Travels With Dick and Judy

Follow us in our trials, triumphs and tribulations, while on the road in our motor home "The Liberty Belle". We chose to forsake the conventional lifestyle in our 3,000+ square-foot home to move into a 40-foot Winnebago Ultimate Freedom. Travel with us as we take you on the road with us in our new lifestyle.
I may grow older, but I'll never grow up!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Family, weather and RV news!

Final days of visit from family!

First, I want to finish up our visit with our son Mike, daughter-in-law April and grandsons Colby (5) and Ben (3-1/2), which was the week before Memorial Day.  When I last blogged, Mike and the boys were on a fishing trip and here is the evidence of their catch - and you will see that we later eat the catch!

Ben's catch - he did not want to touch!
Colby's catch!

April and I went shopping/browsing in Estes Park while the boys rested with their Dad and enjoyed our time together, which was a treat for me since I rarely get away to do this, either alone or with someone.

 April on a walk thru Estes Park
along the Big Thompson River
Judy on a walk thru Estes Park
along the Big Thompson River

April loves to knit and had located a knitting shop (all 3 stories) in the downtown area, and even bought some yarn to take back to Texas for a project.  We had a great time, but had to remember to breathe - especially when walking uphill in the mountain air!


Mike, April and the boys then came over for an awesome fish fry with the boys' catch, plus a few smaller trout that Dick had caught.  Too bad we did not have another few people join us, as we had way too much food, but it was yummy!!

Mike and Dick frying up the catch
Ben and Colby chowing down on fried fish
that they caught

On Mike and his family's last full day in the area, they took a drive to Bear Lake where they had this awesome picture taken in the snow!

Colby, Ben, April and Mike

Grampa and I (Grammy) were able to have the boys for another sleepover on the final night of their Estes Park vacation.  When I told Colby that we would miss them, he said:  "Grammy, you have lots of pictures!"  And that we do, but I must admit it is not quite the same, but will have to do until October.

Colby and Ben watching a herd of deer in our campground
A close-up of the herd of deer they were watching

The boys took a final swing in the playground before heading back to Texas the next morning!

Colby and Ben
Memorial Day Weekend and RV Roof!

Memorial Day weekend was packed at Mary's Lake Campground with numerous RVs and tents, plus very windy and cold - and Dick and I were the volunteer camp hosts.  On Saturday, most of the tent campers left early due to damage to their tents from the high winds - as evidenced by the number of cards from vacated camp sites.  As Dick and I made our rounds on the golf cart on Saturday afternoon, we had sunshine, sleet and snow - all within an hour - and, always, the incessant wind!


As many of our friends and family know, after very high wind gusts until after midnight on Sunday, we heard a horrific noise at 1:38 a.m. on Memorial Day (Monday).  Dick described it as kettle drums beating on our RV roof.  We scrambled into warm-ups and heavy coats, grabbed phones (and my Kindle) and left the RV - only to see our roof peeling from the high winds.  I was hysterical, but Dick was calm, considering the situation.  He moved the car so it would not get hit, and I huddled there until our neighbors insisted we spend what was left of the night with them.  As I tell everyone, we left the Gulf coast for the summer because of heat and hurricanes!  We have since found out that the area we are in has been known as "Thunder Alley".  

Early Monday morning, Dick called Good Sam, who gave us our GMAC insurance claim number and agent's contact information, as well as a choice of where to bring the RV for repair.  We cannot say enough good words about our experience with both Good Sam and GMAC.  Even though we had to pay a $500 deductible (for an almost $12,000 roof replacement) and had to pay for a motel room over our $500 living expense reimbursement (which covered 8 days and we had 11 days), we did not have to provide pictures, pieces of our roof or any other proof of this incident.  We have to remind ourselves that the deductible on a house would have been worse, and we now have a roof that is guaranteed for life (as long as we own the RV).

Dick headed out on Monday to buy a blue tarp (since we gave our tarps to our kids) and, with the help of our neighbor and co-host Chuck, who willingly climbed on the roof to assist with tying the tarp down, we had a blue tarp on our roof.  Yes, everyone back on the Gulf coast thought it wild that we had a blue tarp on our roof  in Colorado (until we could get a temporary fix while waiting for the new roof to arrive at RV America in Loveland, CO - across the mountain from Estes Park).  Check out RV America ( and visit their facility when you have an opportunity.  They run a top-notch operation and were super to deal with, plus they are a direct repair center for GMAC.

Motel Stay!

Since the RV roof replacement took almost 2 weeks, we were fortunate to find a mom-and-pop motel in Estes Park, which was reasonably priced and clean.  We loaded up our vehicle with everything we could think of, headed to Loveland to RV America and back to Estes Park to the Columbine Inn.  It was rough being out of our home for almost 2 weeks, but it could have been worse.  John at the Columbine Inn ( was a great person to work with, and our stay was not too bad.

Columbine Inn, Room #15, Estes Park, CO
Weber gas grill for cooking dinner

While at the motel, Dick and I decided we were going to be tourists for a few days, and I have more stories to tell and pictures to post - hopefully in the next few days.  In the meantime, thanks for stopping by!

See ya!  ~judy~

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Pictorial Estes Park Update

It’s been a while since I last posted and a lot has happened in the interim.  So, rather than try to impart a chronological series of events that contains a lot of mixed up subjects, I have decided to post my pictures according to subject, rather than timeline.  If you like this, please let me know and I’ll continue this way and leave the chronology to Judy with her postings.

The Estes Park vicinity is a photographer's paradise.  Just about the time you decide you have seen all that you will ever get a chance to see, something else pops up to capture.  Animals abound.  There are at least 10 species of ground squirrels, as an example, that I'm aware of and there's very likely more.   In any case, I hope you enjoy these pics.

This little fellow, a Gold-Mantled Ground Squirrel,
stood sentinel and watched us as we hiked past his outpost.
This is what they look like as they scamper up next to
you, looking for a handout.
Wyoming Ground Squirrels create warrens
that can take up hundreds of acres and have
thousands of occupants.  Such is the situation here
at Mary's Lake Campground.  This little fellow's home is
right outside my window.

Late afternoon respite.

Deer are in such abundance that I seldom reach for my camera unless
there is a "special" shot.

Bull elk were plentiful in the cooler weather but, as the season warms, they move to higher, cooler pastures.

For years, Judy and I have tried to spot Dahl's Big Horn
Sheep in the park.  This year,  we hit the jackpot.
We were fortunate to see the first group of ewes with
their week-old lambs coming down to the Sheep Lakes
for the mineral licks that occur naturally.

A beautiful site, giving hope to the future.

This group of beaver have their lodge and ponds about
five minutes down the road from our campsite!
All slicked down after his evening swim.

After felling an aspen, individual branches are stripped of their bark
and carried to either the dam or their lodge.


It's still spring here, for all practical purposes.  Flowers abound.  Most that I see, I have no conceivable idea what they are, save a pitiful few.  

A Blue Spruce?  Beautiful bough.
Willow Blossum



On the left is the Wax Currant blossom.  The white blossoms on the right are some sort of wild fruit.  Later this year I'll know more when the tree produces the fruit...providing the local fauna doesn't beat me too it!


It has always been fascinating to me to see the different types of animal life in the different regions we have traveled.  To me, birds have always been among the most amazing of God's creatures.

The Ladder-Backed Woodpecker.  It's supposed to be
pretty rare.  This one likes to hang around the beaver
ponds near the camp.
On one of our hikes, we passed a group of abandoned
beaver ponds and spotted a mother duck and her brood.

Among our favorite subjects to observe and photograph was this pair of Great Horned Owl chicks around their nest about a hundred feet up on a cliff face behind the public library in Estes.  Momma was always close by keeping just enough distance to encourage their flight over to her and to freedom from the cliff face.

 Each evening, they stretch their wings in preparation for that first escape from gravity.

Always developing their awareness, they would often focus their attention on us.  

The Magpie.  Always around looking for the leavings
around the picnic table.
The Mountain Bluebird


The reason most people go to Colorado from other parts of the country is for its uncommon beauty and remarkable vistas.  If i began today and photographed all the wonderful scenes I beheld, it could never do justice to what is really here.  But I must try.

Fish Creek Ranch, Estes Park

Beaver Meadows

Fall River and the Alluvial Fan

Endo Valley

Sheep Lakes, near Endo Valley on the Fall River

Moraine Park Valley of the Big Thompson

On everyone's mind recently throughout Larimer County is the High Park Fire which, to date, has consumed 55,000 acres.  While we are in no danger of it making its way here, we can still see the ominous clouds of smoke billowing above the nearby mountains that separate us from it.  Here are some shots taken from out campground.

Taken on 6/13/2012 at 5:06 P.M. from Estes Park Campground at Mary's Lake

Taken on 6/13/2012 at 5:22 P.M. from Estes Park Campground at Mary's Lake

Hope you enjoyed these.  All feedback is appreciated.  More to come.

See YA! ~dick~