Our Summer 2010 Trip...Headed West This Time travel blog

Oskar Blues is near Boulder - time for yet another brewery tour...

Will and Fred at the brewery in Longmont

the restaurant display outside was interesting - I always like water features...

the restaurant in the brewery focused on New Orleans style cooking -...

Will at the bar at the brewery - can you believe he...

this brewery grew 60% in one year!

even Fred couldn't drink all this beer!

Nederland is a funky little town in the mountains near Boulder

Jan and Will at the pedestrian Bridge in Nederland, CO - overlooking...

Boulder Creek in Nederland

Will and Fred at the bridge in Nederland

Lake Granby, south of the national park - the lake is part...

the pine beetle has really hurt the pine trees in CO and...

our first stop at the National Park - at the Bowen trailhead...

a more close up view of Mt. Bowen

more views from the trailhead

this was an old miner's cabin at the Holzwarth Historic Site

this is the "Never Summer" mountain range

looking down onto Long Meadow from high above, at the Fairview Curve...

more beautiful views in Rocky Mountain National Park

you can see the timberline here, which is above 11,400 feet in...

lots of pretty wildflowers at each stop in the park

here we are at over 11,500 feet - we are in an...

more beautiful views in Rocky Mountain National Park

and more views - look like postcards, don't they?

this snow was right at the visitor center at 11,796 feet

,,,and another view - this was from the truck as we drove...



look at the elk out on the tundra - this is at...

the highest point in the park is just up the road at...


Jan and Will with the gorgeous Rocky Mountains behind us

Fred and Will

if only Katherine, Chad and Avery were also with us here!

historic Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, built from 1907-1909

closer view of the giant hotel - the inspiration for Steven King's...

one of F.O. Stanley's famous Stanley Steamer automobiles

at the end of the tour before the free sample beers

sign in the sampling room at Coors Brewery

Will being a funny guy here

Will and Fred outside the Coors Brewery

On the drive from Taos to Boulder we had yet another RV tire go flat, so we decided to blow our budget and buy four new industrial strength tires for the RV while we were in Boulder. It is just too much of a problem to have another blowout or flat – we’d had three in the past year and certainly do not want another bunch of RV damage like the damage we had from the blowout we had in April! Once we arrived at Will’s house in Boulder, we ran errands and just enjoyed Will’s company; we had not seen him since Christmas so it was good to just be together. We played a lot of Flux while at Will’s – it is a card game with rules that constantly change, but we certainly enjoy it!

Friday morning Will and Fred did some repair tasks around Will’s house and then we relaxed and enjoyed family again. We went to the Boulder Brewery for a supper outside on the patio – the weather was mild and we had a good time.

On Saturday we took a trip over to a nearby town to visit the Oskar Blues Brewery. Fred and Will really enjoyed the free beer they got on the tour, and it was a very interesting tour since we were right on the floor with the machinery canning the beer – not way away like on some factory tours. I enjoyed the tour but even though the waitress in the restaurant was sure I’d like one type of beer she brought as a sample, I did not. I simply do not like beer! However, I did enjoy the lunch; the restaurant has a New Orleans style theme, and I had some delicious gumbo, chock full of okra, chicken, celery, onions, peppers, shrimp and sausage. Then that evening we hosted a Dallas friend of ours, Mark Easley, who has been working in the Denver area for the past couple of months as an insurance appraiser for storm claims. He was happy to have a home cooked meal of spaghetti, Italian bead and salad. Simple fare but we all enjoyed it and the visit with Mark.

Sunday was our big touring day: we took a loop tour around and through the Rocky Mountain National Park. It was a beautiful day out, and the drive was lots of fun. We started by driving up Boulder Canyon Road (highway 119) to the funky little town of Nederland. This ride up the narrow canyon and into the village has always been one of my favorites. Beautiful Boulder Creek runs through the town and the town even owns their own “frozen dead guy”! If that intrigues you like it did me, go to http://www.nederlandchamber.org/pdfs/fdgd_thestory10.pdf and read about Ned’s famous dead guy! The body of Grandpa Bredo has been kept frozen in a Nederland storage shed, aided by regular dry ice deliveries. Bredo Morstoel died in 1989, and has been in various conditions of "cryonic suspension" ever since. Bredo's grandson Trygve put Bredo in the snappy aluminum Tuff shed in 1994, and apparently wasn't aware of the American taboo around storing deceased relatives with yard tools. Trygve was later deported by the US government for other reasons -- then the town discovered Grandpa and passed a local zoning law against “corpsicle” storage. Turns out Bredo has been "grandfathered," and allowed to remain until a cure is found for being dead. Each March the town of Nederland now hosts a “Frozen Dead Guy” Festival. The 2-day festival includes a pancake breakfast, hourly tours around the new cryo-shed, a Grandpa look-alike contest, and even coffin races for the youngsters.

Will routed us the long way to the national park so we could travel on some of Colorado’s beautiful scenic mountain roads. I loved the one we drove on outside of Nederland. Highway 72 is super pretty; of course, by now Fred probably wished he was on the Harley, since it is an exceptionally good motorcycling road – maybe next visit! We didn’t have time to stop and wander around in the towns of Black Hawk and Center City, but I would like to go there and check out the towns on another visit – I keep adding to my list! We stopped for a picnic lunch in Winter Park, which is one of Will’s favorite towns since he often goes there to ski in the winter. Another stop was at the Arapaho National Recreation Area’s Lake Granby – very beautiful and scenic views there! Right after we entered the Rocky Mountain National Park (yea for our senior citizen’s card – we didn’t have to pay the $20 entrance fee) some elk greeted us from a meadow, but we didn’t get to photograph them since they fairly quickly meandered into the woods at the edge of the meadow. There are many pull offs on the single road through the park, and we stopped at several to gaze at the beauty, read signs, learn some historical information and to take photographs. It was a lovely day to ride around the park and, since it had been five years since we’d been there, it was great to see all the mountain views again. Entering the park from its western side at about 8700 feet in elevation, the road went to over 12,000 feet before descending again. We traveled first through a montane ecosystem – a land of pine forests and beautiful mountain meadows. Unfortunately, the pine beetle has really damaged a lot of the pine trees, and forest service has had to remove some, while other sections look like a forest fire has been through the area. The second ecosystem we drove through was the subalpine, from 9000 feet – to 11,400 feet. Here we saw forests of spruce and fir which dominate the areas at this altitude. We also saw some gorgeous “twisted pines” – I loved the way they were gnarled and twisted by the winds in the region. Finally, we crossed over the timberline and entered the alpine ecosystem where trees cannot grow. The tundra here is very fragile and we, along with some other visitors, were disappointed and angry, during one of the pull off areas, when we saw some people disobeying the warning signs and wandering over the tundra where they should not have been. I wish there were enough rangers in the park to catch these irresponsible visitors, but the budget doesn’t permit rangers to be at every stopping area. At another stop we were greeted by quite a few elk and Fred was able to photograph them. In this alpine ecosystem, the snow had still not melted in many places and there were drifts all around the visitor center at 11,796 feet. Soon after that center we reached the highest point on the roadway at 12,183 feet in elevation. I am glad we went from west to east since the most spectacular views are in the western half of the park. The part of the trip back down to Estes Park is still pretty, but in my opinion, not as incredible as the part we’d already traveled through. The last time we went from east to west, so that’s another reason I am glad will routed us the opposite direction on this trip.

Estes Park was quite crowded since it was a Sunday, and it looked to us like any other tourist town, not to our liking. We prefer the nature outside towns such as Estes Park, Gatlinburg, and Branson to the touristy towns themselves. Outside the center of Estes Park, however, sits the stately historic Stanley Hotel, completed in 1909 by F.O. Stanley, inventor of the Stanley Steamer automobile. Fred and I enjoy watching the PBS series about great hotels of the national parks, and have been fortunate to visit several of them in our travels, so we wanted to check out the Stanley as well. In fact, only a couple weeks ago we watched a show that featured this very hotel. Fred’s favorite author is Steven King, and this hotel was King's inspiration for one of his classic novels, The Shining, so that was another reason we wanted to go see it. The hotel is lovely and the grounds even more so, offering a spectacular view of the Rocky Mountains. Inside the massive lobby sits one of Stanley’s original Steamer automobiles; of course, we were not able to go see any of the guest rooms, but we did tour the public rooms, checking out the ballroom, billiards room, music room, bar, restaurant etc.

After our visit to Stanley Hotel, it was time to get home to Boulder, so we drove down another pretty road, Highway 36, to Lyons and then through the towns back to Boulder. If we’d had more time, I’d have liked to finish driving Highway 72, but we will have to save that for another trip. Sunday evening several of Will’s friends were gathering for a cookout, and they were kind enough to invite us as well. The burgers were delicious, the guacamole fresh and tasty and the watermelon slices very refreshing!

On our last day with Will, we played more games, drove down to the Coors factory in Golden, the guys got free beer, and then we met more of Will’s friends for supper at his favorite hangout, The Mountain Sun. We will leave tomorrow for Cheyenne, but hope we will see Will in Texas for Thanksgiving!

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