Adventures in Estes Park and Dillon, Colorado

We are planning to head back to Florida later this week. Florida Power and Light has sent us messages saying that Fort Myers should start to get electricity back this Friday and 95% of our county should have electricity by Sunday. Suffice it to say, we are super excited to make it back home and start returning our property (and our lives) to normal. Southern linemen are the absolute best – power up in less than two weeks after what was nearly a category 5 hurricane? Incredible.

In the meantime, we are making good on our intentions to show our daughter our beautiful country while we are staying with my parents in Littleton, Colorado. This included a day trip out to Estes Park, where we went on our honeymoon 20 years ago, and a trip down I-70 to see the Continental Divide and everything in-between. After we passed through Eisenhower Tunnel (one of the the most remarkable feats of engineering in the history of mankind, IMO), we decided to hang out for a while in the ski town of Dillon.

The trip out to Estes Park was a little weird because apparently the town hosts an annual festival that coincides with elk mating season. Like a zillion elk fanatics (this is a real thing – there were bugling contests involved) descend upon the town to celebrate elk reproduction. We were somehow caught up in the midst of this delightful nonsense. Elise was beside herself with happiness, as she has always wanted to see an elk up-close-and-personal and finally had the opportunity.

We then went to eat at a restaurant that we had gone to on our honeymoon. On our way out the door, a woman grabbed my hand. I was so shocked by this invasion of my personal space that I froze. “Honey, I overheard your conversation,” she said. “We are praying for you and your family. We are praying for your entire town. I just wanted you to know that.” Humanity is pretty amazing.

Estes Park
Bull elk living his best life.
Even more elk.
So. Many. Elk.

The next day, we headed west to see the Continental Divide. This has been a neat experience for our daughter, whose impression of mountainous terrain has mostly been the ancient, much-eroded Appalachian Mountains. The Rockies did not disappoint. The most impressive aspect of driving through the Rockies for her seemed to be both the tree line (I taught her about the krummholz) and the permafrost. I told her about the backpacking trip I took when I was younger, where we traced glaciers and explored ghost towns. It was loads of fun.

We decided to stop and eat lunch in Dillon before we turned around and headed back to the Denver area. While we were waiting for our bison burgers to arrive, we researched hiking trails in the area. Our daughter was insisting on doing at least a short hike while we were in town. That is how we found the Tenderfoot Mountain Trail in Dillon – which really is not that far off of I-70. It had truly spectacular views of Dillon Lake and the surrounding mountains. I just stood there, looking at the vista, and thanking God that there could be so much beauty in one place and for giving my family the chance to see it.

The “fry guy” bison burger at the Dillion Dam Brewery. Bison, gruyere cheese,
smoked bacon, mushrooms, with a balsamic glaze. Sublime. Also recommend their hatch chile beer.
I plan to get something like that to do barbacoa when we get back in Florida.

Yes, we took the Maserati up a dirt road to get to a hiking trail. It has been an unbelievable trip in this supercar, to be honest. The engine takes steep grades like they are nothing, and the litany of gears prevent it from accelerating unnecessarily on steep drops. It really does drive like a fighter jet, and I can say that it is quite comfortable to sit in for several hours at a time. I have nicknamed my car “Le Fusa,” which means “purr” in Italian.

Dillion Lake

I have not been back to Colorado since our daughter was 2 years old. It felt good to see all my old haunts again, but a little strange to see the scale of development. Bumper-to-bumper traffic is a thing through the mountains now, even in fairly remote locations.

One thing I did find interesting is seeing how little the political caricatures of Colorado hold up. Friends who stayed describe Colorado as some super liberal commie place overrun by Californians, but it really isn’t that bad (at least in the suburbs – my folks moved away from Lakewood to Littleton and that seems to have made all the difference). I can tell you that visiting Chapel Hill and Durham in North Carolina earlier this year was way worse in terms of freakish ideologues. In fact, I have met many conservatives while here. (They even sell the daily Epoch Times in the grocery stores. They don’t do that in my R+35 town.) My parents’ neighbor is a traditional Catholic homeschooler. On the other side, they have a family with one of those “In this house….” signs. Half the people eating lunch in Dillon were in camouflage. Very different than Chapel Hill, which feels like joining a cult. This is one state that is a lot more purple than I would have guessed.

8 thoughts on “Adventures in Estes Park and Dillon, Colorado

    1. Wouldn’t have been a good visit between the hurricane and my dad’s health anyway. But we are already planning to come back soon and will 100% organize a meet-up then. At a restaurant of your choice, obviously, as I trust your expertise!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Love, love the car’s name. My husband’s fav car except for Lamborghini. (He used to be a race car mechanic before becoming a physician after we married.) My yellow Audi convertible is “Canary.” Glad they’re getting the electricity up soon in Ft. M – I need to check with my youngest daughter and see if they are up and running yet. Eldest says Sandman Bookstore in PG has suffered some due to roof damage, but they will recover soon. Safe travels!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have been following the trials and tribulations of Sandman Books on Facebook. So glad she had a crew to help her get everything dried out. And getting the famous book arch repaired. We will obviously be visiting to support them once we get back, because keeping high-end independent bookstores in business is a top rebuilding concern.

      We were actually talking recently about how surgeons and mechanics overlap in expertise, so that doesn’t surprise me one bit, lol.

      Liked by 1 person

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