Estes Park Getaway
March 17 was the beginning of school spring break for Katrina and Dan (teachers) and Natalia and Joel (students). We reserved a nice cabin at Estes Park CO for the weekend for the six of us. Mason had plans to participate in a golf tournament, so did not join us. We also did this trip three years ago and four years ago; we did not do this the last two years. Both Natalia and Joel were very eager to get back to the neat cabin, Estes Park, and Rocky Mountain National Park.
Sue and I took a crock-pot with us and fixed chili for Friday night supper, and the Cavaliere family joined us just as we got unpacked. The cabin (Castle Tower) at Castle Mountain Lodge is perfect for the six of us. It is a well-designed building with three floors, built something like a tower, within a few feet of a rock wall mountainside. The first floor has a small but nice kitchen, a dining area that accommodates six easily, a nice living space with gas fireplace, a large bath with shower, and two large closets. The main door enters from the parking area, up a small number of steps, and the other door opens to the deck which wraps around the corner of the cabin.
The second floor consists of a large bedroom with king-size bed, a bathroom accessible from the bedroom and from the second-floor landing, and a large tub with water jets located in a room between the bathroom and the bedroom. The bedroom has access to the second-floor deck, built above the main deck. Sue and I have the second floor bedroom.
The third floor is a large bedroom with king-size bed, and with two alcoves, one on each side of the room. Each of the alcoves holds a twin bed (with a trundle bed under it) and has a window above the bed. Natalia and Joel stake out one of the alcoves, each, and share the third floor with Katrina and Dan.
The place is beautiful, with nice views from the windows and the decks of Fall River, about 50 yards from the cabin, as well as forest and rock mountainside by the cabin, and mountain views across the river.
After unpacking, Sue and I drove to the local Safeway for some refrigerator groceries. The kitchen is very accommodating, including an icemaker in the refrigerator and a dishwasher, things not found in all the cabins there. We stocked up on snacks (healthy and otherwise), as well as breakfast items. Soon, we could smell the chili cooking, and the kids were running up and down the stairs, having a great time.
Before dinner, we played a couple games of For Sale. Natalia had not played it before and was interested in learning. She and Dan tied to win the first game, and Natalia won the second game. I think this game might become one of her favorites.
The chili was delicious, as always, and we all settled into conversation, reading, working Sudoku puzzles Sue had brought, and other activities. I had scanned a number of puzzles from some recent Games Magazines, for Natalia and Joel to enjoy, and they worked on them off-and-on all weekend. I had also scanned a two-player game from one of the magazines, and Dan and I played a couple of times, and then he taught Joel how to play it.
We were expecting snow Saturday afternoon and night, so we decided to do some shopping and tour some of Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) before the weather changed. Katrina and Dan fixed us a great pancake and link sausage breakfast Saturday morning and off we went.
Natalia found some shoes (Crocs) to buy, Joel bought a neat souvenir (a silver eagle mounted on a nice piece of amethyst), I found a couple of long-sleeved tee-shirts, and we bagged some fudge at a local candy shop; then we ate lunch at a local café and headed for the Park (RMNP). Friday afternoon, Sue and I had gone to the park entrance, where I purchased a Golden Age Pass (since I now qualify for it). For ten dollars, I have a pass to virtually all National Parks and many other Federal recreation areas, for life. Sue bought one last year, after she became eligible. The females got together in the Cavaliere car (with Sue’s park pass), and the males joined me in our 4Runner for the Park tour. The Cavalieres had brought their short-range walkie-talkies, so we could communicate between the cars. We had already seen a few elk and deer in Estes Park. We had no trouble finding several nice elk herds in RMNP and took some photos of the animals and the scenery. After stopping at the gift shop on the way out of the Park, we came back to the cabin.
The rest of the afternoon went by quickly. Dan, Joel, and I decided to play Lord of the Rings Risk, which took quite a while. I managed to eke out a win, with Joel coming in second. Everyone did some reading, puzzles, or whatever. The fireplace felt good after dinner, as we watched the beginning of the snow.
Sunday morning we got up to several inches of snow covering everything and more coming down. Sue and I fixed a French toast and bacon breakfast, which went over well. After finishing the dishes, Katrina and Dan put some pork chops in the crock-pot, and we all went outside to enjoy the snow. Sue built a snowman while I took some digital photos and joined Joel in a snowball fight against Natalia and Dan. Katrina soon joined us, taking some photos and then tossing snowballs. When we had burnt off a bit of energy, we all took a long walk through the cabin area and along Fall River, observing deer, elk, goose, and duck tracks, and enjoying the beautiful wet snow blanketing everything. Katrina and Dan’s pork chop lunch, with macaroni and cheese, and green beans, was delicious.
The afternoon was spent playing games – Through the Desert, Ticket to Ride, Bohnanza, Boomtown, and Fill or Bust. We all had a great time playing games all afternoon. Later, everyone again read books, worked Sudoku or other puzzles, and played games in twos or threes. Everyone then fixed whatever they wanted for a light supper (ramen, popcorn, quesadilla, etc.). The fireplace, again was great, while snow started up outside.
Monday morning showed the cars well-covered with snow. We packed the cars and left for home on snow-packed, but plowed, highways. It was a fantastic weekend, and Joel said it was even better than the last two times we went. Couldn’t have asked for a better time!