Ok, so I’m waiting for the exterminator to get rid of the tiny ants that I secretly think are holding up the foundation of the house, so I may post partway through and repost something new later.
The bestest part of our vacation – besides just seeing Copper Catfish and Peanut and George – was an overnight to Rocky Mountain National Park. We drove up and stopped at the Hot Sulphur Springs Resort and Spa where we spent an hour or so soaking in naturally hot and
stinky mineral-rich water. Then we pulled into the town of Grand Lake where this keepsake caricature map helped us find our way around. Middling Mexican for dinner and then a walk to find ice cream. And they clearly knew we were coming.
Ellison and I went off for a solo hike in the park, and were making good headway. We were very proud of our fitness levels.We were just thinking the sun was low enough that we should turn back when we came across a sign like this one* warning of frequent mountain lion sightings in the area and giving the advice to fight back. Suddenly those big footprints all over the trail didn’t look like someone had brought their dog illegally on a hike – we hightailed it out of there before we became chum. I didn’t even stop to take pictures of the tracks because bending down seemed like a bad call. But on the way back to our motel we saw a lovely mule deer just standing there watching us walk. The walk back yielded some lovely photos of the sun setting in a mountain town.
After all that exercise, plus a little Fight-or-Flight fear response, we had a quick soak in the hot tub and a sound night’s sleep. Good thing, too – we got up early, had possibly the SLOWEST BREAKFAST EVER, and went into the park for real.
A short delay from road surfacing and then there we were, driving the Trail Ridge, with these amazing views of the mountains and valleys below. Animals were in abundance, especially these nervy little chipmunks that had the run of the place. We saw the Continental Divide, which was pretty cool. There was one bighorn sheep with her baby just on the edge of our sight line – the nice park ranger lady let us look in her good binoculars so we could see them clearly. We took a short hike to attempt to see some bighorn sheep, but at 2 miles above sea level, we didn’t last very long on the steep trail. Out of breath and out of water, we drove along the trail, excited be glimpses of herds of elk along the tree lines. And then – Oh My Goodness – two HUGE elk with HUGE antlers right on the side of the road! And right near a parking area! And right off the trail!
I think the pictures are pretty good but they can’t capture how amazing these creatures are – they’re absolutely huge, and completely uninterested in the crowd of people 20 feet from them oogling and ahhing over their majesty. They’re just interested in having some snack and fattening up for the winter, I guess. Same with this guy, who I think is a marmot.
Since the animal viewing all seemed to be conveniently located near the toilets, and since there are only pit toilets in the park, and since I was desperately trying to avoid altitude sickness by drinking tons of water, I had quite a few opportunities to experience a mountain breeze on my pink parts. Last stop near the elk, though, I got all dizzy and my hands went kind of numb, so I was just as glad we were heading down and out of the park.At the far end of the Trail Ridge Drive is Estes Park, a super touristy town where we grabbed lunch, a souvenir ornament for our tree, and a glimpse of the most amazing creche of strangely clitoral figures. Made me feel a little weird but I had to catch a photo. Then we headed back to pack up and get ready for our early morning departure to fly back home. Ellison and I took a last walk and I caught a picture of some prairie dogs, AKA YipYips, to complete our trip. We arrived home late Wednesday afternoon where it was distinctly cool and wet, but we were welcomed by a glorious double rainbow in the sky. All around a wonderful trip with wonderful friend. And I’m happy to be home, too.
*Just kidding. We did see a sign warning us to fight back, but it didn’t imply that the mountain lions are pedophiles….