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.

Falling for Fall in the Mountains

Sisters

Sisters

My sister Jen says it’s one of her favorite sounds in the world. I must admit, it’s right up there – somewhere between a really good choir singing Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus and the sounds of my grandkids’ voices.

What am I talking about? The sound of elk bugling in Rocky Mountain National Park in the fall.

That’s why Jen and I make it a point every year to trek up to Estes Park to spend at least one evening with the bull elk as they woo their girlfriends in their fascinating mating ritual. This year Bec joined us, and I think our annual tradition will become hers as well.

As dusk approaches and it begins to get darker, you start hearing the eerie sound of the bulls – a sound that begins low and increases in pitch until it echoes against the mountains. It is beautiful, and apparently the female elk agree. They can’t resist. Who could? We read that in preparation for the evening’s activities, the bulls urinate and then roll in the wet mud. What female could turn their noses up at such sex appeal?

Each year it seems we get a better show, and this year was no exception. We saw two Elk bugling 2015 (2)big bulls fighting for their territory. They lowered their heads and charged each other. They stomped their feet and charged again. Suddenly (or at least it seemed sudden to us), the fight was over. We couldn’t tell who won. The two just turned around and walked off in opposite directions. We never figured out the rules, though we tried.

We watched an interesting display that included three bull elks – one of which was injured and walked with a decided limp. He must have lost a fight. The other two played some sort of elk waiting game. Suddenly, one of the bulls walked over to the other bull’s herd and lured one of the cows to come with him. She seemed undecided, but the big bull elk helped her make the decision as he began to chase her over to his herd. We couldn’t quite figure out whether she was happy or not. At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter because it’s the males that make the decision.

It was a glorious weekend. The first night we cooked steaks on the grill and ate them atsteaks estes park a table on our balcony at the Deer Crest Resort. It was a lovely warm fall night, and the grounds of this resort are beautiful. I promise I’m not being paid by the hotel to recommend this accommodation. The resort and the owners are both delightful. I can’t recommend it enough. The owner joined us that evening at the fire pit, shortly after the three of us drank our Fireball whiskey shots. Now that’s a sentence I never thought I would write. But, well, yum.

We spent much time sitting by the Fall River, listening to the sounds of nature.

We spent much time sitting by the Fall River, listening to the sounds of nature.

The second night, after the amazing elk show, we ate dinner at the Dunraven Inn, which provided us another grand experience. Jen ate mussels, and Bec and I each had cioppino. If I wasn’t such a lady, I would have licked my bowl. Yum again……

cioppino dunraven

We had a wonderful weekend, which unfortunately concluded with the car incident about which I wrote yesterday. But what the heck! Even that provided us with a great story to tell.

Bill will be home today, and it is my sincerest hope that he will NOT have rolled in mud.