Sunday, November 8, 2015

Anniversary Vacation: Colorado-style

Hello, hello!

Hope this finds you all well!

If you don't mind, I'd love to share about our celebratory first anniversary trip to Estes Park, CO.

We'd debated between mountains and beaches for our honeymoon trip, and since we decided on the beach then, we saved mountains for a year later.

As you might remember, I grew up going to Estes Park/Colorado on family vacations (even recently enough for a blog post).  Estes Park is one of my very favorite places, and I was so excited to share it with Bryant!  Since we went in the fall, rather than the summer, it made for some different (and new for me, too) experiences, and we enjoyed every bit!

I could write all about it, of course, but how about I just show you (and tell you a little bit)!
Got an early start on our drive!
Pretty much sums up western Kansas..., we didn't miss much due to the fog.
Though we didn't get in on any far-off mountain views, the sign assured us we were in the right place.
Not our final destination, but sure seems like it should've been, huh?
It was raining...a lot...and it was cold...and windy...but we didn't miss the photo op. 
First true mountain view.
Thank you, Boulder, for the safe scenic pull-off.
First view of snow!
It snowed in Estes the day we arrived.  We couldn't believe our luck!
Always thankful for strangers willing to take our picture.  ☺
I'd never seen a snow-covered Estes Park valley in person!
(Those are mostly snow-covered rooftops.)
The Rose Den - you can kind-of see the name of it on the porch rail - our cabin for a couple days!
The "path" to our cabin.  Steeper than it looks and definitely more treacherous in the snow (this was taken on our last day...not the first).  So very thankful for my strong, capable husband...esp. when he carries heavy things in situations like this.
It was so homey and cozy!
We knew about the fireplace before we got there, but a piano, too?!  That was a surprise.
Again - thankful for my capable, handy husband.
Don't worry...there were s'mores.
The view from our cabin window!
That's Long's Peak in the distance.
We also knew there would be a hot tub, but didn't end up using it - partially because of the distance from it to the cabin door (the hot tub is on the left side of this shot and you can see the cabin roof on the right)...and the outside temperature.
Our first wildlife spotting!  We think they were mule deer.
More wildlife!!
We saw 50+ elk in our first couple hours in Estes...and our first 15 mins. in Rocky Mountain National Park!
A few aspen leaves still hanging on.  Most had already fallen.
This was crazy, to me.  This valley usually has sprawling mountain views, but it was so foggy our first evening in the park.  It was also very quiet - sometimes, it felt like we were the only ones there.  Almost eerie.
See the little guy?!
This is the (larger-than-it-looks) parking lot at some of the most popular trail heads.  I've never seen it when it wasn't completely full (usually, you have to take the shuttle to get to these trail heads), so this was a very strange sight!
There's a rabbit in the middle of this picture.  He was our "local" wildlife at the Rose Den.
This little guy, too.  ☺
This one took our breath away - we came around a curve, and there he was, munching on the yummy green grass in someone's yard.  There was no zooming in on this shot - we were actually that close.  
I just couldn't get over how different the cloudy, snowy, autumn views were!
The park was celebrating an anniversary, too!  ☺
I also couldn't get over how snowy and wet the trails were - thank goodness for waterproof boots!
Three little snowmen sitting on a bridge...
Who wants to write the children's song with me?
More wildlife! (There's a bird in the tree...he was black and blue.)
Alberta Falls! looks so different this time of year, but still one of my favorite places.
Had to get a pic in this spot at Bear Lake, of course.
Remember that foggy valley in an earlier pic?  Here it is with somewhat clearer skies.
Hiking earned us a couple treats from downtown...
...and a fancy dinner at the Stanley Hotel!
I'd just recently told Bryant about this style of piano.
We took along a few games, including The Game of Life.
Our year-old cake topper!  It was surprisingly good, still...and much bigger than we remembered.
We were so glad it cleared off our last morning there enough for us to catch glimpses like these along Trail Ridge Road.
Yes, we were very cold!
We went as far as we could - over two miles above sea level!
Totally didn't expect to see THIS wildlife!  These guys don't come down the mountains very often, so we counted ourselves lucky to see a few of them...and even a baby one!
Last shot of some aspen leaves before heading out.
For posterity's sake, we stayed at the Denver Magnolia, since we'd stayed at the one in Omaha before leaving for Cancun the year before. 
Our room even had a mountain view...kind-of.  ☺
I know...the matchy-matchy is a little cheesy, but we decided to continue the tradition we started on our honeymoon and were super excited to find matching (within our personal preferences - haha) RMNP centennial t-shirts.  AND we got a screamin' deal on them!
Last glimpse of the mountains.
Always sad to say goodbye...but we'll be back!
Another wonderful road trip in the books!

Thanks, as usual, for letting us share.  We had such an amazing time, and we can't wait to go back!

In the meantime, any recommendations for other trips we should take?  Especially before our family grows?  (No need to read into that comment...please hear me when I say that's not something that is going to happen super soon. ☺)


Favorites of the day:
beautiful fall weather
homemade applesauce
Remember that super sweet and thoughtful birthday gift from Bryant?  It was dancing lessons.  ☺
Not the best pic, but surely a great memory.