Sunday, July 13, 2008

Vacation Part I: Rocky Mountain National Park

So here's how it all happened.

At seven p.m., we loaded up the kids and headed out. The plan: drive straight through the night to Rocky Mountain National Park (17 hours away) while the kids slept.

They weren't really sleepy.

In fact, it was about eleven that night before their vacation adrenaline finally wound up.

It was kind of a rodeo for awhile. Anyway, that drive was exciting because it was the last time for several days that any of us were clean and not begrimed with dirt, sunblock, and bug repellent.

After a loooong night with way too many Harry Potter audio CDs, singing endless rounds of the sandman song (Juliet kept waking up and needing to be sung back to sleep, usually right when the person not driving had finally managed to fall asleep), lots of Twizzlers (believe it or not, Abigail recognized the smell from the backseat. I think the last time she had a Twizzler was at Halloween), and being saved from midnight starvation by a dozen carrot raisin muffins (mmm...will definitely have to bake some for the drive home), we found the Rockies. Abigail was suitably impressed.

A view from the town of Estes was pretty spectacular.

We drove into the park and headed up to Longs Peak campground, which was at an altitude high enough to wind us walking from the car over to the picnic table. I think we figured out that it was 11,500 feet higher than our hometown.

My favorite thing about the campsite was that indescribable scent that's a mix of lodgepole pine, sagebrush, and fresh mountain air. We just stood there smelling it for a long time (and adjusting to the elevation). Then we set up camp, first imprisoning Juliet so we could actually get things done. Note: she did NOT like this.

After we set up camp, we went on a short hike to a waterfall nearby. It was a really fun walk through huge stands of lodgepole pine, past enormous piles of glacial moraine, and accompanied the whole time by the booming of the ice-cold waterfall.

However, since we hadn't gotten much sleep the night before, we were pretty tuckered out, so we headed back to our campsite, where all of us looked longingly at the sleeping bags and felt sad about the fact that it was barely 4 pm local time (and hence not exactly quiet).

Abigail spent a lot of time after dinner "fishing" with another Twizzler.

In between bouts of fishing, she used a piece of twine (from the firewood) to tie up the surrounding trees. Fun, but she got totally covered in pine sap (and then she played in the dirt, so she was pretty much filthy).

The next morning our darling children woke us (and everyone else in the campground) up at 5 am local time with yells of "I AM COLD!" (and man, it was cold...I think it was the only time I've ever really WANTED to be in a mummy bag. Although not a mummy bag shared with Juliet, and Neil sharing his with Abigail, which was how we ended up when the kids decided it was too cold to be awake.

So anyway, we were out of our campsite and on the road again before 7 am. COLD. But fun because we were one of the few cars driving the Trail Ridge Road, which was absolutely spectacular and I should hyperlink it. Maybe I will later. We drove along, stopping occasionally when we saw something fun to hike to. Like elk and snowfields and glacial lakes.


There was the most beautiful lake cupped in these mountains--if you look just above the green grassy bits you may be able to see it (or click on the photo to enlarge).

We stopped at the Alpine Visitor's Center and hiked up to the top of the peak--absolutely beautiful (more elk!), but very high and very cold.

And windy, much to Juliet's joy, because she had a lot of fun playing with my hair. Poor kid!

Here we are hiking the 8000 steps up to the overlook at the visitor's center... look at the elk...

...which, since we were pretty much the only ones up there, stayed put while we took a million pictures...

Remember when I said it was really high?

Then we got back into the car, drove all day, got really sick of being in the car (literally...poor Abigail threw up half an hour from Neil's parents' house), and then we drove into one of my very favorite places in the world...Provo Canyon.

Except our windshield was really bug-covered by this point.

Lots o' fun camping and running around and watching Abigail's delight and fascination and hearing her say over and over again, "This is so much fun! We are all having so much fun! This is so beautiful!"


Kritta22 said...

What an adventure!! How cool is that, that you took soo many pictures of the elk! You go! Twizzlers are life-savers on our trips too!
I totally love that you brought your play-pin...I should have thought of that!

joanna said...

Ok . . . camping with two little kids? Bless your soul! What troopers!
Love Juliet in the snowcap, BTW.

Ruth Decker said...

Abigail was so cute when she talked about the mountains this morning!! Thanks for coming to visit my work! It was wonderful and I was excited to see all of you!

lanada said...

we are going to be staying at david's grandmother's cabin in provo canyon this weekend. i'm pretty sure you kids should come see us there. it's GORGEOUS.

Katrina said...

You guys are quite the adventurers--glad you are having fun!

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