Sunday September 4, 2016…Day 15


This morning we awoke in Loveland, Colorado, and tonight we end our day in Manitou Springs, Colorado. After breakfast at the hotel, and a brief stop across the street to wash the Sonata, we headed south this morning along Interstate 25 towards Denver. We had two plans for today; to see The Unsinkable Molly Brown’s house, and to attend a Rockies game at Coors Field! The game was at 2 and we figured we’d have time to take a tour of the Molly Brown house before heading over to Coors Field. Turns out that on our way to the Molly Brown House, the GPS took us right by Coors Field!

As we continued on, we weren’t thrilled with the neighborhood, but it turned out that the Molly Brown House was beyond that area. This was the house that Molly Brown had built in 1889 in the fashionable part of Denver, after her husband discovered gold in Leadville, Colorado! If you’ve seen the Debbie Reynold’s movie, The Unsinkable Molly Brown, you know about her escapades in Denver, Europe, and even how she survived the sinking of the Titanic. Susie thought it would be interesting to see if the house looked anything like the movie sets!

IMG_5625When we got there, we thought it would be hard to find parking, and drove around the block a couple of times. We were just about to give up, when suddenly someone pulled out of a space as we drove up the block. We parked, walked around the corner, and wondered if anyone else in their right mind would be heading to the Molly Brown House! Well, turns out we followed the crowd down the street. Who knew it was apparently one of Denver’s landmarks! We had hoped to get the 45 minute tour that started at 12 noon, but when we got to the desk to purchase tickets, we found out that the next two tours were sold out! That would mean we’d have to kill an hour there, and then be late getting to the ball game! Susie graciously said we should just move on to Coors Field!

IMG_6151By the time we got back in the neighborhood of the ball park, it was about 12:30 and now our task was to find parking. Didn’t see any Rockies “official” parking, but did find a city lot about 3-4 blocks from the field. We paid our $20, grabbed our hats and sun glasses, and started the trek to our ball game. The walk seemed much longer than the drive we’d taken getting there, but all’s well that ends well. We entered the main gate, said no thanks to the bobble head doll that was offered today (just what we needed, more stuff in the car), and wandered around the stadium a bit. Eventually we found an escalator to the second floor where our seats were.

As we tried to enter the area, we had to show our tickets and little did I realize it was because our seats were in the Wells Fargo Club. Think Caesar’s Club at Citi Field, both in seat location and amenities. I had no idea when I bought these tickets online on August 13, so it was a happy accident. The seats were great! We were just to the right of home plate, in the third row, and had a beautifully unobstructed view. There was an empty seat next to Susie, and the two end seats in our row were next to me and empty. Couldn’t have been better!! Just like Citi Field, the radio and tv booths were just to our left! Add to that the fact that we were in the shade! Perfect!

Just after we got into our seats, Susie got a message from a girl that she’d gone to Nursing School with and who lives in Colorado. Susie had been her Maid of Honor when she got married 42 years ago, and she’d been one of Susie’s Bridesmaids when we got married 37 years ago…and that was the last time they’d seen each other! Joanne said that she and her husband Frank would be downtown at the Taste of Colorado Festival, and they could meet us outside the field at about 1:30 to at least say hello. Both Susie and Joanne really wanted to see each other, and Susie found out the procedure to go out and re-enter Coors Field. We spent a wonderful half hour by the Home Plate gate of Coors Field catching up on life. We missed Molly Brown’s House, but a reunion of sorts was held that they will both remember for a long time!

As to the game…well, turns out that neither the Rockies nor the Arizona Diamondbacks are great teams, but we had a ball park frank, a beer, and enjoyed being at a ball game in the Mile High city! In the end, the Rockies lost to the Diamondbacks by a score of 8-5, but as Mets Fans, we know what the Denver fans were feeling! Wait till next year!

While most ball parks have a blank section in the outfield, Coors Field has Pine Trees!  Also, does any other MLB park have trees in the Bullpen, and if you click on the last picture, you can see the Rocky Mountains from our seats!


IMG_5629Leaving the ball park, the traffic was kind of heavy, as this is the Sunday of Labor Day Weekend. The Interstate moved below the speed limit, till we got out of the city limits. I commented to Susie, that so much of our trip so far has been in rural areas, that even Denver feels like a big city. We both agreed that we liked the smaller areas, that we’ve spent so much time in the last two weeks! Saw some interesting rock formations on our way to Manitou Springs, such as Castle Rock, which lends it’s name to a huge community just south of Denver!

We are in Manitou Springs tonight, because tomorrow morning we have 10:40 AM reservations to take the Cog Railway up to the top of Pikes Peak. The only reason we are staying here for two nights is so we can do that in the morning, and visit around the area tomorrow afternoon. After we checked into the Days Inn, and had a drink, we went out to explore. Having had a ball park frank and a beer at Coors Field, we were not looking for anything huge, so we thought we’d drive through town and see what we found. Well, let me offer some advice, even if you plan on going on the cog railway, don’t stay in Manitou Springs! In “Historic Manitou Springs”, there are old (and I mean old) motels, dingy looking bars, and strange restaurants. We saw many weird people. You don’t think this could be because pot is legal in Colorado, do you?

The fact that this is Labor Day weekend, also perhaps was part of the reason the town was jammed. Even the oldest, crummy looking motels have No Vacancy signs! As to food, nothing looked the least bit appetizing. So then we said, well perhaps a Pizza Hut or such. We stopped at one, got out of the car, actually walked into the “restaurant”, and turned and ran! Even the fast food places (McDonalds, Wendy’s, KFC) looked empty and foreboding. Now, we drove into Old Colorado City, and it looked like a very nice little town, with some good looking restaurants. We will look to their restaurants for dinner tomorrow. For tonight, we decided to Eat Fresh!



IMG_6144Here’s our handy tip for tonight. If you’ve stayed in as many hotels as we have, you’ve noticed how there is always a little sliver of light that manages to get into the room between the two room darkening curtains. The solution, travel with a little clip that you can use to attach the two curtains, and seal out the light! The one we have is a metal clothes pin, but a Chip Clip would work equally well. If you are in this predicament, and don’t have anything with you, grab one of the pants hangers in the closest (if you’re lucky enough not to be staying in a hotel that has them welded to the rod, so you don’t steal them), and use the clip that you would normally use to hang pants, and connect the curtains together. Suddenly, it stays dark in the room, and you don’t wake at 6:30 to that one stream of sun light that manages to hit you square in the face!

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?!