For me, the best part of retirement is the freedom to do what I want, literally when and where I want (for the most part). I can read until two am and sleep until nine or ten (two dogs aside). If I decide to do something for the day (or even for the week) I just pack up the car and take off. Sometimes such trips are planned, often they are not.
Today was such a day. I took a spur of the moment drive-and on a weekend which I rarely do. My sister will be working seven days a week for the next two months. She works weekends at a garden shop to increase her landscaping skills, get customers, and get discounts on plants and pots. Since this was her last free weekend for awhile, I figured we should head out and enjoy the day. All that was required was settling the dogs, grabbing a sweater, and hitting the road.
Today our drive took us to Estes Park, near the entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park, and a gateway to the Rockies. During the summer, Estes is a huge resort area, with hiking, fishing. Estes is location along the Big Thompson river. We decided to come into Estes Park one way, and leave a different way. Coming in was much longer, but really beautiful. By coming into the north, we were able to travel along the Big Thompson Canyon for miles and miles. I am sure the pictures do not do the canyon justice as we found almost no place to pull off and take real pictures. Going back to see the canyon during the summer will certainly be on my list. Although the river looks fairly small in comparison to other rivers, in 1976 the river over flowed after a flash flood (12 inches of rain in 24 hours) and killed one hundred and fifty people.
Estes is a beautiful town and once there we decided to walk and explore the older down town..filled with shops, small restaurants, many sculptures and of course beautiful views. I purchased absolutely nothing-except for a large ornament tree that a Christmas boutique was selling that will go into my craft booth to hold small quilted items. After wandering for a half an hour, we found a small cafe and each ordered a small sweet crepe, and a hot drink. My chocolate crepe and tea really hit the spot.
Our final stop in down was at the Stanley Hotel-at my daughter's direction. To the uninitiated, it is a huge Georgian style hotel in Estes Park that has almost 150 rooms and beautiful views of the Rockies. It's a popular destination for weddings and the like, with large grounds, beautiful rooms and even more beautiful views. It is also the inspiration and background for Stephen King's novel the Shining. It would seem that King stayed in the hotel and loved it so much that he completely changed his planned location for the book to this hotel (the movie was not filmed at the Stanley). In addition to beautiful pictures, all kinds of souvenirs abound, and I got my daughter a mug and book mark that each say "redrum" on them. If you don't know, I cannot explain it. I figure my Stephen King fanatic will love it, especially as she tells me a sequel is in the works and the book will come out this summer. Don't ask me how that works-after all the fellow is dead (the character I mean here, folks, not the author)!
We finally drove out of town on a different, southerly route. Not however, before we met this fellow, and a few more of his elk kind (Elk loose their horns in the winter and when the regrow in the spring they are covered and soft). This little fellow never even noticed us-or if he did, he did not care. He also was not interested in turning around for our benefit!
Our drive home went down more quickly with traditional curves in the mountains, and let us through Boulder and back down into Denver. The picture behind us as we left town was not to be matched.
All in all this was a spur of the moment, fun filled day with little cost other than the gas. I could have packed a lunch, but it was cool in the mountains and a quick snack and hot drink hit the spot (and two crepes with beverages were fifteen dollars). Other than that, no money was spent, although I did see some lovely things, including a specialty-salt water taffy from Estes Park. To top it all off, I found something I have been searching for-a new display piece for my craft fair displays.
As I continue my travel plans, I am finding more and more appealing day and weekend trips. As a homebody, these are perfect getaways for me. They are a chance to travel in style with minimal cost, and yet return to the old homestead and my daily puttering. By alternating lots of these trips with three or four longer, major trips each year, I'm finding the best of both worlds!