Adventure On High
It really was a high adventure! Well, after a good night's sleep, that is. I slept in until about 10 a.m., took a long, leasurely shower and then made my slow way out into the light of day. The other folks had been up a while, with coffee and paper and when I was fully functional, we went into Boulder to find a place that John had really liked for breakfast.
The ride was fun. They wanted to use the gas in the rental car, so we used their rental for the day's meanderings. I seem to do okay with talking with the Colgroves, and they have fun talking with John and I. The two John's love playing off each other and this trip was no different. Though, admittedly, Rosty was making taller and taller and taller tales as the days went on and I was starting to get tired of some of it. Still, it was in good fun.
Breakfast was pretty good. A 'Foothills Scramble' with sausage, bacon, green onions and eggs on home fries or hash browns with a 'biscuit' which was more pan bread that was really bubbly and lighter than I usually think of biscuits being, and a pancake. I got a blueberry pancake, the boys got sourdough. The blueberry pancake had blueberries all through it with a few more berries on top so was well worth the little extra that I paid.
When we were nice and full we went to McGuckins, in part to show them what it was like, in part because we really needed stuff from there. Vent deflectors, so that the heater didn't rattle the shades every morning and wake us all up. I happened on a way-too-early Christmas display, but they had really nice tealight candle holders as well as some nice, one-inch thick, white, unscented tapers that would do marvelously in some of my candle lanterns. I bought those right up and then headed for the art department and found a Winsor and Newton set of 12 water colors, a brush, paper, instruction booklet and palette all for about forty dollars. On really thinking about it the only thing I really needed out of all that was the palette, so I bought that, alone, for $4. Much cheaper and much more useful. Won't have tubes and tubes of paint waiting for me. I love the transparency of the Windsor and Newton water colors, and since watercolor is mostly about how much of the whiteness of the paper shines through it's a good quality for the stuff to have.
Once sated there, we headed north and west for the Rocky Mountain National Park as neither John nor Johanna had ever seen the place. On the way up we went through Lyons and Estes Park, both beautiful spots in really desolate ways this far into the fall. All the leaves have fallen and the grasses have turned brown in this unseasonable warm weather. It was in the 80's as we headed up. We had brought along cold weather gear of sorts, or at least for a bit colder than we were experiencing on the plains for the mountains; but, as usual, what I brought really wasn't enough for me. Since it was in the 80's on the plains, I just couldn't really conceive of it being quite as cold as it really was up in the mountains.
We got to the park and started roaming about, mostly just driving along the main roads with just three major stops. There was a lot to see from the windows of the car, and it reminded me of all the summer vacations with Mom and Dad and Kathy and wandering through national parks and seeing most everything from behind the glass of the car. The stops were breathtaking, however.
One stop was up at a bend that was well over 10,000 feet over sea level. It was about 270 degrees of just gorgeous view out over or even with the tops of many of the Rockies. In the NorthWest mountains are often distinct, seperate entites. Mt. Rainer, the Three Sisters, Mt. Shasta, Mt. Bachelor, Mt. Hood, and Mt. St. Helens are all fine examples of this. A few areas are collections of mountains, like the Olympics and the Cascades, but they really are more north than Portland and more a mass of mountain range and, therefore, less memorable to my Seattle brain. Here, however, the Rockies are pretty much that Mass of Mountain, peaks in all directions, with no distinct beginnings or endings, just slopes and peaks and valleys in all directions like some enormous, typhoon dig sea frozen as far as the eye can see. It's almost as if the mountains never end, because there is no end to them in all directions, no hint of the forever flat plains to one side, or the farms and forests on the other.
We got to see Long's Peak from the west, rather than the east side we see every evening. Amid all the other peaks, it didn't really stand out as much, didn't seem to be the talest peak that we can see from the other side. Just another high slab of stone.
At one end of the bend was a pile of rocks hanging over the gorge that was just to the outside of the bend. There were plenty of foot holds, and the four of us climbed up on to it and into the gnarled trees to have out pictures taken with us nearly in thin air. Both Rosty and I were wearing Birkenstocks and I was also wrapped about with a wool shawl that Johanna had brought, which was not exactly climbing gear. I managed, though, as there were plenty of footholds and handholds and it was easy climbing. When we got up there Rosty found out his camera didn't have any film. Oops. But their camera did, so they got a few shots of us and the valley below.
We kept going from there, over and past the highest point in the road into the park, following signs for the main Visitor's Center. We ended up in the icy and snowy parking lot and found that the Center was completely boarded up even though the roads ran through. We were almost up at 12,000 feet, and there was a good 50 foot climb to the top of a nearby hillock. The Johns and I dared the climb. Johanna was feeling the altitude too much to do it. The climb was a series of shallow steps up, and even after having lived here for as long as I have, I got breathless and my heart pounded as we went up and up. It was worth it, though, as much for the sign that said, "You are now at 12,005 feet, the same height as the famed Mt. Hood in Oregon" as for the view that went in all 360 degrees of that rippled and up-lifted hide of the Earth. Beautiful and amazing to walk, so relatively easily, up to a height that is so hard for so many others.
On the sides of the hill were snow patches that had been slowly worn by sun and wind to slender, distinct crests that had hallowed out all the way down to the ground. Beautiful, delicate leaves of crystaline water leaning into the wind and shining in the brilliant sunshine. Eyesquinting sunshine, actually, being that far up with that little atmosphere really made a difference as to how intense the sunshine was and by the time we got back down to the parked car, I was parched and feeling rosy-cheeked from all the sunshine, just this side of a mild burn.
By then the bottles of water we'd drunk and the coffee of the morning, and various other things started to catch up with us. So we hurried down and found an old, huge building that looked about 90% abandoned, taped up with caution tapes along places that were obviously intended to be demolished. Surprisingly enough, one end of the building wasn't taped, did have lights on inside and, as we tried the front door and managed to get in, it had perfectly functional public restrooms that were scented as all public restrooms are; but the water was running and even warm in the sinks. Hoorah!
Darkness hurried in after us, as the sun set behind us as we wended our way down from the Rockies. It was pitch black by the time we were in Lyons and we were all exhausted and hungry, but we had dinner plans back at home, so instead of finding dinner, we stopped at the little ice cream shop that Rosty and I had done during the summer and we all had sundaes with various varieties of ice cream. Some of us had coffee and I had what they called an egg cream that was really just an Italian-style soda with milk instead of cream. I still remember Samson's egg creams and it was nothing like this, though I now imagine that the real thing had a raw egg beaten to foam to get the whole thing to foam like that, even with the help of soda water.
Dinner was Santiago's, after a long dark drive all the way back to Louisville. After ordering they all left me to wait for the food while they raided a good liquor store for some beer to drink with the spicy Mexican food. We brought the styrofoam containers home and ate happily while Fezzik watched with his big, dark eyes. I eventually gave him some of my carnitas in his dinner and he was ecstatic with the addition to his meal. That was fun.
While Johanna and I puttered about the house, the boys went out to get a copy of Tomorrow Never Dies as they hadn't seen it, yet, and both John and I liked it. It amused me, especially since I know that I really kinda wanted to be watching Dogma or Fight Club; but this was good, comfortable entertainment for a very tired evening. My muscles were sore from the walking and it was good to just rest and be lazy and watch some Michelle Yeoh. It's always good to watch Michelle Yoeh in action.
By the time it was done we were all tired, and we had to get up earlish tomorrow, to get Fezzik over to South Mesa in time for the off-leash fun with the other dogs. So we all bundled off to bed. Zzzzzz....