Lazy Day at “Rocky”

Hi everyone!  We had a lazy morning today while I studied the convection oven cookbook trying to figure out how to make cinnamon rolls in a convection oven.  To tell you the truth I’ve been a little shy about tackling this project but when I woke up this morning a little bird said “cinnamon rolls” in my brain.  So since I have no idea how to make cinnamon rolls in a skillet, I decided that perhaps I should read the instruction manual for the newfangled (for me) convection oven.  Ugh!  A half hour later Bob was getting hungry so he decided to take over that project.  I scrambled eggs and we finally winged it on the rolls.  They turned out pretty good except the one in the middle which was a sodden mound of dough.  So next time a few more minutes cook time and a little lower temp–or maybe the other way around….   At least I tried it and I’m not so scared of it any more!  Sure beats standing on my head to light the pilot light in the oven as I often did in the previous RV.  Or maybe not.  Hmmmm….

Well with that behind us, we set off to see our friend, Rocky, again today.  It was a stunningly beautiful day and we decided to hike Bear Lake.  Unfortunately, we were once again wearing the wrong clothes, shoes, etc.  I have hiking boots at home BUT I thought my Keens sandals would be just fine….and it was so warm at the campground…  Little did I know that Bear Lake is close to 9600 feet elevation—there I go (again!) not reading all the details in the guide book.  I have to say that we were wondering as we walked up to the trailhead why all the people in the parking lot were putting spiky crampons on their shoes and boots.

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Rocky was looking good today.

Well, when we saw the packed ice and snow at the trailhead we asked the Park Ranger if our attire–especially our shoes– would be OK.  She was very kind–she took a picture of us under the elevation sign (to help us remember) and sent us down the road to Sprague Lake, where she pointed out the path was at a lower elevation and no longer had snow and ice covering the trail.

At almost 9600 feet, Bear Lake trail had not yet shed the snow and ice.  The RMNP Park Ranger gave us another option since we were not prepared to slip and slide around the lake.
At almost 9600 feet, Bear Lake trail had not yet shed the snow and ice. The RMNP Park Ranger gave us another option since we were not prepared to slip and slide around the lake, i.e. no crampons or boots..

And she said that Sprague Lake had almost the same view–just a little further away.  She was mostly correct–except for about 50 feet in the shadowed end of the lake that was covered in—yes, you guessed it—snow and ice.  After slipping and sliding across that I was so glad we opted out of the Bear Lake expedition.  And the hike was exceptionally beautiful–with the climate/view changing several times as we circled the lake.

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We then drove around scouting out wildlife (more elk and an unusual, beautiful bird–I have to buy one of those bird books since I have no idea what it is) until we ran out of steam and headed back to the RV.  I made lunch and then stretched out for a quick nap and woke up four hours later–best sleep I’ve had in a very long time.  After being retired for over a year, I am actually beginning to feel RETIRED!

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Does anyone know what kind of bird this is?  We found it in one of the RMNP campgrounds. It looked almost like a parrot at first glance.  I guess that’s not too likely in this climate…

We then drove into Estes Park and visited the Stanley Hotel–the slightly haunted, still elegant historic hotel where they filmed “The Shining” with Jack Nicholson.  Although I had visited the hotel before, I just finished reading Stephen King’s book the movie was based upon so I began to see ghosts in every corner, staircase, sneaking in the old brass elevator–and it was still daylight outside.  No wonder their ghost tours of the hotel are so popular!

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At one of the RMNP displays, there were pictures of climbers heading up the Tyndall Glacier. It is interesting to note that at least one of the climbers is a woman–and she’s wearing a skirt! It appears not to be uncommon–one of the early explorers I have read about since we’ve been here was also a woman–and she climbed one of the tallest peaks in a long skirt. They named one of the mountains after her.

Then after dinner at our now favorite Mexican restaurant (2 times already this week), we drove back to the campground.  As we drove into the campground the biggest elk I have ever seen stepped in front of us and posed–almost as if he was waiting for a “please” from us to let us go by.  He was majestic and I would have loved a picture of him–but it was too dark so you will have to take my word for it!  Since we are only one of three motorhomes in the campground tonight, I expect the wildlife will roam freely all night.  Few people, no dogs, no interference–as they roam our little area looking for choice morsels.  Our neighbor over the weekend said he saw bear scat in the campground, so just hoping one of the choice morsels is not the VA folks!

Greetings to all!

 

 

Rocky Mountain NP: Estes Park, CO

This is our second day in Estes Park, CO and I am still in awe of the views!  Although the park (the natives call it “Rocky”) is not completely open to park visitors (they still have massive amounts of snow blocking the park roads) we were able to drive 11 miles into Rocky today.  We have seen herds of elk and deer, and some smaller mammals.  We didn’t have to go far to  see elk and deer since they stroll through our campground frequently and even down the streets of Estes Park.  We heard that a bighorn sheep was recently seen in the downtown city park nursing her twin babies.  Hey, when the kids get hungry, they gotta’ eat….!

Below are some images from our day.  The altitude requires a little adjustment so we came back down to Estes Park after our adventuring, had lunch, and indulged in an afternoon siesta.

I’m planning on waking up early tomorrow to see how many special guests come by for breakfast.  We want to check out Bear Lake later in the morning, hike around the lake, and explore some other areas of the park.  Also want to stop by the local bookstore–I’ve found a great way to get to know an area is by discovering the local authors.

Hope all is well with all of you–we are thinking of you as always!

This is the View from our RV at a campground in Estes Park, CO, just one mile from the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park.
This is the view from our RV at a campground in Estes Park, CO, just one mile from the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park.

 

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Bob is trying to count how many unexpected dinner guests have arrived.  Bowl of grass anyone?

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More elk! We never get tired of watching these beautiful animals in their natural habitat.

 

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Just a little chilly. Capris, sandals….and down jacket!  What was I thinking???
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Road closed. Darn!
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This is the end of the road for us today. I was here in late June a few years ago and although they had 30 feet of snow hanging over our car at this lookout point we were able to drive into the alpine region of the park at 12,000 plus feet. Maybe next time!
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Heading back down to Estes Park. The trees are struggling to free themselves from that heavy snow. I can’t say I blame them–we had more than enough of that stuff this year too!

Weathering the storms…

Family and friends have been checking in with us to see how we are faring on our trip westward with all the storms hitting the Midwest.  Since we left Virginia, we have stopped in Ohio, Indiana, Missouri, Kansas, and Colorado.  We were supposed to reach our final destination (for this week) today, but fate intervened.  Let’s just say our trip westward has been somewhat challenging.  Or maybe we should just refer to it as being our “breaking in” period.

My friend, Anne, and I managed to make it to DC to see the cherry blossoms this year.  They were the best ever!
My friend, Anne, and I managed to make it to DC to see the cherry blossoms this year. They were the best ever!

When we left Virginia it was a beautiful spring day with the azaleas beginning to bud out and the cherry trees still holding on to their blossoms.  Heading into Indiana our second day out, we ran into lots of rain but no big deal since it was quickly followed by beautiful spring days.   We had several pleasant days in Indiana visiting family and then headed for Missouri.  We ran into a lot of rain throughout the state and by the time we reached Columbia, Missouri much of the U.S. was being assaulted by heavy rain and tornadoes, with a focus on the Midwest.  When we checked into our campground that night, we were given instructions on what to do and how to get to the shelter if the warning sirens went off during the night.  It wound up being a quiet night, but our daughters at home were not reassured.  So the next day (for their peace of mind as well as our own) I purchased an emergency weather warning signal device to keep in the RV.  Haven’t heard a peek from it, BUT we sure ran into some more challenges.

As we drove through the Kansas plains yesterday and into Colorado, we were buffeted by very strong winds.  I slowed the RV down to 20 miles under the speed limit (75 was the speed limit although we would not go that fast even under ideal conditions) and fought the strong gusts of wind for several hours.  Trucks and cars continued to move at the speed limit and above, passing us as we poked along.  But then we started to see trucks lying on their sides along the Interstate, obviously succumbing to the wind shear that can quickly make you airborne.  A fellow at a gas station said they had 24 trucks go down on that strip of the Interstate that day.  I was just very happy to pull into the KOA in Limon, CO for the night without any incident.  Guess I thanked our stars too soon, because when we rolled out the slide-out the roller cover above it was pulled loose.  When we tried to roll it back in this morning it just bunched up and refused to cooperate.  It was icy cold and still windy but Bob climbed on the ladder and tried to tuck it in to no avail.  We finally called CoachNet (a service similar to AAA but for RVs) and they sent out a young fellow who climbed on top of the coach and tucked it back in until we could get to a place that could repair it.  And that’s where we are tonight–in the back lot of the repair facility in Frederick, Colorado dry docking it.  We have an electricity hook up but no water so we are parsing out the water and taking very brief showers!  They will begin repairs tomorrow morning.  And our wonderful campground we had reserved for tonight in Estes Park is only 45 miles away!  But I’m not complaining–we were lucky to get through all the challenges over the last few days with such a minor issue.  There’s a lot of people out there across the U.S. who weren’t so lucky!

Well, if you have been faithfully following our blog, then hopefully by tomorrow evening we will be ensconced in our campground at the gate to the Rocky Mountain National Park–and with any luck I can start posting some close-up (but not too close) pictures of the wildlife and fantastic scenery. We were told we will be the first campers in the campground for the season, so we hope to see lots of wandering wildlife.  No cookouts for us this week since we don’t want to attract the attention of too many hungry critters! You are probably already very tired of my weather reports, so hold on!

Take care, everyone–we miss you!

Visiting Aunt Jackie

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Bob and Jackie enjoyed the beautiful weather today at our campground just outside Indianapolis.

We had a great time with Bob’s sister, Jackie, and niece, Vicky, today.  We spent a relaxing afternoon talking and snacking on cheese and crackers topped with muscadine preserves I bought at the Old Country Store at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, GA. Not many people know about muscadines.  My grandfather had a muscadine arbor in his backyard where my sister and I played when we were little girls.  It was like our own magic cave.  Occasionally we would taste the muscadines–they were very tart and almost bitter– very unlike the grapes they almost look like.  But when transformed into preserves, they can’t get any better.  Although we had them on cheese and crackers today, the more traditional way to eat them is slathered on a big, hot, buttery, homemade Southern-style biscuit.  Jackie liked the preserves so much I sent a jar home with her. We then went out for dinner and afterwards, back at the campground, we sat outside for a while longer not wanting such a wonderful afternoon to end.

On our journey to Indiana yesterday, we camped at a place called Buckeye Lake near Columbus, Ohio.  It was a fun place very much geared toward entertaining children.  I particularly enjoyed the porch swing on our private patio at our campsite and the roaring bonfires our neighbors were enjoying.  My brother-in-law, Ferrol,  is the master of campfires so of course these bonfires were no competition for him but enjoyable nonetheless.  I had an embarrassing moment after running out after dark on an errand.  When I returned I parked behind our motorhome, juggled all my bags together, and headed to the door.  I was a little surprised when I noticed a strange man coming to the door instead of Bob.  To my humiliation I then realized I had parked behind the motorhome behind ours.  Yuck—one more lesson learned.  Check license plates!

Tomorrow we head for Colorado with  stopovers in Missouri and Kansas.  Will continue to post updates as long as I can stay awake at night!

Buckeye Lake Campground is situated near Buckeye Lake which appears to be a very popular place.  The owners must have a wonderful sense of fun with a mining trough installed out front and porch swings sprinkled throughout the park.
Buckeye Lake Campground is very near Buckeye Lake, which appears to be a very popular place. The owners must have a wonderful sense of fun and relaxation with a gold mining trough installed out front and porch swings sprinkled throughout the park.

First Lesson Learned: Patience

March 2014:  Baby 1 in our snowy driveway
March 2014, Centreville, VA:  Baby 1 in our snowy driveway.  Surprise snowstorm delayed our departure to Florida to pick up Baby II, our new RV.
Early April 2014:  Baby I meets Baby II.
Early April 2014, Tampa, FL:  Baby I meets Baby II.  Bob shows the kids how much more room they will have when they come to visit.  Unloading Baby 1 took almost three days.  Where did we put all that stuff??
We were feeling a little floppy-headed by the time we got to Tifton, GA.  Just a reminder: always take your emergency brakes off before towing your car.
April 2014: Reaching our first stop on the way home to Virginia, we were feeling a little floppy-headed by the time we got to Tifton, GA. We had a valuable “learning experience” at the campground in Tifton.  (We really don’t want to talk about that…) Just remember: always take your emergency brakes off before towing your car.