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Estes Park, CO

2021-05-30 – Springtime in the Rockies caravan… Day 4 – Estes Park, CO

We had a lazy, easy day today. It is cold and rainy, with no scheduled activities.

At about noon we drove into Estes Park and stopped to see the Stanley Hotel:

The story of the Stanley Hotel began in 1903 when Yankee inventor Freelan Oscar Stanley (He and his twin brother, Francis, invented and produced the Stanley Steamer automobile…) arrived in the valley, weak and underweight from the symptoms of consumption. To his amazement, just one season here was enough to restore his health to better than before! Overjoyed, he vowed to return each summer for the rest of his life.

However, he and his wife Flora were used to the sophistication of East Coast society, and the little community of Estes Park offered little to stimulate and challenge this multi-talented genius.  Together, they resolved to build a beautiful grand hotel – and when the Stanley Hotel opened in 1909, the first guests who pulled up in stylish Stanley-designed steam cars were astonished at what they saw. Here in this mountain wilderness, surrounded by the rustic haunts of the hunter and homesteader, was an edifice that withstood comparison to the posh hotels “back east.” Electric lights, telephones, en suite bathrooms, a staff of uniformed servants and a fleet of automobiles were at their disposal. Naturally, Stanley had also done much to develop the burgeoning town. By 1917, it was an official municipality with water-works, a power plant and civic organizations that were all, in some way, thanks to Stanley.

By the 1970s the hotel’s splendor had faded due to lack of care and investment. It might have eventually have succumbed to the wrecking ball, if not for a fortuitous visit by author Stephen King. A stay of one night was enough to inspire his third major work and first hardcover bestseller The Shining, which remains a landmark masterpiece in a long and well-known list of novels.

After a full restoration, the hotel stands today as a beautiful testament to its glory days, when it served as a holiday retreat for wealthy urbanites.

Here is F. O. Stanley, himself…

After strolling the grounds we walked towards the city’s shopping district. We found the rushing the Big Thompson River and a lovely riverside walkway lined with many different businesses…

We walked about an hour, then we headed back towards the Villa. It was just starting to rain. But something piqued my interest, so we drove two miles past the RV park to the YMCA camp.

Yes, indeed. Just as I suspected, this is the place where, in 1969, Lynda and I attended our church’s “Young Calvinist Convention”, along with about 1,000 CRC teenagers. After a torturous charter bus ride, where our bus broke down and had to be replaced, and where the second bus driver failed to appear after our driver had driven his limit, we finally arrived many hours late.

About the only things I remember about the convention was that the food was terrible (first time I had tasted hominy, first time I had tasted grits, and I abhor both of them to this day…) and that the days were sunny with clear blue skies until about 3:00 in the afternoon when giant clouds blew in and it rained for about an hour.

Our bus trip home was uneventful, and a week later Lynda and I left for our respective colleges, 300 miles apart… Not an enjoyable time at all…

So we returned to the Villa, and remained cozy inside while the rain continued to fall. Tomorrow we travel to Colorado Springs, stop #2 on the caravan. And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2021-05-27 – Springtime in the Rockies caravan… Estes Park, CO – Day 1

We awoke to 41 degrees outside, and 57 degrees inside the Villa. We started the fireplace and we were soon cozy inside. We had a leisurely morning, then went for a short walk around the park. We stopped in at the office to check out their little store, and found a lake in a quiet grassy meadow…

And that was about it for the day. We puttered around, went for more walks. After driving for four days straight we needed a break…

It was great to see the lineup of Airstreams again…

Tonight is our first group meeting. We reviewed the drivers’ manual (a three-ring binder with all the caravan information, itinerary, schedule, assignments, etc.). We all introduced ourselves briefly. We have 7-8 first time caravaners, and several of the “old-timers” have been on as many as 14-15 caravans. (We fall into the middle – this is our 5th caravan.)

The meeting was followed by dinner of salad, baked beans, mac ‘n cheese, and BBQ beef sandwiches…

After dinner the campfire was lit…

And we were entertained by a local musician, who sang and played Colorado-style songs. Mostly John Denver songs…

I am always amazed when I hear musicians like this. This guy – Cowboybrad.com – was very good! He normally plays with a few background musicians, but due to the covid, the others were unavailable. But as good as he is, he is unknown. Imagine how good the really famous musicians, like John Denver, Stevie Nicks, or Glen Campbell (am I dating myself?) really are… Just a thought.

As darkness fell we returned to the Villa. And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2021-05-26 – Springtime in the Rockies caravan…Traveling to Estes Park, CO

This is our last day on the road for awhile… We are headed to Estes Park where we meet up with the rest of the caravaners…

More meadows. Somewhere east of Rock Springs we crossed the Continental Divide, at about 6,500′ elevation… Wyoming is beautiful, except when it’s not… We stopped to stretch our legs overlooking this giant grassland…

We turned south in Laramie, and soon crossed over into Colorado. Again, we almost got a picture of the sign…

More mountain meadows…

We continued to Fort Collins, then headed into the mountains. The road to Estes Park is like this for about 35 miles…

We arrived at the Elk Meadows RV Resort and found another 25 Airstreams… We have driven over 1,150 miles in 4 days…

We setup the Villa; we even were finally able to put out the slide…! We are here for 5 nights. We received our caravan book and drivers manual and met several of our new friends. We already know 5-6 couples that we had previously met on prior caravans.

We shared Happy Hours with new neighbors, and an enjoyable time was had by all…

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