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Rocky Mountain Adventure

Last week marked a couple major milestones in our life – our 15th wedding anniversary, and our first trip to see REAL mountains (Hawaii & Ireland only have ‘hills’ in comparison). We had booked the trip months and months ago – when curled up on the couch this winter contemplating where to go for our summer vacation. Naturally, our thoughts always turn to Minnesota – and time spent around the lake. But our last trip reinforced the fact that we just NEED to have better accessibility to really enjoy vacation. So we started thinking about other spots and eventually landed on a resort just outside of Estes Park, CO – only minutes from Rocky Mountain National Park. They had an accessible unit which looked like it would meet our needs and so we took a chance and booked it! And I’m SO glad we did!!
We split the drive up on the way out (which we would definitely do again, if we go back) and spent an afternoon/evening in Kearney, NE. We wandered around town a bit, checked out a super hilarious souvenir shop, and the super pathetic Cabela’s store located there, and finished the evening havening an awesome supper. Our trip was off to a good start!
The next morning we excitedly made our way out to CO…only to be somewhat disappointed that no mountains were visible…FOREVER! My parents has told us that as you approach them you start to see them and think ‘are those clouds!?’ and then realize nope, they are mountains. We laughed as over and over we said ‘are those clouds!?’…and then ‘yep. Clouds’. It was only about 40 miles outside of Estes Park that the elusive Rocky Mountains finally showed themselves. I was starting to believe they were a myth. 
We easily made our way through town to our resort and checked in without any issues. The air was cool – after morning showers had made their way through. It was 69 degrees and cloudy. We opened up the patio door of our room and took in the beautiful views, smells, and sounds. The Fall River rushed below us and a tree covered mountain rose about us…truly beautiful.
We spent the next four days in and around Estes Park – taking in all that the area had to offer us. We drove up the Trail Ridge Road in RMNP, stopping plenty of times for photos and just to take in all the grandeur around us. We picnicked in the park and just had the best time exploring. We were marveling at where we were…the mountains. There were times when our limitations got in the way a little; like pushing Matt up a steep incline when I thought my heart may burst out of my chest or trying to maneuver over some gravel, or when I had to drive EVERYWHERE, including the white knuckled drive up the Fall River Road (gravel, one way, oh-so-steep-and-high) to the Alpine Visitor’s Center. But these were only minor inconveniences – in the grand scheme of life, or this trip.
We took a crazy long road trip – just us. We ventured out into unknown territory. We took scenic drives and got out to explore tiny shops and roadside stores. We sat in our car and ate lunch in the alpine tundra as a thunderstorm passed over and all around us. We marveled in the view of freshly fallen snow on the mountain tops as the temperatures plunged into the low 40’s. We basked in the sunshine…which may have burned my scalp (darn sunroof). We ate elk burgers, elk/buffalo/pork meat loaf, and trout! I dipped my fingers in the cool mountain river as it rushed by us over rocks and trees. We rode to the top of Prospect Mountain by aerial tram (and survived!) We saw elk – everyday!
We sat quietly and looked over Bear Lake (until some hipster weirdo started playing a flute or lute or some sort of goofy thing). We laughed at that, and a lot of other misadventures and inside jokes. We spent a rainy afternoon snuggled up with a fire going and the door open – listening to the sound of the rain and thunder and raging river as it filled higher with water streaming down from the mountain rains. We ate delicious homemade ice cream and the most amazing homemade cinnamon rolls from a tiny store in the middle of nowhere. We used MANY vault toilets (which is really just a nice way of saying PIT toilet). We wandered around the ‘haunted’ Stanley hotel and enjoyed the most delicious anniversary dinner; including our complimentary champagne! (Our waitress was top notch!) We simply had the best time. It was an amazing trip!
We drove alllll the way back home in one day (never again) – and happily crashed in our own bed. We drifted off to sleep recounting all the fun we had, then things we saw, and reaffirming the love we continue to grow for each other. Matt said to me several times throughout the week that while we were having a great time in the MOUNTAINS (of all places) that really we always have a great time together, no matter where we are. We bring the fun. And while it was a lot of work – for us both – to vacation in the unknown, RMNP was a great destination for us. Our resort functioned pretty well, and we just had a great time.
Rolling into year 16 of marriage seems pretty bizarro. I’m not really sure how it happened. So many things have come and gone and soooooo much has changed. Through it all we remain us though…and I’m so grateful for that. I’m grateful to the moon and back that we had this Rocky Mountain Adventure together. It was a great escape for us both – and a great reminder of how much we can accomplish and enjoy – together.


Emily said…
You got some great pictures, too!

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