Ever seen something so beautiful that you just couldn’t handle it?
That was Rocky Mountain National Park to me. Indescribable, jaw-dropping majesty that made me cry.
Throughout our three days of this trip I’ve yet to see something I consider ugly. Even Kansas in its vast expanse of nothing but flat, green fields was gorgeous.
Our third day on the road started with saying “good bye” to the La Quinta in Loveland that had been our host on a very comfortable night thanks to the free stay they gave us. The kids got a little swim in before we hit the road, we pounded a bunch of breakfast and I logged some time working on the free wifi. Score all around.
Just a few minutes after leaving the hotel parking lot, we dove into a winding road and canyon that led into Rocky Mountain National Park.
After stopping for cash in Estes Park, just outside the National Park entrance, we checked out the park’s first Visitor Center and — yaaaaaay — finally scored some park stamps.
We also encountered our first moose of the trip.
OK, not a real moose. A friend from Clarksville who is also moving to Alaska as we speak has challenged me to a Moose-Off. First person to see a moose wins. Sadly this one did not count. And, despite heroic efforts on my part that included scanning every possible field, we did not see any moose in the park. Sad day.
Shortly after entering the park, we came upon a traffic jam over a Big Horned Sheep spotting. We stopped for a ranger talk there. Although there were many beautiful vistas during our drive, which I’ll include highlights of below, nothing topped in my mind this one:
No words. Just beauty.
After the talked finished we drove, up, up, up, up higher and higher into the Rockies. It was supposed to be about an hour drive to our campsite from the visitor center. We made it take three.
Unfortunately, what started as a cold for Luke at the hotel turned into a fever and feeling very, very bad. So when we finally got to our campsite on the other side of the park, we pitched the tent and Luke racked out for several hours while I did my best to keep the boys occupied.
The plan had been to take them and the dog hiking so we all could let Luke sleep, but we were met with this every place we tried to go.
Conclusion: the National Park hates dogs. Teddy Roosevelt would be very unimpressed by this. … and many other things. But definitely this, too.
Now is the time where it becomes clear that I am not a very experienced outdoors person. I was super surprised by how cold it was here. I guess that’s what happens when you live somewhere hot. And yes, I know it’s cold in Alaska — thank you. That I am not surprised about.
But the 55 degrees at our camp site caught me off guard, and I was cold. And as the sun started to go down, it became clear that it was going to get very chilly over night.
When we were packing for this trip, Luke had guessed that it would get down in the 40s over night, so that’s what we had packed for.
So when it hit freezing early this morning, well, we were a little cold. We were so cold, in fact, that my phone stopped working so I have no pictures of Dave wrapped like a mummy in his bag or Huck laying in his bag making Cold Huck Noises (when he’s cold he kind of moans in his sleep).
I won’t lie — I was pretty grumpy at this point. We turned on the car and charged my phone for a few minutes while we packed and ate breakfast.
We loaded up the car, and hit the road — we’re headed to Dinosaur National Monument, Colorado, just outside the Utah border.
One of the things we love about the National Parks is their kids’ programs. Rocky Mountain had several junior ranger activity books designed for different ages, so Huck was able to work on something age appropriate, as was Dave.
And Dave got really, really into it. He was super worried about finishing the book before we left and seeing all the various animals, including a moose — but no moose were seen. Sad day. Right before we left the park we were able to turn in his books and get his badge. It was one of the cutest things I’ve seen recently.
We’ll arrive today in Dinosaur, Colorado. See you there.