Cruising Northern Colorado

We woke up the next morning after the ballgame eager for our next adventure. Todays schedule was to visit Boulder then head on to Estes Park home of Rocky Mountain National Park. We packed up Bubbles and headed out of Golden for the last time. First up for the day was the college town of Boulder. The University of Colorado is located there so we thought it would be a pretty vibrant town (as college towns usually are). We hadn’t been grocery shopping recently so our first stop in Boulder was at Whole Foods. This was a first for Julie. Back home in Rochester our hometown grocery store Wegmans rules the town. Its 2017 and just now there might be a possibility of a Whole Foods being built in Rochester. We had been stopping at Safeway Grocery stores as they have a pretty good selection but since Julie had never been to a Whole Foods we stopped there. Julie was in awe and loved it. Of course Whole Foods is a bit pricey but the quality is of course excellent. After shopping we drove towards the center of town, parked, ate lunch then strolled to the main street.

Boulder it turned out had quite a long main street with tons of shops and restaurants. We strolled up and down it for quite a while stopping in for a coffee and a new purse for Julie (hers had deteriorated to the point of no return). We really liked the town. The main street and a few streets around it had pretty much everything you could need. The houses surrounding the business area were small and well kept with lots of people walking through the neighborhoods. We could see why people liked living here.

We hopped back into Bubbles and headed for our destination for the night, Estes Park. It was a few hours drive from Boulder and it sure was scenic. Back into the mountains you went through valleys, small mountain towns and through mountain passes. We finally reached Estes Park which was surprisingly big considering it is one of the few Colorado Mountain towns that we had been to that did not have a ski area. We slowly drove the town, which was packed with people. We turned off the main road and up a road following the river that ran through town and within a mile came to our campground. We checked in and parked in our spot. We set up and were in awe. All around us were huge mountains. The bigger mountains in Rocky Mountain National Park top out around 13,000 feet and the ones around us in town were not much smaller. We decided that driving Bubbles up and down the mountain roads the next day might not be the best idea so we got to work looking for tours to join. We found one called the Green Jeep Tour and set up a tour for the next day. We made dinner while siting outside still in awe of the mountains.

The next morning we woke up eager for another day. We had booked the Green Jeep Tour for the morning and were eager to get going. Estes Park has a shuttle bus system through the town and luckily for us there was a stop not too far from our campground. After a short walk and a short bus ride we were back in town and made our way to the Green Jeep Tour shop. We walked by the jeeps, which were parked right outside the shop, and they were pretty neat. They had taken Jeep Wranglers and added seating for 8 (4 people facing the other 4 people) in the back of the vehicle keeping the 2 factory front seats. We walked in, checked in and soon enough the rest of the group arrived. With us was a New York/Florida – woman snowbird, another woman from Boston and a family of 4 from San Antonio with 2 small children. We all hopped in the back of jeep with our guide, Will, taking the wheel. The ride started out normal enough on paved road but before we knew it we started going up steep curves up into the National Park. The further up we went the better the views got. Every now and then we would stop to be able to get out to take the view in better or go on a short hike to a waterfall or other rock and water features. Before long we made it to the top of one of the higher mountains that had a paved road. We were above the tree line and it was awesome. During the ride up the temperature also dropped by 30 degrees so everyone had put their jackets on and also made use of blankets provided by the company.

As the season was slowing down and we were the last tour of the day Will asked if we minded if we returned 30 min to an hour later than scheduled to see a bit more of the park than what they usually show guests. Everyone didn’t mind one bit. We drove down from the peak towards Lake Granby. Will really wanted us to see a moose since he said that he’s been successful in seeing one the last 24 out of 25 trips and he wasn’t about to fail on this one. We had already seen a lot of elk on the trip but for some reason seeing a moose is just really special. We slowly cruised through a meadow that was a few miles long, everyone looking intently out trying to spot one. After 20 minutes or so Julie shouted, “I saw one”!!!! Will stopped the jeep on the side of the road and ran back to where Julie saw one. I’m not quite sure how she spotted the moose since it was quite a ways back on the other side of a river behind a grove of pine trees but sure enough there it was. The group ooo’d and aww’d at it and Will even took our camera and ran down through the meadow to get a closer shot with our camera (he did the best he could but the moose was still a fair distance away). Satisfied that he had not failed us after we all got in he turned the jeep around and we continued back to Estes Park.

Once we got back into town Julie and I explored the towns Main Street. The one thing about Estes Park that we noticed is that for a small town there were more than enough family run taffy shops. For a town of just a few thousand people there had to be at least 5 taffy/candy shops. We weren’t sure how they all managed to stay in business since from what we could see they all made the same type of treats. We did try some though and it was pretty good. After getting our candy fill we wandered into some of the gift shops getting some national park post cards and a magnet before stopping at a restaurant to eat. We then walked over to a small local brewery tasting a few of their beers before walking back to the campground.

As it was our last night at the campground we took a walk taking in the views of the mountains all around us. This campground was a bit different, as it seemed that most people there were not seasonal campers but people like us, just there for a short while. We strolled by a couple who had 2 Boston Terriers and since I grew up with one we started chatting. They were Jay & Holly from Oklahoma. They were also farmers who raised animals and grew crops and were almost entirely self-sufficient. We thought that was pretty neat. We told them what we were doing and they were pretty excited about it. They even invited us to stay with them when we visit Oklahoma next year. We will definitely take them up on that offer. We also met Bill & Lyn from Texas who were interested in Bubbles as they were looking to downgrade from their current travel trailer. They were pretty excited about our trip as well and invited us to stay with them when we get to Texas. After some great talks with these couples we decided to call it a night.

The next morning we woke up and were excited. We would be leaving Colorado today but first was a visit to the city of Fort Collins. We left the mountains and headed back to the plains. Fort Collins is located right on the outskirts of the mountains like most the of the Colorado cities. It is also another college town being the home of Colorado State University. We arrived just before school was about to start so the town was buzzing with energy. People were everywhere and as such it took a little bit of time to find a parking spot. Once we did we quickly hit the main street and started to walk around. Fort Collin’s main street is great. It’s long, tree lined and packed with shops and restaurants selling everything you could ever need. We walked up and down buying our usual post cards and seeing if there was anything else that we just could not say no to. The one thing that we found that we couldn’t say no to was a Mongolian BBQ restaurant. We had passed one a few weeks prior and Julie had never been to one so in we went. (For those that don’t know in a Mongolian BBQ restaurant you pick from a buffet line your meat, then veggies and sauce. You then bring it to the middle of the restaurant where a huge circular flat top grill is located with a chef in the middle. You give him the plate and he stir fry’s everything together and gives it back to you). After a few big platefuls we were stuffed and it was time to get out of there (after a stop at the famous New Belgium Brewery of course). We said goodbye to Fort Collins and Colorado. We had spent about a week and a half in the state and loved it. From the big city atmosphere of Denver, the amazing mountain views in Colorado Springs, Breckenridge & Estes Park and the college towns of Boulder and Fort Collins, we had a blast in Colorado!

Next up….We venture into eclipse fever and head to Cheyenne, Wyoming!

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