After settling into our site at the Estes Park Campground at Mary’s Lake, Dick and I had the next 10 days to check out the area before our volunteer camp host training on May 10th and 11th.
On Wednesday, May 2nd, we took our first drive since 2004 over Highway 34 from Estes Park to Loveland – following the Big Thompson River. Almost immediately, traffic was stopped by a herd of big horn sheep on the roadway. We made our way along the river to Loveland and, naturally, WalMart for Dick’s out-of-state fishing license, new frames for my glasses (mine broke our first day here and were still under warranty) and a few groceries. At least WalMart is one-stop shopping - and only about 40 miles and a 1-hour drive from Estes Park! Then, I got to do my favorite job – wash and dry clothes while we waited for our part to arrive to fix our on-board washer/dryer. Upon returning to the campground, we saw a herd of elk pass our RV; however, it was too dark and rainy for pictures. There will be another time, I am sure!
|Big Thompson River on Highway 34|
|Roger and Barb|
After only being able to get 2 local TV channels – one being the shopping network and the other airing Jerry Springer and who knows what else – Dick and I decided to “bite the bullet” and get Direct TV. So that’s basically what we did last Friday, May 4th. Finally, after more phone calls to both Direct TV and UPS, we received our equipment late yesterday afternoon. As of this posting, Dick has successfully installed our Direct TV - after 10 hours of getting misinformation on the phone! It also helped that our neighbors on either side have Direct TV, so he had “experts” in the neighborhood who initially assisted him. Now for the clean-up! Last Friday evening was beautiful with deer walking through our campground and a full moon!
On Saturday, May 5th, we took our first drive into Rocky Mountain National Park and stopped first at the Moraine Park Visitor Center – where I bought 2 pins (1 of an elk and 1 of a big horn sheep) to add to my teddy bear. Oh, I probably haven’t mentioned that yet. Our friend Martha told me that a great way to save pins we collect (instead of on a hat that might be lost) is to put them on a stuffed animal, so I have my teddy bear – and I plan to make him a vest (once I figure out how to cut it) to add more pins. Here is “Teddy”!
After leaving Moraine Park, we drove through another section of the park and stopped for our first picnic alongside a stream that we picnicked at years ago with Mike – when it was freezing. We took a few pictures and visited with fellow picnickers and, then, moved on – seeing elk at rest and beautiful mountain views.
|Dick at Moraine Park Visitor Center|
The following day (Sunday, May 6th), we greeted our temporary fellow campers, Dave and Janice from the Houston/Clear Lake area, who will be moving in the next few days to the Estes Park Campground at East Portal – once the water is turned on. We then headed out on another sightseeing venture – up Highway 7 to Longs Peak Road, where the temperature was 45 degrees, and back down to Allenspark, where we stopped on the side street to fill our water bottles from the spring-fed pump. Once back on Highway 7, we saw our first snow flurries since arriving in Colorado. As we returned to Estes Park, the temperature reached a low of 37 degrees.
|Dave and Janice arriving at campground|
|Janice - happy to be here|
|View from Highway 7 of Estes Park|
We took a break and stopped at one of the downtown Estes parks, which include immaculate public bathrooms, and encountered 2 elk, one of whom was very territorial and would charge anyone who stepped on the grassy area.
Dick and I then went to the Wapiti Pub for a bite, sharing an appetizer platter, and had a leisurely walk along the river. For anyone visiting the area, pick up a free 2012 Estes Park Menu Guide, with suggestions of places to eat, as well as discount coupons.
On Monday morning (May 7th), we awoke to snow on the ground, took some pictures and, then, played “catch up” and I washed clothes - again.
|Chuck aiming snowball at me!|
Tuesday, May 8th, we decided to take another day of “sightseeing”, heading down Devil’s Gulch along the Big Thompson River, which has always been one of our favorite drives. Before reaching the turn off, we passed a herd of elk in a field on the left side of the road, which then crossed behind us to the right side of the road. Great picture moment! For some extracurricular reading, Google “The Big Thompson Disaster”, which was a tragic flash flood on July 31, 1976 – about 6 weeks after we vacationed in the park with my then 16-year-old brother Jim and our son Mike, then almost 8 years old (and I was 7 months pregnant with Michelle). We had a favorite rock store in the canyon that was washed away, together with the owners. Needless to say, the area has changed drastically over the years. Once back on Highway 34 at Drake (headed toward Loveland), we stopped at the Colorado Cherry Company for free samples of cider and purchased 2 bottles, as well.
|Colorado Cherry Company|
After another detour to our training location – in hopes of meeting Ranger CJ Cullins, who had left by the time we got there – we headed toward Boulder through the country. We had just reached an area with cell phone coverage when Dick received a call from John, a former co-worker in Kemah, Texas. John was in Colorado on business and wanted to stop by for a visit. We changed direction and headed back to Estes Park – since this was our first visitor from home. Following John’s visit, neither Dick nor I felt like fixing dinner, so we went to Smokin’ Dave’s BBQ – not Texas barbeque, but not bad.
|John and Dick - visiting|
|At Smokin' Dave's BBQ|
Wednesday was another day around camp in anticipation of training on Thursday and Friday. Thursday, May 10th, we traveled over Highway 34 toward Loveland and turned off on the road to Carter Lake for training at the Bison Visitor Center with all of the Larimer County volunteer camp hosts. We were welcomed by Ranger CJ Cullins and, then, received additional training from Ranger Jim Hawkins. We met some great people, and were treated to breakfast, snacks and lunch. About 12:30 p.m., the 6 couples from the Estes Park Campgrounds – Mary’s Lake, East Portal and Hermit Park – were excused until further training in Estes on Friday, May 11th.
|Chuck and Michele at training|
|Ranger Jim Hawkins|
|Dick and Judy at Bison Visitor Center for training|
Yesterday, the 6 couples from the Estes Park area met Ranger Vic Wilcox at the local golf club for our second day of training – where we learned exactly what we are expected to do as volunteers. Basically, we are the “friendly faces” of the campground. Each couple – Chuck and Michele and Dick and I – will work 4 days on and 4 days off (with the flexibility of trading days when needed). After “duties” are completed – placing/removing post pad markers (telling who is arriving and leaving each campsite), cleaning fire grates and campsites, assisting visitors to campsites, etc. – we are “on duty” but can stay at our RV unless needed by the camp store or a camper. If anyone causes trouble, we are to walk away and call a ranger or 911. As they said, 98% of all campers are NOT going to cause trouble, but we have to know how to handle the other 2%. Our campground opens on May 15th so we’ll have more to write after a few days of being on duty.
While in training yesterday, it began to snow again and continued heavily once we got back to the campground. I know this was an early Mother’s Day gift to me – especially since I only had a few snow flurries on my birthday in February! My cousin Sandra in Lake Charles, Louisiana asked me to make a snowball for her and here it is, together with other snow pictures.
|Snowing at golf club during training|
|Light pole with Texas flag (from Mike and April) -|
|Snowball for my cousin Sandra|
|View from front door of RV|
|View in front of RV|
|View behind RV|
Today, the snow has melted and it is raining, and we’ve found that the weather here changes almost as quickly as it does back home. According to one of the rangers, it is because we are so close to the Continental Divide.
I wanted to post this past week’s activities before starting our volunteer position and, hopefully, we will see bear, elk and/or moose in our campground for more picture moments - all of which we have been told we should see while here.
We are excited that Mike, April, Colby and Ben will be arriving next Saturday for a few days, and we have arranged our schedule to be off while they are here.
I want to wish all the Moms a very happy Mother’s Day and wish Mike and April a very happy 6th wedding anniversary tomorrow! Dick has told me I will get my washer fixed (now that the part has arrived and Direct TV has been installed), which is a great gift for me!!
Thanks for stopping by and see ya! ~Judy~