Friday, October 1, 2010
Day 19: Salida to Rocky Mountain National NP (#11)
Day 19: Salida to Rocky Mountain National NP (#11)
I hate small towns because once you've seen the cannon in the park there's nothing else to do.
DB wants THB to make sure that it is reported that last night in Salida we were propositioned. There was a significant group, over 25 people, waiting outside the Elks Club (sic?) and as we passed they wanted to know if we would join them at Bingo Night. We politely declined (do we look like Bingo material?).
Pics: Frisco and motel KB and THB spend time in years ago when the car broke down on the way to St Louis (there’s a story here, will see if THB has room to fit it in this posting – ahhhhhhh, THB found room below), dead ponderosa pines (yes, same same from Montana, THOSE beetles), waiting while they cut down a pine, THB on top of the mountain WEARING A JACKET.
Major news: we have to turn on the defroster when we leave the hotel….down to the 40s when we leave in the morning. THB is still in shorts and t-shirt, the Salida earlybirds are in long pants, thick socks, jackets, and wool headgear pulled down over their ears…and this is inside! THB is fine with 40s, bring it on!
Breakfast: BREAKFAST at a Salida pastry store: BING-BING-BING-BING!!! BONUS ROUND!!!! For those of you who thought THB was slipping on the posts for this trip, it’s true. No pastry reports. THB was despondent, demoralized and maybe not even feeling at all well. Well, now you have a reason to go to the Downtown Bakery and Deli in downtown Salida. Yes, go!!! We arrive at what appears to be a momentous moment: 3 minutes after they open (and we had to stall at that). The hot chocolate croissants (only two appeared) are coming out of the oven. We match that with an excellent raspberry scone (big and good, my kind of combo) and a not too sweet cinnamon role. $6….YES ONLY SIX DOLLARS. We get coffee across the street where clearly this is the barista’s first ten minutes on the job: she doesn’t know how to spell café au lait (it’s on the menu above us) nor how to make them, nor much of anything. THB is getting desperate, the pastry is in the bag waiting to be eaten, it is warm. MAKE THE DAMN COFFEE! (and this is before THB has his coffee….). Coffee $5.
Heaven reached…all sigh! So many days on the road, so little pastry…and, we can’t finish it all, we are really out of practice. Partial scone eaten later in Rocky Mountain NP while awaiting traffic control okay to proceed.
We leave Salida, a great overnight spot (and not just because of the pastry, though that helped) and ride through high mountain valleys (most of the day is spent above 7,000 feet). When we get to Breckinridge (THB attended a Levi’s conference here many many pastries ago), the mountains are full of dead ponderosa pines. Many dead trees, more than we saw in Montana in July, millions more it appears. This continues all the way to the park and into the park and out the other side. Very depressing…no hope when the beetles can move faster than the trees and the winters are no longer cold enough to kill the beetle babies.
We stop for a few moments in Frisco. This is a cute tourist town where KB and THB spent the night because of a blown radiator cap. The part arrived the next day and then we found out the cap worked and the connections between the radiator and heater no longer worked and needed to be clipped off…no problem, this was August and really hot. Well, not the day we left Frisco at 10,000 feet it wasn’t, we practically froze as we descended in a rain (fortunately not snow) storm into Denver. On the way down the hill to Denver, traffic was backed up for quite a while (remember, we have no heat): a truck full of avocadoes had turned over and they were all over the road. We searched for the chip truck given the amount of accessible guacamole, no such luck…about an hour outside of Denver the heat returned and the feelings in our legs did as well.
Back to the NPs: lunch in Grand Lake (no relation to GL Theater), not very good, $24 (so much for 4.5 stars on Trip Advisory….3 stars off). DB ordered safe: veggie burger. THB ordered the chicken philly…bad idea!
Now we enter Rocky Mountain NP from the west, which is the rarely used entrance. Dead pine pictures are from near this entrance, and one pic is from when we had to wait while the cut down two pines, they wanted to make sure they didn’t hit a passing car.
Then to one of the high points of the trip (very bad pun), where THB scales from 11,700 feet to over 12,000 feet on a path the park service thinks is closed, and those making the climb wish that was true! Note picture of THB in a jacket….for the first time in 19 days, it is cold enough to need another layer. Note: DB does not make this climb. Note: THB did not require oxygen when he reached the top without stopping, THB needed medical evacuation. Note: THB would have submitted to blood and urine tests if he did not make it to the top because he was pretty sure bad (Spanish?) meat was served at lunch.
Park is very pretty and the roads are freshly paved and look way too narrow to be winding their way through the mountains with steep drop-offs all over the place.
As we exit the park, we have entered some exotic theme based village with tons of kitsch stores (at least two taffy, er, taffee places), mini-golf, and something called the Elk festival being set up for tomorrow. Clearly this is the more used access point to the park.
We arrive at Holiday Inn; for two nights, we have a true suite and free breakfasts for $180 a night. Not a bargain, good for us to have the extra space as we start the process of sorting our stuff from hiking and parking to art and Denver, Des Moines and Omaha.
Dinner at Dave’s Smokin’ BBQ, full of UofG Dawg fans (as was the NP) in red awaiting the game tomorrow vs U of Colorado. Food is quite good: ribs, brisket and half a chicken saved for tomorrow’s picnic. With wine and beer, $50.
On the way back to the hotel, just as we are with a block, the traffic slows down to a crawl. And, there on our right, grazing in a small patch of grass, is a large elk with a rack of antlers at least 8 feet across (dream on, Hartford). No camera, no photo…sorry!