Day 36 – Colorado Springs to Boulder
Seeing as it is now more than a month since we actually did the trip to Boulder, I will try my best to remember what we got up to, but I may be a bit sketchy on the details!
We got up early in the morning to make the short trip to Pikes Peak, one of the 14,000 footers in the area, with the added bonus that you can drive all the way up to the top. Well, I say YOU can drive, but in reality you drive as far as you feel comfortable and then get a shuttle all the way to the top as there are some building works happening at the summit so there’s no parking, and the drive also gets a bit scary for some people…There are various shuttle points and we got up a fair way before we left the car behind and made the steep incline someone else’s problem. Our driver was very good and got us safely to the summit, where it was close to zero degrees, with none of the doughnuts they are famous for in sight. Nevertheless we had a cup of coffee and had a good look around and of course took some pictures, though it is surprisingly hard to get good pictures from the summit. The views are spectacular with lots of snow-capped mountains in the distance but it doesn’t quite translate to photos. At 14,115 feet it wasn’t only very cold (and a shocking amount of people came unprepared) but the air was also very thin and we both experienced a bit of dizziness and light-headedness, though fortunately no headaches! We also saw our first marmots all around the visitors centre, and they were quite cute – a bit like a dassie with a tail.
After taking in the views and having a coffee there’s really not much more to do or see on the mountain, so we got on a shuttle to take us down the mountain again. We were on our way to Boulder for a couple of nights and took the route via Black Hawk and Nederland. Long stretches of the route were fairly boring, but we stopped at scenic Evergreen for a bite to eat and a walk around and just past Nederland we found Boulder Falls, which is worth a quick stop.
In Boulder we found our motel, the Foot of the Mountain Motel which is next to Boulder Creek and with a nice park down some stairs and next to the creek. The motel was a fair walk from the town and VERY expensive but it was all I could find as it was the 4th of July the next day and the whole town was buzzing. Boulder turned out to be a beautiful town, not only for its setting at the foot of the mountains, but also for the amount of flower planters everywhere, the lovely creekside walks and public art and sculptures everywhere. We found a Farmer’s Market which very sensibly runs from 4-8pm on a Wednesday so we made our way there along the creekside trail – the shaded trail was a blessing as it was another blisteringly hot day!
We spent the rest of the afternoon and evening exploring Boulder and chatting to some random people – the people are extremely friendly and always happy for a chat – with one guy even sharing his Tater Tots with Brian! I had a lovely sandwich in The West End Tavern and we spent quite a bit of time in the Attic Bar & Bistro – mostly because they had great happy hours specials and Boulder turned out to be a bit more expensive than some of the towns we’d been staying in!
Day 37 – Boulder & 4th July
We had another fairly early start to reach the Rocky Mountain National Park and to drive the famous Trail Ridge Road between Estes Park and Grand Lake. It still seemed fairly quiet at the park entrance but the drive and pull-out points were fairly busy already as it seemed everyone had the same plans as us for the day! We made multiple stops, took loads of pictures and really enjoyed the scenery before reaching Grand Lake and starting the trip back. By the time we reached the entrance gates again the queues at the gates were about a mile long (literally) and the traffic heading towards the park was insane – needless to say we were glad that we were there early! The Trail Ridge Road drive is definitely something to experience and the amount of snow-cover still in evidence was astonishing. It was also very nice to be up in the mountains in the cool (cold!) air and getting away from the heat for a while.
Back in Boulder we chilled for a while in our motel as we were planning on heading out to Ralphie’s Independence Day Blast for their 4th July celebrations later on. The weather forecast wasn’t looking too promising, but we were all set to see some fireworks and headed out looking for something to eat. Folsom Field where the event is held was another fair walk but is situated on the university campus so we expected there to be a lot of bars and restaurants to go to beforehand, but when we got there it seemed a lot of the places were shut for the 4th July. We ended up having pizza at The Sink after waiting in the queue for a while, and just as well that we found ourselves inside when the heavens opened and it started raining and hailing! The pizza and beer were good and we were quite happy waiting out the storm inside before heading to Folsom Field, where opening time was delayed by the weather. The temperature must have dropped by 20 degrees and while not quite freezing, it was uncomfortably chilly. The stadium didn’t really fill up properly and the entertainment was rubbish but the fireworks were pretty good, though all in all we had a MUCH better time at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena 4 year previously. After the show we were too tired to walk all the way into town and then back to our motel, so we just walked straight back to the motel and crashed out.