Day 2 of mini-vacations (see Day 1)! Today, we're going back to Colorado during June. My last post about our Colorado trip was about Day 3 in Black Canyon of the Gunnison and the Continental Divide. Today, we start out in Aspen (E on the map).
A. Mesa Verde National Park (days 1 and 2) B. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
C. Cottonwood Pass D. Independence Pass E. Aspen F. Mount Evans G. Casa Bonita H. Estes Park
Bill woke me up early to get reflection shots of the Maroon Bells. I'm not a fan of waking up early, but I went because I really wanted to see the Maroon Bells with good lighting.
A marmot! The coolest creatures ever. They seem to be all over Colorado. We saw them eating by the side of the road all of the time.
Mountains in the valley on the way to the Maroon Bells.
The Maroon Bells. According to Wikipedia, they are both "fourteeners" (in the 14,000 foot range).
Another mountain in the valley.
My favorite reflection shot.
Bill and I decided to hike on the trail next to the lake to see if we could make it to one of the waterfalls. We didn't consider the fact that we were at around 8,000 feet and hadn't had breakfast yet, so that didn't last long.
One of the small streams flowing down the mountainside.
So many Aspens!
The view of the upper terrace of the lake.
One of the snow patches running down the side of the mountains.
I took a picture of the sign when I got back. The signs makes the hike seem like a simple stroll and fails to mention that the destination is 3 miles down the trail. I wasn't so happy about that.
The waterfall from the upper terrace of the lake.
Our campsite. I didn't want to leave...
The area around our campsite during the day.
After enjoying the Maroon Bells, Bill and I set out to drive the "Highest Paved Road in North America." This is the road to the top of Mount Evans, which is a 14,265foot tall peak (another "fourteener") near Denver.
This is one of the first places to pull out and walk around on Mount Evans. This is a partially frozen lake near the parking lot.
A close-up of the lake.
A trail along the side of the mountain. Bill was able to get this awesome shot of a mom and baby mountain goat off to the side of the trail:
The view from the parking lot at the summit.
The view from another direction.
Bill with the sign.
Me as the invisible woman. The air was very thin and the wind was very strong at that altitude. I was freezing and the high winds were making it even harder for me to breathe. I found that covering my face with my Buff scarf actually made it a lot easier. Plus I felt like a bandit or something.
I think this is Denver.
More views from the summit.
A pika! I have to say that Colorado has an abundance of really cool rodents. Pikas are very loud. I'd imagine it's because the high winds make them hard to hear otherwise. Bill got a good close-up of this one:
I think it looks like it's roaring.
A nice informative sign.
A lake down below the road.
More mountain goats!
Bill taking a shot of the mountain goats.
A compilation of my video shots from Mount Evans.
After Mount Evans, we went to Denver and experienced the bizarre world of Casa Bonita. I was first introduced to Casa Bonita through this episode of South Park:
I thought this place was totally fictitious until Bill informed me that it was in fact real and we were going to eat there. This is the real Casa Bonita:
This building really exists and has been built into the corner of a strip mall.
Everything about Casa Bonita has pretty much been modeled after Disneyland. It's as if the Pirates of the Caribbean ride happened in Mexico. Kind of. When you first walk in, you are immediately herded into a line (This was a week night, by the way).
Just like a Disneyland ride, the lines are long.
You don't realize exactly how long the lines are until you end up in another room that you didn't know existed. And another. And another. Then you get a quick glimpse through an opening in the wall and see that the line is even longer!
This is where they serve the food. You literally get a choice of one of a few entrees, and pick them up cafeteria style on a tray. Then you get your drinks and walk to a place where you wait in line yet again (with your food in your hands), for the hostess to seat you at a table.
This place seemed to be very popular with six-year-olds, and the food tasted like it. Even the margarita was bland.
You're seated in a very large room with hundreds of other people. In the middle of the room, there is a large pool with a waterfall, where they do diving shows.
Cartman is even there, by the waterfall.
A man and his "pet gorilla" who eventually broke free and ran around in the audience.
Just like Disneyland, they were selling glowing things to carry around.
And there were several gift shops.
In the room next to the lining area, there was a pirate-themed arcade.
Breaking a piñata in the arcade area.
The dining room from above. It was at this point that Bill realized that he had left his camera bag at our table and thankfully it was still there!
After our eventful dinner at Casa Bonita, we drove to Estes Park outside of Rocky Mountain National Park and checked into our hotel room.