Saturday, August 07, 2010

Off to Colorado

Starting in Kansas definitely cuts a couple of hours off of MY trip, but heading to RMNP adds at least an hour to, say, Idaho Springs -- where I've started my vacations out there 3 times so far, at least.   We stayed in communication via walkie talkie, and were easily able to coordinate stopping for gas and bathroom breaks.   Cassie and I listened to some Beatles (she's into the Beatles right now) and some Paul McCartney (she's learning to play Bass and is a Paul fan).  Then we listened to some audio book she brought along and she fell asleep most of the way through western Kansas.

However, we did see an interesting sight.... there are literally hundreds of large power-generating windmills in Kansas right now, no doubt a part of T Boone Pickens' project.  It's impressive and I'm all for it, but really ... people don't realize how many windmills it takes to generate the same power as a coal or nuclear plant.  Still, it is an impressive sight.  Hay fields and pastures with windmills.  Neat.

We stopped at the Colby, KS vistitor center for a lunch of PBJ, chips, apples, and summer sausage -- where a nice older man filled us in on some Kansas history, and why I-70 went in where it went in.

My car turned over 100,000 miles just inside of Colorado.  We stopped at Limon for gas.  A man warned us that there was a sports game letting out in Denver and that we might want to avoid 70 through Denver.   We started down the route he suggested, but my senses, Mark's senses, and the GPS just didn't agree so we got back on 70 and found another alternate route nearer to Denver.  It wasn't a bad route to RMNP, really, if you want to avoid Denver.

Co 79 North to Co 52 West to US 85 North to Co 66 to US 36 and into Estes Park.  And to the Columbine Inn.

As we drove into the mountains, the kids were back and forth on the walkie talkies with "Oh, it's so beautiful!" and "I wanna be on top of that rock!"   They loved the sights, the smells, the feel of the air.  As we climbed US 36 into the mountains there was rain off and on.  And never having driven IN to RMNP from that direction, I didn't realize that Estes Park is not even as far into the Rockies as Idaho Springs is.  Maybe 20 miles?  But the mountains that surround it are a lot bigger and prettier.

The Columbine Inn is one of those old motels like you see along old US highways before the day of the Interstate.  Most of them are run down.  This one was well maintained.  The rooms were small, but well kept up.  The twin and double-beds had been replaced with queen beds, making the rooms even smaller ... but as a place to crash with a continental breakfast and a quiet but friendly enough older man running the place (and old 1960's EZ Listening muzak playing in the lobby) ... it was really quite quaint and it fit the bill.  ( I guess they have at least a few larger suites as well according to their website).   We enjoyed our stay.

When I looked in the food bin on the trailer hitch rack, I noticed the bottom had melted in one corner from the heat of the exhaust.  More on that later.

We headed downtown to Bob & Tony's Pizza for some ... well, pizza -- but Mark wanted to introduce the kids to another novelty, and he ordered some ... ahem, "fritters" .... on the side.  Unfortunately, they were a bit overdone this time, but the kids did try the Rocky Mountain Oysters -- and were duly disgusted when they found out what they actually were.  Mark and I finished them, because we have more, well ... you know ... ;-)

Back at the Columbine, the kids slept on the floor, Nathanial between the two beds and Cassie at the foot of mine.  We got up and showered, not knowing when our next chance would be, went and had our continental breakfast, and headed for the park to find a capmsite.

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