Rocky Mountain High

Rocky Mountain High

Deb and I celebrated our first year on the road on September 5th, its hard to believe its been that long, but as we look back, we are overwhelmed at the number of places we have been and the beauty and majesty this country has to offer. We have been fortunate to do what we are doing and happy that we can share our adventures with all of you that are tagging along. Come check out our AlwaysOnDaFly #1 Anniversary album on the website.

Our drive from Dubois, Wyoming on Highway 26, took us all the way to Casper. An overnight pitstop, diesel fuel for the Black Pearl for only $3.09 a gallon (a welcome relief from California prices) then we continued our journey to a Larimer County Park on Carter Lake Reservoir. It was nice to see deer and turkey at the campground and very happy as this was the first place we could have a campfire since April in Utah! Only 30 miles from Rocky Mountain National Park, our short stay allowed us to enjoy scenic drives like the Peak to Peak Highway with the Church on the Rock, Big Thompson Canyon Highway that shares the road with the river, and we discovered Four Mile Canyon Road which ended up taking us on an evacuation route (Switzerland Trail) to Mount Alto picnic area, rugged terrain, a slow adventurous route that provided awesome views that the Jeep gobbled up!

Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) has its own special magic and aura like many other National Parks we have visited. Old Fall River Road is a one-way narrow gravel road to the Alpine visitor center at the summit, (11,796 ft). Until Trail Ridge Road was developed, it was the only way to get to the top. The last time we did this we were renting a Yukon XL (18.5 ft long) and some of the switchbacks were a just a bit “White-Knuckled” for me, however this time with the Jeep, it was a much more enjoyable ride. The vista views, the aspens, a short stop at Chasm Falls and another at Marmot Point where we walked the Scally”Wags” and actually saw a marmot, were all elements of an awesome adventure, later, we also got to see our first elk at Sprague Lake.
For the first time, our methodology of being “AlwaysOnDaFly” backfired a bit. Our Labor Day weekend was spent back up at F.E Warren AFB in Cheyenne, Wyoming because everyone in Colorado was camping! Highlight of the visit was seeing all the pronghorn antelope all over the base, a huge rail yard and a fun afternoon at Bart’s flea market.

Our stay in Denver included another trip to RMNP where we saw an elk herd in Sprague Lake being escorted by a huge bull elk. We thought for a minute we might have a YOUTUBE classic as some folks seemed determined to get between the Bull elk and the herd for that epic shot. Fortunately, there were enough responsible adults that kept warning the dodo-heads to keep their distance. A day trip to Eldorado Canyon State Park provided a nice hike with the mutts and some amazing views of the canyon walls being scaled by rock climbers, many that displayed “Spiderman” like skills.

Deb and I had some delicious picnics while we were here. The weather and scenery were very accommodating. At Barker Reservoir in Nederland, in Boulder Canyon, literally in the creek, another at Glacier Creek and Beaver Meadows in RMNP and an awesome drive to Tarryall reservoir southwest of Denver. No shortage of vast open space to enjoy mountain views and see the Aspens changing color!

We visited the “Wings over the Rockies” Air and Space museum. Nice displays but we quickly realized how spoiled we were by other air museums we have been so fortunate to visit. Deb had a nice chat with a 91 year old veteran volunteer. It’s always interesting to hear their experiences & stories and the sacrifices they made. The Denver Art Museum was pleasant surprise, the “Animals in Art” exhibit was pretty cool and the Sally Mann photos in the “New Territory on Landscape Photography” definitely gave Deb a happy face. Never heard of Julie Buffalohead before but quite an accomplished artist that is a citizen of the Ponca tribe of Oklahoma. A unique talent that provided a different perspective that was very intriguing.

Denver area has an interesting Route 40 business loop that reminded us of Route 66, with blocks and blocks of classic motel signage. Only minutes from the state capital, we had another chance to see Ai Weiwei’s Animal Zodiac heads in the Civic Center Park. We saw them at the Ringling Museum in Sarasota last winter. We went to a car show that was hosted by a local automotive tech school. Some of the coolest restored 60s cars & trucks that we have ever seen were on display. AND there were food trucks with street tacos! Yum…Weekends are never complete until you find a flea market or swap meet. The Mile-High Flea Market did not disappoint, tons of new and used merchandise, some unique artisan crafts and a farmer’s market had fresh roasted peppers for sale.

A short drive down to the campground at the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs gave us a few days to explore the area, do some long morning walks with the Scally-wags, visit the King Chef Diner and venture up to Pike’s Peak. The 19-mile drive provided well over a mile increase in elevation. The park entrance was 7800 feet and the summit was a mere 14,115 feet!! We sampled the cake donuts at the Peak Visitor Center, did the obligatory “Selfie at the Summit”, gave the pups a quick oxygen starved walk and navigated through the ongoing construction of the new Pike’s Peak Summit Complex which is supposed to be completed sometime in 2020 at the estimated cost of 40-50 Million dollars. Quite an investment considering the Pike’s Peak Cog railway is currently inoperative and needs a complete overhaul. But I will leave you to “google” that debacle…lol.

Our trip down was much easier, low gear to minimize brake burnout. At mile 13, Glen Cove, the park rangers do a mandatory brake check. They use a temperature sensor to see if you are burning up your brakes. If your brake pads are over 300 degrees, they make you park till they cool off. We stopped at the Halfway Picnic grounds at 9930 feet, had a nice lunch and observed the abundant fall aspen color the remainder of the descent.

We had a very relaxing time in Colorado. It is a beautiful state; mountains, alpine vistas, canyons, streams, wildlife, scenic drives, off-road exploring, museums, nostalgic city streets and last but not least…..plentiful taco trucks. Now its time to revisit the “Land of Enchantment”.


9 responses to “Rocky Mountain High”

  1. Scott Wallman Avatar
    Scott Wallman

    Looks like you’re having an awesome adventure. Safe travels my friend.

    1. Appreciate you tagging along…soon I will be doing other blog posts besides where we drop anchor…Stay tuned ..

  2. That was a fun and interesting read. You two certainly cover a lot of ground on your adventure. My brother Francois and I love flea markets, and we used to hit all the garage/yard sales and local flea markets when he came to visit. I imagine amazing memories and sights are filling your minds and eyes. Wonderful narrative of all your travels in Colorado.

  3. ❤️ it…except the downhill run on Pike’s Peak…

    1. Had to go slow and easy so we could enjoy all the Aspen’s changing color…

  4. Darcy Potter Avatar
    Darcy Potter

    Can’t wait to follow this path and see all these beautiful places!!! You all make it look sooooo easy! I’m sure there are bumps in the road, but very worthwhile!

    1. Thanks Darcy. Plan, plan, plan, then be flexible when your plan goes all to hell…

  5. What a great way to enjoy retirement. Thanks for sharing your adventures! Safe travels and GO BLUE!

    1. Thanks Donna, glad to see you along for the ride and happy that we can share our adventures..

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