I didn't intend to skip out on the blog for quite so long but writing about our travels and the beauty we were seeing without using pictures was just wrong...not to mention that we were on the go from first thing in the morning until late at night. I figure blogging about our trip now will be so much more interesting than describing the humongous pile of laundry stacked precariously high in the basket. You know where I'll be for the next few days, assuming an avalanche doesn't occur and bury me in dirty socks.
After helping Wayne's dad celebrate his 88th birthday, we left El Dorado and headed west. While Colorado isn't exactly on the way home, we've been trying to pay the state a visit for two years now. Since we were three-quarters of the way there already, we finally made it happen. Better yet, we met up with Wayne's brother Maurice and his wife, Marsha, to explore the mountains together.
Cool was the operative word the first two days which were centered in the area of Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. It was in the mid-90's when we passed through Dallas on the way up but barely above freezing that first night in Colorado; it made for interesting packing. It's safe to say I did not take this sunrise photo but I'm glad my bunkmate did. Can't you just feel the crisp air and imagine the smell of spruce and pine?
And we had plenty of opportunities to smell those spruce and pines in our drive on Trail Ridge Road, America's highest continuous highway. For fifty miles we climbed skyward and then descended among glacier-sculpted peaks and every bend in the road...and there are plenty, believe me...revealed a new and impressive view. The landscape changed as we got higher and higher until we were above the treeline. There are eleven miles at an elevation of 11,000 and four miles at 12,000. Our sea-level lungs knew it, too.
It was chilly and windy up that high but also beautiful. There were plenty of places to pull off and walk out to viewpoints to appreciate the vastness of it all...and to take a family photo to remember it by.
We did the entire length of the Trail Ridge Road and returned to Estes Park via more mountain highways, stopping to take in the spectacular views at numerous spots along the way. The mis-shapen tree on the right in this photo tells a story not shown in the rest of the picture...that winters are harsh at this elevation.
These trees tell a story too. This isn't fire damage although I have some pictures to show you from Colorado Springs where there were fires. These dead trees were the victims of mountain pine beetles. I wish I could say we saw the damage in only a few areas but it was widespread throughout the Park. The information I read at one of the visitor's centers said a warmer and dryer than usual weather had allowed the beetles to flourish, killing more and more trees. Such a sad sight in the middle of all this beauty.
Stay tuned...there's more of cool, colorful Colorado to come.