OK, fine, this particular cool place is more like 1.5 hours away from where we live, but whatever. Isn't it cool that you can get in the car and before anyone even has time to fall asleep, you can be at THIS? "This" being Rocky Mountain National Park, where we've been before--and previous times we took our nice camera and got lots of amazing pictures--whereas this time we left the big camera at home because it's so bulky, so the photos below are from a whole bunch of different phones and more portable cameras.
My host family was blown away--they are total country/mountain people so all of Colorado was really their jam, unlike New York, where they spent a day at the end of their trip and were less than impressed. But RMNP pretty much impresses everyone... it's so beautiful and the altitude is high enough that you really feel it and it makes you feel pretty badass.
We got lucky with the animals, too--before we even got in the park we saw two moose, a mother and baby, which was super exciting for all of us because none of us had ever seen a moose before. Further in the park we also saw marmots, prairie dogs, elk, and a deer and fawn. My host family was also very impressed by the chipmunks--I guess it doesn't take much!
We happened to be there during the brief annual window when Old Fall River Road was open, so we drove that, which was fun and only slightly daunting (but totally safe at slow speeds) with the hairpin curves, narrow road, and lack of guardrails, but worth it for the lovely views. We also took a couple short walks, including one up to 12,000 feet for panoramic views (Annika climbed all the stairs--probably 200-300 steps--all by herself), but sadly we did not have time to do the hikes around a couple lakes that we had planned for the eastern side of the park. We spent a total of maybe six hours in the park, and it was not nearly enough. We'll go back soon.
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