Estes Park and a Close Encounter With Elk

A gateway city to Rocky Mountain National Park, we love the resort town of Estes Park.

Estes Park, Colorado

It was overcast with car headlights on the rock.   We liked the shadows on the stone.  Fall River flows from Rocky Mountain National Park into Estes Park.

Water wheel in river by park

We love the water wheel in the river by this small park.   Elkhorn Avenue is the main street in Estes Park.

Elkhorn Avenue

We usually walk from one end to the other, stopping in various shops and often a restaurant.   One of our standard stops is The Taffy Shop.

The Taffy Shop

There are several taffy shops, but we have been coming to this one since mom moved to Colorado in 1975.   The taffy is made right here and it is delicious.  Try the Texas Pecan.   Another regular stop is Laura’s Fudge Shop.

Laura’s Fudge Shop

A few years ago, Laura’s expanded but the shop is always crowded with locals and tourists.   That really says the fudge and more is excellent.  We enjoy Turtle Fudge and Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge.  And the toffee, and the caramel apples.   Yum!   We did our shopping, crossed the road, followed the river and got in our car.

River flows under main street near parking area

This is fall, the rut, or mating season of the elk.   This time of year, we hear the male, or bull elk, calling his mates, sounding like a bugle.   The female may answer with a rather shrill squeal.   The elk often leave Rocky Mountain National Park and wander in and around Estes Park.

Elk herd leaving lawn of Aspire Residence at Stanley Hotel

This herd is behind the Aspire Residences, part of the Stanley Hotel.   There were several humans sitting on balconies enjoying the elk herd.   As you can tell, the herd is gradually moving to another area.   But some are not in a hurry.

Baby elk nursing

This young elk is hungry and trying to nurse, but mom doesn’t stand still very long.   They have moved, crossed a major street, and are now in the golf course.

Elk herd on golf course

The lone male watches the females.

Bull running to keep females together

He tries to keep them together.   This bull does a lot of running, or sprinting, to keep the girls where he wants them.   Oh, a second herd is arriving.

Second herd approaching golf course

They will join the first herd on the golf course.   How will this end?

Two bulls calmly passing

The two bull elk, one from each herd, pass each other, without incident.   But, we don’t think the elk can read.

Tee time?

Only golfers on the golf course.

Elk on the Golf Course

Well, is it tee time ladies?  The elk and humans mingle well.   If the elk want to move, the humans scatter to allow the elk freedom to go wherever they wish.  Further along, a herd is around Lake Estes.

A bull elk in Lake Estes

This bull is cooling off and probably drinking in Lake Estes.   The sun has set.

The Stanley Hotel at sunset

The Stanley Hotel is illuminated by the glow of the setting sun behind the Rocky Mountains.   A beautiful end to a beautiful day.

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Autumn Colors Near Denver in 2018

I, Zeb the Duck, take mom and some friends to the nearby mountains and also in the Denver, Colorado area, to view the colors of autumn.   You have to see some of what we have seen so far.   Kenosha Pass has thousands of aspen trees.

Yellow aspen with evergreen trees.

And they turn the mountainside a vibrant yellow.   Some aspen turn red for a few days also.

Variety of colors all together

We love seeing the less common bursts of red leaves.   One day at Kenosha Pass, we watched this family of moose.

Moose family near Kenosha Pass

We and many other humans were fascinated by these moose.   Another reason we love Colorado.  Another day we headed to Echo Lake.

Echo Lake with reflection

We love our mountain lakes.   Echo Lake is at the entrance to the road to Mt. Evans.   We took you there a few weeks ago.   Continuing past Echo Lake, the autumn road looks beautiful.

Gorgeous aspen and energetic biker.

There is an energetic bicycle rider on the road also.   I, Zeb the Duck, wanted to see these leaves up close.

Me, sitting in aspen leaves

So, here I am, sitting on aspen leaves.   On this trip, we drove from Blackhawk to Nederland on highway 119.

Colors of fall with mountains behind

The colors of changing leaves caught my attention with the Rocky Mountains behind.   And one of my favorites, a group of red aspen.

More red aspen

We love driving through the mountains admiring the fall colors.   But, the leaves don’t only turn in the mountains.

Fall colors with mountains behind

Beauty right in town.   This was a beautiful clear day with new snow on the continental divide.

Spectacular view today

The fresh snow is so pretty.   Now I wanted to look up through the leaves and see that beautiful blue Colorado sky.

Looking up

Isn’t it beautiful?  Colorado is famous for the quaking aspen and the beautiful yellow, gold and red leaves in the mountains.   But here in town, we have other types of trees.

Love red leaves

The red maple tree is  beautiful sign of fall or autumn in the city.   If summer must end, this is a beautiful farewell to the summer days.

Scarecrows in Colorado with Zeb the Duck

A warm, sunny day, but Olde Town Arvada, Colorado was full of scarecrows.

Scarecrow

I, Zeb the Duck, am sitting on the head of a scarecrow.   There seems to be several scarecrows in the plaza.   And no crows.

Scarecrow

Here is another one.   Arvada Plaza is near the library and signs say the library also has a scarecrow.    Let’s go see it.

Scarecrow with Zeb and crows

Oh, this scarecrow is reading a book, and the crows want to hear the story.  I am on one shoulder and a crow is on the other.   Another crow on the back rim of the hat.   But the crows are friendly.   Perhaps they are trying to understand those shoes.   The humans get to vote here, for their favorite scarecrow.

Vote here

The ladies in the booth said ducks cannot vote.   Darn.   Small humans enter the cone maze here.

Enter Cone Maze

They follow the yellow tape and seem to be having fun.

Cone maze

Oh, if only I could be a human sometimes.   The Arvada Fire Department had a booth here also.

Arvada Fire Department

So many options for humans here.

Many choices

And more.

Painted pumpkins

I love these painted pumpkins.   Humans, large and small, can ride the hay wagon.

Ride on the hay wagon

Humans sit on bales of hay and a tractor pulls the wagon through the streets of Olde Town Arvada.   All this activity makes humans, and ducks, hungry.   This great food truck is from Steuben’s Restaurant.

Steuben’s Food Truck

Steuben’s has a restaurant in Olde Arvada.   Very tasty.   But, my very favorite festival food is here.

Kettle Corn

I love kettle corn.   Of course we bought some.   Across from Olde Town Arvada Plaza, this church, with scarecrow, hay and apple cider, is ready for autumn.

Lounging on bale of hay

Last Saturday, the weather was warm, in the 60’s, sunny and a perfect day for a festival.   The next day, Sunday, the temperature was in the teens and low 20’s with snow all day.   Monday was sunny again and all the snow melted.   That is just how the weather is in Colorado.   Many seasons in a week, and we love it.   We are happy that the 22nd Festival of Scarecrows was here on the warm sunny day.

Florissant Fossil Beds With Zeb the Duck

Colorado used to have giant redwood trees.   We had a warmer climate, so we had many tropical insects also.  That was about 34 million years ago.   What a change from the Colorado we know and love today.   Today I, Zeb the Duck, took mom and a friend to Central Colorado, a little south and west of Colorado Springs, to Florissant Fossil Beds.   These fossil beds are now part of the U.S. National Park Service.

Florissant Fossil Beds

It was a cloudy day, so we decided to see the outside things first, just in case we got some rain.   About two miles from this sign, is the homestead of Adeline Hornbek.   Back when women usually could not purchase land, Adeline acquired 160 acres to homestead.  Her homestead is now protected by the National Park Service.   In 1878, she had outlived two husbands and had four children to raise.   She and her children farmed and ranched here.

Adeline Hornbek’s Homestead of 1878

Today, her great great granddaughter, was in the house.   So tourists were allowed inside the home and outbuildings.   Attached to the main house is the well house.

Well House

An enclosed pump is less likely to freeze.   The kitchen was large.

Kitchen

On the right side is the door to the well house.   To the left and to the front, is a door to the living room.   The open door on the left leads upstairs where her sons slept.  The rear door goes to another room, with a door to the outdoors.

Living room

The living room is also rather large and has a wood stove for heat.   You can see the adjacent room behind also has a wood stove for heat.   This is the pantry.

Pantry

With five people to feed, storage space was important.   Outside, dug into a hill, is the root cellar.

Root Cellar

More food was preserved here for the long cold winter in the Colorado Mountains.   Going back to the Visitor’s Center, the fossil beds are outside, so we went there first.   There are fossil exhibits inside also.

Petrified redwood tree

I, Zeb the Duck, am sitting on a large piece of petrified redwood tree.  The huge petrified tree stump is under a manmade cover, to offer some protection for the fossil.   Moisture in the stump, freezing and thawing, will damage the fossil.   Humans are trying to slow the process.   The sign says 34 million years ago the Rocky Mountains were warmer with wet summers and mild winters.   This area was forested with towering redwoods, cedar, pines, mixed hardwoods and ferns.   Now this is rare.

Trio of fossilized stumps

A family circle of fossilized stumps grew out of the single trunk of an older parent tree.   The 3 trunks are ancient clones, or genetically identical copies, of that parent tree.   This is common now in California with coastal redwoods, but this trio of stone stumps is unique in the world’s fossil record.  We hiked the one mile trail and arrived here, at the Big Stump.

The Big Stump

This massive petrified redwood stump is one of the largest fossils in the park.   The tree was probably 230 feet tall and 750 years old when volcanic mud flow buried its base.   In the 1800’s local residents excavated the stump and tried to cut it in smaller pieces.   You can see 2 saw blades still in the stump toward the top, above my little duck head.   The base is charred from volcanic mud and volcanic lahar.   Further along, we see tree rings in the redwood fossil.

Rings in fossilized redwood stump

These rings are still visible after 34 million years.   They provide information about environment and climate.  The rings show more favorable growing conditions than coastal redwoods of California today.   Tropical insects were also here.   We had tsetse flies?

Tsetse Fly

This fossil was not on display the day we visited.   Let’s go inside.

Fossil display at Visitor’s Center

There are many fossils on display.   On an interactive display we met this spider.

Spider

This stealthy ground spider (Palaeodrassus) lived under the bark of a tree.  Rather large spider!  Florissant Fossil Beds, which according to the U.S. National Park Service, now look like a grassy mountain valley in Central Colorado, is one of the richest and most diverse fossil deposits in the world.   This place is very interesting and we could spend much more time here.   But we are leaving now and heading back home.   A couple miles to the town of Florissant, we see these deer.

Deer are so graceful and delicate

There is one male and several females.  He is watching.   But I like her.

My new friend

I think this deer is watching me.   Further along we saw a herd of about 50 elk resting in a grassy meadow.

Elk lounging.

We love seeing the wild animals.   The trees of our northern mountains have changed color and many have fallen.   We are in the central mountains now and the leaves are still beautiful.

Autumn in the Rocky Mountains

We love to see fall colors in the mountains.   Especially on a warm calm day.   Are you enjoying the changing seasons where you live also?

Over Trail Ridge Road with Zeb the Duck

A favorite summer drive for us includes visiting Winter Park, a stop at Grand Lake where we enter Rocky Mountain National Park.   We drive over Trail Ridge Road, the highest continuous paved highway in North America.  Exiting the national park at Estes Park we stay there for a little shopping and then return home.   It is a full day, but a wonderful day.   That is the plan for today.   First stop is Winter Park, Colorado.

Winter Park Resort

This is a mountain resort, skiing in the winter and many opportunities in the summer.   In the winter there is a ski train from Denver to Winter Park.   In the summer we love the Alpine Slide.

Alpine Slide, Winter Park Resort

It is hard for mom to get photos of this, but here you can see the half pipe track we use.   Also there is a rider on a sled at the end of the ride.   When we finish, we take our sled and hang it on the line so it can be taken back to the top of the ride.  We ride the ski chair lift to the top of the mountain, get off, walk a little way to get a sled, put our sled on the half pipe run, sit on sled, check our brakes and ride to the bottom of the mountain.   It is really fun!  We can make music here at Winter Park Village.

We can make music.

In the winter humans ice skate on the lake behind us.   Back in the car, we drive to Grand Lake, Colorado.   Grand Lake is the name of the town, but there is a lake, named Grand Lake here.

Boats available at Grand Lake

Hardy souls swim here, but we don’t want to swim in a cold mountain lake.   But these boats on Grand Lake are really fun.   Now let’s enter Rocky Mountain National Park.

Rocky Mountain National Park, west entrance

This is one of four national parks in Colorado, and probably our favorite.   Here I, Zeb the Duck, am admiring the beautiful mountain scenery.

In Rocky Mountain National Park

You may notice dead trees behind me. The Pine Bark Beetle is killing many of our lodge pole pines.   This beetle epidemic is in Canada, the United States and into Mexico, killing trees in the forests.   This beetle epidemic has occurred several times in the past 500 years, but it is so sad to see so many dead trees.  I just love lakes.

Alpine Lake

This alpine lake is so beautiful and so serene.   Driving further up the mountain on Trail Ridge Road, we are now above timberline.

Above timberline. It is too high for trees to grow

The growing conditions at this altitude and temperatures are too severe for trees to grow.  You can see a lake and snow below us.   We were there in August, so this snow is from last winter.   Remember, the higher you go, the colder it gets, so snow in some areas doesn’t always melt during the summer.   On Trail Ridge Road we have experienced incredible mountain scenery.

Beautiful views

We climbed through alpine conditions.  Visited above timberline.   Stopped near Visitor’s Center.

Near Visitor’s Center

Passed through Arctic tundra.  We crossed the Continental Divide.

Crossing Continental Divide

Viewed landscaped shaped by volcanic activity.

All types of terrain here in Rocky Mountain National Park

And descended into the resort town of Estes Park.   We could spend days or more exploring this park and take thousands of stunning photos, but not today.   We enter Estes Park.

Welcome to Estes Park

We walk through town and of course mom always stops at Laura’s Fudge Shop and at the Taffy Shop.   At one of town, we watch the river and listen to the soothing sounds of water tumbling over the rocks.

Scenic river through Estes Park, Colorado.  This is a free photo from the internet.

We love this town and we love this drive.   When you visit Colorado, we encourage you to drive over Trail Ridge Road.

Georgetown Loop Narrow Gauge Train with Zeb the Duck

Today we are going to Georgetown to ride the train.   I love that train.

Georgetown Loop Train. Tickets and gift shop

Georgetown, Colorado is a former mining town.   In 1884 a narrow gauge train was completed to connect some mining towns.    At the time, this train was considered an engineering marvel.   There were horseshoe curves, 4% grades, 4 bridges across Clear Creek and Devil’s Gate High Bridge.   The distance between Georgetown and Silver Plume was only 2 miles (3.2 km) but the train traveled 4.5 miles (7.2 km) to go through the narrow canyon between the two mining towns.   Mining ended, roads were built and the train was dismantled in 1939.   But during the 1980’s, the train was restored and is now a tourist train.   Inside the building we will get our tickets.  We did make the recommended reservations.   We are glad we did.   It is a very full train, and we went on Wednesday.   We leave the ticket and gift shop and wander around.

Clear Creek. Canoe and tepee

From the bridge over Clear Creek, we admire the canoe and tepee.   And we see a small native Colorado animal.

Chipmunk chewing something

We love chipmunks.   This one is chewing something.   His nose is wrinkled up.   The train is coming from Silver Plume.

Train from Silver Plume

Some passengers will get off and stay here, most will get off for about 10 minutes and then get back on.   Mom, our friend and I, Zeb the Duck, are on the train.

On train. More passengers coming.  I do have two eyes!

More passengers are coming.   There will not be pictures of me on the train.   The rails are not level and I don’t want to fall off.   Also mom can’t take good photos with the sun behind me like this.  We are moving.

Devil’s Gate High Bridge from lower train tracks

From the lower track we look up to view Devil’s Gate High Bridge.   Winding around the station, we are now going on Devil’s Gate High Bridge.

We are going over Devil’s Gate High Bridge

We rode this train a couple years ago and I love it.   It is wonderful that we are riding again.   The scenery from the train is beautiful.

Beautiful mountains

We are in a mountain canyon in the Colorado Rockies.   Pulling into Silver Plume station, the conductor tells us we have about 10 minutes here.

About 10 minute stop in Silver Plume

We don’t go far.   Some people started their train ride here, so they get off now.   Maybe a few new passengers join us.   Our train crosses Clear Creek 4 times each direction.

Clear Creek

This is one of my favorite views of Clear Creek.   When the first railroad was build in the 1880’s there were no machines to move rocks.   These boulders were all move by human hands.

in 1880’s boulders moved by human hands. No machinery

We are almost back to Devil’s Gate station, our starting point.

Almost back to Devil’s Gate Station

There was a stop for humans to get off the train if they purchased tickets to visit an underground mine.   We did not.   We want to drive through the mountains when our train trip is finished.

Devil’s Gate Station

We have arrived at Devil’s Gate station and we must leave the train.    But we saw something between Clear Creek and the Rocky Mountains.   Off the train, we need to explore.

Mule Deer

Yes, we did see deer.   This is a young mule deer.   Just love those huge ears.   There are 4 deer here.   We stood very still and all four of them crossed the road in front of us and gracefully climbed into the mountains.   Back in our car, we drive behind Georgetown.   We will go over Guanella Pass and arrive in Grant, Colorado, on the other side of the Continental Divide.

Georgetown, Colorado

Driving up the pass, we stop to look at Georgetown behind and below us.  The aspen trees are changing colors now.

Variety of colors all together

Some leaves will still be green, some bright yellow, some gold and some red.   At the top of Guanella Pass we stop to admire the view from the top.

Guanella Pass area, above timberline.

Again, we are above tree line as we are on the top of the Continental Divide.  Going down toward Grant we stop to admire Geneva Creek.

Water is soothing and beautiful

This is a great day.   The Colorado sun has been shining much of the day.   We love the train.   And our Colorado mountains are beautiful.   The train was less than an hour from home and Grant is about 90 minutes from home.   We hope you explore and enjoy areas around your home also.

Dogs in Costume Go On Parade

I, Zeb the Duck, went to Toby’s Pet Parade and Fair.   This pet fair is a fundraiser for Foothills Animal Shelter.   We love animals.   We love parades.   We love fairs.   So here we are, in Golden, Colorado, a western suburb of Denver.

Welcome to Golden, Colorado

There were more than 200 dogs in costume in the parade.   Many more at fair, but not in the parade.   This was cute.

Spot on banking from Credit Union of Denver. Main sponsor of parade and fair

Spot on Banking from Credit Union of Denver, a major sponsor of Toby’s Pet Parade and Fair.   One category in the parade was look like your dog.

Hot dog costumes

We liked the hot dog costumes.   And what is this?

Chia pet dog

Shrub dog?  Of course not.   This is Chia Pet dog.  Adorable.  Need to solve a mystery?

Sherlock Holmes dog

Sherlock Holmes dog is here to help.   Camper dog is ready to go out.

Camping dog

So many people camp in and around the beautiful Colorado Rocky Mountains.  Another matching costume.

Bee costumes

We love the bright bee attire.   It is autumn in Colorado and hunting season is right around the corner.

Hunting dog

Hunting dog is ready.  Toby, an Australian Shepherd, is Foothill Animal Shelter’s official Mascot.

Toby. Mascot for Foothills Animal Shelter

He was found 3 years ago in bad shape, but recovered and now has a loving, forever home.   Another entry in the look like your dog category.

Look like your dog contestant.

They didn’t win, but they sure got our attention.   We love them.   This dog was not in the parade or any contest.

Not in parade, but loved the lion look

But we loved the grooming and the lion appearance.   Here are some winners from the parade.   In the Macho Dog category.

Winner. Macho dog category

Love the leather.   Biker dog?  Next winner will make most dog owners laugh, and groan.

Winner. Fart Factory

This dog is the Fact Factory.   We like this boy and his dog.

Winner. Look like your dog category

Firemen and winner of look like your dog category.   I, Zeb the Duck, was there enjoying the parade, but I don’t get too close to dogs.   Too many times a dog thought I was one of his toys.   So, I look from a distance.   But this is safe.

Dog treats. We bought some!

We like special dog treats for the dogs in our extended family.   We bought treats with apples in them.   Really sounds good.   Since this was a fund raiser, we did give a donation.   All donations will be doubled by Tito’s Handmade Vodka.   We hope a lot of money was raised for our Foothills Animal Shelter.   We had fun and we think the dogs had fun also.   Maybe we will see you there next year.