Wednesday, September 23, 2015

A Dozen Days in Colorado

I should have known my travel schedule this month would make daily blog posting prohibitive for GynCAN.  Well, at least I have managed to keep up with daily posts on the GynCAN Facebook & Twitter pages.  Once I get settled in New Mexico, I’ll finish the month with a few more GynCAN posts, but first, I’ll share the highlights of my recent dozen days in Colorado.

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Thanks to visiting some very active friends and family out here, I’ve been staying on-track with my 100-mile GynCAN walk this month—I’m now up to 75 miles!  (p.s.-- it’s not too late to make a donation to the Foundation for Women’s Cancer to show your support!).

I did the 1,000-mile drive from Chicago to Colorado in 3 days.  Now that I own stock in the company, I felt even better about bringing my home to live at the Wal-Mart parking lots along the way (see that little Winnie on the left?) 

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I also discovered that Wal-Marts offer great fitness options for traveling RVers!  When I rolled into my first overnight Wal-Mart stop at almost 10:00pm, it was raining and I still had one more mile to walk to meet my daily GynCAN100 goal.  Since I needed a few items from the store anyway, I grabbed a shopping cart and managed to briskly walk down each and every aisle of the (mostly) deserted supercenter!  The guy watching the security cameras must have thought I was nuts, but I managed to get that last mile walked and stay dry!

At the next Wal-Mart, I awoke to a warm and sunny morning in a virtually empty, enormous parking lot.  A perfect place to get my daily steps walked before sitting and driving the rest of the day!

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Upon reaching Colorado, I arrived to a nicely-level parking spot next to the cabin in Estes Park that my brother and his family had rented for the weekend to attend the Longs Peak Scottish Highlander Games.

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It seemed like every man in town was wearing a kilt that weekend—even the traffic patrolmen!

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The festival was full of tartan-clad bagpipers--

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and brawny, kilted men tossing ridiculously heavy stuff like telephone-pole-sized cabers.

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The highlight of the day (although, technically, more English than Scottish) was the heavy armor jousting competition. Men (and one brave woman) donned suits of armor weighing 150 pounds to race towards each other on horseback aiming to poke their long, pine sticks at their competitor’s chest.

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If placed correctly, the jouster gets points (and usually breaks their jousting pole in the process).

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But the real excitement comes when riders get jousted off their horses.

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The winner of this year’s competition was Charlie Andrews, who seemed to have a pro wrestler personality to match his mega-sized physique.

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As we were leaving our breakfast restaurant the next day, Randy’s wife happened to notice Charlie eating his breakfast at one of the window seats.  She gave him a quick wave, and the next thing we knew, he had come outside to meet and chat with us!  Even his meal mate came out to take our picture with him.  What a great guy!

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After the fun family weekend in Estes, I headed down towards Denver to visit my Baja travel mates, Hans and Ursula, for the week.  They gave me the royal treatment—a comfy guest room, great food and drink, good long walks and conversation, and some fun tours of the area too!

Their little town, Niwot, is named after an Indian chief.  The name roughly translates to “left hand.”  So, there are all kinds of wildly-painted left hand seats all over town!

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A fantastic wood carver is also busy transforming some large cottonwood tree stumps downtown into amazing sculptures of Chief Niwot.  These should really be incredible once finished!

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As Ursula and I walked some of open-lands trails, I got to meet the town’s other unique residents—the prairie dogs!  These little guys would jump up and give us a cheery squeal as we walked by.  What a hoot!

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By mid-September though, the aspens were calling me.  Time to pack up the Winnie and head to the mountains!  I found a great boondocking spot along the creek just beneath Twin Lakes reservoir on the east side of Independence Pass.  At over 9,000 feet, it was a bit nippy at night, but the views sure made up for it!

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The golden aspens dotting the mountains surrounding the lakes were just gorgeous!

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One day, I drove down just south of Buena Vista to drive up to the old ghost town of St. Elmo.  The aspens were at full peak color and just spectacular!

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On a sunny Saturday morning, though, the ghost town of St. Elmo was anything but!  It was mobbed with tourists!  I patiently waited for the mob to clear to get a few shots of the old buildings--

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Then it was time for the little yellow Tracker to have some fun! We headed up the steep and VERY rocky 4-wheel-drive trail to Tincup Pass.

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Eventually, we climbed up to the timber line.  Just one final rough, rocky set of switchbacks to get up above the trees and reach the summit at 12,154 feet!

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The road might have been rough, but the view sure was worth it!

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The next day, I gave the Tracker a less-strenuous assignment.  Driving the much easier, paved road to 12,095-foot Independence Pass.

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A lovely day for a Sunday drive beneath the aspens!

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After another brief visit with Randy & family in Vail for a few days, I began my southern journey towards New Mexico.  Even though my travel day was overcast, the colors along Highway 24 (especially from Minturn to Leadville) were just spectacular!

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Although this year’s visit to Colorado was short, it more than filled my soul with good visits to family and friends, and plenty of vivid aspen foliage to energize me for autumn.  On to New Mexico!

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15 comments:

  1. Great photos as usual and it's fantastic to see you back on the road again. You are an inspiration to many.

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  2. Those aspens are just gorgeous! The guys in kilts aren't too shabby either...

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  3. Happy days! You're back! The photos are awesome.

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  4. You caught the aspen at their best. Beautiful.

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  5. Fabulous post!!! The Scottish Festival is where my love for Cairn Terriers was rekindled. Will be out there in 10 days...hope the trees are still pretty!

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  6. Looks like a great festival. We drove the road to Tin Cup in a Saturn Vue about five years ago. Sure wish we had a jeep:)

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  7. Awesome aspens.........I laughed at the two photos of the guys jousting on horseback. In both photos it appears the horses have their eyes closed. Smart horses.

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  8. Gorgeous photos of the trees and participants.

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  9. Yet more fun adventures and some truly fabulous fall scenes.

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  10. First I would like to say that your pictures are beautiful! Second I would like to know how you find your boondocking sites?

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  11. Beautiful photos! I especially like the one looking skyward at the golden aspens.

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  12. What a spectacular trip love the Aspens sure do miss being in the mountains this time of year. The jouster was a pretty big guy.

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