Friday, January 3, 2014

Third Anniversary: Colorado Edition

So I'm a little behind on updates...blame it on the pregnancy brain and lack of energy. Also, fair warning, this post contains a LOT of photos! But considering I took more than 1,200...I think I showed decent restraint. ;)


On September 4th, Dan and I celebrated our 3rd anniversary. 3 years feels both short and long at the same time. I feel like so much has happened in such a short period of time. The years have been wonderful, if at times challenging, but I wouldn't trade them for anything.

To celebrate 3 years, we treated ourselves to a mountain retreat in Estes Park, Colorado. It was my first trip to Estes but Dan's first trip to Colorado at all! He was really excited to see the mountains and kept looking for them to come into view as we drove west.
Driving through the mountains on our approach to Estes
 We are so thankful to our friends, Jeff and Julie Abel, who recommended not only our hotel but places to eat and things to see as well. We had a room with a balcony right on the river that ran through town with a view of the mountains beyond and were right on the trolley route to and from town when we didn't feel like walking. 

Our View
We absolutely loved exploring the town of Estes Park. Our first couple of days we just explored downtown as we adjusted to the altitude. We enjoyed wandering around town looking at the shops, riding the trolley around the see more of the town when our legs (and lungs) got tired. The Stanley Hotel made for a delightful afternoon of touring and soaking in the gardens.
In front of The Stanley
Enjoying the gardens
Watching the fishermen while waiting for the trolley

After our adventures in town, we spent a whole day driving through and exploring Rocky Mountain National Park. Dan had brought out the map and decided, since the weather was nice, that we would take the dirt road up the mountain, then join the paved road for the rest of the trek through the park. It was quite exhilarating driving that little, one-way dirt road! Thankfully, there were plenty of pulloff areas to be able to enjoy the beauty around us from outside of the car. We also had some fun by setting our GPS unit to display our current altitude and then watching it climb! (Lots of pictures ahead!)
Entrance to Old Fall River Road
One of the first stops...he was bummed it was closed so we couldn't hike down to the river
Looking back down at the valley as we ascend

Spotted this guy at one of our first stops on the road
Love the sound of rushing water
Getting higher!
You can see the snow pack that still hadn't melted over the summer
Finally above the tree line!
At the rest stop at the was a little chilly up there!
We had lunch at the summit of the trail road and enjoyed looking around a bit before heading down the mountain on the paved road to continue our exploration. Rain clouds poured down on us until we got back below the tree line. The second part of our trip included crossing the Continental Divide, seeing elk and moose, stopping at a pretty lake in the nearby town, and a small yet exhausting hike (on a paved trail) at altitude just off the road. We were wiped out by the end of our adventures!
Dan at the Continental Divide
Both of us at the Divide
The little lake we stopped at just outside the park in a nearby town
They had a perfectly placed post for me to put the camera on to take the picture!
The two huge moose we saw near the park sign...not more than 40 feet from us!
Gorgeous! We totally fell in love with RMNP.
The female moose we saw (much further away from us) in RMNP.
Looking back down at the river valley.
It was amazing to be above some of the clouds!
Well, hello Mr. Marmot. (Seen on our trail hike.)
The trail we hiked (notice you can't see the vehicles for the altitude change).
At another lookout (all I wanted to do was sit down at this point).
Those white specks are birds...flying below us!
The two elk we saw...they were a little camera shy.
Overall, it was an absolutely wonderful trip and one that has had us talking about when we can go back to Colorado. :) I am so glad I was able to see the mountains again and immensely thankful my husband fell just as much in love with them as I am!

Amazing steak dinner at Orlando's to celebrate our anniversary :)
Happy 3rd Anniversary, Love! Here's to many, many more!

Soli Deo Gloria,

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