First glimpse of the Rockies

Trip Start Jun 15, 2013
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
KOA Campground in Estes Park

Flag of United States  , Colorado
Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Yesterday I drove down from Cheyenne to Estes Park in Colorado.  Estes Park is the entry point to the Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP).  I intend to go there tomorrow and drive along the famous Trail Ridge Road to Timber Creek, where there's a camp based on first-come first-served. The highest point on the road is 12,183 feet (or 3713 meters) above sea level.  So, we are high up in the mountains, and it gets cold at night.  Today, fortunately, has been a sunny and warm day, and I hope it stays that way, but I'm ready for the sudden weather changes that the region is known for.
Today I decided to explore Estes Park itself.  The name derives form Joel Estes who came here in the 1860s and settled with his family.  He was not very succesful and soon departed, but the name stuck.  Here is some information from a local history book:  'In 1876 Estes Park was already famous - not only in Denver, but in Chicago, New York, Boston, London.  Eastern doctors recommended the Colorado high country to invalids suffering from respiratory complaints.  Mountaineers answered the challenge of Longs Peak.  Hunters and fishermen sought the abundant and easy trout.  Already, a hundred years ago, the pattern was set:  homesteaders became hotel men and the Park a tourists' paradise.' (Ruth Stauffer, This was Estes Park.  Historical Vignettes, Estes Park Area Historical Museum, 1976, 1979, 1990, p. 5).
This morning I went downtown, had a mocha, an orange juice, and a bagel with bacon, egg, and cheese.  I then went across Big Thomson Road to the Visitor Center and picked up some information material.  The town offers a number of FREE shuttle rides, and I went on two of them to get a better feel for the place.  Tonight there's a 'cowboy sing-along' in the town with a guy called Brad Fitch  and I just might go there.
Before returning to the campground this afternoon I went to the Estes Park Museum, another little gem of local history.  In a separate building there was an exhibition by a photographer called Charles Mace, who was a U.S. Army photographer during WWI.  I'm sure that Unk knows him, so I took a number of photographs that he may enjoy.  ('Unk' lives out in California.  He, too, was a photographer in the U.S. Marine Corps and spent three years in a Japanese POW camp during WWII.  He is Rita's uncle, and we had the pleasure of meeting him at his house and also in Zion, IL, when he flew in for his grand-grand-niece's wedding (hope I got this right!) on June 8.)   
When I enter the RMNP there will probably be no WiFi, so I don't expect to write another blog until Saturday or Sunday, when I'm back in Cheyenne.  Meanwhile, have a good time.             
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Gina on

Jens, Did you get to see the Stanley Hotel named after the man who invented the Stanley Steamer? It's also the movie setting for Stephen King's -The Shining" . Enjoy the park and stay warm!

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