NOTE: IN ORDER TO BETTER SEE PHOTOS IN THEIR FULL 1600 PX. RESOLUTION, VIEW THEM IN THE ALBUM FORMAT BY CLICKING ON THE LEAD PHOTO OR ANY PHOTO IN THE POST. This is especially true for landscape shots. Thanks to Mark for the idea of adding this alert so the photos can be seen at their best!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Pokemon Go! Go! Go!

I resisted the lure of Pokemon Go as long as I could, but once we were on vacation I succumbed and downloaded it to my phone.  Now, before you snicker, let me tell you that I have seen it work miracles.  It got my Cory out of the basement and walking for 4 days in a row after it was released.  Something I have been trying to get him to do for years with no success.  Exercise and sunshine were on his to-do list from his doctors for his bipolar from the start, but it took Nintendo to make it happen.

I thought it would be something fun for us to share on our vacation together, and I'm in danger of becoming an addict in just a few short days.  Not only is there the instant gratification of "I got one!" but you get prizes and the thrill of hatching eggs to boot.  An unexpected bonus is now I like walking in the city because that's where the most stuff is to be found.

When we get back home I now can walk around town, and the next town, and the next town, and never be bored again.  Much like geocaching, our walking took us places we wouldn't maybe have normally gone and we got to see things we might have missed driving by in the car.

We walked right down the main highway into downtown Estes Park, collecting Pokeballs, potions, and battling Pokemon along the way.

Once in town we did detour into a couple of shops, and even dropped a few dollars.  Pokemon helps the local economy!

Cory got a jellyfish doo-dad to add to his knick knack shelf, and I bought a t-shirt and pajama pants. We were tempted by more, but restrained ourselves.  Besides, we were too busy looking for Ponyta and Haunters.

And we found this little shop that was funny to me considering our bipolar world.

I did think about buying this frog holding the umbrella, but felt $165 was a little steep, besides where would he fit in our toy hauler?  Not the kind of toy Wayne envisioned toting around the country.

The only time we ate out was at Antonio's pizza which was pretty good, a wonderful surprise since most often we are disappointed in any pizza that is more than a day's drive from Chicago.

In the parking lot we collected more Pokeballs at the "stop" by the elk statue.

I also collected a picture of some real elk in the river just behind the bronze elk.  A little irony to go with our pizza and Pokemon.

Yes, Pokemon Go is dangerous if you don't watch where you're walking or try to play while driving, but I'm sure we're not the only family benefiting from its positive influence.  Parents can get their young kids outside, and in our family we have something to talk about besides doctors appointments and pill reminders!  

Monday, August 29, 2016

Day Four - Elk and More in Estes Park

Friday started with another solo hike at Hollowell Park trailhead, another spot that was likely to be overlooked in the park and therefore favored by a gal like me who likes the trail mostly to herself.

When I pulled in it was almost 7:00 in the morning and the light was perfect.

I mean, look at this!

I shot that one hand held with my 55-250mm lens, a real winner for its light weight and zoom capability.   I just returned the 300mm lens because even though it is a "better" lens I can't shoot with it handheld and it is HEAVY.  If you shoot on a tripod go ahead and spend the $1300.00, I'm just too lazy and impatient to fiddle around with that much equipment.

I also was missing the adapter for my tripod so the picture above I shot using my hiking stick that doubles as a monopod.  Keep it simple, that's my motto.

The trail starts out in a meadow and then starts moving up into lightly forested hillside along lovely Mill Creek.  It was nice to hear the water burbling, a good distraction from my lungs struggling to breathe the thin air as I hiked slowly uphill.

I hiked about 1.5 miles before turning around and heading back down.  But not before using the monopod again to get a portrait style shot of myself as I caught my breath.  Not looking too bad for a gray haired lady in the woods!

Later that day Cory and I walked through Estes Park in search of Pokemon (more on that later) and were charmed by the Riverwalk which featured a tile mural.

And in addition to the benches for resting there were instruments to play as well.

Across the street at the library a car show was in progress.

And just up the road behind our campground the elk were hanging out in the shade.  I couldn't wait to grab Wayne and show him the big stag hanging out with his ladies.

We were on our way out of the RV park to go see them where I thought they were and discovered they had made their way down to see us instead.

The elk are much too comfortable around people, most dogs are more leery of strangers than these guys are.  And the stag was positively in love with the stand of aspen.

Wayne had to be reminded that even though there were trees in between him and that stag he was standing much too close and likely to put himself in danger.

We finally got neighbors on Friday afternoon and when I got a look at our new situation I made the decision that we needed to leave a day early.

To me it was worth forfeiting the $55 and moving on down the road to avoid another 24 hours of too close for comfort style camping.  There is nothing relaxing about the situation pictured below.

Besides, while we enjoyed out time in Estes Park it wasn't as attractive to us as other places we have been to and we felt like we had seen enough.  Here's a video of Mill Creek and the elk scratching his face and antlers on the tree.  Music by Shake that Little Foot titled "Lark in the Clear Air".

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Day Two - Solo Hiking at the Lawn Lake Trailhead

You may not have noticed, but last night I accidentally pushed "publish" on the wrong post and you got to see what we did on our third day but not our second day!  On our second full day in Estes Park I woke up at dawn and headed up to the Lawn Lake Trailhead.  On the way in I passed some elk grazing near the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center.

And then some deer crossed the road as I made my way up toward Deer Mountain.

The sunflowers didn't impress them as they moved down into the meadows below, but I liked them.

But it was hard to drag my eyes away from the mountain vistas as I drove onward.

After turning at the intersection for Horseshoe Park I descended again and at the bottom found a meadow near Sheep Lake where some young deer were playing.

I parked at the Lawn Lake trailhead, right where it says "you are here".  The question was where would my boots take me from there?

I decided to go left for no other reason than I didn't want to start with vertical hiking and wear myself out before all the morning light was gone.

The path crossed back over the road I drove in on, and cut across the side of the meadow by Sheep Lake.  Far off in the distance some elk were moving down the mountain to enjoy the grassy area too. Today the 1,700 elk that inhabit the park grounds are decendents of the 49 that were brought back to the Rockies from Yellowstone National Park to repopulate the area in 1913.

A few wildflowers were growing, breaking up the monotony of the grass and cheering up the cloudy morning.

Ahead was some fencing, put in place in areas of the park to protect vegetation from overgrazing by the numerous elk that have become a problem due to the lack of predators.  Since the elk roam freely in town introducing wolves into the park has been discarded as a solution and currently about 50 elk a year are culled by expert marksmen instead.

There is a gap large enough at the bottom of the fencing to let other animals in but keep the elk out.  I used the gate on the way in, but slid under the fence on my way back out.

birds plucking the thistle seeds

When I was on the other side again I ran into the remnants of a predator's breakfast so made a wise decision to head back the way I had come on the edge of the open meadow.

What animals are hiding in this thick growth inside and just outside of the fence?

With my wandering in the meadow cut short I headed back to where I started and began heading up the mountain.

I climbed steadily for about a mile before I decided that I had enough exercise for one morning.  On my way back down I ran into a Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel.

They resemble chipmunks but are larger and have a lovely golden brown coloring around their neck and shoulder area.  This one seemed to know how handsome it was and posed freely for me.

I mean, seriously!  Who says rodents aren't adorable?

I'm glad I got my hiking in early, by the time I got back to the camper I had neck pain so bad that when we were driving down to Loveland I considered going to the emergency room because it was radiating up into my face and the top of my head.  Ice and advil eventually reduced my suffering, but I am still babying it days later.  A few cookies from Mary's Mountain Cookies in Loveland helped too.

And a sighting of Peter Toth's Whispering Giant named "Redman" as we sped along Highway 34 back to Estes Park lifted my spirits as well.

Here's a video of my morning hike before the agony set in, enjoy!

And happy birthday to my mother-in-law who celebrated her 95th today!!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Day Three - A Drive on Old Fall River Road

As I mentioned before the National Parks celebrated their centennial while we were in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Wayne and I on Timber Ridge Road, RMNP

On our third day in the park we took a drive up the Old Fall River Road, which is accessible from the Lawn Lake area of the park.  The gravel road is very well maintained but vehicles over 25 feet are not allowed.

The 9 mile one way road provided stunning views as we climbed upward toward the Alpine Visitor Center.

It's a bit late for wildflowers, but I caught sight of a few.  Of course minutes later we were engulfed in clouds and then came the thunder and the sleet!

I thought a video would be better than pictures for this adventure.  I even finally figured out how to add music!  Music is by Jason Shaw and is called Green Leaves.