02.09.2014 Day 11: Estes Park to Steamboat Springs
It was tough getting up this day. We were both feeling quite exhausted and decided just to take it easy in our travels. Breakfast at an extremely nice place called "Eggs and I".
Something I realised is that this high rocky part of the country is simply awash with gemstones and crystals. There were shops everywhere. Huge barrels holding large lumps of crystals, I couldn't even lift. So we stopped at a few shops as we drove out of Ester Park. I was on the hunt for a Watermelon Tourmaline. I wanted to get one for Emma, but it seemed they had everything but one of those. The hunt continues.
As we drove on we started moving into dramatic mountain country and we got higher and higher. The speed limit was 35 miles an hour which is just over 50 ks, but that quickly slowed down to 25 miles an hour as the road got windier and higher and more extreme. We stopped at every view. Two things on the way to do with local wildlife. We were distressed to come around a corner and find a lot of cars stopped and people running around. Lying on the road was a baby black bear; obviously it had been hit by a car. Ken thought he could see it was breathing and we were sure the park rangers would have been called. We also thought there would have been a mother bear somewhere near and hoped people would be safe.
The second wildlife encounter was very exciting. We came around a corner and there standing above us on the side of the road was a big elk with a fine set of antlers. We stopped, and he jumped in front of us, and bounded across the road and away. Clever Ken got him on film. (check our photos)
We stopped at a very high plateau. In the car I was wearing a thin sleeveless top, but when I stepped out, I was instantly frozen. There was a gale force wind and it was very cold. We realised we were over 11,000 feet up but walking to the look out, I had to wear Ken's jacket and walking against the wind was indeed a feat of strength. I was close being blown over and I am sure my hair was blown straight upwards. Check video http://youtu.be/IZLWggdk5Kg. A funny little story. ..I went to the local bathroom (toilet for us kiwis) which is in fact a long drop. So long in fact, I have no idea how far down it was dug. The cold wind blowing up from the depths of the long drop was an incentive to get moving from there as well.
We took so many photos of the incredible landscape and Ken has multitudes of videos taken from the car from his little go-pro camera. Eventually after multiple stops to view scenery and the huge white quartz falls on the sides of the mountain slopes, we started to descend.
We drove down the mountain roads lined on both sides with trees and bushes until at about 5,000 ft we found a place for lunch. Hmmm was 2pm which was a bit late for lunch, no wonder we were hungry. Ken bought two divine brownies to eat on the road further along, and I munched through a baked potato and Ken a burger we set off wondering how far we might go before we stopped for the night.
Eventually civilization returned bit by bit. But we were surprised by more little lake towns, and a couple of "real McCoy "American towns proudly flying their flags on the main streets. None of these places seemed to have somewhere suitable for us to stay, so we drove on. The sun was still high in the sky when we came around a corner and there stretching before us was a large beautiful valley. We pulled off the road, and sat on our rug, and ate the divinely decadent Brownies before descending to Steamboat Springs. Now I could be wrong, but I think there is a big movie festival here where all sorts of alternative movies get shot. Let me know if I am right.
We found a hotel and by the time we collapsed into our room, it was about 7pm. Where did this day go? We were planning a short trip that wouldn't test our strength too much, and ended up showering and going ooooo as the hot water eased our aching muscles. It was another long day, but so spectacular. Check the photos.