Chronicles of the Colorado Adventure: Day 1

I have many obsessions and addictions. Travel falls into both categories. Therefore, you may try your dead-level best (and probably fail) to imagine my extreme delight when Mom announced she and Aunt Kelly and myself were going to Colorado to visit Uncle Greg.

My Chronicle opens on Saturday (September 24), when we were all rested up and ready to go after the previous day's 14 or 15 hour drive from Missouri to Colorado. Since the weather was utterly, astoundingly beautiful, Uncle Greg decided to take us to Rocky Mountain National Park. Our outing started well, with a bear sighting before we even got into the park.
There he was, just sitting in his tree and looking at us all. Several cars were pulled onto the shoulder, and people were frantically snapping pictures. A few policemen and park rangers were there to protect the bear from the tourists. We took a few photos, and then continued on our way. 

The road went up. And up. And up. My ears were popping, and so were my eyes as I took in the rugged surroundings. The colors were lovely. Brown rocks standing tall, and golden aspens waving against a backdrop of deep blue sky. 

At last we reached the park. We walked around in a brown-and-green meadow that was cut through by a young Big Thompson River. 
I spotted a distant herd of elk. This is the time when the bulls are bugling, and they are more active than usual. Unfortunately, the elk I saw were too far away to allow for good pictures. 

Mom let is slip that she had always wanted to ride a horse in the Rocky Mountains. Uncle Greg, eager to please, drove us to a riding stable were you could pay an exorbitant amount of money to take a two-hour mountain scramble on a sedate plug. A friendly old cowboy, complete with tobacco-stained mustache and much-battered ten-gallon hat, met us and signed us up for a ride later that afternoon. Mom fell into friendly conversation with him, and I joined in once I was able to peel my horrified gaze away from the sign announcing how much per person the ride would cost. 

We had several hours to kill, so we went for a hike around a lake. Cub Lake, if my memory serves me correctly (which is doubtful). 'Beautiful' was almost too weak a word to describe the lake and its surroundings.  The following picture might give you some idea. 
After going around the lake, we sought out a convenient pile of rocks on which to spread our lunch.
It was time to head back to the stables. The crazy elk almost made us late. They were everywhere. Absolutely everywhere. There was a huge traffic pile-up on one road, and we could only proceed at a snail's pace. I truly felt for the poor rangers who were trying to bring order out of that chaos of elk, camera wielding tourists, and backed-up cars. We finally made it to the stables without a moment to spare.

I think that Aunt Kelly, Uncle Greg, and Mom all enjoyed the ride. My idea of a fun horse experience is to go for a canter with a couple of good friends, so the trail ride we took was not the most exhilarating for me. We rode slowly, in single file, over very precipitous paths that made me bless the sure-footedness of my horse. But hey, I was at least on horseback, so that was something. 

There was a herd of intrepid female elk grazing beside the road when we got back from the ride. There was no bull in evidence, but I got some decent shots of the cows.
And with that, we piled ourselves back into Uncle Greg's car and headed back down the mountain, satisfied with our day's adventures.