We’re on summer vacation, I suppose, and we had to run the heater this morning because it was 54 degrees in the coach. I’m glad that we weren’t out on the ground in a tent. We did that back in the day. For some reason I don’t miss it at all. With the heat turned up, we slept or another hour and got up sometime after 8AM. It is called vacation, and we were on vacation from retirement!
The plan was to get a first come first served site, and I thought that getting straight out of the gate at 9 AM was counterproductive. Every park is different, and this one is proving that first impressions were probably correct, no matter how many good thoughts I give the place. Coloradoan’s legalized recreational marijuana happened for a reason, and I believe that it shows an underlying attitude. Suffice it to say that we had three sites before 10:15 due to mistakes on the part of the staff, these things happen, and the people taking sites in a first come first served area, that have no bleeping idea what they are supposed to do after they obtain a site.
There was plenty of blame to spread around, but the bottom line is that people make mistakes, others are self centered, and we were off to see the sites as soon as we had a site, and placed our tablecloth on it, to let everyone know that there was more than the piece of paper to hold the location. While I was killing time to have someone reach a resolution, I noticed that one of the many construction trucks we passed dropped a stone and cracked the HUGE windshield in the View. I think that I can get some stuff at the local auto parts place tomorrow to fix it. If you don’t use something, it will never get worn. I plan on using this thing until the wheels fall off, and then I’ll replace them and drive it some more.
We stopped at the camping site where I first really spoke to someone who was full timing in a Winnebago View. This time the place was packed with people, instead of being a wasteland like last time. We parked in the designated parking lot across the way and took the shuttle bus to Sprague Lake. The first portion of the trail was along the same route as the horse trail, and the start of the horse trail. What is the first thing a horse does after leaving the barn with a person in its back? Right, the same thing it does before going up a big hill. We pirouetted down the trail until we got to the lake.
There were two fly fisherman trying to encourage a fish onto their hook. The lake is brown, muddy and shallow. It was also apparently stocked with hatchery fish which a lone osprey took good advantage of. I talked to all the fisherman within earshot, and no one was having a good day. One of the two fly fishermen, the one who seemed to know what he was doing, said he caught and released three, quite an accomplishment, since half of the people in the US have thrown something at the fish in the lake in hopes of getting them on the hook.
The lake was beautiful, with the mountains in the background. We both decided that we had hiked enough, the altitude is having it’s way with me and even thought we were only at 7,000 feet, and I wasn’t anxious to hump up a trail at the next stop, with half of Colorado. We returned to the RV, had a very pleasant and nice lunch, even thought there was no view (excuse the pun).
We took off for the high country. The day before was a crystal clear day. Today’s view was cloudy. I asked around, but no one was aware of any kind of fire to the west. As the day wore on, the haze on the southern side of the park became thicker and thicker, to the point you could see the whiteness of the air within a half a mile as the sunlight ran through it at the end of the day.
We stopped at number of spots with great views. Even with serious smoke the vistas are world class and worthy of a calendar picture. We saw elk, chipmunks, and a scurrying marmot. My first. The marmot appeared to be a scaled down groundhog. Why was I never told? I always thought that a marmot was this mystical high altitude, alpine creature of mystery, and it turns out to be a groundhog’s runt cousin. Obviously an animal with a very good west coast publicist.
Along the way we met a great couple from Texas with a brand new top of the line spotting scope that saved me a twenty five mile hike, one way, as it let me peer at a beautiful Alpine Lake across the Thompson Valley. His first name was Kelly, and unfortunately I don’t remember hers. She was the force behind the acquiring of the scope to look at wildlife, and he was the supporting orchestra, management and cheering section, and having a better time than she,. I think. They obtained our information, from the side of the RV, as I left the damn business cards home on the dresser. I hope that we will hear from them again. Truly nice people.
We decided that hiking was out, and the goal was to go to the Alpine Visitor Center. I’m not sure if it was the snow glare or the altitude, we were over 12,000 feet, and I was thinking of my friend Dave Miller who has difficulty with altitude over 6,000 feet, but I got a visual migraine, so I laid down for about 20 minutes until it went away. There are no guard rails or walls on the road, and the stopping point in the alpine meadows is maybe a quarter of a mile down, if you decide to make a bad turn. There are no signs of anyone making a mistake, mostly because I think that are scared #$%*& before hand. Don’t run off the road here. The towing bill will be the cost of a small home, if you survive.
We made the visitor’s center just in time to see them lock the doors. Shades of Mono Lake. The gift shop was open, and they had wildflower seeds that Louise had been expressing a desire to obtain. We know just where to put them. They need to be planted in the fall, sprout in the spring, and if we stay home long enough, we’ll see them next year.
The haze from the fire (?) was far less at the alpine center, so we took pictures, gaped and gawked and then headed back for the campsite. I enjoy twisty windy roads, even driving a 10,000 pound motor home. The drive back was fun, especially since the two vehicles in front of me appeared to know what they were doing.
I brought some frozen leftovers for the trip home. Things that you can defrost, reheat, and eat, and have a great meal at the end of a long driving day. The time has come where we will dip into that supply. This evening we baked some potatoes, reheated some of my famous St Louis Ribs, yes, they were better, even defrosted and reheated, than the ones from St Louis.
It was a good day. I think that the serendipity of the trip home has made the last two stops the best. There has been no schedule, no list of things to see, nothing that needed to be done or arrived at, at any time. We never anticipated at the outset to see Yosemite or Rocky Mountain, and it’s been wonderful. Rocky Mountain still is, in my mind a drive through Park, with Estes Park feeding off the attraction. If you are in your early 20’s, in good shape, with plenty of time, there are spectacular places to go in the park. If you are the average guy with a family, there is the drive to the top and back, and the amusements in Estes Park. The restrooms are still sties.
Tomorrow we stretch our legs and leave the mountains and head across the Great Plains. First stop is a City Park located in Gothenburg, Nebraska. It should be good, but we’ve arrived in towns where there was supposed to be a place to stay and the park disappeared. Here’s hoping.