Friday, Aug 17 and Saturday, Aug 18
Friday afternoon I began packing the car from the spare bedroom where I had staged all my camping/hiking gear and supplies for the previous several days. For food I had a bunch of oatmeal, dried apples, dried cranberries, and my own trail mix -- peanuts, cashews, banana chips, and m&m's. Not excactly "GORP", but I like it. I'm not a fan of rasins in things. For dinners, the instant rice meals with dried texturized soy protien (tastes like chicken! -- actually, it tastes like whatever you cook it with. But it's protien.) Enough of everything for the whole week for both of us if we needed it.
I have a Ford Escort, which we were taking for a couple of reasons... one being gas mileage and the other being that slight dynamic shift that happens when you take someone else's car on your vacation. It shifts from someone coming with you on vacation your vacation to you going with someone else on their vacation. I was only too happy to have Mark along, and he was happy to be along -- I just wanted to keep it that way.
I don't know how much you know about Ford Escorts, but one thing is they're not very big. I packed two 36" military duffels with clothes and a tent, sleeping bags, air matress, and... since we were parking and camping -- sheets and a pillow. Then my food and backpacking gear -- both my new big Klamath backpack and two daypacks -- one for me, one for Mark. Hiking poles. And my 10 lbs of various camera gear. I packed my small packable tripod as well as the big one, and after a quick unsuccessful search for my monopod, I decided to forget it. I was packing enough stuff as it was.
I left pretty much half the trunk for Mark, and half the back seat. Threw my crushable hiking hat (with the wider brim to keep the sun off my neck and face) in the back window, and headed for Olathe.
This trip I didn't feel quite the separation anxiety from Vicki I normally do -- probably because she was going to Fort Wayne for the week to be with her mom while she went through some orthroscopic heart surgery to stop the flutter. I guess for some reason home's not quite home without her there, so there was no home to miss, really, and she would be with Mom.
We sat out on Mark & Cami's new deck that Mark built a few weeks ago. It's very nice. About the size of ours only without all the plants out on it. They also have a bigger table. Had a few beers and talked until around 11:00 or so and hit the sack. I only brought in from the car a clean shirt (and of course requisite clean underwear - duh!) and my dop kit.
Cami showed me what button to push on the coffee maker to have it do its thing in the morning before we went to bed. I slept pretty well for several hours, but woke up about 4:30 and couldn't go back to sleep. Probably due to anticipation of the trip. I gave up trying to sleep about 5:30 and got up and went upstairs and pressed the button on the coffee maker.
It just beeped at me.
I tried everything. There has got to be a way to get it to at least stop beeping. But unplugging for 5 minutes seemed to be the only way.
So I went and took a shower and shaved and came back down to try again. Beep-beep-beep.
I went out and did some re-packing in the car.
Came back in. Tried one more time. Only beeping.
So I went downstairs and took down the bed and folded the futon back up. By this time Mark and Cami were up. And, as it turned out, there was a piece missing from the coffee maker which they restored to its rightful place, and all was well with the coffee.
Had breakfast and hit the road about 7:30, with the GPS on the dash recording our progress and the MP3 player blasting out tunes from various groups we chose along the way.
The trip was fairly uneventful, other than a little rain and a few huge chunks of tire from a blown truck tire we had to deftly maneuver around at highway speed. We did see a big pickup hauling an SUV on a trailer coming in the other lane go off the road. At first I thought they were just pulling off on the shoulder, but when they actually went into the median and the truck and SUV and other stuff they were hauling were bouncing all over the place it was clear that they were going way too fast to just be pulling off to the side. If they kept coming across they'd be out of control and in our lane in oncoming traffic. I started looking for escape routes and was just about to floor it (yeah, in an escort loaded down with 500 lbs of stuff its' not used to carrying with the air conditioning running full blast) when the driver seemed to miraculously get it under control and get back on the highway in his own lane.
We made good time. Stopped and ate a picnic lunch in McKeeny, KS in a park. It was windy and the air was drier. We even stopped by a bad antique/junk shop for a bit before travelling on. Mostly junk and the stuff that wasn't was even more expensive.
As is customary, I got off of I-70 a few miles north of Limon on 86 and headed for Castle Rock. It's a pretty drive and gets you to the mountains faster than going through Denver. Plus you don't have to see Denver. I didn't come out here to see Denver.
Well it does turn out going this way you do see a bit of the south and west side of Denver. You come up 25 to 470 and hit 70 on the west side and head up into the mountains. I figured it would be hard to get a camp site on a Summer Saturday evening in RMNP, so there was no point in heading there unless I wanted to see Brad Fitch's John Denver Tribute concert -- which I kind of wanted to see but.... it was getting late and we would miss the planned drive up C119 and C7 to Estes Park. So we looked around Idaho Springs for a room. Except for a couple of real dives for about $30 a night, they were full or too expensive, so we headed up to Georgetown (another 10 miles up the road but 1000 feet higher -- good for acclimating) and got a room at the Super 8 there for a reasonable price. The receptionist was a farily colorful guy from Bulgaria, I remember.
Went back to Idaho Springs and went to the Tommyknocker brewery (after calling Vicki and Cami to let them know where we were and we were ok and all) and had beer and appitizers while we watched the locals cheer for the Broncos on the bar televisions. Back to Georgetown and went to bed.
Oh, and I did snap this shot of the Idaho Springs Elks Lodge on our way back.... Vicki and I will have to hit it when we go back sometime!