RCMP … or ELMO

Really, it’s RMNP, Rocky Mountain National Park, but it reminded me of the Mounties.  Then my auto-incorrecter kept changing it to ELMO.

We spent four nights in the Glacier Basin Campground in the park, without any electrical hookups.  We had the good fortune of having Larry come stay with us a couple of nights and join us on the hike to Odessa Lake.

The other major hike we did was a bunch of lakes in the Bear Lake area.

I’ll let the photos do the rest of the talking.

rainbow

rmnp-crossing

rmnp-fls-2

bierstadt

rmnp-fls-1

rmnp-1haiyaha

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Steamboat Springs

I think you’re supposed to just call it Steamboat if you’re cool.  Kind of like calling Jackson, Wyoming, Jackson Hole.

View of Steamboat Springs from our AirBNB townhouse of Tim and Cathryn.

View of Steamboat Springs from our AirBNB townhouse of Tim and Cathryn.

There are a couple of good ways to get in our out of Steamboat, crossing the mountains through the park and heading north, or driving through Poudre Canyon.  We came in from the park and went back out through the canyon, a beautiful route with some stark canyonesque walls and a pair of mooses.

We initially chose Steamboat Springs because we had a couple of unplanned days and discovered Eilen Jewell was playing there in the Mountain Springs Festival.  We saw her show, which was great as usual.

Eilen Jewell, as I was advised photography was not allowed and I hadn't figured out the settings yet.

Eilen Jewell, as I was advised photography was not allowed and I hadn’t figured out the settings yet.

A bonus during our visit was a performance in a free outdoor show by Hot Rize.  Asheville bluegrass band Fireside Collective opened for Hot Rise – you just can’t escape the Asheville Sound.

The free concert series is held in a field at the foot of several Olympic-class jumping hills, I think for snowboards.

Hot Rize

Hot Rize

The town of Steamboat Springs is pretty interesting.  There’s some good hiking nearby, there’s a sulfuric hot springs in which we immersed ourselves, there are good restaurants, and there’s a river running next to the town, the Yampa, that is a tubing Mecca for thousands of people every summer afternoon.

Yampa Tubers

Yampa Tubers

The town seems to have a tight-knit, active community.

The only downside to the town is the highway that runs right through it.  I’d compare Steamboat Springs to Telluride.  Both are big-time ski resorts.  Telluride is much harder to get to, but it is a cul de sac, so it doesn’t have the consistent stream of traffic through the main street one encounters in Steamboat.

Boyd's Lake State Park

Boyd’s Lake State Park

Stagecoach State Park

Stagecoach State Park

Tires

We were on our way from Denver to Boyd’s Lake, a state park near Loveland that has more the character of a beach than the mountains.  It wasn’t a long hop, less than two hours.

We went through Loveland and were almost to the campground when we realized we’d missed all the grocery stores, so we turned back toward town.  A man in a pickup truck pulled up along side us and gesticulated wildly.

Down went the passenger-side window.

“You’ve got something wrong with your tire,” he said.

We pulled over, as did he, and felt along the backside tire to discover the bulge he’d seen.  He’d stopped, too, and directed us to a local tire store.  We thanked him profusely for saving us from disaster, then went and got a new tire.

Almost a week later, after two crossings of the Rockies and a nice stay in Rocky Mountain National Park, we were about to depart for my cousin’s house in Ward, when Rebecca insisted we stop at a tire shop in Estes Park.  She was concerned about a second tire, that still showed some of the excess bits of rubber on the edges where it hadn’t been totally trimmed after being cast.

I was not worried about the tiny flaps, but there was another issue:  We’d gotten the tires rotated when we got the new tire, and we did not specify to make sure the tire pressure was adjusted – our back tires require much higher air pressure than the front.  You wouldn’t expect a tire shop to need to be told, right?

The Estes Park tire shop reassured Rebecca there was nothing wrong with the tire, but upon checking the tire pressures, there was definitely some evidence they had not been properly inflated.  They corrected the error.

Another potential disaster averted?  Well, that’s not actually what this story is really about.

I started backing the Wegwam up to turn it around and drive out of the lot.  The back seat was in the seat, rather than the bed, position, which obscures the view a bit.  (See the unwritten story about backing into my neighbor’s car coming out of our driveway soon after we’d gotten the van.)

I heard this female voice.  “Whoa!”

I know we were out west, and that’s just something you’d expect to hear being said to a horse, but instinctively I immediately braked.  We felt no impact.

Relieved to have barely avoided a collision, I jumped out of the van and looked at the back corner, and there sat a car with a badly bashed in front-side panel over its wheel, right where the corner of the van had stopped.

You can imagine my heart dropped.

The lady who’d issued the “whoa” command came back to her car.

“Did we hit your car?”

“Yes.”

“Did we do that?”

“No.  A horse did that.”

She inspected her car where she thought we’d possibly impacted her headlight, but there was no damage.  She was worried about the bikes on the back of the van, but they seemed intact as well.

She sent us on our way.  Disaster avoided.  (It took me a couple of days to get over that one.)

Denver

We spent four nights at the lovely home of Brecken and Larry.  I’d be remiss to not mention we came to Colorado to escape the heat, and the hottest day in Denver was a paltry record 102.

Denver from capitol dome

Denver from capitol dome

The road through southern Kansas would have to make you think twice about eating beef.  We passed several cattle feed lots where cows were packed together by the hundreds, lined up shoulder to shoulder with their head in feed troughs.  Hundreds and hundreds; and we passed dozens of cattle trucks hauling more cows to the lots.

The cows were probably happier chowing down than they would be later.

We walked a lot of Denver.  What we saw was a large grid of urban single-family homes built nearly a hundred years ago.  There were nice restaurants frequented by a young hippish crowd.

We had dinner at an interesting taco eatery near the Rockies’ ballpark, in a vibrant commercial district.

Our tour took us to the state capitol.  We were able to explore extensively inside, where we saw the rotunda, as well as both chambers and the old state supreme court.

The highlight was a climb to the capitol dome, including a circumnavigational trip around the dome. Walking across the park outside the capitol, we were offered to purchase drugs not available in the legal dispensaries.

BLM

BLM

We also saw a Black Lives Matter installation.

Our explorations took us outside the city, where we went on a nice hike in Evergreen.

Larry and Ramsey at Evergreen Mountain

Larry and Ramsey at Evergreen Mountain

My cute photo of Brecken and Larry is in my other camera and hasn’t been developed yet.

 

Get the Hell out of Dodge

We are in Denver.  This is how we got here.

After visiting family in Troutman and Atlanta, we set out for the west, with a first stop in Mississippi.  Our destination for the night was the John W. Kyle state park, the campground for which sits on a small lake right under a huge earthen dam holding back a much larger lake (Sardis reservoir).  There are several campgrounds lined up beside each other, most managed by the Corps of Engineers.

Before we pitched or bus, we made a couple of touristy stops.  First, we drove through Tupelo, where we stopped by Elvis Presley’s birthplace.

elvis

Elvis’s Birthplace

 

Next we went to Oxford, home of the University of Mississippi.  What we saw of the university did not reflect the southern stereotype of white columns and Spanish moss, but the town of Oxford retains its image of history.  There’s a square around the Lafayette County courthouse.

ajaxdiner

Ajax Diner

On one side of the square sits the J.E. Nielson Co., a clothing store that claims to be the oldest documented store in the south.  The rest of the square consists of restaurants, boutiques, and offices.  Unlike Chapel Hill, the storefronts have not been overtaken by chain establishments.  We had what turned out to be dinner at the Ajax Diner, an authentic old restaurant that serves down-home cookin’, including lots of veggies and catfish.  We got a bunch of fried okra.

Within walking distance of the square is Rowan Oak, where William Faulkner lived.  It is not the home of a pauper.

faulkner

Faulkner’s House

We spent our second night on the road in Branson, Missouri, the Gatlinburg of the Ozarks.  The Ozarks are not as impressive as the Smokies, although they are impressive in their own right.  They seem to stretch on forever across Arkansas and into Missouri.  The drive would be sensational in the fall.

branson

Newer area of Branson near the river.

Our campground was in the heart of the show district.  Branson traffic is at least as bad as that of Gatlinburg, but the Music City Campground was remarkably  quiet.

We opted to go see Illusionist Rick Thomas for our evening’s entertainment.  I was a fun show with a Greatest Hits of Magic air about it.  There were doves appearing from nowhere, pretty assistants, one of whom was secured in a box and cut into pieces, levitating objects and people, and even a helicopter appearing on stage.

magic

Appearing tonight with Rick …

For his last trick, he conscripted a lucky couple from the audince. Rebecca did not have to stay up there long, but I was in the spotlight the entire trick.  He took my watch and made it appear from inside a tin can inside a box on display in the audience from even before the trick.  With the watch reading 3:17, as I’d requested, when the can was opened.

We drove across southern Kansas to Dodge City for the final stop  before Denver, where we stayed at the Gunsmoke RV Park.  It wasn’t a bad campsite, and it had a nice, cool swimming pool. The town itself left everything to be desired.  It was hot, with little to do. The tourist attraction seemed to be a strip of old-western store fronts that appeared to have been recently constructed.  It cost ten bucks to get inside the fenced perimeter, which we chose not to pay.

dodge

Dodge City

Couldn’t leave fast enough.  Hence the expression …