Recently, we hosted friends to our home in Colorado on their first trip to the state. Before their arrival we, scouted, researched, and planned. As we did, it felt as if our ideas might be stale, as we had already experienced so many of them. Still, our list was ready to go by the time they arrived.
The first adventure taken was to Estes Park, CO. Countless times my wife and I had spent days in this beautiful mountain valley town. To get there we drove up HWY 34 and the Big Thompson Canyon. The devastation still readily apparent from the 2013 flood caught their attention immediately. We talked about the day, how the canyon used to be and where the flood had changed the course of the river. Though our discussion centered on the damage, I was able to see how much recovery had taken place. A once favorite fishing destination had been destroyed, but on this day I saw new possibilities, along with old favorites still intact.
I decided I would return soon and reintroduce myself to this reborn river and discover the gifts she offers.
Driving through Estes Park we continued on to Rocky Mountain National Park. Though filling fast, we made it through the entrance gate after a few minutes delay. Our desired destination of Bear Lake already had a full parking lot, so we took a small detour and parked near the river. We hiked down a well-worn trail, enjoyed the fresh air, the sound of the fast rushing water, and meet a few mule deer along the way. Venturing back to the highway I decided to take a road to a picnic area. It ended at Sprague Lake, a fishing lake I had often read about, but never took the time to go to. Though a small storm threatened the mountain peaks to our west, we walked the ½ mile path the circles the lake. Fly fishers of all ages made repeated casts to small rings made by trout rising for bugs. Yes, I decided I would return here as well.
The storm reached the lake (and us) minutes before we made it back to the car. We laughed as we hustled to the car as best we could to avoid the 10 minute drenching that took place. The rain stopped as we pulled out of the lot and before exiting the park, we passed a herd of nearly 50 elk grazing near the road. We stopped, got out of the car and watched the cows with their yearling calves, while two proud bulls stood farther back, keeping an eye on their harem. After a few minutes the herd moved away, heading back to the large meadow split by a stream. It had been too long since I last stood in a place of extreme beauty and soaked it all in?
Day one rounded out with a rooftop patio lunch and a walk around the famed Stanley Hotel. The return trip through the canyonnetted two tasty cherry pocket pies from the Colorado Cherry Company. A sweet ending to an adventure filled day.
The following days continued in similar fashion. Kayaking at Horsetooth Reservoir, shopping the Loveland Art and Sculpture Show, wandering Old Town Fort Collins, and a raucously fun game of SNAG golf kept us light heartedly busy and continuously laughing.
Though several of our journeys were repeat adventures for my wife and I, being with friends who were first-time travelers here, enabled me to see each place through new eyes. Sharing our home, both inside and out, recreated that sense of adventure and warmed our hearts every day. Even though our friends have returned home to Washington State, we’ll continue to adventure locally with fresh eyes and enjoy the thrill of rediscovery.