Apr 25-May 6 - Colorado
We bid farewell to New Mexico and began a three-day uphill climb from Santa Fe toward Estes Park CO, aiming to spend some time with Wes & Vendy Lockard at their Rocky Mountain retreat. The first two days were uneventful, and we found some spectacular scenery as we crossed into Colorado. Day three found us parked just north of Colorado Springs, and 3 inches of snow on everything. We began to wonder about the wisdom of continuing northward. But by mid-morning, the snow had melted, and we made it into Estes Park by mid-afternoon, with no snow on the roads.
Lots of people take credit for introducing Judy to Al (and vice versa), but Wes is the one who actually did it first. Wes was best man at our wedding, and he and Al worked together at the then-CBSI in Reedsport for many years. Since we retired in 2005, Wes & Vendy have been after us to pay them a visit in Colorado. We finally made it, and we're really glad we did.
Estes Park is primarily a summer resort, although about 7,000 people live there year-round. Aside from the spectacular scenery, the town is perhaps best known for the Stanley Hotel. That's where Stephen King stayed while he wrote "The Shining", which was set in a hotel much like the Stanley. The movie of the same name, however, wasn't filmed here - they shot most of the hotel exterior scenes at Timberline Lodge in Oregon. "Stanley", incidentally, was F.O. Stanley, creator of the Stanley Steamer automobile. There are several of the old cars in the local museums and in the hotel lobby. Stanley, more than anyone, steered the development of Estes Park in the early 20th century. Being a tourist town, there are many wonderful places to eat in Estes Park. Although many weren't open yet for the summer season, we managed to patronize several that were open.
Wes and Vendy have a wonderful place just outside town, abutting the Rocky Mountain National Park. This means lots of wildlife wandering around. We spent a lot of time just sitting in the front sunroom, watching the creatures. We saw lots of elk, many varieties of squirrel and numerous species of birds. But the prize sightings were a trio of coyotes which spent quite a bit of time out front, and once when we spotted a bobcat trotting across the yard, packing an ex-squirrel for lunch. We can see why they love it there.
Early May is cusp season in Estes Park. Too warm to be winter, not warm enough to be summer, and both kinds of weather, sometimes in the same day. We chose to move into the Lockard's home for the 9 days we were there. They have a 13-bedroom (more or less) place just built for hosting folks. While we were there, the resident gang included daughter Katie and Vendy's cousin Thelma and husband Gary Mann, who came in from Kansas. Wes was a great tour guide with more energy to lead than we had to follow. Judy enjoyed having a piano to play, and Katie proved to be a natural on one of Judy's harps. Most evenings, we enjoyed watching DVDs from our respective collections. We even spent part of one day at the Estes Park Duck Race, watching several thousand rubber ducks drifting down the river, trying to avoid rocks, snags and members of the local Rotary Club.
Too soon, it was time to move on. On Wednesday May 6, we pulled out and headed west. About 20 minutes down the road, Judy said "I miss them already." We hope we can come back.
The slideshow for our visit to Colorado contains about 100 images. Click here to see the pictures.