler of green chile beer. http://coopersmithspub.com/
Just across the street from there, we stopped in at Equinox Brewing; really like their logo. http://www.equinoxbrewing.com/

Last, we did the tour at New Belgium - learned a lot, enjoyed the Red Hoptober, and think this would be a fantastic place to work! http://www.newbelgium.com/shift.aspx

I had read about things to do in Fort Collins, and came across this place which should not be missed! Swetsville Zoo is not your normal zoo, the critters are all made of scrap metal, but still a fantastic place for kids (big and small), very entertaining, and best of all...free! (donations appreciated). 

pics around Ft Collins - Breweries and Swetsville Zoo

Loveland, CO on our way out...

We stopped at Riverview RV Park in Loveland, CO to explore Loveland, nearby Fort Collins, and Poudre Canyon. We met two couples at Kelly Dahl who worked here as workampers. We had never been in this area so glad we had a chance to check it out. It is a very nice park; they had wood carvings throughout: racoons, bears, wizards....very neat. We were less than a mile from Devil's Backbone open space for Larimer County, and a short drive to Fort Collins.

pics in Loveland Riverview RV Park and area

2012 Estes Park Scenery and Elk

We very much enjoyed our visit to Estes Park. We were so very lucky to stay for "free" using our remaining 2012 timeshare points which were already paid for and would be lost if not used this year! The Crags Lodge was terrific, had very helpful and friendly staff, and it was particularly fortunate and unusual that they had RV parking for us.

Fall is a beautiful time of year to be in Estes Park; fall colors, lovely weather, fun festivals and the elk rut all bring in large crowds. However, big crowds combined with large unpredictable and unusually iritable wild animals...this generally makes a bad combination. Elk were everywhere (always on the golf course, and a herd in just about every neighborhood). I found it very entertaining to watch (from a safe distance!) a big bull elk trying to keep his harem together while at the same time, chase off all the loitering bulls. Saw one bull lose a couple females who just kinda "snuck off" to a competing bull. Saw a pair of bulls battling (you could hear their antlers crash from the other side of the lake). Of course, we took a few pictures...

Here is a small sample of Estes scenery and elk shots.
pics around Estes / Elk

A few short videos of the elk in Estes:


2012-10-01 Goodbye to RMNP

We made one last drive into Rocky Mtn, drove through the burn area (Estes Park fire this summer, burned 23 homes in one afternoon!), quick stroll around Sprague Lake (this is where you go for mountain peaks reflected in a glass-surface lake - short handicap-accessible trail) RMNP-SpragueLake, went a bit up the Fern Lake trail in Moraine Park protrails.com-fern_lake, and one last swing through Horseshoe Park on Fall River road.

Pics from our last day in RMNP

2012-09-28 Estes Park Twin Owls

This is an easy 1.5 mile loop hike in Estes Valley to get a good view of the "Twin Owls". This rock formation can be seen from nearly anywhere in downtown Estes Park, including from our lodge. There are countless Estes Park businesses which share the name "Twin Owls". It is a popular climbing spot and grants you a fantastic view cross Estes and the peaks of Rocky Mountain National Park.

Yes, we walked to the bowels of the owls. If you want a short hike with fabulous views, this is a winner!
Our pics from the Twin Owls view trail

2012-09-27 Seeing the results of the Lawn Lake dam failure

At 6am on July 15, 1982, the earthen dam failed on Lawn Lake at 11,000 feet, releasing a torrent of water down the Roaring River Valley. A camper on the river below heard the deafening roar coming and scrambled for higher ground; he made it but his friend was killed. Further down, the flood then caused failure of Cascade Dam on the Fall River, and the waters destroyed Aspenglen Campground. There the rangers had warned and evacuated campers; tragically, two campers returned to recover their camping gear thinking the danger had passed, and lost their lives. Many years later, the evidence of this flood is still striking and dramatic. A huge alluvial fan of boulders and debris is spread across this portion of Horseshoe Park.

30 years have passed since this horrible flood, and there are beautiful spring colors growing, the temporary "fan lake" created by the debris is now gone....the scene is peaceful and lovely.

Still, being a regular camper and occupant of natural areas, I find this story so very unsettling...we opted to skip the Lawn Lake hike.
Our pics of the alluvial fan, more beauty in Horseshoe Park

2012-09-25 Gem Lake from Lumpy Ridge Trailhead

The rain was moving in over the rockies, so we chose to do this hike in the hills north of Estes, behind the Stanley Hotel. protrails - gem lake info  The hike offers endless views across Estes and the rockies, plus fearless bunnies (this really reminded me of a scene from a certain monty python movie and I couldn't stop laughing), the best view from an outhouse we've ever seen, elk destroying local residents' landscaping, and views to the north towards Poudre Canyon where the High Park Fire did a lot of damage this summer. The hike is short but does have a lot of steps, so folks with knee problems, be careful! If I lived in this area, this would be a regular hike for me.

pics from Gem Lake Trail