Estes Park, the big climb, Topeka.

On Sunday, we drove to Estes Park Colorado where we were planning on going biking and running. We spent our honeymoon in Estes Park 25 years ago and returned to celebrate. I do love this park, I love it that we usually see it not at the height of tourist season, but on the shoulder seasons and we spent the most time in the park on a Monday. Still lively, but not extremely crowded. The most crowded part of the park was still crowded, but we avoided that area and did our own thing. We did need to get a timed entry for Estes Park which we got the night before.

I went running in the morning on a trail slightly outside the park as our timed entry was for between 9 am and 11 am.

Because only cars need a timed entry, Jeremy rode in on his bike at about 8:30 am and was set to do the Trail Ridge road ride to the top. This is a two lane road through the park that is closed in the winter because it becomes impassable with snow. Now I usually have nothing to do with Jeremy’s rides, but this time, I was his soigneur, I was going to drive up to the top of the ride and give him a ride down the mountain. So Edda and I sat around the hotel watching TV and eating breakfast until about 10 am when I loaded Edda up into the van and we drove to the ranger station at the top of Trail Ridge road.

It took me a FULL hour to drive up this road. Sixty minutes of steady, windy, scary cliff gas-powered climbing. I actually could not believe that Jeremy was climbing this hill powered by only his body. My husband is crazy. Sometimes it felt like I was driving straight up into the sky. I passed him when I was only about 6 minutes from the top and Edda and I waited in the car for him to reach us. He pulled in a few minutes later and I gave him a high five and told him he was unbelievable and a beast. While we were putting his bike into his car, a couple from Switzerland who were riding a motorcycle and had traded places with Jeremy a few times because they stopped along the way to do sightseeing pulled up to us and gave Jeremy a fist bump and told him they were relieved to see that he had someone driving the way down. It was cold and windy above the tree line and it’s OK to do when you are warm from exertion, but it is another matter when you are downhill and chilled from your sweat and no exertion and trying to not go too fast.

Here were were at the tippy top.

On the way down, we drove to see the Cascade Cottages that we rented when we were on our honeymoon – it was privately owned back then. I know that they are closed now and owned by the park service. They seemed not in regular use, but as I was walking around, I met a nice woman whose husband’s family owns the last privately owned house in the park. We chatted a while about her experience at the park over the generations of her family.

We also found out it was elk rutting season, so we did see elk (mostly outside the park) and did see some male elk bray and chase after a female.

Monday afternoon we made it to the lovely Estes Park dog park and hung out here for a while.

That night, we went to the Stanley hotel (famous for its association with the Shining) where they had a fried chicken restaurant. This is where I cried uncle for eating out. This is the day I decided that I could only eat so much random crap on vacation – I ordered the vegan entree (delicious) and I’ve been trying to eat better since then.

Tuesday morning, Jeremy stayed back and managed Edda’s breakfast and packing up and I drove to another entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park. Because timed entry only starts at 9 am, I was determined to get there early and I did get there at about 7 am and I was greeted with an almost deserted entrance – no ranger, a long dirt road with no cars and lots of parking. I wanted to run along the wild basin trail which intersects with many waterfalls. This was a glorious run, pictures do not do it justice.

On Tuesday, we drove to Topeka which was a long-ish drive and made it to Mike and Sofie’s new house Tuesday night. They are still just moving in, so we settled in for the night and on Wednesday, I asked if we could help with the house and so we installed their new washer/dryer. And we ran the inaugural load! It is a washer/ventless drying combination – all in one machine. Sofie has a tough time remembering to move the wash to the dryer, so the solves the problem. It does take about 3.5 hours, the best case scenario is to load it when you go to sleep and awaken to clean, dry laundry.

Sofie, Mike and I went shopping. These shoes are super popular in Topeka, but I’ve never seen them before and neither has Vince. I wonder if their popularity will spread to the coasts. Sofie says – everyone wears them.

Me and Sofie.

The grownups.

On Thursday we drove to Indianapolis in the hopes of seeing Jane, but she was working late. We stopped off in a cute suburb of St. Louis for lunch at this amazing place called the Bike Stop Cafe. Lots of bikers on the Katy trail and they had a bike repair shop and rentals and some merch. The food was good and the seats were shaded.

And they were setting up an Octoberfest in the park and we walked and took some photos together. These are such good photos of Edda smiling. I might just have to print them and get them framed.

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