So on Saturday morning, we suited up and headed out for Grand Lake, #3 on our Summer list.
Grand Lake is a little town just west of Rocky Mountain National Park, with wooden sidewalks lining the streets. Everything is situated around the lake, and the whole place is beautiful this time of year. The aspen trees are the most incredible shade of yellow, though they're mostly done now. I'm glad we got to see a few of them in full Fall mode.
We stopped for lunch at the Dairy King, serving you since 1953 (I'd give 'em a link, but they don't appear to have a web site). What they do have are outstanding onion rings and pretty good burgers. We also spent a couple of hours poking through cute little shops and walking along the lake. I'd love to go back for a long weekend just to hang out.
From there, we headed out of town and into Rocky Mountain National Park. There's one particular road that cuts across the center of the park, and is only open a few months out of the year, typically late June through late September. No snow yet this year, so we lucked out and were able to drive it. Trail Ridge Road runs along the mountain ridge and climbs up to about 11,000 feet. The views are spectacular. Check it out...
A little lower on the mountain. I love the fall colors mixed with the evergreen.
Here's Mr. Right and me at an overlook somewhere along the way. We asked a really nice guy to take the picture for us, and his 3 year old sidled up and threw his arm around me, held up his train book and grinned for the camera. Too funny. We had to take 4 or 5 shots to get one of just the two of us. It's terribly sad that the poor kid is so shy...
Once we crossed the park, we ended up in the town of Estes Park for the afternoon. It seemed more crowded than I remembered it. Turns out it was Elk Fest weekend. Someone forgot to invite this guy, though. He was camped out on the lawn of a motel just outside of town napping the afternoon away. He's definitely the biggest elk I've ever seen, and by far the up-closest...
Eventually he woke up, but we decided to clear out at that point since these guys can be territorial and those are some serious antlers. Super cool to hang out with him for a few minutes, though.
There was quite the party in town, complete with a visit from a local wolf rescue. This guy was a bit worked up about the Native American drummers who were performing nearby.
There was also a street fair and craft market...
It took me almost an hour to find the local yarn store, and I ran up the steps about 15 minutes before closing. No dice. The door was locked and the woman inside pretended she couldn't see me waving. Boo!! I was ready to buy yarn for a new sweater, but didn't get the chance. Also, now I won't go back. It was really the only bummer in an otherwise perfect day.
Estes Park is a cute little town (home of the Stanley Hotel where Stephen King wrote The Shining!), so we wandered around a bit...
There are a zillion candy shops here, but this one's my favorite. I'm a total sucker for these old-fashioned signs. Also, candy. Mmmmm... candy!
I'm also a sucker for cute little streets lined with flower beds in bloom. This town always looks like someone loves it, even in the dead of winter.
This is where we stopped for dinner. The ambience was way better than the food..
But the company was outstanding!
Really, it was pretty much the perfect Saturday, and I hope we get to do it again. Soon!