Sunday, June 30, 2013

Colorado Trip 2013 - Part IV

This is the continuation of a trip my dad and I took at the end of May.  The previous day we had taken a break, and hung out with family, visiting the various sights around Lakewood, CO.  Day 5 my dad and I got back on the road, heading north towards Estes Park.  Our plan was to work our way west, through Colorado and Utah.  Then south, back into Arizona.

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The ride between Boulder and Estes Park, on U.S. Route 36, had been extremely beautiful.  Soft rolling green hills, and every once in while we'd pass packs of bicyclists heading the other direction.  There had been a race planned that morning and bicyclists were everywhere.  Eventually the road turned up into the hills and we gained some elevation before rounding a curve and spotting the Estes Park town sign.
 One of these days I'm going to have to invest in one of those odd looking helmet cams.  The ride down into Estes was spectacular!  Before you come into the city you have to cross over Lake Estes.  Since I don't have any video to show you, I'll just borrow from Google Street View to give you an idea of what it's like approaching the lake.  The water was extremely blue as we drove by.
We didn't stop in town.  There was some sort of street fair going on and the roads were packed.  We made a beeline for the Rocky Mountain National Park and headed in.  My dad used his senior  national forest pass(no comment), so he got in for free.  It only cost me 10 bucks, which somehow I got him to pay.  Those classes on Jedi mind tricks are really paying off.  Here we are getting ready to tackle some serious elevation so we decided to pull over and add some layers.
 I wanted to take some pictures at a particular viewpoint so we pulled over at a rather crowded parking area.  After getting off the bikes an Indian family came over and asked if they could take some pictures posing with my dad's bike.  I thought it very amusing, so I took some pictures of them taking pictures!  My dad chatted with them for awhile.  I can't remember now which state they were visiting from.  My dad loves it when his bike gets more attention then mine.;)
 I thought the color of this lady's dress was pretty so I grabbed a quick picture.  I also wanted to show the vantage point everyone was stopping for.
 Amazing views!
 I like this picture because you can spot the names of all the peaks and their elevations.
 We kept climbing and eventually made it past the treeline.  I'm guessing we're somewhere between 11000 to 11500 feet?
 The temperature was actually quite pleasant.  With my skinny shirt on I was quite warm.  The weather was so nice we even saw bicyclist riding up the mountain. 
 Panorama time!
 Eventually we made it to what I think is the highest point in the park. 
 12,090 feet!  Second time I've ever been this high on a motorcycle.
 We walked down the road a bit to show the level of the snow near the road.  There were a few sections where we'd have this on either side of the pavement for a quarter mile or so.  Coming from the desert, it's an amazing sight.
 There was a trail that led off to a small rise.  I wanted to hike it all the way to the top but after starting out I found it was a lot farther off then it looked.  This is looking back towards the road.  I felt like I was on top of the world.
 Magical white powdery stuff.  Very bizarre!
 I zoomed the camera all the way out to take this picture of the bikes.  I liked how it came out.  Notice the skier at bottom left.  My dad asked her how they get back to the cars once they head down.  She didn't even hesitate before replying "We walk."
 My dad and I continued on.  Back in June of 2011 Vern and I had stopped at the Continental Divide on my first pass through this area.  Here's what it looked like then.
And here's the same spot in May of this year.  We couldn't locate the sign.  I don't know if it had been removed, or just buried by the snow.
 We continued making our way down, out of the white stuff.  Here's looking out towards the west end of the park.  The road snakes it's way to the bottom of this valley and then exits the park at the far end.
 We saw a moose down in the valley, which we should have stopped and taken pictures of.  It was one of those, "Well do we stop?" moment..and we never did.  So when I saw these elk we pulled over to take some pictures.  My dad was like "Pfffth I've seen elk before.  Next time we're stopping for moose!"
 As we came out of the park we were getting pretty hungry.  I thought this place was called the Roadhouse Grill, but I can't find it on Yelp.  It was somewhere between Shadow Mountain Lake and Lake Granby.  Pretty nice place.  They even had a large Patrick Swayze poster inside referencing that horrible movie.
 I had the bacon cheeseburger, while my dad had the special.  They called it hangover chile.  I believe it had an egg on top, then a hamburger patty over chile, over fries.  Yes I know the heart attacks are right around the corner, but it tasted sooooo goood.
 After leaving the park we made our way west over some spectacular roads.  It was such amazing riding that I didn't take that many pictures.  We just rode!
 The open road! It's calling your name.
 After checking out a few state parks, we decided to just camp at a small, KOA type, place called The Craig Campground just east of the city of Craig, CO.  Of the three places we camped out I think I liked this place the best.
 The temperature was perfect and it was just a nice place to relax.
 After setting up the tents we drove into town and stopped at a local grocery store to pick up supplies.
 You have to know my dad, but this was a highlight for him.  He got to cook Dinty Moore stew over a small burner.  We bought some french bread and a couple of beers. 
 It turned out to be a pretty nice evening!
 Thanks for reading!  Stay tuned for next week when we ride into lovely Utah!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Colorado Trip 2013 - Part III

This is the continuation of a trip my dad and I took at the end of May.  The previous day we had just made Lakewood, CO.  Day 4 was going to be a "rest day", spent with family, checking out the various sights around town.  My dad and I didn't get to visit the Red Rocks Amphitheater, the day before, so my cousin drove us over to check it out.  It's usually open to the public.  My cousin said a lot of people use it to run steps, or for hiking, or to just hang out.  Unfortunately this time of year it gets used a lot for graduations.  This morning was no exception.  As we drove up the local security told us we could come in but the ceremony would be ending soon and we might get tied up in traffic.

Here we are driving up to the amphitheater.  Notice all the cars in the parking lot.  There were two other parking lots on the other side that were just as full.
 We decided it was best to move on before we got caught up in the mass exodus.  I snapped this picture of the graduation taking place as we turned around.
 We decided to head over to the town of Golden, northwest of Lakewood.
 We walked along the Clear Creek, which runs through town.  It was strange to see people outside enjoying themselves on a summer day.  Here in Tucson, where we've now gone something like 25 consecutive days above 100 degrees, people tend to stay indoors until the sun goes down.
 There were a number of people painting along the river.  Not sure if this was a class project or if this is a typical occurrence in Golden.
 We also saw people kayaking down and then walking their kayaks back up the river walk, only to start all over again.  Looked like a blast!  I'd have to give this a shot if I lived here.
 Check out the bridge sign.
 Just your average Friday afternoon in downtown Golden. 
 Of course Golden is also known for being the hometown of the Coors Brewery.  The factory is built right along the banks of the Clear Creek.  Anyone remember those Mark Harmon Coors commercials from the mid eighties?
We decided to take the factory tour. 
 I have a friend in California who brews beer in his garage.  I don't think he has anything near this kind of volume:).
 Everything is automated.  I probably watched a semi-truck load of beer being boxed and moved within the span of 5 minutes.
 At the end of the tour you can sample three different brews that Coors produces.  They punch your wrist band after each glass.  I was joking that if I lived in Golden I'd take this tour every morning before work:)
 My cousin's wife, Shannon on the left, along with my grandfather, Ryan, and my dad.  I think I was in line getting another beer.
 After enjoying a couple of nice refreshing beverages we made our way back to main street.  I spotted this beauty along the way.  A Triumph Scrambler.  Pretty much the same bike as mine with the exception of higher exhaust and shorter seat.  Good to know the people of Golden have fine tastes in motorcycles.
 My cousin suggested we have lunch at one of their favorite pizza places, Woody's Wood Fired Pizza.  Oh my gosh it was so good!
 We had the all-you-can-eat salad and pizza bar.  They'd just bake fresh pizza's and put them out on the counter.  You'd grab whatever looked good.  I swear I ate an entire pizza after it was all done.  I highly recommend this place if you're in the area!
 After leaving the restaurant we all piled into my cousin's junker.
 Ok, just kidding.  This is not my cousin's car.  It was parked out front and was drawing stares like crazy as we left.
 After lunch we headed west to a place called Lookout Mountain.  If we had been on bikes the ride up would have been amazing.  Sharp curves and big elevation change.  This is looking down into the town of Golden from the top.
 Bird's eye view of the Coors factory we had toured that morning.
 It just so happens that Buffalo Bill Cody is buried at the top of Lookout Mountain. 
 I have to say he picked an amazing spot for his final resting place.
 After touring the grounds we had time for a family photo before heading back home.  My aunt Carole and Rita on the left.  Lance, my parents, Ryan, and my grandfather on the right.
 That evening, Shannon made us Indian Fry Bread Tacos.  They were delicious!
 Nothing like eating well on a road trip!  Stay tuned for more!  Thanks for reading!