Friday, June 28, 2013

Wyoming Wild

After a quick stop in Cheyenne, we continued north and saw our first cowboy high on a bluff.
Does he seem a little two-dimensional to you?

In Douglas, WY, we stopped for two days and parked in their Riverside Park - no hookups, but there is a dump with water and it's free!  (N 42.76308, W 105.39261)  And, as every RVer knows, even a small town has interesting things to see and experience.

Douglas proudly claims to be the 'Home of the Jackalope' and I posed next to the statue of the famous mascot in front of the Chamber of Commerce/Visitor Center/Railroad Museum.

The Railroad Museum consists of some beautiful rail cars and this steam engine.

If there are any rail enthusiasts reading this (like my father), I took a picture of the sign.

There are a caboose and a day coach that was built in 1884.

I was pretty excited when I found out we could go inside the coach.  Just look how cool.

Ron pointed out that one did not use the toilet when in the station.

They also have a baggage car (on the left) and a sleeper car.
The sleeper compartments were pretty interesting, but impossible to photograph.

But my favorite car was this dining car from 1947.

Just look how beautiful it is.

Near Douglas is Ayres Natural Bridge with a very impressive 90 foot span and carved by the LaPrele Creek,

The bridge is the highlight of a small, but very nice, county park and surrounded by colorful sandstone cliffs.  But if you decide to visit, be aware there are NO pets allowed.

There's a short, but steep trail up to the top of the bridge - easy to climb up, but it took me about 1/2 hour to get back down.

And later, we found that we weren't the only ones who needed to run into town for a few groceries.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Wrapping Up

Being unable to resist the name, we had to take a hike from the Lumpy Ridge trail head.  Immediately, we spotted old Mr. Lumpy himself hanging out with a couple of friends.

Unlike Mr. Lumpy, the Twin Owls are an actual named feature.  They are popular with rock climbers who can follow one of several routes, one of which is called The Bowels of the Owls.  Another great name! 

The trail we followed was the Black Canyon trail.  We didn’t go far enough to enter a canyon, but the part we hiked had great views of Lumpy Ridge on one side . . .

And across the valley on the other.

As always, I have to post some flower pictures.  This one I have no idea of the name – anybody?

I think this is a shooting star. 

Remember the Chapel on the Rock?

I paid a return trip to see the inside on a Saturday when I saw the door open.  The interior is just as charming.

And has this lovely stained glass window from Germany. 

If you would like more information about the chapel, I took a picture of the sign.

Last Monday, we came back down to the Denver area for Ron’s follow-up appointment with the dentist.  Everything went well and today we headed north to Wyoming.  Just before the Wyoming border, we saw our first buffalo of the year.
Hmmm, he seems a little flat.

We’re heading quickly (for us) to Gillette, WY, for the big Escapade at the end of the month.  As, most of you know, Escapees is a large RV club and the Escapade is their national rally.  We have never been to one and are looking forward to it

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Hike to the Pool

We did our first hike in Rocky Mountain NP and picked the easy 3.4 mile (round trip) hike to The Pool, which begins at the Fern Lake trail head.  On the way to the trail head, we drove past some burned area,  not from this year.  It’s interesting to see an area comes back from a burn.  It opens up views and creates lush meadows.

And we’re off.

This is a nice easy trail that follows the Big Thomson River upstream so there’s little elevation change.

As always, I was charmed by all the wildflowers along the way.  There were lots of wild roses.

And pretty ferns.

Ron and I had a difference of opinion on this one, but I looked it up and he was right.  It's a red-stem dogwood (Cornus sericea.)  I thought it was a viburnum.

When we arrived at The Pool, I was confused – where’s the pool?  I brought my bathing suit.  Where’s the slide and diving board?

This guy seems to share my confusion, but I think he’s just wondering why I won’t feed him.

Then on our way back out of the park, we saw a lot of cars pulled over to the side of the road.  Aha!  There must be a really special animal.

And was there ever!  This bull elk was magnificent!  Even this early in the year, he had 5 points on each side and was perfectly balanced so far.

Ron pointed out that the point on the far right in this picture was branching again.  What a beauty!

Friday, June 21, 2013

What a Thrill!

After 8 days at our campground, we needed to dump and take on water.  (Is this TMI?)  Anyway, we drove, correction, I drove the RV 8 miles (it seemed like 50) to Mary’s Lake RV park where we took care of business for a reasonable fee of $7.  Now I know this doesn’t sound like a big deal, but you have to understand that I DON’T drive this bus-like thing.  When I had my truck and 24-foot 5th wheel, I was quite comfortable driving all over the country.  However, Ron’s 30-foot Class A is a whole different thing.  I just let him drive while I ride along like the princess I am.

But back to my story.  After dumping, we (alright, Ron) parked in the visitor center lot for a few hours and that’s where the ‘Thrill’ came in.  Right between the parking lot and golf course were a bunch of cow elk and although previously I was not impressed with the town elk, these had very special bonuses.

I asked the volunteers (who are there to keep idiot tourists from harassing the elk) about the calves and was told the oldest was 1 ½ weeks and the youngest was 3 days.

When the babies decided to move, I think we could guess which one was the youngest.

See him still lying there at the edge of the picture?

Here he seems to ask, “Hey, where did everybody go?”

“Why is everybody looking at me?
“Ah, that’s better.”

Once again, these pictures are zoomed and cropped.  I would never get as close as they appear.  Although these elk seemed not to care about all the people watching, you never know what a wild animal will do, especially with babies.   One volunteer told me that per Colorado law, if one of these elk should hurt a human, it would be put down AND if it has a calf, it would also be killed!  Tragic!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Try Again

We decided to try another hike, this one only about 3 miles and, we thought, only 500 feet in elevation gain.  It begins at the Longs Peak trail head and, for the first ½ mile, it follows the same trail.  I guess we should have been worried.

But on the way to the trail head, we stopped for a photo op at St. Malo’s Retreat.  This interesting church is informally called Chapel on the Rock (officially, St. Catherine of Siena Chapel) and is quite a tourist attraction.  Even Pope John Paul II visited and blessed the church.

At the Longs Peak trail head, we spoke to two rangers who told us that most of the elevation gain was in the first ½ mile of our intended hike, then the trail alternately gained and lost elevation for the mile to Eugenia Mine.  Although it was steadily uphill for the first ½ mile, it wasn’t extremely steep.

A friend once told me that a twisted trunk was the sign of a vortex.  Feel the power!

After quite a bit of rolling trail, we made it to Eugenia Mine where hopeful miners had searched for gold.  Still remaining are the ruins of a cabin, a boiler tank, the tailings pile, and collapsed mine tunnels.  I thought the sign was interesting.

All of the hike was through the trees so I waited until I returned to the parking lot to take this shot of Estes Cone.  You would think it was volcanic, but the rangers didn’t think so.

That evening, our friend the young buck was back right outside the rig.  I thought it was interesting to see how the young antlers grow.  They seem almost flat on the tip.

And I can't resist posting some more wildflower pictures.  (Did you know it’s illegal to pick wildflowers in Colorado?)  I don’t know the name of these spikes.  Carol?

The pretty Columbine is the state flower.