So after our adventures in Denver, early Monday morning we headed north for Estes Park. I was so excited I could hardly stand it! As the mountains loomed closer and closer, I kept saying to the kids (who were quietly entertaining themselves), “Look at how close we are now, guys!” and they were less excited than I wanted them to be. Boys.
But, by the time we entered Big Thompson Canyon for the scenic drive on 34 from Loveland to Estes Park, they were paying attention. The Big Thompson River is a sight to behold, and we followed it for miles and miles. I am OBSESSED with how amazing and powerful and beautiful rivers are, so driving this route was awesome for me.
At a friend’s suggestion, we stopped off at the Colorado Cherry Company in the Big Thompson Canyon for cherry cider! Definitely a fun stop along the way.
Estes Park was just as perfect and charming as I’d hoped. It’s a great little touristy town full of shops and restaurants, and it’s closer to Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) than I’d anticipated.
We stayed in a cute house that we’d found online. The location was great, but now that we’ve got the lay of the land, we know we want to be on the river next time, between Estes Park and RMNP. I even made a list with the title “Places That Looked Good on a Drive-by” of potential rentals for our return trip someday!
Because this will be crazy long if I try to combine Estes Park and RMNP, I’m going to give RMNP its own post next.
I’ll show pictures of the place we stayed, but I’m not linking to it as we are still sorting out some, ahem, cleanliness issues we had with the place. And I have written the mother of all complaint letters, primarily because I had 15+ hours in the van and a notebook and pen at my disposal. That’s right, I old-school hand-wrote my letter before I typed it when I got home. And as soon as the security deposit hits our account, that lovely dispatch will be on its way.
We managed to have a fabulous time at the house despite some problems. It was an old 1-bedroom lofted cabin that had been beautifully rehabbed in a style that I loved: it was modern and rustic at the same time, if that’s possible…it didn’t have a kitschy lodge feeling at all. There were some lovely vintage pieces mixed with a modern kitchen/bath and living room furniture. I’ll admit that I’m a bit of a snob when looking at rentals online. I don’t need all the comforts of home, but I don’t want to get stuck in a place that’s gross (CLEANLINESS IS IMPORTANT), so we’re usually willing to spend a bit more to get something decent (and, it goes without saying that I rented from what I thought was a reputable company). Here it is:
The backyard was awesome for the boys. It was fenced in, and then what you can’t see is that there was chicken wire between the wood slats, keeping the bears out. There was a hammock and a firepit and a large dining area, and a place where there used to be a hot tub (sad face). The boys loved just being out there anytime we were home, and made up this game where they threw pinecones like bombs across the yard. In 4 nights’ time, despite rain every evening, we managed to cook on the firepit twice, and nothing could make my boys happier.
We walked around downtown a few times and mini-golfed twice, which was Jack Henry’s requirement to make this a good vacation. (FYI, visitors to EP: the mini-golf course right as you come into town on Elkhorn Ave, Cascade Creek, is SO much better than the one with the giant slide, etc).
And the food…oh, the food. If you visit, stop in at Hayley’s for cookies and candy; Nepal’s Cafe for Nepalese/Indian food (clearly, this was Matt’s choice, but I had a meal from here, too!); Poppy’s for a really fun patio along the river and great food; and though I liked Poppy’s better, its sister restaurant next door, Mama Rose’s, was also good.
Up next: hiking! And 8000 pictures of scenery!