The Scenic Route
~Friday, May 13, 2022~
Day 698 (Travel Day)
Before I forget to tell ya’ll, to show our support against the War in Ukraine, we’ve just added a “button link” onto our website’s homepage https://www.footprintsonwheels.com/. If you so choose, you can click there to find out how you can support the “Come Back Alive” cause to aid the Armed Forces in Ukraine and bring peace, once again, to their nation. **Please note: we receive no monetary gain by having this on our website. Thank you for your support 🙏❤️
Like many of the places we stay, it’s difficult to leave this one especially. The staff was terrific and the waterfront location, primo. But I know we’ll be back one day. Camphost Brian was very helpful in giving Jeff information about our alternative route today and great places to camp in Florida (I guess they’ve spent many a winter there). We took his advice in taking the more scenic route of Highway 7, otherwise known as the Peak to Peak Historical Road, which will get us to the town of Grand Lake on the opposite side of RMNP. Had the Trail Ridge Road been open in RMNP, we would have saved likely an hour and a half plus 100 miles. At least Highway 7 prevented us from having to go through all the lights in Boulder. But traveling the more scenic roads in Colorado, comes with the price of going up and down many mountains. Today’s experience varied between 6% to 8% grades. That’s why we bought a diesel as it handles that kind of terrain beautifully.
Along the way, we drove through some very cool towns but none stood out like Central City. One thing you can’t help
but notice in this old mining town are the many casinos. After gambling became legalized in 1991, more and more casinos were added, changing the whole vibe of the town, though it has maintained its old mining town feel. Every year they hold an annual summer festival to go along with their plethora of other activities to keep tourists and locals busy. Winter Park was another neat place we drove through. A big ski town with plenty of year-round outdoor activities, temperatures don’t get much above 60 during the summer months with its 9,120 foot elevation. Wow, now that would be refreshing.
When we arrived to Grand Lake around 3:30, we were in agony once again at seeing another sign that read, “Estes Park-48 miles” Yes, we know we could have saved a lot of time and gas had we waited to arrive to Estes Park after Memorial Day weekend (when they open the main road that cuts across RMNP-48 miles instead of 139 miles to go around. But it wouldn’t have worked in our grand plan for 2022. So we’re moving on.
Little did we know it was the campground’s opening day for the season. Not only did we find out it was opening day for the campground, it was opening day for the new owners as well. In fact, when we arrived at Elk Creek Campground, the owner’s wife was in training mode. A very nice family and staff! When we booked this place about 6 months ago, we were warned there still might be snow on the ground in May, so requested a full hookup site just in case. I had inadvertently written down the deposit amount of $58 to our daily rate, so when we were told the nightly rate was $79/night, I was ill-prepared and in a little sticker shock. I’m sure we’ll still be below budget for the year with all of the boondocking we’ve been doing in The West. Jeff’s eager to calculate that one, so stay tuned.
Our site is backed up to a nice grassy area where evidently the moose really like to hang out. So we were forewarned about their aggression towards dogs. Duly noted. In normal situations we can leave Sadie outside, even if we’re not with her. This location, it’s not worth risking as moose have amazing smell, yet poor eyesight. If they smell dog, they think prey and will inevitably attack, thinking “coyote”. It would be amazing if we saw one though. I guess the male’s horns renew every year and grow at a rate of 1 inch per day, up to 6 feet from end to end. 😲🦌
As we were backing in, it didn’t take long to notice all of the scars from the 2020 East Troublesome Fire that burned an estimated 220,000 acres, even jumping the Continental Divide. It looks like it came right to the edge of our campground. Though most of the trees look healthy at our campsite, there are still a few that remain scarred from the fire’s intensity. Though they’ve never found the exact cause, they believe it started by hunter’s burning an illegal campfire in a remote area. Right about the same time as the Troublesome Fire, another fire burning near Estes Park, The Cameron Peak Fire, ravaged another 200,000+ acres and actually became Colorado’s worst fire in history. Even though the many dedicated fire crews did an outstanding job in fighting these and countless other fires, it was an act of God that in early September, 8-14 inches of snow halted the growth of the Cameron Peak fire. But Mother Nature is resilient as you can tell the forest is already making a comeback.
As we were setting up, sites were filling up quickly with the weekend crowds. I’m sure the staff is happy to have energy back in the park. Since we’re staying here 7 nights, Jeff did the “Full Monty” in setting up the outdoor lights, the grill, and the stove while listening to the Giant’s Game. For me, it was the usual inside stuff-I go full-set up EVERY time, making our sanctuary as homey as possible. After setting up I decided to bake some homemade chocolate chip cookies for the campground staff; a special delivery of dessert before dinner. They were so appreciative and HUNGRY after a long, busy day.