I told you Fridays…
I’m sorry I’m late…
BUT SURPRISE!! Here’s an early Tuesday present for you!!
We left Spokane Creek, South Dakota and headed for our next camp in Casper, Wyoming.
You know we love our Harvest Host membership, so we requested a night at the Gruner Brothers Brewing Company last minute, and thankfully were approved!
We circled back up and around the Black Hills National Forest and decided to take the slight detour out to Devil’s Tower National Monument on the way to Casper.
What we weren’t expecting, was the $25 cost at the gate. Thankfully, there was quite a line of cars to get in so it gave us enough time to get some good pictures, and weigh our options of paying the $25 or not…
Just a few cars from the gate, we decided we’d rather keep going…
I know, I know, we went all that way to not go.
But I got a good picture though!
And a sign!
I’ve already put it on the “When We Come Back” list…
A couple hours and a beautiful drive into the state of Wyoming later, we landed at the Gruner Brothers Brewing Co., perchecd on the hillside, overlooking the city.
We were told where to park, ran into town for a few things at Walmart and then made our way into the brewery for drinks and dinner.
As we nestled into our seats at the bar, we met the bartender, Sky. She helped us pick our beers and helped with decision of which pizza to order from the partnered restaurant, Ludovico.
I’ll present the choice to you, let’s see which mouth-watering pizza you’re choosing:
Big Dave Award Winning Pizza,
“Top 3 Finisher International Pizza Competition 2019: Aged dough, local wild yeast, 2 styles of house sausage, pepperoni, house-made red sauce, and smoked mozzarella”
(AKA a HIGH QUALITY yummy ass pizza)
“Russian Roulette, Detroit Style:
Brick cheese, vodka cream, pecan bacon, ham, bacon, hot oil, jalapenos, mozzarella
(AKA all the buzz words I like to hear on a pizza)
Let me know in the comments, which pizza are you choosing?
We got the Russian Roulette!
YESSSS it was hot!!
Ooo but dipped in their homemade ranch…
Delicious, and hot, are understatements.
They had live music that night, though my attention was on typing the Apostle Islands Blog.
I often find myself typing away in atypical locations.
When we left later that evening, with 3 other RVs now parked beside us, we were ready to curl up and put something on tv.
It was a litttle hot at first, so we un-curled and just… hoped for the best, not wanting to bring out the generator.
but as always, it cools down…. And then by morning you’re waking up sweating again. All part of the adventure.
I can remember I was extra stressed going to sleep that night because A. it was hot B. we didn’t know where we were going to stay the next night.
We woke up the next day, had a slice of our pizza from the night before for breakfast, and tried to find our next place to camp.
We went back and forth about going across Wyoming into Grand Tetons and Yellowstone, or heading south into Colorado and Utah to do a major National Parks stretch there. After an abundance of discussion, we opted to take the Southern route!
COLORADO, HERE WE COME!!
Only real problem,
was finding somewhere to stay.
Unsurprisingly, most places were solidly booked. We found a variety of options, but nothing that allowed us to stay more than 1 night . We sat on hold with the Colorado State Parks Reservation line for 20 minutes before we finally got through to a receptionist who helped us reserve four nights at Boyd Lake State Park. We would have to move sites after the first night, but that was okay with us. The park couldn’t have worked out better anyways, as it gave us perfect access for us to go into Denver, Boulder, Estes Park, and Rocky Mountain National Park.
That first night, we went to the 16th Street Mall in downtown Denver…
How to explain…
I was excited to see the city! Devon was excited to show me the city!
And it did redeem itself later on the trip, don’t get me wrong…
But that first evening spent in the city, was a questionable one…
We found a nearby parking garage and made our way to the outdoor mall.
I think it was the man sitting in the closed restaurant’s patio huffing air from a can of something similar to keyboard cleaner, that made me uncomfortable.
And the younger group of individuals walking in front of us that questioned,
“Why do you have to do that, man?”
Of course, we found a restaurant/brewery to land for Happy hour, but still, The Experience continued as a guy did cocaine off his thumb next to us at the bar.
I don’t know, not a great first experience, but we knew we definitely wanted to give Denver another chance.
Anyways, the next morning, we promptly moved our RV into its new 3 day home, and looked for the next adventure of the day.
Just under an hour south of camp, we made our way into Boulder to window shop the Pearl Street Mall.
We found a late lunch with two of our favorite things:
fried chicken and beer.
Introducing, The Post, Devon and I each sipped a beer and split the Get Happy Sample for Two (or Four) on the Happy Hour menu.
I’m not joking when I say we both walked away perfectly full from this meal.
Now, after lunch, we got to do something a littttle more active.
Well, Devon did at least 🙂
I have a few friends that live in the area and I was incredibly eager for us to find different ways to spend time with them.
The first friend we saw was my friend from CNU, also named, Devon. We’ll refer to her as Devon M. I want to briefly tell you about her because though we’ve never been very close, per se, we’ve stayed friends, and, honestly, I’ve always admired her. She and I met on our Study Abroad trip to Glasgow, Scotland as college sophomores. Like I said, we kind of moved to the beat of our own drums, but when we got back to CNU, we shared a few classes together. She’s the kind of person that radiates a joyful, peaceful, energy. Not too hyper, not too relaxed. This is all important because talking to her really made me reflect on our experience and how we are choosing to enjoy it.
She posted a picture on her Instagram a few days prior from a skate park with a pump track, something I know nothing about, but Devon W., my Devon, was dying to try.
A pump track, I learned, was a skating, scootering and biking track but the catch is you have to keep pumping your legs to give you power to get all the way around. I was just excited to watch because the most I had seen Devon skateboard was up and down the street with his nephew, Max. It took him a second to ease into it, he said, but once he found the rhythm again, it was a walk in the park.
When Devon M. met us at the skatepark in Boulder that evening, she and Devon W. were like two peas in a pod skating up and down and around the park.
An added touch to the whole evening was that Devon M. actually knew someone else at the skatepark while we were there! As we watched the two Devons go around and around, she told me her name was Michaela, and she and Devon M. met at the Boys Club, a local all-girls skateboarding club.
A case of the skateboarding face…
The heat from the evening-sun kicked in and both Devons were exhausted. Devon M. suggested we get a beer in Boulder at a place called Rayback Collective. We sat outside in their beer garden and indulged in good beer and better conversation well past the time the sun went down.
It was so good to see Devon M., it’s probably been 4 or 5 years since I’ve seen her.
But then again, its been about that long for a lot of the friends I have.
Those first two days were a good way for us to get settled.
One thing we had to figure out was how we were going to visit Rocky Mountain National Park.
After some research online, we learned you need to reserve a 2 hour window time-ticket to enter the park. The ticket was only $2 and you can reenter at any point, but you have to enter between that window. The other catch was that the tickets only became reservable at 5pm the night before. Alarms set and all the panic in my soul, we were able to book a ticket, with access to Bear Lake Road, for the following morning from 9-11AM.
Just about an hour from our camp at Boyd Lake, we drove southwest through Estes Park, a verryyy cute mountain town, down to the Beaver Meadow entrance. It was a quick process through the gate, though the lines leading to it seemed to stretch a good distance. Once through the main entrance, it was a quick turn on to Bear Lake Road where we were met with another gate and park ranger to check we had the correct pass.
The Rocky Mountains quickly took over as we traveled…
One thing I guess I should acknowledge too that was heavily stressed when buying the time ticket, was that though you are guaranteed entrance into the park, you are not guaranteed a parking spot.
There is a park-n-ride a couple miles before Bear Lake where you can opt to take the shuttle down;
or if you’re like us, you’re willing to test your luck at the Glacier Gorge or Bear Lake parking lots.
We must have been carrying all of the luck with us because we found one open spot at Glacier Gorge and it only added a half mile to our hike.
Note to others: unfortunately, there aren’t any water-fill stations here, but there were some at the Bear Lake trailhead! There were plenty of vault toilets at both as well.
As we started the trek, we quickly realized it was going to be an uphill battle… literally.
Best part of an uphill hike? The way back is all down hilll!
With 0.5 -0.9 miles between each point of interest, we went from Glacier Gorge to and around Bear Lake;
Just as we were getting back on the trail for Nymph Lake, we spotted a midnight-colored Blue-Jay; turns out it’s a Steller’s Jay!
Anyways, Bear Lake to Nymph Lake;
Nymph Lake to Dream Lake;
and Dream Lake to Emerald Lake.
Instagram Emerald Lake…
Reality Emerald Lake….
As we left Emerald Lake, there was a marmot on the rocks just beside the trail…
Marmots need lunch too, but remember to never feed the wildlife!!
Some other pics of pretty things along the way…
The trail does extend beyond Emerald Lake, but Devon and I knew we already had a few miles to get back to the car.
We left the National Park several hours later with very tired legs. On our way home, we stopped for lunch at the Estes Park Deli and had an amaaazing toasted Italian Sub.
We wanted to get together again with Devon M. but we were so incredibly beat…I think we went to sleep around 7 that night and woke up closer to midnight in that, “what just happened” daze.
To enjoy our last day at Boyd Lake, we rode our bikes around camp, I wrote the North Dakota blog, and we set our alarms to buy another entry ticket for Rocky Mountain National Park. We finished out the restful day by grilling some chicken breasts and vegetable kabobs.
Note to self: zucchini, squash, mushroom, onion, and pepper make for good veggie tacos!
The next morning, checked out of Boyd Lake and headed a half hour towards to the park to our next campsite, another Harvest Host! Berthoud Brewing, just outside of Estes park was the perfect next stop for us. We got situated in the brewery’s parking lot, and headed straight for the National Park; this time exploring the northern end. We regretted not packing a lunch for our previous hike day, so we determined to pack a picnic for this trip.
We started in the subalpine stopping for a quick hike at Hidden Valley and then up to Many Parks Curve, before making our way further along Trail Ridge Road. Up and up and up, into the clouds we went.
And then we continued the trip into the Alpine…
We stopped for one other hike, the Tundra Communities Trail, before we stopped for lunch. The air was thin so the walk up was not as easy as it looked, but the good thing about stopping every few steps is you’re never left with a bad view…
When we stopped for lunch, just past the Alpine Visitor Center, I heard a girl say, “there’s one up there…”
No idea what she was talking about I grabbed my camera and zoomed…
aw, an elk!
My first one!
So far away, but it still counts…
Then… as we were munching away, we noticed people had pulled over just down the road from us and were taking pictures of something… I walked a little further down and looked over the edge… AND THERE WAS AN ELK RIGHT THERE. Okay, the picture makes it look closer than it was, but man, oh man, this was cool!!
We drove up the road a little bit further before deciding to turn around.
The weather wasn’t the best and we were just getting deeper and deeper into the park.
As if the day couldn’t get any cooler, just as we started the way back down, we spotted our first bighorn sheep in the most majestic space.
We can never get enough, so we made one more stop before heading home, the Alluvial Fan waterfalls.
We got back to Berthoud that evening, tired, again, but not nearly as physically exhausted as we were the time before. Again, my office for blog-writing became a brewery. We slowly sipped our beers, each of us intently working before heading back to the RV for the night. Again, 3 more other RVs now parked outside with us.
The next morning was a big day for us….
We were going to try dispersed camping.
As we left the city and headed for the National Forest, we stopped for brunch with another one of my college friends, Brandon! Brandon and I lived on the same hall freshman year and we remained good friends all through out our college careers, his bringing him to CO to study medicine. Like Devon M., his energy just radiates… calmness.
Also, like Devon M., I hadn’t seen Brandon since we graduated in 2017.
He helped us find a side street to park our car and trailer, and then drove the 3 of us to the
Denver Biscuit Company.
(All on its own line because it deserves all that and a standing ovation)
I’m not a big biscuit person, I’ll be honest with you.
Anything other than a biscuit.
Crumbles everywhere, usually too dry for my liking… pass.
The Denver Biscuit Company?
That’s the only biscuit I ever want to eat in my life again.
I was so focused on ordering something yummy, and it in fact being incredibly yummy, that I didn’t get a single picture…
you know what wasn’t disappointing?
Easily an inch thick, golden crispy on the outside, fluffy still on the inside…
and then to choose from all of the sandwich and entree options?
I could go back a million times.
Alexa, put “Order the Shrimp and Grits Biscuits on the “When We Go Back” list, please.
It was so good to catch up with Brandon and we are forever grateful for him for introducing to us to the
Denver Biscuit Company,
Next stop: National Forest to find dispersed camping.
We did find a camping spot off the main road through the mountains…
a SINGLE camping spot.
So we kept on up the bumpy road,
also in the rain…
only to eventually come to the end of the road.
SOMEHOW, there were also people’s driveways along this empty, forested back road.
I don’t even know how to tell you how we turned around.
Devon drove, while I “navigated” and tried to avoid the ruts and low trees as much as possible.
As we backed up, the back end of the trailer was in the ground digging so far into the sand,
I swore the back pipe was going to come off the frame.
The next moment the back end was out, the pipe was fine and the HITCH was in the ground.
We got out of the mud, dried off from the rain, and headed back down the
We finally got turned around,
found civilization and made a phone call for a Harvest Host outside of Golden instead.
Thankfully, El Rancho Brewing Co. was a short distance away and had availability for us to stay.
only drawback was it was a Friday night and because they get busy, they ask their Harvest Host guests to vacate their parking lot from 5pm-8pm.
Extra stressor, we needed to figure out where we were going to stay the following week since dispersed camping didn’t workout…
To be continued…
Read Part 2 to see what new foods we got to try at the El Rancho Brewing Company and how we spent the rest of our time in Denver!!
(I PROMISE TO HAVE IT FOR FRIDAY THIS TIME!!)
Until next time,