So, where were we? Ah, yes...
Though the Gs were early risers, they let us sleep as long as we needed Friday morning. Once both Matt and I were up & stumbling about, Mr. Gmade us a delicious breakfast (we were so spoiled!) to send us on our way. T & her mom wanted to take us to Estes Park, which was one of the most beautiful 20-minute drives I've ever taken! We got such fabulous pictures because we took T's adorable little VW convertible bug. This first shot is of The Narrows - pretty much exactly what you'd imagine from the name: sheer mountain cliffs astride a narrow, windy mountain road.
First stop was the breathtaking Stanley Hotel.
I was amazed at the landscape - it looks like it "belongs" in some Victorian seaside town. But here it is, balanced high in the Rockies, transporting you back to the turn of the 20th century. This may sound cheesy, but I felt so inspired here, all through Colorado. It's been a long time since those gears whirred in my head & creative heart; oh, that delicious itch to write! I loved this wild and open landscape - it sparks the imagination with its endless possibilities.
Enough waxing poetic. We wandered around Estes Park, poking into cute shops and enjoying the atmosphere of the mountain town before going to a delicious dinner. I texted hubby with the "warning" that I had found our next mountain getaway. It will probably be some years, but this quaint, romantic mountain town was exactly what I'd hoped for in our first anniversary. I really hope to go back some day.
The Gs had tantalized us with the possibility of seeing wild animals that day: bighorn sheep on The Narrows, and elk in Estes Park. After dinner, we wandered around with our dessert - caramel apples - and went "elk hunting." The Gs had warned us that elk will charge (as I suspected) and that many people will get too close to take pictures, etc. So we knew that when we found one, we should keep our distance! We finally found two males, so of course we had to stop & take pictures. We stopped about 75 yards away from the (very high and fast) river (the elk were on the other bank) so we felt pretty safe. Pictures at this distance were poor - too far for a steady zoom and the light was bad. Not good enough for Matt, so he wandered closer...and closer...and closer...until he was pretty much right on the bank. T and I called out words of caution, even though Mrs. G expressed doubts that the elk would cross the river...
and then the larger of the two bulls stepped into the water!
"Maattttt!" T and I called again, our voices considerably more anxious this time. Matt, likely rolling his eyes, didn't retreat. He snapped a couple more pictures but mostly stared down the elk in a moment of true oneness with nature. Or perhaps just taunting. The bull eyed us and stepped in a little further...and a little further...
but ultimately decided a scrawny white boy wasn't worth forging the river. (he so would have failed OregonTrail) *phew*
We headed home to an awesome light show - in the distance we could see a lightning storm and had a perfect view of each finger of electricity. We popped in a movie when we got back home. I'm surprised I managed to stay awake, actually! When the movie ended, however, it was definitely bedtime. We'd had a fantastic day off, but we had to hit the road again Saturday morning. Our next goal was Reno or mid-Nevada.
Stay tuned: Can you enhance your cultural art experience on a cross-country road trip? Find out in our next episode, "Van Gogh West, Young Man!"