Saturday, August 4, 2012

South Dakota and Back Again....Part 1

Sunday, July 22nd

The RV was loaded, gassed, and ready.  One last security check of the house by Robert, a few last kisses for the cat by me and off into the night we drove like fugitives.  Time check: 9pm.

Let our latest adventure begin!

Monday, July 23rd 

Morning found us parked among a slew of semi trucks in the parking lot next to the Mad Greek in Baker, CA.  Although we'd only slept a few hours, the allure of the open road had us up early and eager to drive on.  By 8am we were cruising through a very HOT Las Vegas and then into beautiful Utah.

We eventually headed east on I-70, hitting rain near Richfield.  It was a nice downpour to wash away the city dirt, leaving us refreshed and ready for adventure.  Travel through Utah was uneventful, but as we neared the Colorado border we could see lightening flashing in the distance.  I am not a fan of thunder and lightening, but there was nothing I could do but hunker down and ask Robert a million times if we were safe sitting in a big metal box.

He assured me we would remain alive and that we were on rubber tires that would save us, but he soon grew tired of answering my questions about weather patterns and the probability of our deaths.  After awhile he simply stopped listening, but I continued chattering on, pondering our fates.  And this was only the first of many lightening storms we would encounter.

As our first full day on the road came to an end, we had already put over 920-miles between us and home.  Just outside of Glenwood Springs, we found a nice RV park - Glenwood Canyon Resort - and set up camp, which required only a few minutes for Robert to hook up the electricity and water and for me to pop out the slide and slap some sheets on the bed.  For dinner I cooked up some sausage rigatoni and made strawberry shortcake for dessert.  With a full tummy, sleep came quick.

Tuesday, July 24th

We awoke to the screeching wheels of a train rumbling past, but it wasn't an unpleasant sound as we both like trains.  I peeked out the window to find the campground surrounded by high red cliffs, but it was getting hot fast and there was no time to wander aimlessly in the heat as we wanted to get to Rocky Mountain National Park.

By 8:40am we were back on I-70 heading eastward.  At Wolcott we turned north on Highway 131.  It was nice to finally get off the freeways and we were rewarded with a glimpse of a Golden Eagle nesting on one of the power poles along the road.  Unfortunately I couldn't get a picture as we zipped past rather quickly.

At State Bridge we crossed over the Colorado River, turned east, north, and then east again.  At 11:30am we entered Rocky Mountain National Park (the first of four National Parks we would visit).

Robert had never been to the park and I haven't been in over 10 years, so we were both excited to be exploring something new to both of us.

We camped at Timber Creek Campground (elevation 8,900-feet).  It was the first campground we came to, because we wanted to be able to take our time driving through the park and not have to worry about where we would stay the night. Stopping at the campground proved to be a great decision!

I noticed quite a few cars stopped on the road and people gathering in mass, so I figured there was wildlife of some kind.  I thought it might be some elk, so Robert and I headed across the campground to see what the fuss was all about.

As we neared, a moose and her calf crossed the road right in front of us!  I had never seen a moose before.  It was amazing.

Mama moose and her calf wandered through the campground disappearing into the bushes near the river. They weren't afraid of people at all.

After the moose and her calf disappeared, Robert and I hiked to nearby Holzwarth Historic Site.  We saw an elk along the way and were able to track her in the mud. 

As we hiked, it started raining.  Not the annoying pitter-patter to spot my glasses, but a full on downpour!  Robert was drenched as he wasn't wearing a raincoat and I was trying hard to protect my camera.  A couple of park rangers heading to the cabins came by in a golf cart and gave us a ride.  

Holzwarth Historic District is a series of cabins built by the Holzwarth family in 1917 that were eventually purchased by the Nature Conservancy and transferred to the National Park Service in 1975.  We were able to tour "Mamma's" cabin, but the others closed at 4:30pm and we were too late.

For dinner I made pancakes.  They were horrible, but it wasn't my fault. Robert had seen some pancake mix at the grocery store that squirted out of a bottle similar to whip cream.

He suggested I buy that because it would be easier than making our own mix.  What he didn't know and what I failed to see when I grabbed it off the shelf, was that it was organic wheat pancake batter.  It sucked.

Not only did it suck, but the batter was expired!  Not surprising.

Wednesday, July 25th

Rise and shine to a wet and cold morning.  We skipped breakfast and exited the campground about 7:50am.  Not far from the campground we saw more elk grazing along the road seemingly indifferent to the cars pulling alongside them and people snapping their picture.  We were no exception.

We got lost in the clouds as we gained elevation and drove along the spine of the Rocky Mountains.  It was very cool!

We stopped at the Alpine Visitor Center for souvenirs, coffee and hot cocoa.  The Alpine Visitor Center sits at 11,796-feet in elevation and is the highest visitor center in elevation in all of the National Park System.

While we sipped our drinks, we watched a bunch of marmots on the hillside and in the meadow far below us was a large herd of elk.

We were sad to exit the park, but excited to get to Denver to pick up Robert's son, Gabriel.  He would be joining us for the trip to the Feeding Frenzy in South Dakota.  Gabriel had flown into Denver and  was at Robert's sister's house.

It was good to see Carrie, Jeremy, and their three boys.  We hadn't yet met their youngest son, Caleb, so it was nice to spend some time visiting.

But then it was back to Denver Meadows RV Park in Aurora where we would be resting up for the next part of our adventure.

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