Wednesday, we slept in. And by slept in I mean we were awake by 7:30am. When we got ready, we headed to Rocky Mountain State Park. A solid TWO HOURS from our campground. But of course, the drive there was beautiful, so it didn’t seem that bad.
We arrived at the park around 11, I think, got the info we needed and then went back into the town we’d passed through to get there to eat lunch. The park ranger told us that to drive through the park would take about 2 hours not stopping to take pictures. And judging on our picture taking the day before, we decided that eating before would be the best idea. It was.
And so was the drive through the park. We got to go through the part of the park that is closed 8 months out of the year because it is buried in snow. There was also another visitor’s center about halfway through that also spends about 8 months of the year buried to the roof in snow.
The drive kind of reminded me of the Natchez Trace (if you’re trying to relate this to something in your mind–minus the mountains, of course) where we literally just drove through the mountains. On the drive, we crossed through three different ecosystems, saw tons of wildlife and even got to hike up to the very top of one of the mountains (over 220 stairs). At some points there was still so much snow on the side of the road (plowed through by snow plow) that it rose above my car. Talk about making me nervous. There were lots of places where an avalanche was totally plausible. Even in June. But we made it out just fine!
The wildlife were fearless. I could tell they had either never been bothered by all the people coming through the park on a daily basis or they were being fed. I’m willing to bet, at least in the case of the chipmunks, that it is the latter. We saw quite a few elk, Marmot, rabbits and even a moose! I was able to get decent pictures of most of them. It was like going to the zoo all over again but just a little bit more satisfying! So much fun!
The next day, our last day in CO, I asked for some downtime so that I could rest and maybe try out my kayak at some point since there was boating on the lake at the campground. But first, we decided to try to tour the Denver Mint in downtown Denver. Turns out those tickets are usually gone by 7am, so that mission failed miserably. We should’ve called first. Lesson learned.
So my mom and I decided to run to Red Rocks Amphitheater so I could at least see what it looks like even though I wasn’t able to see a show there (like my parents had before I’d arrived). It is amazing! And the view was breathtaking. Didn’t really seem to be a bad seat in the house either. I’ll definitely be back.
When we got home and got some food, it was finally time for what I’d been looking forward to all week: Kayak Time!! Since mine is an inflatable kayak (because I live in the city with no place to store a fiberglass boat), and since I’d never taken it on the water before, I was excited to see how well it did. I’m not going to lie, though. It was a PIA to inflate and then carry to the water. That thing is heavy. Totally worth it though, because once I got in, some ducks came over to swim with me. Surely thinking I had food to give them. Unfortunately, once they figured out I didn’t, they lost interest rather quickly.
After I’d had my fill of kayaking, I realized this was going to be quite a pain to dry with all the ins and outs this thing had. Not only was I going to have to carry it back to my car, now soaking wet, but I was also going to have to somehow get it in the car (once again, soaking wet) and back to the campground (I had to drive to the launch site about a mile away). I decided to put it on the back of my car and drive slowly. Totally counting on the spoiler on the trunk to keep it in place. And for the most part, it worked. I had to stop once to readjust but I got it back just fine (I’m sure you were all waiting with baited breath). I wiped it down with a microfiber towel and laid it out to dry for a couple hours. All in all, I decided I would really have to want to kayak in order for this thing to be worth it. But, I do like kayaking, so I think in the right situations (i.e. parking is close to the launch site, having a place to air it out afterwards, etc.) it would totally be worth the work.
We spent the rest of the day hanging out and packing a little bit to get ready to head to Salina, KS the next morning. One more night together and then it would be time to head our separate ways!