2016 Trip Eight, The Rockies, Oct. 1-2

Estes Park, CO. Sunday night Oct. 2

Short post today. Yesterday was a drive day with no sightseeing stops of significance. We left Scottsbluff and made it to Denver International Airport in plenty of time to pick up Bernie and Tony. Their flight from St. Paul was on time and even had a few empty seats.

After a late lunch, we checked in and had a slight scare. We arrived at the Longmont Best Western Plus Plaza where I had messed up the reservations. Evidently I never confirmed the booking and we had no reservation. (The “confirmation” sheet we had printed and taken with us had all of our information and price but no confirmation number.) Luckily they did have three rooms available and, while not at the early booking price I thought we had, it was a very reasonable discount to the $200 per night walk-in-the door price. After almost four years and 550 nights on the road, this was our first booking mistake. Just a little humble pie for Ed.

Jude and Lacey arrived around 5:30 and we all had dinner at Pinocchio’s, an Italian restaurant in Longmont. The food was quite good and we had a waitress who had come from Italy about 10 years ago.

One of the outdoor sculptures at Leanin' Tree Museum

One of the outdoor sculptures at Leanin’ Tree Museum

Sunday we were at the Leanin’ Tree Museum of Western Art in Boulder CO as it opened its doors at 10 AM. Leanin’ Tree is a greeting card company started by two WWII veterans on a shoestring. The initial focus was cowboy Christmas cards. Over time, the company grew, one of the founders died, and their remaining founder amassed an amazing collection of western paintings and sculptures. We all found something to do; review the 250 pieces of art and 150 sculpture and/or explore the cards on sale. Celestial Seasonings tea company is located just down the block and we visited their gift store before we went to lunch.

Inside the Leanin' Tree Museum

Inside the Leanin’ Tree Museum

Boulder was a busy town, the University of Colorado is located here and it is well within the orb of the Denver metropolitan area. Lunch was at a restaurant along the Pearl Street Mall, a pedestrian only couple of blocks that was drawing big crowds of walkers, shoppers, pan handlers and buskers.

Estes Park CO is the gateway town to the east side of Rocky Mountain National Park. We will be spending five nights in Estes Park and were warned not to arrive too early. On weekends, the park is jammed and there was an “Elk Fest” running in town this particular weekend. Our drive up (Estes Park is at 7500 feet and Boulder is at 5400 feet above sea level) US 36 was scenic but not overwhelming. We checked in to the “Historic Crags Lodge” which is the third oldest lodge here having started in 1914.

Elk by Crag's Lodge

Elk by Crag’s Lodge

Tomorrow begins the viewing of Rocky Mountain National Park but we got a preview by seeing five elk just hundreds of feet from our lodging.

Ed and Chris

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