Thursday, August 20, 2009

Fear of Flying

My first trip over Rocky Mountain National Park's Trail Ridge, I was petrified. I gripped the door handle as Carl steered Teragram over the 12,000 foot summit with its dropoffs. The second time, I drove Dodie over the top, and I was calmer but apprehensive. This time, I was a tour guide. I knew where the best stops were and what I wanted to do.

First, a night in Estes Park. We left it to the parking gods to choose between a wine tasting and a beer sampling. As we approached the brewery, there was an elk jam on the street. An entire herd was grazing its way through the parking lot and surrounds. There was a magnificent buck loosing his velvet, a tame, calm specimen. I took it as a sign that St. Gertrude wanted me to have a beer.

Next day, crossing the rockies again, we experienced Bear Lake, a little jewel in a glacial bowl, and then took a climb to 12,500 feet at Rock Cut, learning all about the tundra plants. I encouraged Terry to take the four mile hike from the Alpine Center to Poudre Lake, and she was up to the challenge. This gave me time at Poudre Lake to work on my painting of Rocky Mountain National Park.

As we left the park, I was remarking how much the valleys looked like a moose should be there, and would you believe we had two different moose mama and baby pairs who were grazing near the road, unconcerned with all of us shooting photos? I have never experienced such a calm and lenghthy moose sighting. Then there was another elk jam. I said enough already, St. Gertrude, enough, we are running out of daylight.

Just south of the park, on the Arapahoe Reservoir, we stopped with an incredible lake view for the night. I noticed that the campground had many tree stumps. Victims of pine bark beetle. Colorado's pine forests are very much under attack. Entire mountainsides are dead trees.

Also for the third time, I visited Hot Sulphur Springs. I was only able to manage 9 of the 24 pools the time I tried to do all of them, but Terry did 18. She's quite the achiever. We shared the pools today with a Keystone Women's motorcycling rally. Oh my. I was glad bathing suits were required. Lots of short short haircuts on those motorcycle gals.

Sad to say, Terry's time with me is ending in the morning. My A/C has arrived in Colorado Springs, praise be, so I will be headed south for the day, and her cousins are ready for her to join them for a family visit. All good things do end eventually.
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