24 September 2005

Rocky Mountain National Park - Friday, September 23, 2005 - ENTRY UNDER CONSTRUCTION

I woke that morning to see my cousin had left me with directions and a crude map to travel to the east entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park. With my National Parks pass I would be admitted for no charge.

It would take about an hour to get there and I would pass through Estes, with its huge deer population and scenic lake.

Entering the park groups of aspen stood spotting up the forest in gold through the changing of the seasons.

At times the park road winds up the mountains with drop offs on both sides whose bottoms lay thousands of feet below.
At an elevation of over two miles above sea level clouds blanketed the sky and snow flurries blew about in the biting wind. I spied upon the mountains and valleys until all other the other adventurers had returned to their cars. I had this magnificent view to myself until the next caravan wheeled up the mountain. After taking in the view I walked back to my humble blue chariot where a beautiful girl smiled at me from behind her car window. It felt great to be alive.
Signs along foot trails inform interested travelers of the geological history of the land. Near the apex of the mountain peaks, a sign informed me of the fascinating phenomena known as rock streams. Water seeps into the ground and begins to run downward while underground. Because of waters’ ability to seep into the smallest of spaces, it makes its way underneath rocks as big as melons. Because of the temperature differential between night and day, when it becomes freezing at night, the expansion of the water molecules push the rocks upward until they rest on the surface in streaming patterns. Sometimes two rock streams merge into one. They really are beautiful.
Grand Lake, Colorado
The quaint town of Grand Lake rests past the western border of the park. The main drag runs along the lake and is lined with restaurants, stores and hotels. There are many gift shops selling both typical tourist town kitsch, like mugs with a picture of the lake, or T-Shirts with a painting of the landscape with the name of the town. I bought a few items I thought friends and family would like as birthday and Christmas gifts.

There are many great restaurants and bar & grills. One I went to had great prices. It was hard to believe I got as much food as I did for only six dollars.
After my meal I headed toward the lake to relax for a while and enjoy some homemade ice cream. I walked along the dock peering over the side to see if I could view some fish swimming by.
I then walked onto one of the pontoon style boat docks where I lay down to bask in the sun and let the pulsing of the lake rock me into a sense of peace. I closed my eyes wanting to take a nap.
Deciding it was getting late, I returned, extremely relaxed, to my car and reentered the park at its western entrance. Only a few minutes in droves of cars littered the shoulders meaning only one thing: wildlife. I parked in one of the few open spots and trekked into the tall grass to join dozens of other folk all enjoying a herd of elk. One that looked like a bulky male was wearing a radio collar. Some zoologists were currently tracking the movements of the herd with their equipment and explained to many curious people their efforts.

Back on the road it wasn’t long before I encountered more stopped vehicles, cars, motorcycles and campers. A man was pointing up a steep incline in the trees so I pulled over and walked to where the man was, spotting a huge make elk followed by a small herd. They stuck to the cover of trees and looked amazing amongst the backdrop of endless forest.

Driving slowly along the road there were cars stopped in front of me. A mighty elk commanded respect as he made way across the road.

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