Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Visit from Jessica - Part Two

Post by Loretta

We wanted Jessica to get a full experience while visiting us in Colorado, so we had other fun adventures planned.

Colorado is known for its many events and festivals.  The festival we chose to attend while she was visiting was Keystone Bluegrass and Beer Festival.

Crowd at Keystone Bluegrass
Beer Festival

Not for the beer.  For the bluegrass!  You see, our friends' son, David Jeffrey, and his band, Grass It Up, was playing! I have been wanting to see them play in person for years, so this was a perfect opportunity.

Grass It Up

David Jeffrey
Grass It Up

Grass It Up is a well known bluegrass band based in Colorado Springs, Colorado, but play many music venues throughout Colorado and beyond.  They have their own distinctive style and are a super talented group!

Keystone is a skiing destination and is a really modern upscale rustic kind of place.  There is shopping galore, spectacular scenery, and has a cool, laid back kind of atmosphere.  Seems like a good place for young, adventurous people.

We considered a rafting trip while Jessica was here, but since she has already experienced the Hiwassee, Nantahala, and Ocoee rafting in Tennessee and North Carolina, we settled on another adventure instead.  A trail ride.  On horseback!  In the mountains and open range!  Yee Haw!

Let's go Horseback Riding!

The Rusty Spurr Ranch was located close to our campground and had great reviews, so this is where we chose to ride.  It was over five miles down a dirt road back into the hills and mountains to their location.  That in itself created anticipation as we drove to the ranch.

Almost to Rusty Spurr Ranch

Waiting for Her Horse

Cowboy Decor

We were briefed by "our cowboy", Jake, on the rules of the ranch and how to handle the horse.

Mmmm....Our Cowboy

At Rusty Spurr Ranch, the rides are not 'head to tail' rides.  You are free to guide your horse off trail, through the brush, and enjoy a REAL ride, unlike most others offer.

Jessica and her Horse, Anna

After the briefing, we were off.  We rode across sagebrush fields, through Aspen forests, and up a mountain, where we had breathtaking 360 degree views of all the surrounding countryside.

Across Sage Brush Fields

Through Aspen Forest

To the Top of the Mountain

Our View

Our View with Snow in the Mountain Crevices

Jake took our picture at the top of the mountain.

Me and Midnight
Jessica and Anna

Fortunately, the horses are very well trained and did not run back to the barn as we made our way toward the ending of our ride.  It was a glorious day and one that Jessica and I will never forget.

Jessica and a Day to Remember

I have saved the most exciting for last.  We had never been to a real Rodeo - only a little local one back in the South - so we wrapped up her trip with a REAL Professional Rodeo in Fraser, Colorado!

High Country Stampede Rodeo
Fraser, Colorado

It was exciting!  There were bucking broncos...

Getting Ready to Turn 'Em Loose

Ride 'em, Cowboy!

This Horse is WILD!

Four Feet OFF the Ground!

Roping and tying...

Calf Tying

Mutton busting...

Teaching them Young

There was also bull riding.  By then, it was too dark to get a good photo, so here are a couple of photos from another rodeo we attended after Jessica went back home.

Bucking Bull

Hang On!

Coming out of the Gate

It was a wonderful visit, and one I think she will reflect on for years to come.  It was quite a change from the city life she is used to.  And it was hard for her to leave it totally behind.

City Girl Checking for Signal

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Visit from Jessica - Part One

Post by Loretta

My oldest granddaughter, Jessica, 

Jessica, my Granddaughter

came to visit recently.  We picked her up in Denver late at night, so we stayed the night there.  Since our little car is a two-seater, we rented a car so we would all be able to travel together.  We had planned several things to do while she was in town.

This was her first trip to Colorado, so we wanted to pack a lot of activities into a short week. 

On her first day in Colorado, we visited Rocky Mountain National Park, which this year happens to be the park's 100th anniversary!

Jessica's First Day in Colorado
Visiting Rocky Mountain National Park

We entered on the Eastern side, through Estes Park and drove across the entire Rocky Mountain National Park, to exit on the Western side near Grand Bay.  Jessica was in awe of the beauty and magnificence of the park.

Mountains, Evergreens, and Wildflowers
Rocky Mountain National Park

Jessica on Top of the World

Jessica and Henry
Climbing Rocks

This Yellow-bellied marmot entertained us as it climbed about the rocks, investigating every crevice and peeking out at us.  

Rocky Mountain Marmot

Rocky Mountain Marmot

This little pika was also entertaining.  It would scurry down the rocks to a grassy spot, gather its mouth full of fresh greens, and then scurry back up the rocky cliffs into its nest, then do it all again and again.  This was one of Jessica's favorite critters.

Rocky Mountain Pika

We toured the Alpine Visitor Center, close to the summit of RMNP at 11,796' elevation, and browsed through the separate gift shop.  The Alpine Visitor Center is covered in snow in winter and looking though the huge glass windows in the back, there are still snowdrifts of 10-15' along the mountainside in late July!

Alpine Visitor Center
Highest Visitor Center in RMNP

On a hillside near the Alpine Visitor Center, we spotted a herd of female elk.  There were at least a hundred.  The male elk were at a lower level, resting and showing off their huge racks.

Female Elk 

The Studs

So, on her first visit to RMNP, I think Jessica was extremely lucky to have had gorgeous weather and to have seen such a variety of wildlife.  I would call it a very successful day and beginning to a fun filled week.

We rode a lot of back roads during her visit.  I wanted her to see the free range cattle - not something she would see back home.

Jessica Observing
Free Range Cattle on Road

We went on a three and a half (3 1/2) mile hike around beautiful Monarch Lake, crossing streams and wading in icy cold snow melt water, rockslides, and lots of wildflowers.

Jessica at the Beginning of Hike
Henry, Ken and Trisha

Monarch Lake
The Lake we Hiked Around

Trisha and Jessica
Wading in COLD Creek

Later in the day, we went Moose hunting and Jessica saw her first Moose in the wild!

Jessica's First Moose

Be sure to check back for Part Two of Jessica's visit.  We have more adventures to share.  

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Colorado Hunting

Post by Henry

Recently our friends from Alabama, Ken and Trisha

Trisha and Ken
(Photo Provided by Trisha)

have caught up with us here in Colorado and we’ve become avid hunters.  Big game mostly.  We’ve had the best luck with Moose, Elk, and Pronghorn, though we’ve been hunting for Bear, Bighorn Sheep, and Mountain Goats, too.

Sorta Skinny Moose


Elk Bulls Resting

Most of our hunting has been in and around Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) and our weapons of choice are cameras and binoculars.

We’re not the only hunters out there, as this is summer vacation time and RMNP is swarming with tourists.  Usually spotting wildlife is as easy as coming around a bend in the road to find fifty (50) cars pulled over and lots of people snapping pictures and pointing out where exactly to look for a moose and her calf or some elk.

Mama Moose

Baby Moose

One time we even started a Moose Jam.  Driving down the road, Loretta spotted a moose coming out of some brush and we were the first car to pull over. 

Moose Country

In a matter of moments, probably 40 cars are parked on both sides of the road, with moose paparazzi everywhere.  Even a park ranger showed up to direct traffic.

Other times while hiking down a trail, folks coming from the other direction will tell you about wildlife they saw that might be seen on the trail ahead.  On two (2) occasions, we’ve encountered bull moose feeding nearby while on a hike.

Bull Moose
Close to Trail
Magnificent Male Moose

Hunting for wildlife is not limited to just big game.  Smaller critters like marmots, pikas, ground squirrels, and chipmunks can be equally entertaining and exciting.


And that’s the thing.  Seeing wildlife is exciting.  No matter who it is, both young and old are grinning from ear to ear when watching wild animals in their natural habitat.

Probably the easiest hunting in RMNP is not the wildlife, but the scenery.  It’s everywhere!  From the lower elevations filled with evergreen trees, meadows and rivers to the above tree line alpine elevation with snow patches, ground vegetation that takes hundreds of years to grow and endless mountain vistas.

Rocky Mountains
Bull Elk Resting at Base of Mountain

Alpine Country

Rocky Mountain Meadow

Rocky Mountain Vista

RMNP is one spectacular, scenic park for hunting wildlife.  We’ve bagged some good ones, but we’ll keep searching for the elusive few to add to our trophy case.