A Gem of a Day

Trip Start Aug 29, 2013
Trip End Sep 15, 2013

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Flag of United States  , Colorado
Monday, September 2, 2013

Today I got up at 7:30 and grabbed the shower before Larry and Erin were up.  They got up about 8:00 and we all had breakfast and packed.  Erin put all of her pictures on my Netbook except the ones she took today.  We had everything done in the cottage and all the luggage in the car by 9:15.  We headed to the Gem Lake Trailhead on the other side of Estes Park.  There was no entrance station to hike this trail.  This trail is 1.8 miles one way with an elevation gain of 1000 ft.  For those of you who don't hike that makes for a pretty steep trail.  On the way up we stopped at all of the good views.  We could see  the city of Estes Park, Estes Lake, and Longs Peak which is the highest peak in Rocky Mountain National Park.  I am so glad I have hiking poles.  they really help going up and especially coming down as they help with stability.  A lot of the steps today were just below my knee level which made for tough and slow going for me going up and coming back down. 

But when we got to the top, it was worth it.  Gem Lake is really small and has no inlet or outlet.  It is in a natural depression and is filled with melt water from the winter snow and some rain water.  On one side there is a high cliff that makes like a natural amphitheater.  People were climbing up and down the cliff the whole time we were there.  The Lake is at most 5 feet deep and some kids were wading in it.  There was a sand beach on the other side of the lake where the kids were playing in the water.  We climbed up on some rocks beside the lake and  had our lunch.  The Lake really deserves the name Gem.

After lunch we headed back down, which took a lot less time, but it was hard on my knees.  I was really ready to get out of my hiking boots and sit in the car and let the wind blow in my face for a while.  We decided to go back to Denver via US 34 which took us through Big Thompson Canyon.  The Canyon was formed by the Big Thompson River which we followed all the way out of the mountains.  There were lots of cottages lining the canyon where there was room.  We saw lots of people fishing all along the river.  The most spectacular steep cliffs were at the end of the canyon.  When we left the canyon the land leveled out really quickly and it was so flat you would have thought we were back in Ohio.  We followed US 34 through Loveland and then got on I-25 south to 470 the Tollway Outerbelt of Denver.  They took a picture of our license plate and we will get a bill in the mail for the toll.  We don't know what it will be until it comes.  Before long we saw the exit for the Airport and before we knew it we were dropping Erin off to fly home to Seattle.

Larry and I headed west from the airport and then south on 270 toward Colorado Springs.  We didn't get far before my phone rang and it was Erin calling from the airport to tell us she left her coat in the trunk.  So we turned around and went back to the airport to deliver her coat.  By now it was 4:00.  We had originally dropped her off about 3:15.  Luckily her plane didn't leave until 6:25 so she had plenty of time.  We headed south again.  Eventually we found ourselves approaching the mountains again.  We passed Castle Rock, the city and the rock for which the city is named.  Before long we came across the North Entrance to the Air Force Academy and I wondered if any of my former students are still there.  I thought about John Amnah who graduated from there and wondered where he is now.  We saw the Chapel and some of the other buildings from the road and then we saw the stadium.  Before long we were at our exit which is also the exit for the Garden of the Gods Park.  We checked into the La Quinta about 5:30. 

We decided to go check out the park before supper.  We drove just a few miles to the Visitor's Center where we got a map of the park and some pointers on what to do.  We decided to just drive through the park tonight and walk some of the trails in the morning.  It is an amazing set of red rocks which are tilted perpendicular to the ground.  It was close to dusk but most of the pictures I took came out anyway.  We got out at Balance Rock in order to see it more closely.  I can't wait to walk amid the giant formations tomorrow.  We spent about an hour in the park.  On the way back to eat we stopped at a "Loaf N Jug" where we got gas, bread, and Pringles. It was like a Turkey Hill in Ohio so it gave us the Kroger discount. Then we headed to Trinity Brewery for supper.  We got a table outside as it was starting to cool down.  Most of the day it was in the upper 80s and lower 90s.  Larry got a Soul Horkey which was an ale.  He got two of them so he liked it pretty well.  Larry got a 1/2 pound cheeseburger that came with nothing else.  It was big enough he didn't need anything else.  I got a whole carafe of ice water and "The Golden" a chicken curry over couscous with spinach and topped with sun-dried tomatoes, green onions and sliced almonds.  It was delicious.

We returned to our room where I wrote the blog.  In the middle of writing Derek skyped us to tell us that he made $397.50 today at his sale.  He was really busy most of the day.  He really enjoys going to Estate Sales and Auctions to buy second hand stuff and then resells it out of his building.  He is going to Marion on Wednesday to an Estate Sale on the Boulevard which is the posh part of town.  Then I finished the blog.  Larry saw on his iPad that Erin had checked in at the Seattle Airport so she got home safely.  Back to work tomorrow for her.  This being retired is really cool.
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Bobbie on

I loved the Garden of the God's. Some of us would go out there and pray morning prayer at sunrise!. It is also very beautiful with a fresh dusting of snow on the formations. So glad you are having such a great time.

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