Ft Collins, CO & RMNP
After our last day in Jackson, WY consisting of rest and errands we were ready for the next leg of our journey and one that I personally had been very excited about for several reasons. Colorado had always been a place I wanted to explore more, as there is just SO much to do there and so many little towns and cities to discover. It was also the first stop in a place that I had originally put in the top 3 running for “Places I might move to” (following the trip). On top of all that, I would meet Alejandro, a guy I had been speaking to for many months and never had the opportunity to see face-to-face.
The drive from Jackson into Colorado was a long one. We originally planned to camp but the park that we had looked at was expecting bad weather overnight, some of which we drove through on our way down. So we made a very rash, last minute decision to fork south and tack on an extra 4 hours in the car aiming for Snowmass, CO. The plains that link the two states were beautiful and the clouds and rainstorms rolling across them made for some epic photography with sunrays peaking through storm clouds at sunset. We saw a lot of wild life, mostly horned/antlered creatures that we’re usually unable to identify.
We got into Snowmass pretty late and were greeted by the always lovely, Donald, a friend of mine I had met while in LA. Snowmass Village where Donald was staying had an elevation of over 9,000 feet and it didn’t take long before I was feeling the effects of altitude sickness so our two days there were pretty uneventful. Donald did cook us a beautiful dinner and we lounged around watching Dawson’s Creek and soaking up the wifi.
When we left Snowmass, everyone had raved about a hike between there and Denver called Hanging Lakes. We went, and it was nearly a 40 minute wait JUST TO PARK THE CAR, so we left, bummed. Aint nobody got time for that.
The drive itself was beautiful enough.
We met Alejandro at his office where they do 3D printing, Lulzbot Printers. It was pretty cool to get the tour and see how everything is made. Get this: they use the 3D printers to print parts for more 3D printers. It’s like robots that self multiply!!!!!! Ahhhh!
Alejandro was a great host, despite almost killing us on yet another “leisurely float” that was anything BUT leisurely. Let me explain: The water was cold, shallow and VERY swift where we entered. Katie and I had doubt but we were assured that it would be okay… minutes later Katie was tossed from her tube going over a small waterfall and suffered some scraps and bruises. She also dropped the GoPro in the process so I swam upstream in an effort to save the camera. The real problem was that in doing so I got myself into a real pickle when I looked up after saving the GoPro, only to realize that I was seconds away from being tangled up in some low hanging braches across the wrong side of the river. I did not have enough time, nor paddling power to avoid the collision. The current was KICKIN’! I tried to put my feet up to catch the branches and stop myself from going through them however that was probably the worst thing I could have done. My feet stopped above me but my butt in the raft kept going, sending me into a backwards, upside-down, underwater, washing machine tumble. Despite colliding with several rocks underwater I stayed down as long as I could to try and avoid the branches above the surface. When I ran out of breath I came up, not even knowing which direction I was facing, just in time to catch a big branch To. The. Face.
The song in this week’s video, although explicit, does so well to accurately portrait the mood in the video – so I went with it.
Let me tell you that being close-lined by a tree branch while moving (guessing) 15 mph does indeed “hurt like a mother f*cker”. It was combination of bark burn across the length of my face diagonally, a bloody nose, fat lip and possible concussion. I was then dragged through the remainder of the tree cluster and by the time I was able to stop myself from the grip of the current I had lost everything, including my tube and my dignity. The only things still in my hands were the GoPro and my beer… Priorities people, priorities.
I managed to get to the riverbank and pretty much freaked out when I took my hands off my face to palm full of blood. I thought, noooo! NOT MY FACE!? The moneymaker. By the time Katie and Alejandro caught up to me it was clear that this raft trip was over. We’d only been floating for maybe 5 minutes when all this went down. We got out in someone’s backyard and hooved it back to the car.
It was decided that we should just go drink away my pain so we head for the New Belgium Brewery, home of Fat Tire. The place was packed and a lot of fun, just enough to take my mind off the fact that my face was basically mauled (well, not really. I think it hurt way worse than it looked).
While in Ft Collins we also went to a lake for a swim and checked out a few good restaurants and local bars. Then on the 4th of July we got up early to drive up to the Rocky Mountain National Park; a place that Alejandro frequents. He drove us around so we could see all the snow capped mountains, view points, animals, and we went for a hike up to see some lakes. It was really pretty and the cold air up there was a welcomed break from the hot summer sun. That night we drove into Denver for a 4th of July party, which we will get into next time. Until then xo
What we learned in Ft Collins, CO and the RMNP:
- Ft Collins, CO is a more poppin’ town than we anticipated
- NEVER trust someone who describes a float as “leisurely” (this is twice now for anyone who is counting)
- The Rocky Mountains still have snow, even in the month of July!?
- When viewing wild life from your vehicle, be sure to pull completely off the road so to not cause what is commonly referred to by the locals as a Moose Jam.
- This country of ours is oh so beautiful in both nature and spirit. GOD BLESS THE USA.