Ok so it’s time to get this TR rolling….I’ve procrastinated long enough!! I'll do it in installments so you can skip over the parts that don't interest you or bore you!!
Where to begin…hmm, let’s see maybe January, ’13 when I contacted Wings to ask her if they would like dibs on a room in a cabin I was looking to rent for Escalante!! Poor Mr. Wings never had a chance!
Over the next 8 months we (the 4 of us) made plans, changed plans, made reservations, looked at Rt 66 websites, made lists out the waa-zoo and patiently waited for September 25th to roll around!!
In the beginning DH and myself had no intentions of making this a road trip…I was perfectly content to fly like we always do because of work schedules and lack of vacation time. Sometime around April while making our nightly walk of 3.3 miles DH voiced his interested in joining the Wings on THEIR road trip!! Let’s fly to Ohio, rent a big a** car and drive!! WHAT…are you out of your mind??? Sigh…I lost that one! But we are not flying to Ohio we’ll drive our own big a** car and go from there!!
So in the short scheme of things…we joined the Wings and happily invited ourselves and they welcomed us with open arms…I think!!
Day 1, September 25th
OMG…the day is finally here!! After almost a year of planning and talking daily to Wings we are packed and ready to go!! We left NJ around 2:30 and stopped in Parkersburg, WVA for the night. Uneventful trip and all was good.
Day 2, September 26
We arrived at the Wings house only to unload all our stuff and reload again with both of our stuffs!! Plenty of room….gulp!!!
So off we go on the first leg of our journey! Gee we can make St. Louis for sure!! Wings just smiled and…wait did she pat my head? I’m pretty sure she did!! Yeah I was the rookie here and Wings had every intention of making Kansas and we did. Since this night we had no reservations made for a hotel (we were winging it…get it?) we just pulled up something on the i-Phones and Droids and found one reasonable and hopefully clean!! Score!!!!
Day 3 September 27
Bittersweet for me since this day is the anniversary date of my Mom’s passing! I had warned Wings that I would be an emotional wreck (we both are actually pretty good at it) but all is good. There were more emotional things going on for me than just this day, but that’s another story!
So off we go down the road happily singing (or trying to) and watching the miles go by. We were heading to Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park today! We really thought we would have to change plans at the last minute because of the devastation this area just suffered with all the flooding. A quick phone call on Wings part to the hotel in Estes Park reassured us to please come and keep our original plans! We wanted to support them during their busiest weekend of the year so we kept to our plans!! Up Peak to Peak road we went (only way into Estes Park at that time) watching the temperature gage in the car dropping all the way! Rain, snow and some fog really stopped us from enjoying the views though. Pulled into the hotel and one of us was getting an upgrade to our room because of the flooding. I let Wings take it since she did all the leg work on this area! Little did we know that their up-graded room would have no heat!! Score for the SJG’s!!! Quickly unloaded and changed into warmer clothes and went in search of something for dinner. Just wanted soup…we were all so cold!! Searched for awhile before we found something to suit our needs. Cannot for the life of me remember the name of the restaurant that we ate at!!
Day 4, September 28
My day starts with a text from Wings at, I believe her words were “5 f*&%$@* 17”!!! Seems we were all awake (still on East Coast time) and listening to the wind howling outside! Burrrr…..!! Managed to put on just about every piece of warm clothing we owned, headed for breakfast, some pictures of the Stanley Hotel (where the movie The Shinning was filmed) and then into RMNP! Woo-Hoo free park entrance for us, but wait…Trail Ridge Road is closed??!!! Ranger informed us that because of the wind and snow they couldn’t get it clear to re-open it to travelers! Ok, change of plans for the day. We did see as much as the park as we could, taking lots of pictures of the mountains covered in snow as well as the Elk and even taking a short…I say short hike around Sprague Lake and quickly jumping back in the car! Wind continued to blow and it was way too cold out to linger! The part of RMNP that we did get to see is very beautiful. Wish we had more time here, but not to be this trip!
We made our way out of the park and towards Aspen, CO and planned to take Independent Pass Road to get there. We were unsure if this road was open, but again quick use of the phones and we found it open! Off we went back down Peak to Peak Rd during the daylight hours this time and got to see what we missed coming in! The road showed some damage from the flood but is still in very good condition and had some amazing views!
We took our time getting to and going over Independent Pass Rd. This is a beautiful drive and even more so with the Fall colors starting to peak! At the top is the Continental Divide and lots of snow! We got out for a short walk and some pictures and eventually made our way back to the car and made our way once again towards Aspen.
We arrived at the Condo that Wings had booked for us for the next two days! Very nice Condo and very comfortable. After unloading we decided to take a ride up to the Maroon Bells since we would be doing this extremely early the next morning! After finding our way there and scoping out the area for pictures in the morning, we made our way back to the condo and some dinner! Great day, even with changing our original plans. You can see the pattern here and it would continue throughout the trip!
Day 5, September 29
Up at the butt crack of dawn this morning to head back to the Maroon Bells. Thank goodness we’re all still on East Coast time! Very cold this morning and we were all dressed or thought we were for the cold! This is a gorgeous spot for those sunrise pictures and everyone else thought so too!! Really people? Huh, thought we’d have the place to ourselves…think again! Oh well no problem just find a spot to squeeze into, try to stay warm and watch the sun come up and make everything alright again! What a beautiful spot for this. The Maroon Bells coming to life and reflecting in the small lake in front made for some stunning pictures!
We also had a hike planned for afterwards but with the temps so cold we debated as to whether or not to do it or leave and go back into town for breakfast and get warm! We opted to stay but jumped in the car to warm up some then made our way to the trail head and the hike to Crater Lake!
DH and I live in an area that is only 12 ft above sea level so hiking at these higher altitudes takes its toll on us. This hike finished at around 11,000 ft so it probably took us…ok me…longer than most people but it was so worth it! Just a gorgeous hike to an even more gorgeous little lake! Stunning color all the way up the trail! Met my first Pica towards the top of the trail who was very adamant that we were disturbing his or her solitude! Cute little bugger though!
We eventually made our way back down and to the car and decided to have a picnic lunch and enjoy the sunshine and the antics of those very brave Jays!
Later that evening we went for a great dinner at a restaurant called The Cantina. Good food and a great atmosphere for us to wind down. Another great day on the road!!
Day 6, September 30
We left the Condo and Aspen to make our way to Colorado National Monument for the day and then to our friends SRW and RDD for the next two nights!
Had a great day at Colorado National Monument stopping and taking pictures along this scenic drive around the park. Took some time at the Visitor’s Center and had a picnic lunch then back for a short hike of sorts before eventually making our way to our friends house. This is a great park to visit…not too big, not to small and very scenic!
We finally got to see our dear friends and relax for a couple of days and talk about “will they close the parks”? I had very high hopes that it was NOT going to happen….HA!!!!
Dinner was great and so was the company! SRW and RDD were very gracious to open their house to us for those two days. Much appreciated by all of us!
Day 7, October 1
Started the day with a phone call from my DIL at 5:11am Colorado time telling us of her 34 yr old sister’s passing! She had been diagnosed with a very rare and aggressive form of Cancer back in April and was given only 4 weeks prior to our day of departure! This was heartbreaking for me personally as I had to say my good-bye’s to her the Sunday before we left and knew I couldn’t be with our DIL during this time. My day was a very emotional one and would continue throughout the trip!
Now on to what the day has to bring! We had a hike planned today but first we got the news of the Government shutting down the parks!! Seriously…you really did this?? Way to mess up everything for everyone including all the visitor’s into our country!!
We decided to go as planned and we were early enough that we were not stopped going into the park. The hike was beautiful and the weather was to. Took some pictures and wandered around…letting the “guys” go just a bit farther! Nice enjoyable day with great people. When we eventually made our way back to the car….low and behold there they were putting up yellow tape and barricades! Just walked through and back to our cars and nothing was said! They liked it even less than we did, but they were just “doing their job”!!
Back to the house for a quick bite to eat then us “girls” were off to pick up the groceries for the dinner’s that we had planned for the TA group in Escalante. The guys decided to sneak back into CNM for a more aggressive hike and pictures!! It was nice for them to have someone who knows this park like his own back yard….oh wait, it was!!
Dinner that night was a night out and again enjoyed it and the company. Tomorrow we were heading to Escalante for 5 days and had to figure out how to get all these groceries loaded into two cars which were already packed to the gills!!!
SRW and RDD a big thank you to both of you for your hospitality and welcoming us into your home! It was appreciated more than you will ever know!!