Friday July 15th - Rocky Mountain National Park

Published: July 16th 2016
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Today was a bus tour day - I'm generally not a fan, but it was the only way to get up and see the Rockies and national park. To be fair, Grayline did an excellent job - a lot of pit stops for pictures and tonsssss of history and fun facts as we drove along. Nice balance.

I had to catch the bus at the Ritz Carleton since it doesn't stop at the hostel lol. Waiting at the Ritz was fun - so fancy smancy. While walking to the street I noticed a placard in the cement "Stay hydrated and have a nice day. -Luke" Aw. I quite like that.

And so off we went on tour with Marc and Roger - we got a lot of interesting info about Denver itself as we drove out, about its history. Also fun to drive by their super exclusive country club, with polo ground and a PGA-quality golf course all for the totally reasonable price of like 75gs plus 5gs per month of maintenance fees. I can see why their millionaire row isn't too far from this club.

In Denver itself got to see Cherry Creek - they've done a
Snow! Snow! Snow!

I got excited the first snow cap I saw, ok.
nice path along it so it's basically a much better Rideau Canal lol. Also interesting to hear (as we went by statues) that Denver has it set up so at least 1% of development deals have to go towards art or provements outside... which is brilliant!

Heading west we passed by Coors Brewery. Along the highway I noticed how many signs they have related to pot (not mixing with booze, don't smoke and drive, and my fav super detailed one that says edibles take longer to peak - wait 4 hrs to drive).

So yes, good first chunk of the drive was through a canyon, following the creek - we saw some rafters and some rock climbers - human and bighorn sheep. We did a pit stop in this tiny town called Dumont where you could get a coffee for 5 cents! Marc joked that if you'd rather get your daily transfusion, there's also a Starbucks. Yeh, guess where everyone went lol.

Next stop was Berthound pass where we have the continental divide - so which way water flows, east or west. Gorgeous view down the canyon. Could definitely feel the air difference - a lot cooler and thinner at 13,000 ft.

We drove past a bunch of ski resorts and saw a bald eagle nest along one of the poles. The eagle was there but bent over, so no good photo. We ended up at Lake Granby where we stopped for our lunch. A bunch of us solo travellers decided to eat together - two ladies from NY, then from NJ, Texas and Atlanta. Omg it was funny when I said I was Canadian. A girl from NY was like "OMG I'M SO JEALOUS". Not a reaction I've heard before ahahaha. They were cute though. They kept asking me to say words to see if I sounded Canadian or not. Silly people. It was also cute seeing how excited the city folk got over seeing chipmunks.

We drove up to Alpine Ridge and followed that trail, about 12,000 ft. It's high and oh boy you feel the air. We had an optional hike up this little hill that honestly would take 5min in regular air... we dragged ourselves up stopping like 5x haha. Gorgeous views though - totally worth it. On the way back down we found a nest of baby birds too - they really blend in, we only found them because we could hear the chirps.

Back on the bus, we saw a bunch of elk. Some were eating and some were striking poses for the camera. What divas. As we started to descend a bit, the cloud cover was low and you could see the clouds below us which is always picturesque. At our next photo stop there were a bunch of scraggly bighorns, along with more gorgeous views of the valley below. The clouds were doing some amazing things too. I don't know, after today I have to say Colorado is the second prettiest state I've been to. I'd love to come back and properly explore some more.

Rainbow curve was the next stop - another beautiful view into the valley, even if there was quite a bit of haze (from the forest fires further north, apparently). But best part at this stop was all the chipmunks! They were darting every which way all over the place - little cuties. (Yes the city folk were losing their minds hahaha.) I also saw a pika off in the distance - it's essentially a giant fluffball hamster. And there were some gorgeous grey/blue woodpeckers.

And that was that, really. The drive back was long and slow... I think everyone fell asleep, including myself. I get to sit on a bus all day again tomorrow as I head back to Albuquerque. (For those of you who haven't heard the story, I basically tagged Denver on to my trip because Expedia is full of shit and when there was a schedule change on my original flight from Montreal to Albuquerque, they didn't just change my time... no, no, they changed the date of my flight. Therefore I was going to be in Albuquerque for 5.5 days which is way too much Albuquerque... and Denver was the closest place to add on... even if it meant long bus rides. Sigh.)

On that note, a car is parked outside blasting "Backstreet's Back" and girls are fangirl shrieking. I don't even want to look outside.

Additional photos below
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Rainbow CurveRainbow Curve
Rainbow Curve

It was a little hazy...

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