I am a firm believer in resting while on vacation. It is, after all, the only time some of get to truly clear our minds and relax.
I am also a proponent of getting the most out of things while they're available to you. You never know when you might have another chance to see or do something great. So take advantage of the time you have, wear yourself out. Even if that means you return from your trip exhausted. At least you will know that you made the most of it.
So on the same day we hiked in Estes Park, we drove the Tahoe over to Rocky Mountain National Park! Its the reason why we came! Sidenote: The National Park Service website had us a little nervous. Especially the page about Safety. We basically imagined we'd be hiking thru a scene from the CBS series Survivor, fending for our lives against mountain lions and dramatically changing climate, like one minute it would be perfect weather and the next we'd be experiencing sub-arctic temperatures. Its really not the serious. We mostly drove thru the park, only stopping to get out and venerate the landscape...breathtaking...truly. Be sure to do some research on the entrance fees, things to do, camping if that's your thing, etc. There's also a trip planner on The National Park Service site that was really helpful resource (http://www.nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/upload/2014-Planning-Guide.pdf). It gives you virtually all the info you'll need.
I felt like I was going to see Yogi, Boo Boo and the Ranger (just kidding, I know that's Jellystone lol)
Remember how I said our rental was a Tahoe? An SUV is not the ideal vehicle for driving on two lane highways near the edge of high cliffs. Especially when you have zero experience mountain driving, are being trailed by lots of aggressive cars and trying to navigate roads that have 180 degree, hairpin turns! The anxiety associated with making sure that Kira and I didn't get carried by a stiff wind off the side of Trail Ridge Road was overwhelming. I don't recall what the actual speed limit was but I know I didn't break 20 mph the whole time...and even that was too fast. By the end of the drive I had stressed myself out so much that my shoulders were stuck clenched up around my neck lol. It was all bad folks.....all bad. I was so nervous the whole time! But...this was really the only bad part (which was later worked out at the spa). I think it was the fact that we were so high off the ground, in such a heavy vehicle, so close to the edge is what really had me worked up. This Tahoe was nothing like the 2-door sports car that I was used to driving on a daily basis. I wasn't ready...but I accepted this challenge and we made it through. Kira navigated for me and tried to keep me from coming unglued.
There was actually one point when we approached one of the look out points and the front of the SUV was higher than the top of the ridge that was in place to keep you from toppling over. I thought I was going to drive clean over the edge! Obviously I was on one that day. But you can see for yourselves.
You know what? Even though this drive completely stressed me out, I managed to get myself together long to enjoy the time. At one of the stops, there was a man with a kite. Best. Idea. Ever.
The sites we saw there ranked in the top 5 best I've seen and most notable. I'm going to let you bask in the ambiance for a while. Take it aaaaalllll in.
I swear these pics look like paintings. I do wish I had seen some snow...but it wasn't the right time of year and I'm less than interested in freezing my tail off on a mountain in Denver. Even with my amateur photo skills...completely un-enhanced or photo shopped....the images are unreal. The natural colors are so vibrant and vivid. The sky was such a crisp and stunning shade of blue. We were blessed with a really gorgeous day. As I look back at the pics to figure out which ones I'm going to include in this post, I am reminded of how strikingly beautiful it all was.
Like I said, I was so tense after we came down the mountain. Fortunately, we had spa appointments scheduled. We grabbed some food and headed on over to Indulgences Day Spa for massages. We had crammed so much in the day that we were in dire need of rejuvenation. It was our vacation, after all. Indulgences was exceptionally cute. The front area and waiting room was filled with accessories, handbags, jewelry as well as other spa products for sale. I think I recall some make up products too. The receptionist was really nice. But the best part was the massage. I know Kira said hers was great but after a long day of hiking and driving a tank up a mountain, this was the best massage I've ever had...no lie. I left feeling totally relaxed and tranquil. I don't remember my masseur's name because this was nearly a year ago, but she was very on point. Slept like a baby that night.
Before bed (b/c I was thoroughly looking forward to bed after all our outdoor adventures) we went to Stueben's. We selected this place because it was on Diner's Drive-Ins and Dives! Guy Fieri is the man! I always want to try the places that appear on his show. This is a really popular place in a cute area of town. There was a pretty long wait but we really wanted to try the food out so we had to suck it up. I had the brisket with a side of mac and cheese. Kira ordered their Sunday special which was chicken and waffles. First off, the portion size is HUGE....we could have eaten the leftovers for breakfast, lunch and dinner the next day. The brisket was really tender and delicious. Definitely a solid meal. And then it was bed time. Hallelujah.
Next up...Red Rocks! I hope you all are enjoying reading about this trip as much as I am enjoying reliving it.
**There's no where to go but everywhere....so get going! ~GEV