“I believe the world is incomprehensibly beautiful an endless prospect of magic and wonder.” –Ansel Adams
Finding the Words
Sometimes, when I sit to write, I can not find the words. How to begin, how to describe what I see or what I feel, how to transfer to paper or screen what it is that moves me to write in the first place, it is a struggle on some days. As I have stated before, it is not that there is an absence of inspiration. On the contrary, inspiration abounds if one only takes the time to notice. No, it is the utter feeling of inadequacy that I struggle with when writing. Can I fully explain a sunrise with mere words? Do I do justice to the majesty of the mountains or the splendor of an autumn sunset with the words I choose to describe them in all their glory? I have been fortunate in my life to see and visit a few places that were remote in nature, seldom trod by the feet of humans. In these remote regions, it is both exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. Nature is awe-inspiring and has been the inspiration for many a poet for generations. And while words and pictures are woefully inadequate, they are all we have and a necessity for all those that wander and are not lost. There are still wild places on this earth if you are able and willing to put forth some effort to get there. My joy comes in describing these places, as well as other places, however inadequate that may be at times.
The Denver Zoo
Nearing the end of our short trip to Colorado, there were a couple of things on our to do list that we had still to fulfill. My sister-in-law, or K5 to those keeping track, is a lover of animals and zoos. If she were driving in the rain and had only one dry spot left in her car and came upon my brother (her husband) and a stray dog, she would take my brother, but it might come down to rock, paper, and scissors. When planning our trip initially, K5 had wanted to make the drive down to Denver to visit the zoo there at some point during our stay. It was a good call! So, we ordered our tickets for four and drove down on a Monday morning just a little after the rush hour traffic had mildly subdued. It is a 1.5-hour drive from Estes Park to Denver. On our route, we traveled through some beautiful country and saw some of the scarring left behind by wildfires from the previous year. The zoo has a 4-level parking garage and parking is free. We backed into the parking space on the giraffe level about mid-morning and made our way into the 80-acre zoo. The Denver Zoo is considered one of the better zoos in the nation and boasts over 3,500 animals. Good animal habitats are essential for the well being of the animals enclosed in any zoo, and the habitats here are large and well thought out for the most part. New this year is a 22,000 square foot, state of the art animal hospital inside the zoo. There is a train and carousel to ride for the younger visitors (or K2, who is a closet carousel connoisseur of sorts). While I much prefer seeing animals in the wild, I understand the role that zoos play in conserving and preserving some of the most incredible animals on the planet. This is definitely a place I would return to and really that is the best compliment you can give such a place, isn’t it? Check it out here for more information:
Rocky Mountain National Park by Jeep
Prior to our leaving the area for our homeward journey the next morning, all the K’s and I booked a tour the day before with Green Jeep Tours. The tours offered are varied, but we decided to tour Rocky Mountain National Park on the safari tour to see the sights. I enjoy looking while driving and scanning the valleys and mountain sides for animals, waterfalls, and anything else that I find fascinating, beautiful, or just more interesting than any of my normal surroundings. Therefore, it is always a good idea for some one else to do the driving in such places, as I am infinitely more interested in almost anything around me, more so than the road before me. Luckily for all of us, Green Jeep Tours was able to be our designated driver for a little over 2 1/2 hours. Craig, in his first season (and 2nd trip) as a tour guide, had moved out to Colorado on a whim during the craziness of 2020 and just decided to do something different with his life. I admire and respect people who can just stop on a dime and change direction in life. It takes a certain amount of courage to look at yourself in the mirror one morning and just say, ok I do not want to do this anymore. Let’s drive across country and see where we end up. That, in a nutshell, is what Craig did with his wife. He did a great job on the tour and as far as tours go, I would highly recommend this excursion in whatever form you wish to take in the scenery. There are many different tours, and you can check them out here:
A Moose is Loose
The scenery as we rode in our almost private jeep was spectacular. We met another couple who were visiting from Mississippi and shared the tour with them. One of our first stops was a short trail walk to a waterfall. We passed a herd of bull elk on our way through the valley floor and stopped briefly to take pictures and just admire the majesty of it all. We drove to the parking area of the trailhead and let Craig lead us through the rocks and pine trees to the water. On our way up we were startled by a young moose that simply walked across the path not 15 feet in front of us and began munching on leaves to the left of the walkway. It is always an amazing thing to see wild animals in their natural setting, but it can also be a bit unnerving as they are big, strong, and unpredictable at best. Given the age of this moose, it was especially disconcerting as we all began to nervously suspect that momma moose would be along shortly to check on junior. And momma moose might not appreciate our appreciation of junior.
So, after a few pictures and some anxious momma moose look-out moments, we were back on the Alluvial Fan Trail for a short half mile walk to a great waterfall. This area of the park has been marred by significant flooding events in the past. The first, was in 1982 and was devastating to the park and surrounding towns. Boulders and large trees were pushed down 2,500 vertical feet as a wall of water smashed through the Lawn Lake Dam upstream. More recently, in 2013, flood waters wiped out the trail and walking bridge as it carried large amounts of sediment and rock down that is still present today in the west parking lot for the trail. Just a little reminder that Mother Nature always has the last say and the power of water, which holds both life and death in its soggy hands, should be admired, feared, and respected by us all.
Taking Our Time
Our 2.5-hour tour was going on 3 hours and Craig was in no hurry. In fairness, he did ask all of us if we wanted to take things a bit leisurely and we all agreed. So, up the mountains we all went to get up close to those snow peaks that we had admired from a distance all week. The road over the continental divide was only partially cleared when we visited in late May. Still, we would serpentine our way up to 2 miles above sea level until we could go no farther by car. The top was crowded and the mood was tranquil, as most mountain top vistas are it seems. The air is crisp there, the views are stunning, and the inner peace you feel is real, if you allow yourself the freedom to just let go for a moment. We concluded our tour by stopping to see Longs Peak which rises 14,259 feet from the valley floor and is the highest mountain peak inside RMNP.
All good things must come to an end and so our excursion to Colorado was winding down as well. This blog only serves as a snapshot of what we saw or experienced. As with all things, we cannot do it justice with words. There just are not enough adjectives to describe true beauty, and truthfully, it can never be wholly defined as it is in the eye of the beholder and beholden to no one’s preconceived notions of what beauty should be. There are always small, hidden places on each of our journeys. There are those forgotten stories from our past adventures that float back into our memories, summoned by some unseen spirit of yesterday, and awakened within us are our thoughts, our dreams, and our remembrance of what we once were and what we still hope we can become. It is these little idiosyncrasies that only we know about ourselves that make us all who we are, and it is on small excursions like this one or maybe even one out your backdoor, that we come to the realization that we are surrounded by beauty if you take the time to notice. It is my hope that everyone takes some time to notice today.