I’ve said it before…while it’s really fun to travel to new places, it’s also nice to go back to places you love. For me and my sisters, one of those comfortable places is Estes Park, Colorado. The drive through the Big Thompson Canyon is stunning, and the first view of Estes Park, nestled in the midst of the Rockies, always lifts my heart. In a way, it’s like coming home. Our family vacationed there when I was a child, my honeymoon was there, and there have been many more visits after that. This summer, in the midst of my Colorado road trip, my sisters and I worked in a few days’ trip to Estes. Kris and Jen are busy women, so each could only stay two nights. But, I was there for three nights, and Friday evening we were there together. We all made the most of our time…..
A visit to Estes Park always involves some familiar and important activities. For instance, the first evening, Kris and I had a cookout at our motel. And when I say we, I mean Kris. She brought the steaks, lit the grill, and cooked the steaks. Well, I did toss the bag of Caesar salad! We even ate outside at a picnic table by the river, enjoying the view of the mountains surrounding us as the evening set in…..
Another must for us is dinner at the Dunraven Inn, a lovely Italian restaurant that has been in Estes Park for years. We ate there after Jen arrived on Friday night so we could have dinner together. I thought it would be fun to take Uber or a cab so we could enjoy our cocktails without worrying about driving back to our motel. I tried Uber…seems there is one driver who may or may not be on duty at any particular time. Hmmm. Then I checked for taxi companies. There is only one, and I mean one cab, not just one company. We called for our taxi and were put into the driver’s que, third in line. We made it to the restaurant almost on time. Our driver assured us that while he was going off duty soon, another driver would be driving the cab. We asked the Dunraven to call for the taxi as we finished dinner, and we patiently waited for it outside. We waited quite a while, wondering what we would do if the taxi never showed up. Finally, we saw it coming toward us. And driving right past us. That didn’t seem good! We hoped he was dropping off someone, and that was the case, because he pulled up a few minutes later. “I saw you waiting here,” he said. “I bet you got worried when I drove past.” Haha, yes we did.
The next morning we tried something new, a trip to Cinnamon’s Bakery, which makes one thing only: cinnamon rolls. We got there just before it opened at 7:30, and there was already a long line. We happily bought our rolls and coffee to take back to our room. The bakery is open until 10:00 or until they sell out. When we drove past it around 9:00, the CLOSED sign was on display. It paid to get there early.
Our next adventure was a drive into Rocky Mountain National Park. As we started toward the Park we noticed that some streets were blocked off, presumably having to do with the Scottish Festival being held that weekend. We wondered if there was a parade. We didn’t think much about it as we enjoyed a drive through some of our favorite areas of RMNP. When we left the Park we had a plan. We would find parking near downtown and do some important shopping, primarily for our favorite salt water taffy. However, police blockades prevented us from turning into town. We asked a kilted police officer who was directing traffic what was going on. It was, as we suspected, a parade. Elkhorn Drive would be blocked completely until the parade was over. Wait a minute…our motel was on Elkhorn Drive. “You mean we can’t get back to our motel?” we asked. “Not until the parade is over.” Bummer. Now what? Plan B was to buy deli sandwiches and go back to RMNP for an impromptu picnic. We found a good spot by the river and enjoyed our sandwiches al fresco. It was a good Plan B!….
At that point Kris had to leave, so Jen and I were on our own. We both wanted to hear the elk bugling at dusk. So after we enjoyed a relaxing afternoon at our motel, we drove back into the Park. We found a spot near a meadow that seemed to have elk potential, and we weren’t disappointed. We saw many elk, including a bull with a 16-point rack. Very cool. There’s something special about the sound of their bugling and the feel of the crisp fall air as darkness falls upon the mountains. It was an evening well spent…..
As always, I felt a pang of regret when I drove out of Estes Park the next morning. I had purchased my taffy and a few Christmas ornaments, and they would serve as my reminders of these few days in one of the most beautiful spots in the world.
I’ll be back again next year.