Not long after we went to sleep, we could hear the roar of distant winds as they raced across the plains and foothills of the Rockies. And then the winds were knocking on our door. We were high up in elevation and on a mostly bald peak. I think being in a tent on top of an SUV makes the wind more noticeable than being on the ground. Neither of us slept, constantly worried our tent might blow away with us in it! Luckily we had that small group of trees to help shield us, but it wasn’t complete protection. At 4:45am, after not sleeping most of the night we decided to pack up and hit the road. We quickly learned that it was also quite chilly outside and by the time we got the tent all packed away we couldn’t feel our hands. We were hoping it would warm up quickly so that we could make breakfast comfortably. We continued our drive towards Estes Park and arrived before the sun.
It was still a little cold to be outside making breakfast but we decided to make some coffee. The Aeropress works great for coffee preparation while trying to pack light. We simply mixed coffee grounds with water and let it sit overnight and then Aeropress it in the morning. Some coffee and trail mix helped kick start our brains into coming up with a plan for the day. We started to head out of town, but first stopped to watch a bunch of elk grazing in someone’s yard downtown.
Not far out of Estes Park is the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park. We reached the entrance before opening time at 8am, which meant there was no entrance fee! We cruised on into the park and found a spot with a fantastic view to setup and cook breakfast. Mandy set to work cooking a delicious breakfast scramble and I tried to make the included solar panel work to charge the included spare battery. Unfortunately, this endeavor proved fruitless, which was a mistake. After we ate breakfast and cleaned up, we hopped into the Explorer to do more exploring. What a coincidence. Mandy turned the key and nothing happened. So we tore apart the vehicle in search of jumper cables, which were apparently not included. The dead spare battery has a connection for a vehicle battery, which was useless because it was dead and would not charge. I continued to tinker while Mandy flagged down a few passersby to inquire about jumper cables. The third passing vehicle rescued us and got us back on our way again. We made a mental note to be very energy-efficient while the vehicle was off, moving forward.
We toured the park some more and got a bunch of pictures all over. Then, we left. We made our way towards Breckenridge, but never actually went there. Along the way, we stopped in Idaho Springs for lunch on a whim. We parked, unplugged the refrigerator, and found a spot for a bite to eat. We ended up in Vintage Moose at the bar. I ordered a Tommyknocker Blood Orange IPA, which was outstanding. Brewed 2 blocks over, too! Mandy ordered a Breckenridge Agave Wheat. We each got a sandwich, too. Pulled pork and beef brisket. With our hungers and thirsts quenched, and after a quick chat with a very friendly local, we hopped back on the highway. We continued toward Breckenridge, but when we got off the highway, we decided to continue on to Steamboat Springs. I might have decided differently if I knew how far it was, but I’m so glad I didn’t.
When we got into Steamboat Springs, we went straight for the visitor’s center. We asked if there were any good places we could park our vehicle overnight, and explained that we’d just be sleeping on the roof. We were also looking at a brochure for Strawberry Park hot springs. Diane wasted no time in calling the staff at the hot springs to ask if it would be okay for us to do that, because, as she said, she believed that they allowed camping. We were upsold to a cabin for $85 per night and included access to the springs (which was $15 each). We quickly agreed to this rate, considering it would give us $60 worth of access to the springs (2 each for the night and the following morning), and the cabin only cost $25! We went to the cabin directly to check it out and help formulate a plan for dinner.
The cabin was very minimalist. It was perfect! It had a mattress and a propane heater and one gas lantern. There was also a full size barbecue grill, which was excellent. We went back into town to get some stuff to cook for dinner. We found a grocery store and got some small steaks and vegetables and some other miscellaneous items, and then we went back to have dinner. After a minor mishap where we didn’t light ourselves on fire, but almost, Mandy cooked up a veggie medley and grilled the steaks. The steaks were not a great cut, but the veggies were quite good. Once we cleaned up, we made our way down to the springs. Unfortunately, it was dark at this point, so it was tough to navigate the unfamiliar pools. Fortunately, it was dark outside, so clothing was optional. We found a spot of our own in one of the pools and fully relaxed. When we could no longer take the heat of the pools, we walked back home and went to sleep.
"It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to."
- Bilbo Baggins
We're just an adventure-loving couple with a puppy looking to share our stories with the world.