Mountain Moments

It’s become a tradition of sorts. Bec comes to Colorado each year for a few weeks in the summer to escape the exhausting heat of AZ. And each year, Bec and Jen and I spend a long weekend in Estes Park as part of the itinerary. It’s a tribute to our childhood during which our family vacationed in this village just outside of Rocky Mountain National Park almost every summer of our formative years. But more than that, it’s a chance to escape the busyness of our lives and sit in a comfortable chair by a rushing creek with a glass of wine and talk. And laugh. And cry. And make confessions. And laugh at our confessions.

Oh, and swat bees and douse ourselves with spray to fend off mosquitoes and watch various kinds of wildlife make their way through the motel grounds. This year it was wild turkeys….

We have several Must-Dos when we are in Estes. One, of course, is to visit the taffy shop……

Don’t worry. I actually left some for others to buy.

One night each year we eat dinner at a long-time Estes Park restaurant called the Dunraven Inn. The restaurant features Italian food, and sort of specializes — randomly, perhaps — in seafood.

This year, Jen invited a friend of hers to enjoy dinner with us. Bec and I stewed a bit about whether or not Jen’s friend Karma would be put off by our sense of humor and — quite frankly — our love of good food and wine and great martinis. As it happens, we needn’t have worried, as Karma could have been one of the sisters for all anyone knew. Well, except that she is very tall and has the figure of a fashion model. But other than that…..

Here am I, enjoying my food and delicious martini and NOT looking like a fashion model…..

Our server, though quite congenial, wasn’t stellar. He made up for his incompetence (and quiet speaking voice) with a good attitude. We thought he said his name was Bill, and called him by that name for a good while. Finally, towards the end of the meal, he admitted his name was NOT Bill. “But my brother’s name is Bill,” he added happily. And then proceeded to take several pictures of us, including this one….

As I said, he made up for his shortcomings with good cheer.

Another tradition we have adopted is our annual visit to Cinnamon’s — a bakery featuring the most delicious cinnamon rolls one can imagine. And there is no need to point out that all of our traditions seem to include food. Anyhoo, the proprietor of Cinnamon’s is a retired baker from somewhere in the midwest (Kansas? Missouri?) who lives with his family in Estes. The bakery offers a very limited number of choices — pecan rolls, gluten-free blueberry muffins, one type of fruit roll, and, of course, cinnamon rolls. There is really no need to look further than the cinnamon roll, and most people don’t. The hours during the summer, according to their signage, are “7:30 – 10 or when sold out.” The day we went, I got into line at 7:15…..

…..and brought cinnamon rolls back to the room. When we drove past the restaurant at 8:30, the SOLD OUT sign was already out.

I’m happy to tell you that we do have one tradition that does not involve food. We try our best to walk around Bear Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. It isn’t always possible, as Bear Lake is the tipping-off point for many popular hikes so parking is often unavailable. This year, Bec and I found a spot Sunday afternoon around 4, and had just enough time to take a lap around the lake that was one of our mother’s favorites…..

Our time in Estes Park is always one of my most special memories of each year.

Guest Post: Estes Park-It’s Not Just For Taffy Anymore

By Rebecca Borman

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…..

Kris and I enjoyed a walk around Bear Lake.

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.

Redrum, Flip Flops, and Other Distractions

There are a few things you can count on: death, taxes, and the Gloor sisters leaving their mark on wherever they visit.

This time it was Estes Park, Colorado.

We have been visiting this mountain community since we were in dirndls and Mary Janes, and know it like the backs of our hands. Even so, we find ways to dig up new adventures.

Jen, who still has to deal with that nasty distraction called a job, didn’t arrive until Friday evening, so Bec and I had an afternoon to kill. The weather was overcast, but we took a quick drive into Rocky Mountain National Park anyway so that I could try out my shiny new Senior Parks Pass — the single good thing about turning 62. Ten bucks for a lifetime national parks pass. Smokin’ deal.

Bec mentioned she had never been inside the Stanley Hotel — the haunted hotel made famous by the 1980 movie The Shining. I, on the other hand, had spent one long night many years ago during a work-related three-day meeting. I’m not proud to admit that I was so terrified after one night that I requested permission to sleep in another hotel the next two nights! Upon hearing my story, Bec asked “What was it that scared you?” “Someone walking down the hallway at 3 in the morning,” I told her. When I realized how dumb that sounded, I quickly added, “and some rattling chains.” You had to be there.

Anyhow, we went to the Stanley and had an It’s-5-O’clock-Somewhere martini at the very cool Cascade Whiskey Bar off the lobby. No twins chanting redrum, I’m happy to say, and the martini was cold (and not from ghostly drafts).

Whiskey Bar
 We grilled enormous rib eye steaks that night after Jen arrived and finished the day with Fireball whiskey shots after a toast to our absent brother.
We woke up Saturday morning to more overcast skies, but took a stab at finding a precious parking spot at Bear Lake in RMNP. The angels were smiling upon us and we pulled up just as a car left, so we got the opportunity to walk around Bear Lake in homage to our mother. Mom was not a hiker, but she loved the mountains and this particular walk was one of her favorites. And for good reason because the terrain is flat and the scenery is spectacular. Cheers, Mom…
Bec Jen Kris Bear Lake
 We spent a quiet rest of the day watching hummingbirds battle for what they don’t seem to realize is an endless supply of nectar as provide by the Deer Crest Lodge’s staff. Another nod to Mom, because she loved hummingbirds. I, on the other hand, do not. A bit too darty for me. We ended the day with Italian food and Fireball shiskey shots around the fire pit which we shared with others also enjoying the fire, with a toast to our absent brother.
Deer Crest
 Jen left after church and breakfast, and Bec and I took a drive to nearby Allenspark to visit a Native American jewelry shop we learned about from our friends around the previous night’s campfire, told to us in appreciation for sharing our Fireball. But before we reached the shop, we stopped at Lilly Lake and walked the perimeter. There are few things we haven’t seen in the Estes Park area and this was one. It was beautiful….
Lilly Lake
Bec and I concluded our last full day in Estes by visiting the Alluvial Fan, a rocky waterfall resulting from the 1982 Lawn Lake Flood of Rocky Mountain National Park and Estes Park. The trail, we recalled, was short — a mere .3 miles up to the waterfall. We don’t need no stinking closed-toed shoes.
Alluvial Fan
For the most part, we didn’t. But right at the end of the short trail, it gets quite rocky and a bit vertical. We were okay, but certainly the flip-flops we were wearing wouldn’t have been the shoe of choice for real hikers. We got up to the top. As we enjoyed the view, a young couple came down from their close-up view of the waterfall. The young man jokingly said to us, “Which rock up there are you going to walk to?” We laughed accommodatingly, and pointed to a rock way up above us. His friend, a young woman, looked down at our flip-flop-clad feet and said, “Hmmm, looks like you wore your hiking shoes too….” Touche…..
hiking flip flops
At least this time there were no rattlesnakes.
Bye, Estes. See you in the fall during bugling season!

This Time It Wasn’t the Yellow Bug

Fall River

Beautiful Fall River in Estes Park, Colorado.

When my sister Bec was visiting back in July, we had plans for a sisters’s weekend in one of our favorite places — Estes Park. I have mentioned before that we have pleasant memories of family vacations in that pretty little town just outside Rocky Mountain National Park and Bec, Jen, and I try to spend a weekend there once a year. Unfortunately, as they say, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” (Those Scots. They’re so optimistic.)

Well, awry the plans indeed went as I ended up in the hospital last July. However, since resiliency is our middle name, we immediately made new plans for Bec to come back early in the fall so that we could not only hear the elk bugle, but see some fall color as well.

So, we spent this past weekend in Estes Park, and had an amazing time. I will tell you about it tomorrow. Because I have to tell you about some more best laid plans that went where? Yes, you guessed it. Awry.

We decided to conclude our wonderful weekend with a walk around Bear Lake before we would leave for home. The walk is not only breathtakingly beautiful; it was one of our mother’s favorite activities. We walk it partly in memory of Mom.

After morning coffee and some relaxing time sitting by Fall River, which flows merrily past our hotel, we packed up the cars — Jen’s and mine. I had elected to drive the Hyundai to Estes Park because Bill is in Chicago and it is so much nicer to drive in the mountains than my yellow bug. I agreed to drive into the park to Bear Lake. We all got in, put on our seat belts, and I started the car. Smooth sailing. Until I try to put the car into reverse and it won’t happen. A no-go. A deal breaker. It won’t move out of park and my dashboard is black. That seemed troublesome.

I won’t go into detail about how calm, cool, and collected I WASN’T. Thanks be to God my sisters kept me centered. Jen worked with Bill via Face Time and regular telephone in an attempt to figure out what was wrong. We finally narrowed it down to it being a problem with one of the fuses. Bless Bill’s heart. He really tried to talk us (and when I say us, I mean Jen) through a number of attempts to diagnose and perhaps even fix it, but at the end of the day, I called my old friends at AAA. God bless AAA.

“Hello Kris. How have you been? What’s the yellow bug up to now?”

hyundai tow truck

Bec and I end up driving back to Denver in a tow truck, pulling the Hyundai behind us. Bec sat on the hump. She’s a good sister. As you would imagine, there are not a plethora of towing companies in Estes Park. Bob’s Towing is about the only game in town. So Mrs. Bob’s Towing towed us while Mr. Bob’s Towing stayed in Estes Park awaiting the next call. Apparently they get many calls every day.

We enjoyed our conversation with Mrs. Bob’s Towing (whose name is actually Diane) as we drove down the mountain into Denver. The car is awaiting repair, and I’m back to driving the yellow bug, which is feeling smug that for once, it wasn’t the cause of the AAA call.

And Bec is wondering if she will ever visit us without drama ensuing.