Friday, July 31, 2015

Rocky Mountain National Park

Thursday was the day.     We left Golden a little later than we planned, but we felt we still had plenty of time to drive the big loop from here, north through Boulder, Lyons and Estes Park and into Rocky Mountain National Park on its north side, drive through and down its western boundary, past Grand Lake and then on home via Granby and Idaho Springs.    Sounded easy enough....

We planned on having lunch at the Lyon's Fork in Lyons but it was closed when we arrived.    We later found out it is only open for dinner.    Ah well, these things happen.    We weren't completely starving yet so decided to continue on our trip.

The drive from Lyons to Estes Park was beautiful as we began to drive into the mountains.

Estes Lake is the introduction to Estes Park from our direction.   It was a little chilly and there were quite a few people kayaking on the choppy lake.

Lunch.....we spotted a Subway not far from the shore and thought we could race in,  pick up a quick sandwich  and enjoy it beside the water.    Once parked, we saw there was a huge line out the door and I was too hungry to wait patiently in  line so we detoured into a little diner called You Need Pie.    We scored a table on the patio and quickly ordered.    That was the end of it.   We waited and waited and waited and waited for our food.   Probably 45 minutes to get a "quick" meal.    When it finally came, it was delicious, but we wasted way too much time just sitting.

Back on the road.    We entered the park at the Fall River entrance station and, thanks to our interagency senior pass, paid nothing for the privilege of exploring this national treasure.

We really did not plan anywhere enough time to just drive through this phenomenal park.   The "quick" lunch stop really ate up time that we wished we had on this journey.    The Trail Ridge Road took us from valley floor, a Montane ecosystem between 8,000 and 9,000 feet above sea level, through a Subalpine zone between 9,000 and ll,400 feet and all the way up into an Alpine zone above 12,000 feet.

Some of the time the climb was in a heavily forested area, then we would break out above the tree line and I'd see just how high we really were.    You know how I feel about heights, and you also know I consistently route us along the edge of various mountains.   Thrill seeker?     Dave wonders.....   I didn't take any shots of the road or the scenery along the precipice.   The only thing between us and thousands of feet down stuff was a thin white line.   No guard rail, no shoulder, no trees.   I couldn't take any pictures, but they would have been spectacular if I could have, because my eyes were firmly fixed on Dave and out the driver's side window, leaning as far toward the middle of the car as my seat belt would allow.

there were many glacial lakes dotting the seemingly barren ground

We stopped at just about every pull out.   Sometimes we got out and, if Dave satisfied me that the overlook wasn't really on the 'edge',  we walked around and were completely wowed by our surroundings.

see the teeny dots?  they are cars on the road above us

The very high, very dry, very windy and very cool Alpine ecosystem was one that we had never really experienced.

The tundra impresses with its scale, large and small.   The plant life is minute, hugging the ground to exist in the extremely thin soil, bitter cold and brutal winds of this environment.    Beautiful little details that beg to be looked at.

When you look up,  the vistas, unmarred by trees, just bowl you over with their incomprehensible size. Its difficult to understand just how far you can see and how high these peaks are.    I felt in awe, that we were in a different world.   The air is cooler, thinner, warmer.    Its hard to walk a straight line although there is nothing stopping you from doing that, nothing that you can see.    Perhaps it was the altitude....perhaps I was in another world.

tall thin sticks show the road edge

The "sticks" that line these roads are there to show the snow removal equipment where the road is.    They're pretty tall....its amazing to think they have to be that high to poke out above accumulated snow!

they are very tall, 

As we wound our way back down into the lower elevations we encountered some serious road construction.    The magic spell of the Alpine tundra was broken by standing in a long line of stopped cars.    We sat for quite awhile.   Outside my window was a sweet little waterfall lined with white flowers.

Once down into the pines and grasses, we saw these three alongside the road.   They didn't seem one bit concerned by me taking their pictures.

I don't know how they walk around with those antlers!

We past Grand Lake with a promise to return again soon.    It was getting late and our sweet patient dogs had been home alone for a very long time.

 After we left the park we encountered more road construction near Winter Park and we ended up back at Beluga more than 8 hours after we left.    What good dogs we have..

We fed them and sat outside with them til sunset and they were happy with that.   Such good dogs.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

multi tasking Wednesday

Cooking, troubleshooting, laundry and waxing (Beluga, not legs or lips....)  Just a little nap in the sun to round out the day.

And, did Dave figure out and fix our bedroom slide glitch.   You bet he did.   After copying and studying pages of schematics from Fleetwood, checking voltages, tracing wires, etc., he ultimately employed my time honored technique.....percussive repair.    BINGO!   The slide runs in and out quite nicely now, thank you very much.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

successful tuesday

We stepped off the elevator into the men's shoe department.   Directly in front of us were the exact shoes Dave has been looking for.   The right size, the right color, and on sale......

After that purchase was made we continued another 100 feet or so into the men's suit department.    The perfect one practically jumped off the rack at us.   The right size, alterations free, and once again on sale.    Cross another thing of the wedding list.  

We could hardly believe our luck.   Shopping is often a chore, especially if one is looking for something very specific.   Not today!

We left Nordstrom and went out into the mall, Cherry Creek Mall.    I ducked into the shop directly next door and, lo and behold, came out with the last pieces needed to complete my outfit for the wedding!    Things were definitely going our way.

On the way home we stopped at Camping World, our favorite place (NOT) and found the replacement chair we had been looking for - yep, on sale!

So....altogether a very successful day.    It certainly wasn't an inexpensive day, but a very satisfying one.    No more shopping!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Monday's best laid plans

This morning we stowed our loose belongings, put the lid on the dog's water bowl, secured the cupboards, folded up the end table, put the computer away, unplugged and removed the lamps, put the antenna down and started old Beluga up in preparation for moving to our final site here at Dakota Ridge.  We were moving from a pull through to a more private and spacious back in,  but before we settled in to our new digs we planned on driving Beluga to the other side of Denver to have her front end aligned.

Last thing to do was pull in the slides.   In came the front slide.   click click click went the back slide.   click click click.  click click click.   Nothing.    Since we didn't have very far to move in the campground Dave just drove very slowly with the back slide still extended.    He backed into M-3 and re-hooked all our services.

whatcha doin dad?

Then he set to work trying to find the slide motor bypass and disengage the brake to be able to bring the errant slide in manually.   Piece of cake, at least it looked like it was a piece of cake.   Dave always takes these things in stride and makes them look easy.

By the time all was back in order it was after 11 a.m. and we'd missed our window to have the alignment work done.    Ah well, best laid plans.    We'll pack up and try again another day.

Sasha loves the deep grass at this site.  We have lots more room outside and no one behind us.    A nice couple, work campers, are on our patio side.   Sweet.    Mr. Lewis should feel more comfortable here.

Unless a trailer full of kiddies with wheels pulls in on our other side.......

Sunday, July 26, 2015

the Weekend

Only Sunday was exciting.   Friday we did a bit of reconnaissance for Beluga's front end alignment appointment on Monday (you know, can we tow the car or do I have to drive along behind, is there an easy place to unhook, do we really need to take the car, how long will the appointment be, and if it will take awhile, what is interesting to do/see in the area)  and had lunch out.   Saturday we ventured into the Golden Farmer's Market to pick up one of the yummy peach pies we bought last week.     We didn't get one, however, because the entire town was celebrating Buffalo Bill Days and the streets were closed off for the ensuing festivities.    Plan B included doing a bit of cleaning/straightening up around the "house" and giving Lewis a shave (face only this time).

Lewis gets mellow after his shave

Sunday was the final day of the Mile High Nationals (NHRA - drag races) at Bandemere Speedway, practically in our backyard.   Dave is an absolute nut about auto racing, drag racing in particular.     Jesse and Erin picked us up around 8:30 and we managed to snag a primo parking spot at the track before the rest of the 10,000 +/- folks arrived.

Bandemere Speedway
utilizes the hillside and has a number of different levels
this is a view down one set of seats

This was extra fun for us because it was Erin's first time at such an event.    Jesse has been with us at many different racing venues for most of his life so we all saw this through Erin's new eyes.    She was a good sport and was full of great questions as we walked through the pits (the garage area where the teams and drivers get their impossibly powerful entries tuned and ready to go) before the actual races.

tables of spare parts, just in case.
these are  cylinder heads with headers attached

dragsters staged and ready to pair off at the start line

It was really hot and sunny.   We (I) walked through the pits taking advantage of any bit of shade available.    There was a lovely breeze blowing up the bleachers and it felt really good when it found us.      The organizers of this event had open sided tents here and there that had misters working inside.    I chuckled as we walked by the first one, watching people crowd in and smile with relief at the gentle soaking.    We had a bit of very unhealthy (but tasty) food and as we walked back past the misting tent, we ducked in and got pleasantly damp before find our seats for the first round of racing.

I took no more pictures because I needed both hands to cover my ears as these screaming, thundering machines flew by us.   If you've never been to a big drag race you have no idea how the sound touches you.    It literally hits you in the chest and shakes you in your seat.    I wish I had my camera trained on Erin as the first pair roared past.    The shocked grin on her face was fantastic!

Dave, Jesse and Erin watched pair after pair race down the track until light rain and strong wind (the usual Denver area afternoon happening) chased them away about 2:30.     I cut my day short, however, I think the heat got me.     I'm told I don't drink enough water....    Jesse ran me home (I told you the track was close to Dakota Ridge) and I took a long nap in wonderful air conditioned Beluga.   Dave wasn't happy about me going home alone, but I assured him I'd be right as rain so he unhappily acquiesced.

At the end of the day Dave and Jesse grilled sausages and we ate them with Farmer's Market pierogis (from last week) blueberry crisp and a bottle of cold Sancerre.

  Great day!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Wednesday and Thursday

You might expect this blog to be a long one, since it is titled "Wednesday and Thursday".....two days worth of things to tell you and show you.

You would be wrong.    I should have titled it "BCA".

We had an appointment for the Jeep on Wednesday morning, assuming it would be a few hour fix and we'd be ready to head up to Estes Park on Thursday, as planned.    We were wrong.

The air bag warning light and its alarm have been pestering us for a couple weeks. The power door locks have been behaving oddly and occasionally the radio would change stations against our orders.   Once we came back to the jeep after lunch in Boulder to find its rear hatch back open, exposing all our good "junk" to passersby.     Gremlins, poltergeists, computer glitches - we made an appointment to find out what was going on and yesterday was the day.  

Dave dropped it off at the jeep dealer and walked the mile or so back to Dakota Ridge.   We spent that day doing domestic chores, taking care of bills, reading and spending time with the dogs.

The weather cooperated and we had a sunny warm day with no rain!   We spent a fair bit of time outside, making hay while the sun shone...

he often pretends he doesn't know where
the ball is.....
Sasha snoozed and Lewis enjoyed a few enthusiastic games of ball.  

The jeep wasn't fixed by the end of the day yesterday so we found ourselves stuck here without wheels for another day.   We had planned on going up to Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park, but it would have been a really long walk so we did the same things today that we did yesterday.    Read, play with the dogs, paper work, phone calls (we're dealing with an extremely annoying and long running insurance/trust issue) and a bit of cooking (which yielded a disappointing dinner).

A family with two adolescent girls moved in a few sites away.  Lewis didn't enjoy his outside time after they came.   He couldn't let them out of his sight, even his beloved ball held no interest when they were around.    Both girls had unicycles and rode them endlessly up and down our row.    Kids on bikes are scary enough, kids on unicycles evidently present even more danger to a black poodle.

Lew carries his worry in his tail.....
(I know - he needs grooming)

he carries his happiness in his tail also

I didn't take pictures of Sasha in her usual happy hour/cocktail hour pose because you've all seen her flat on her side, snoring.     I do, however, have one of her dozing by the table as we ate our ham and cheese sandwiches this afternoon.


We always share a bit of our meals with the dogs, after we've finished eating.
They don't beg at the table, they wait quietly until we're completely done and don't complain very much if we forget to share once in awhile.    Sometimes Sasha works so hard at being a good girl and not begging that she nods off and doesn't even notice the odd bit of cheese or slice of juicy ham offered.   Sometimes she doesn't notice for a long time......


Lewis, good boy that he is, never steals the tidbit intended for Sasha.   He waits til she wakes up and scarfs up the goodie before he comes near - just to make sure she hasn't left any crumbs on the carpet.  He is nothing if not neat.

See?   You should have heeded the Boring Couple Alert before reading tonight's blog.

p.s. we got the jeep back this afternoon around 6, all fixed (we hope....).     We've missed our Estes Park "window" for this week.   We learned our lesson not to attempt a drive into the mountains on a weekend.  

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


We try to dance around the weather, do outdoor things while the sky is blue.   We've sort of decided that it will rain somewhere, sometime every day.   The forecasters don't really predict where or when very well so we just assume that it will be nice for part of the day and not nice for part.    The trick is finding the sweet spot.

Yesterday was our day to drive up into the mountains to the little town of Breckenridge.  Traffic was light on I-70 this time.

Sky was clear and blue in Golden.   The further we drove, the more clouds we saw.     Tough, we just pushed on.   We don't like rain, but we don't melt.   If we waited for a day with no precipitation predicted we'd not move from site D-6.

pretty serious run away truck ramps along this route!

Dillon Reservoir

We got to Breckenridge a little after one and found a restaurant with an outdoor patio for lunch.   What a cute little place.   We thought we'd eat then stroll around the streets and along the river side.    We got a table in the sun and enjoyed our lunch of yummy shrimp.    I sat facing the mountains.   As we began our meal there wasn't a cloud in the sky.   Gradually, very slowly, clouds began to peek over the peak and by the end of our meal we had to run for cover.     No walking or strolling for us now.

my lunch view

The waiter told us to wait 20 minutes and it would be all over and the sun would come out, but we didn't believe him.   We got back in the car and decided to continue south on route 9 and make a long loop back through the mountains to connect with route 285 in Fairplay and eventually back into Golden.

We ran through heavy clouds, mist and in and out of high sunlit, flower filled meadows.   I was glad we decided to forgo the walk through Breckenridge, these vistas were just too spectacular.    We'll try again another day.

the mountains seem to make their own weather, create
their own clouds

Fairplay is located in South Park, one of Colorado's most beautiful designated heritage areas and is the Park County seat.    Another small, quirky, artsy mountain town.

County Courthouse