Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Rocky Mountains

On the final day of our trip the family ventured out to Rocky Mountain National Park. I had mis-booked our flights so when I attempted to reschedule the flights on Labor Day were booked so we had an extra day in Denver. Unfortunately Jacki wasn't feeling well so she tried her best to support Darian and I on our outing.

We set off around 10am towards Estes Park. Along the way we drove through Boulder and made it to Estes shortly after noon. The road between Boulder and Estes Park was full of bicyclists. Some of the cyclists were cruising along and others looked as though they were struggling to make it up some of the hills. Needless to say I would have been in the struggling camp. I was surprised that they shared the road with cars driving 55-65 mph.

Once in Estes Park Darian and I ate at a KFC/Taco Bell combo place, and we picked Jacki up subway. While waiting in the parking lot I took a picture of some lightning from a storm that was passing through. We waited the storm out and then got back on the road to the park.

Our first stop was the Park and Ride to Bear Lake. Jacki stayed in the car and slept and Darian and I took the bus to the Lake. We walked around the entire lake and took quite a few pictures. It was an overcast day with drizzling so it wasn't as picturesque as I was hoping. On the way back we walked through Glacier Gorge and then took the bus back to the park and ride.

Our next stop was Sprague lake. Park buses didn't take visitors so there was a lot less traffic and people walking around. In some ways that made this a better lake to visit. The pictures also came out better at this lake then at Bear Lake. Darian kept Jacki company. As I walked the 1/2 mile around the lake I saw a chipmunk and some ducks. Once I got back to the car Jacki was feeling better.

Our next stop was Fern Lake. The guide I printed off of the internet mentioned we may even see some Elk. On the way to the lake we noticed a number of cars pulled over to the side of the road. We decided to stop and noticed that there were two giant elk in the meadows. The horns on these elk looked as large as some of the small trees they were standing by. No one ventured close and kept their distance and took photos. They had to have been at least 50-75 yards from the road.

Further down the road we drove through a pack of close to 10 female elk. There was even a smaller baby elk in the herd. They were eating leaves from trees that lined the road. After driving through I walked back and took some more pictures. We were able to get within about 10 feet of these elk. Jacki said seeing the elk made the trip worthwhile.

As we headed back to US 34 we saw a coyote running on the top of a small hill close to where the two male Elk were that we originally spotted. Darian said the coyote runs and looks like a dog. We got back onto US 34 and drove through Deer Junction. Jacki spotted a deer running on one of the hills. Giant antelers but looked a little on the thin side.

Once up the road we accidentally made a wrong turn and ended outside of the park. After a u-turn and a visit to the information area we got back on track for Old Falls road. The family wasn't all that fond of driving up a one way dirt road in the rain on the side of a mountain, although I found it easier to navigate than the roads on Pike's Peak.

At the end of the 10 mile road we made it to the top of one of the peaks. I took some cool pictures and then we were off to our final destination in the park, Millner's Pass at the Continental Divide. The divide is the point where bodies of water drain to. On one side of the divide about 50 yards from the sign the water drains into the Atlantic Ocean, and on the other side with a small lake about a 100 yards away the lake drains into the Pacific Ocean.

At this point the sun was going down and entering into dusk. We drove through the backside of the park, saw a few more elk, and believe we saw some moose as we exited the park. After dinner in Winter Park we made it back to Denver. When it was all said and done it was right at a 12 hour day. By 10:30pm we were back in our hotel room packing for our flight the next morning.

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