Day Fourteen

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Day fourteen finds us in Loveland, Colorado. After breakfast this morning in Craig, we headed east for our only attraction of the day, Rocky Mountain National Park! I had so wanted Susie to see this and to cross the Continental Divide (yeah, I know), and because of how we planned our trip, visiting the Rockies necessitated a jog back east. We have now reached our eastern most area of the trip, until we officially start heading back east, which will be after we visit Vegas next weekend. From today till Vegas, we either head south or west.

First off, Happy Labor Day Weekend 2016! I was very concerned when I realized that our drive through Rocky Mountain National Park would be on the Saturday of Labor Day Weekend! I envisioned bumper to bumper traffic, and parking lots at scenic views full of cars. It turns out that we were going through the park west to east, and most people seem to go the other direction, so we passed more cars coming at us than were traveling in our direction. The scenic turn outs were crowded, but there always seemed to be space at the ones we wanted to stop at. Turns out that my concern was unfounded.

The road through Rocky Mountain National Park is called Trail Ridge Road, but in reality it is US Highway 34. US Route 34 runs for 1,122 miles from Granby, Colorado (where we got on it) and it ends in Berwyn, Illinois at Historic Route 66. The road through the park was built between 1929 and 1933, and is closed from fall to the spring, so in a couple of months, we couldn’t have done today’s drive. In addition to crossing the Continental Divide, our route today reached an elevation of 12,183 feet, making US Route 34 the highest paved through highway in the United States!

We started our trip at Granby, and stopped at the first Visitor Center we saw, which was before the entrance booth of the park. A dark cloud had descended over us, and when we stopped it was raining and the temperature was in the 50s! After a brief stop at the bathroom and the information counter, we were on our way back to the car when a moose came out of the woods, and was munching of a tree behind the center! Susie got a picture with her phone and then we moved on to the park.

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We pulled up to the entrance gate, and I handed the ranger my Senior Pass and driver’s license, and we gained admission! The best $10 I will ever spend. Lucky for us, the dark cloud moved away, and the weather for 90% of our drive on Trail Ridge Road was sunny, but cool. At the highest elevation the temperature dropped to the high 30s! There were a lot of curves, and a lot of switchbacks as we climbed into the clouds. At one point Susie said, “Hello God..we’re in your world now”, and indeed we were! To say that the sights we saw were breathtaking would be an understatement (some of the curves on the road took my breath away, but then that’s a different story!). I really can’t describe adequately what we saw, so here are a selection of some of today’s best pictures, and believe me when I tell you that they don’t do justice to what we saw!

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We exited the park in Estes Park, Colorado and the town was jumping, befitting the Saturday of Labor Day weekend! As we continued on to the hotel, we saw cabins, motels, lodges, and hotels all with “No Vacancy” signs out front! I guess we were lucky to have made tonight’s reservation about a month ago. We’re staying in Loveland, Colorado in a Comfort Inn, one of our favorite types of hotels we’ve discovered on the trip.

The last time we had anything that resembled Italian food, was the Pizza, fried zucchini sticks, and Encaldo salad from Mineola Pizza, that we had on Saturday, August 20th. I said in a recent blog, that we really haven’t seen a lot of Italian restaurants in our travels, and tonight when Susie was doing research on dinner places, she found one that sounded promising. She showed me the menu, and I agreed, so tonight we headed to Biaggi’s Italian Restaurant, just about 10 minutes down the road. It was a good find, and we no longer have a craving for good Italian! Susie had Lasagna Bolognese, I had Rigatoni Bolognese with Sausage, and we washed it down with one of our favorite Proseccos, Mienetto. All that was great, but the star of the night was our appetizer, Calamari Friti – Agrodolce. Oh my God, was it fantastic! When we saw sweet garlic chilly sauce and red peppers, we expected the kind of sauce that is like a duck sauce with hot peppers, but it was so much more. Here’s the description from the menu:

Sweet Garlic Chili Sauce, Sautéed Cabbage, Onions and Red Peppers, Pine Nuts

It was sooooo good!! The cabbage and the onions, mixed with the peppers, and then the fried calamari…what a great combo!!

Random Notes…

I said a couple of days ago, that we had only seen the aftermath of two accidents in our time on the road.  Well today, make that number 3!  Like in Yellowstone last week, there are folks who think that the road signs with pictures of hairy curves, and a 20 MPH suggested speed limit are not for them.  Today, as we were leaving the park, we saw what that kind of thinking can lead to!

I was very happy to have taken my barber with me, and last night at the Best Western Hotel in Craig, Colorado I got a trim. Susie has been cutting my hair since we got married (which will be 37 years later this month), so I am all set for the trip. She is disappointed that she couldn’t take either her hair dresser or manicurist with her! Perhaps she can get both items taken care of in early October when we join Kenny on the Liberty of the Seas for two weeks!

We find that almost every day we either learn something, or make a discovery on our own. Today’s discovery had to do with ice for our cooler. We left NY with a case of water in the car, which we have been drinking all along. As we’ve almost finished all the bottles, the other day in Rock Springs at Walmart we bought a new case. Tonight when we checked into the hotel, we noted that our room refrigerator had a freezer. Susie said, “Hey, why don’t we freeze some of our water bottles and dump them into the cooler instead of buying ice tomorrow?” A simple but brilliant idea that not only gives us ice for the cooler, but also as they melt, gives us icy cold water! I was so lucky back almost 37 years ago when this lady said “I do” to me!!!

Tomorrow, Denver and a Rockies game…not our Mets, but when in Rome, right?!

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