Fall 2012 West Coast Trip travel blog

halfway up the mountain I think

The valley below is about 8000', picture taken at 9000'

At 10500' now. You can see all the long long switchbacks to...

At 12000' in the tundra where the trees don't grow. You can...

The mid region (the green area) consists of tall pine trees

The peaks are about 13000 to 14000 feet

One of the tallest peaks at 14000+ taken at 12000

Still from 12000 feet

Same peaks, different view

A moose and her calf in a beaver pond

they were wandering about the pond for at least 20 mins

We arrived in Fort Collins Thur Aug 30.

We are staying at a KOA that is VERY manicured and resort like. All the sites are paved concrete pads with lush grass. The distance between sites is twice what most koa's have. It has it's own lake with a large gazebo and floating pier. They have swan shapped paddle boats and canoes to rent, a really nice putt putt golf, heated pool of course, shuffleboard court, basketball court, hugh jumping pillow, volleyball, an arcade room, a library, a gym, large very nice playground, a great hiking path that goes around the lake, horseshoe court, something called ladder golf, a chuck wagon that serves pancakes and eggs for breakfast, and then pizza and wings the rest of the day. There are about 200 sites and cabins-and a few of the sites are "spa sites" that have their own patio with a hot tub and deck furniture. (the rest of us only get a picnic table.) There is also cable and free wifi which is very good but there are lots of people using it this weekend (labor-day) and so pretty slow.

If I can't upload pictures I will send this and then send it again when I get the pictures on it.

Friday we went to the National Park. We are a pretty good drive away but we didn't think hauling an rv up a mountain with sharp switchbacks was such a good idea. We went early and beat the crowd. We were there before the visitor center opened. So we skipped the visitor center for another day. They give you the park map and newspaper at the gate. We spent the day driving the Trail Ridge Road. The views are fantastic and pictures can't really do them justice. The first thing you pass is a meadow area with a river winding thru it. Along the way up you keep seeing that meadow area and how small it is getting. There is also an area called an Alluvial Fan that you keep getting better and better views of. It was formed when a lake came rushing down the mountain - it had been formed by a natural dam that burst. So the "fan" is all the boulders and stuff that washed down the mountain and fanned out at the bottom. You have no idea how large the area is till you get up above it and see where it started and the path it took.

The road has lots of pull overs where you can get out and look. It has only some guardrails and there are some pretty good drop offs right off the shoulder. A bit nerveracking for me but Dale was fine with the heights. There is a sign you pass that tells you when you are 2 miles above sea level. You are above 10,500 feet for a good while and I got altitude sickness. (really bad headache and dizzy, but it can get much worse-some people pass out.) It is also not easy to get a good breath at these heights-which you don't realize till you try to hike up a hill. The high point of the road is 12,183 feet. I downloaded an app altimeter which works really well and a lot of that stretch is above 11,000 feet.(Oh yeah-for those of you who don't know I got an I-Phone and taked Dale into getting one too) We drove the whole road to the other side where there are 3 large lakes, then went back over the Trail Ridge Road again. 4 hours going over and 2 coming back. We stopped at a beaver dam overlook and lucked into a moose cow and her calf wading in the pond. We have been seeing moose crossing for years and finally saw some moose. We also saw some elk that weren't in a fenced in preserve. All in all a really good day.

To get to the entrance to the park we went thru Estes Park. The Davis's were there in the 60's when my dad went to a conference. Back then there was the Estes Park Chalet, and a few other buildings. A gas station and a small motel I think but not much else. The Chalet had a wing for guests and a wing for the employees because there was no where else for them to stay. All the meals were included in the room rate because there was no where else to eat. Estes Park has sure changed. Lots of people live there now in many neighborhoods and apartment complexes. There are 3 or 4 conference center hotels/chalets. Lots of motels. Lots of shopping and restaurants and fast food. The river has been dammed up and there is a lake with a small marina. Really different (and to be expected). I think the place we stayed has been remodeled and renamed-or maybe just torn down.

To bring this to a close-today we drove part of the Peak to Peak Scenic Hwy. To get to it we took another scenic hwy (pretty much all roads are scenic around here). We decided to avoid the national park today (Sat) and Sunday because of Labor day crowds. I think we were right. We ended up in Estes Park at the end of our scenic drive and there are lots and lots more cars and crowds today. We haven't planned tomorrow yet. We will probably go back to the national park on Monday and get to a few places we missed on Fri.

I'll upload the pictures latter.

Kathy and Dale

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