Thursday, May 30, 2013

Time Out

Slowly projects here at the Garden Spot are getting finished. Today we took a horse trailer load of limbs and stumps from the weeping willow that had been cut down to the landfill. Getting that mess cleaned up with the help of daughter Jennifer and a college lad was one big job that we can mark off of the To Do list. We also planted garden this week, finally. I still have to plant the seeds: carrots, red beets, zinnias, sunflowers.

We let the girls out to forage. They loved the freshly tilled, damp soil where they scratched and wiggled until they had a nice bed in the middle of what would become the pepper row.

With the garden planted, we felt that we could take a day just to play.

Friends from Texas traveling in their motor home on their way to Yellow Stone and then on to Banff, Canada stopped for a couple of nights. We took a time out yesterday so that we could take them to Estes Park. Still a quaint little mountain village, it has grown so much. Not even all of the commercialization can overshadow the beauty of the Rocky Mountains, still capped in snow. Of course Estes Park is known for the large herd of elk (wapiti) that roam the town. We drove to the top of the pass, only to find Trail Ridge Road still closed due the the massive amount of snow that has yet to be cleared away. If you are looking to take a little virtual vacation, come along with me as we hit one of Colorado's most popular tourist areas, Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park.

I have made the drive up Big Thompson Canyon so many times, that I kept the camera put away until we pulled over to watch these magnificent big horn rams. They look rather scroungy, not because they are unhealthy, rather because they are still shedding their winter coat.

History Lesson: July 31, 1976, late in the afternoon, it started to rain, common for the high mountain valley, but this was not an ordinary alpine rain. The clouds opened up, spilling 12-14 inches of rain in about 4 hours. For those who survived the flood, they survived a night hell, many having to climb the steep, rocky canyon walls to escape the flood waters. One hundred forty-four lives were lost. If you want to read more about Colorado's worst flood visit the Denver Post article.

Today the canyon has fully recovered, with no sign of the flood except the roadside memorial honoring not only the 143 victims, but the Colorado State patrolman who lost his life trying to save others.

The spectacular scenery awes even the locals, then to get this close to a ram: WOW. I did use my telephoto zoom because unlike the others who stopped to take his picture who walked much too close to him,  I have a greater respect for the unpredictability of wild animals, docile as this fellow looks, he could get a bit annoyed and charge, so I stayed a safe distance back. Now if you do travel to Colorado or any mountain area where you see moose in the wild, be sure to stay a healthy long distance away because they are quite aggressive).

We held our breath as a lone ewe wandered out onto the busy highway with traffic coming at her in both directions.

She managed to get off of the highway to find her mid day meal.

The village looks pretty quiet mid-week, nor is tourist season in full swing yet.

A great view from our third floor restaurant.

Here we are at the top of the world. Not the highest mountain road at 12,183 ft, Trail Ridge Road offers a wonderful vista of the beautiful Rocky Mountain Park.  Read about the highway. The world's highest paved highway, by the way is in Colorado: Mt. Evans, another spectacular drive. But do be careful coming to Colorado because Denver know as the Mile High city is exactly that: 5, 280 ft. elevation. Visitors will suffer from altitude sickness in the mountains with common symptoms such as head ache and nausea. If you plan to travel to any high mountain areas, read up altitude sickness and go prepared. The body does soon adjust, so just give yourself an extra day or so to get used to the thin air. 

Other fun facts: water takes longer to boil, cakes take longer to bake (food in general), and your car will seem a bit sluggish in the mile high city. 

Alpine Beggars.

And this is what a trip to Estes is all about. Forget the expensive the gift shops and tourist traps. Pass up the beautiful turquoise jewelry, the fabulous original art, the fresh saltwater taffy, the goofy tee shirts. Go elk hunting.

Be watchful because around any curve tucked away, hiding in plain sight, you will find the big bulls. Our Texan friends were so excited to get this close to majestic bull elk. There were two big fellows right by the road. One resting, chewing his cud (I did manage to get him with mouth closed), and his pal grazing on the really green grass.

You will note the fuzziness of their antlers. They are in the velvet--a furry-like covering over the hard antlers that they will shed in the fall by rubbing their antlers on the trunks of the aspen trees as they prepare for the rut (breeding).  The elk rut is probably one of biggest events in Estes when the big boys gather in local mountain pastures to fight it out with the herd of cows as the prize, their bugling echoing through the mountain valley. Thousands of tourists load onto buses in town to take the short drive to the natural arena to see the bulls challenge each other. (A bit too commercialized for my taste).

I hope you enjoyed your time out from your busy schedule. Our friends who had been to Estes when they were first married 40 years ago loved their visit and I hope you did too.

 It was windy and chilly here today, so I didn't get much done outside. I just hate the wind. Here it is nearly June and it still really hasn't warmed up yet. The week end is just about here. The little girls have their ballet recital Sunday. Can't wait. They are so cute--not just my two, but all of the little ballerinas. Heather and her family will come up and they boys will stay with us for a week. It will Nathan's first time to stay at grandma's without mommy. He is so excited. 

Soon I hope to have pictures of the roses. They have set buds. Can't wait to see them. The iris are in full bloom. I'll have to get photos of them, too. The peonies are soon to bloom. We are headed to Texas in another week, so I hope I don't miss the peonies.

So what's blooming in your garden now? 

Just Blog It


  1. What beautiful scenery and photos. Its really nice to take time off and enjoy nature, very inspiring.

  2. Lovely! Don't you adore our mountains? My Kelli and her family are off to Estes Park this weekend.
    That little chipmunk is so cute!

  3. Beautiful pictures Ann. I always the beauty of nature so calming & relaxing.

  4. Hi Ann, We went to Estes Park a couple of years ago and it was stunning. However, being from Florida, with no elevation, I was sooooo sick up there! I was dizzy and felt like I had no breath at all. We went up as far as you could go by car and when I got out of the car, I had no balance and could hardly walk!! Someone told me it might take as high as 2 months to get used to the elevation. Back in Windsor, where the children live, I felt a bit better, but still not grand. In spite of that, I got great photos of the scenery and the elks, too. Gorgeous! Thanks for the virtual tour.

  5. LOVED this virtual vacation. I had a lot of fun on a spring break trip to Denver, where we drove cross country from NC. We saw mountain goats, but not big horn.

  6. You've got some amazing shots..what fun. But a sad story behind the beautiful photos..

    When you friends get to Banff they should see lots of wildlife there too.

    It's stunning countryside.


  7. Hi Ann, in reference to kale... I've grown purple curly kale and nero di toscana kale from seed and they both do really well. I prefer eating the green nero di toscana. The purple kale is a very decorative plant and looks good. Kale is really healthy to eat. I hope you'll grow some as I think you'll enjoy it as a structural plant as well as for eating.