Day 15 - Idaho Springs, The Stanley Hotel and Rocky Mountain National Park

Published: June 29th 2010
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Now you should've known if there was a casino within a hundred mile radius Tim was going to find it and of course he did. We woke up this morning in Black Hawk, CO in the parking lot of the Isle of Capri somewhere around 10:30. I was still a little upset because we lost some money last night but I guess I'll get over it since it wasn't that much. It was kinda hard getting ready this morning because we had to crawl over the bed to get to the shower and master bath because there wasn't enough room to let the slides out. Somehow we managed and were soon on our way over to Idaho Springs, CO in search of another water fall and water wheel. Tim drove us over the mountain and through the forest and before I knew it we were there. I spotted a "fruit stand" just as we arrived in town so we stopped to get some tomatoes. Both Tim and I had been wanting a good "mater samwich" and we had been on the lookout since we left home. Finally, we found some and I sure was hoping they were gonna be good. We made our way into downtown Idaho Springs and found a great parking space right off the bat and boy were we happy. It's so hard to park in these little towns but this one was very accomodating thank goodness. The friendly gentleman at the fruit stand gave me directions over to Bridal Veil Falls (a different one than the one in Telluride) and said we would find the famous water wheel underneath. We followed his directions and sure enough, there it was. We stopped by the old train station first for a couple of photos and then made the short walk underneath I-70 and over to the waterfalls. It was a beautiful sight, just like the many other waterfalls before and it had a huge water wheel right underneath just like the man had told us. It is called the Charlie Tayler Water Wheel and it's the largest water wheel in the state of Colorado. Tim and I admired the beauty and then strolled through the park for a little while before we headed on back to the motorhome. As Tim began driving, I couldn't wait to get in the kitchen and try out those local tomatoes ! He found us a great little spot by the river to pull over so I made our lunch and we sat on the rocks and enjoyed our "mater samwiches". Tim decided he wanted to watch the race so he went back to the motorhome and turned the tv on and finished up while watching the race. The sandwiches were good but they definitely were not homegrown Georgia tomatoes. Oh what I would do for one of those right now !! Soon we were finished with lunch and it was time to head on over to Estes Park, CO and check out the Stanley Hotel. The drive over to Estes Park was incredible. We were so high up in the mountains we were literally in the clouds. The Stanley Hotel is famous for being haunted and is the place where Stephen King penned his hit movie The Shining. He stayed in room 217 while writing the manuscript but I can tell you right now there ain't no way I was staying there. It was actually featured on the History Channel and is said to be very haunted. Once we arrived at the front gates, we were told by the guard that we couldn't get through unless we were a guest at the hotel. Well that wasn't happening so we just took a few pictures from the front lawn and then head on over toward the Rocky Mountain National Park. We had read and heard so much about the Rocky Mountain National Park and we were excited and hopeful that we were gonna see some wildlife. As we entered the park, Tim pulled out our yearly pass and off we went. I'm telling you we barely got around the corner and there was this cute little deer standing right on the side of the road. I opened my window and he just looked at me and went on about his business. I guess he's used to being stared out and having his picture taken a thousand times a day. Tim and I both said that if we didn't see anything else that was okay because at least we got to see that deer. Well, before we could get around another corner, we saw a few cars pulled over on the side of the road. Of course we pulled over and joined them to see what all the fuss was about. It was CRAZY, there was a badger who was chasing a poor little prairie dog and trying to catch him for dinner. Each time the prairie dog would go in a hole the badger would backfill the hole and try to trap him underground. Then he would go to his hole and dig around and look for it. This went on forever as we all stood in awe of what was happening right in front of us. The badger filled in hole after hole until he finally captured the prairie dog. Tim was having a fit, it was like something you see on the Discovery Channel or National Geographic or something. Well that was exciting but we had just entered the huge park and really needed to get on down the road. We rode around for a few more minutes and before we knew it we were in front of a field full of elk. They were beautiful just grazing around and playing in the grass. We were so excited, we had only been there a short while and had already seen several animals. As we made our way through the park, we came upon a stone wall and what else but a big fat marmot was sitting on top just sunning and minding his own business. Tim pulled right up to him and he just stayed there for a minute before he realized we were there and then he hopped off and made his way underneath a rock. Evidently he wasn't a shy fellow at all because he soon came back out to show off for us. He ran around and hopped from rock to rock just like he was putting on a show. He was so cute and such a chubby little thing. As we continued on through the park, we saw several elk throughout, playing in the snow, sleeping in the sun or just nibbling on the grass. We were in complete shock, we had never seen so much wildlife out and about and it was great. The closer we got to the top of the mountains the more beautiful the view was. We stopped off at one of the snow capped mountain tops and had another snowball fight. This makes number three for the trip so far and it was so much fun. It's so crazy to play in the snow in shorts and flip flops all the while the sun is beating down on your face. We had a blast throwing snowballs at each other and chasing each other around but our feet were getting kinda cold so we headed on back over to the motorhome. As our feet were thawing out we made it to the very tip top of the mountain and pulled over at the rest station. This is where the real fun began. We had done this a few times before so Tim knew to take his stash of peanuts with him over to the stacked stone wall. Just as he arrived, all the little chipmunks and ground squirrels came out of the woodwork. You see, Tim thinks he's Dr. Doolittle, he thinks he can talk to the animals and they understand him and vice versa. He just cracks me up, I would never tell him that there are millions of other people that stop in the same exact place every year and do the same exact thing. He sat on the wall and played with the little rodents for about an hour. They climbed all over him in search of peanuts and he even made them dance. It really is the cutest thing ever but I just know one of these days he's gonna lose a finger or an ear or even worse, end up with rabies !! He enjoyed the animals while I took a million pictures and soon we were on our way. While in the Rocky Mountain National Park we crossed the continental divide for the millionth time but for some reason it's always exciting to me ??? We had been in the park for several hours and the sun was starting to set. However happy Tim was about all the wonderful animals we had seen and all the fun we had in the snow, he was still on the search for a bear. He's been looking for a bear, a rattle snake and a moose for a few years now with no avail. Just as I was telling him not to be disappointed, we turned the corner and what was standing there but a big fat MOOSE !! Finally, after all these years, all these states, all these parks, we finally got to see a moose out in the wild and not only one, but three !! They were standing near a small pond, at a little park, behind a wooden fence but we pulled over and walked right up to them at the fence. I couldn't believe what was standing right in front of us and just like all the others animals we encountered today, they acted just like we were not even there. Before I knew it the parking area was full of cars and everyone had their cameras out taking hundreds of pictures of the moose. Well, I thought it was great and awesome but I was getting eaten alive by mosquitos so I handed Tim the camera and headed for shelter in the motor home. Once I realized Tim wasn't coming back for a while, I grabbed my crossword book and started a new puzzle. I finished one and started on another before he decided it was time to say goodbye and goodnight to the moose. I was so excited and happy for him, now he can check that off his bucket list and move on to the bear and rattle snake. It was actually getting kind of dark by now and we were towards the end of the park but just as we were exiting, another elk walked right up to us for one last hoorah. Wow what an eventful and exciting day at Rocky Mountain National Park. Not only is this park full of active wildlife is offers some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen in my life. As we left the park, Tim and Magellan were in search of the nearest Wal-Mart so we could start making our way there. Well, Magellan said the closest one was about 40 miles away so Tim followed the directions and off we went. Goodness gracious, two hours later we finally arrived at the Wal-Mart in Frisco, CO. Little did we know we would have to drive 12,000 feet in the air over the mountain range just to get there. I don't really like driving on the sides of mountains in the daytime much less in the pitch dark. It was just awful. Tim could only drive about 20-30 miles per hour then entire way there and it was so dark he could barely see in front of us. I swore right then and there I would sleep on the side of the road before ever doing that again. Luckily, we made it safely to the parking lot where Tim found us a great parking area and we settled in for the night. Today was another wonderful day in the life of Tim and Candy. We got to see waterfalls, a haunted hotel, eat tomato sandwiches, play in the snow and enjoy the wildlife and beauty of a national park. I think we are headed over towards Vail, CO and Glenwood Springs, CO tomorrow and I'm hoping it will be another incredible adventure. Take Care and Sleep Tight ! :-)

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