I start daydreaming about a summer vacation sometime around the first week of January, when the Maryland air is bitter cold and the sky grey and dreary. Longings for the beach and the warm playful days of summer call to me, but then the reality of everyone’s schedule and opinion crowds out those pleasant thoughts and causes my less than organized self to panic. What week should we pick, should we stick with the familiar or try something new, who will watch the dog?
Are you like me in this or are you like some of my friends who have the year mapped out well in advance?
This year we had the pleasant surprise of a wedding announcement arriving just around the time we started thinking up ideas for a summer vacation. The wedding was for the daughter of some close family friends from college who live in Colorado. We knew immediately that this was something we didn’t want to miss. My husband suggested we turn it into our family vacation as it was only about an hour drive from the wedding to Rocky Mountain National Park.
We found a nice VRBO cabin along the Great Thompson River in Estes Park and used up some of my husband’s frequent flyer miles to buy plane tickets. It was our youngest’s first plane ride. Unfortunately it was a stormy night so we sat on the tarmac for a couple hours before take off, which made her a little unsettled, but once we got going she loved flying just like her mama.
Since we had to adjust to the altitude we took it easy on our first day and just poked around town. Estes Park has some cute shops, restaurants, an old movie theater and a river walk behind the store fronts. I especially enjoyed a leather shop where I took my birthday money and purchased my first ever pair of cowgirl boots!
There was also a huge yarn store that you could get lost in and several nice coffee shops. Our favorite was Inkwell and Brew.
We loved it so much that we returned several times during the week.
The following day we did an easy hike in Rocky Mountain National Park around Bear Lake. We didn’t see any bears, but we did get caught in a thunderstorm and had to abandon a plan to hike on a higher path. Evidently afternoon pop-up thunderstorms are almost a daily occurrence in the Summer in RMNP, so it’s best to hike in the morning (which we never seemed to do, because we enjoyed sleeping in too much)! The storms never really kept us from doing what we wanted to do as they came and went rather quickly.
The wedding was on Monday night at a very nice outdoor venue. I love this picture of my daughter and me in front of a rustic prop door that the bridal party walked through before heading down the isle. We all had such a fun evening chatting, laughing and dancing with the other guests.
The next morning we set off on another longer hike. It ended up taking us about five hours. The fresh mountain air, awe inspiring view and time to reconnect with each other (it was certainly a bonus to not have phone service while in the park) was spectacular!
We found it easiest to park at one of the park visitor centers and catch a shuttle from there to the area we wanted to hike. The trail we were on took us past several stunning glacier lakes,
a roaring waterfall,
and we even got to tromp through some snow.
The one thing we had not seen much of was the wildlife, except for an abundance a fluffy grey squirrels and chipmunks.
The park rangers suggested that we might have better luck viewing animals if we headed for the tundra area above the tree line. Fortunately, you don’t have to hike up to the tundra as there is a paved road, so we made plans to wake early and continue our adventure.
I’d love to tell you all about our drive up the mountain and what we discovered on the other side, so I’ll have part two of our adventure in RMNP in a separate blog post!
Thanks for stopping by. Fondly, Michelle