Autumn Adventure in the Colorado Rockies

Autumn Adventure in the Colorado Rockies

I received a fabulous invitation (WooHoo) to a Girls’ Getaway in Estes Park. In the past, Colorado meant winter wonderland and skiing in deep champagne powder, hot toddies and warm fires. So I couldn’t wait to Skedaddle and see what we could do in early Fall.

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We were hoping to witness “bugling” elk in the Moraine Park meadow of Rocky Mountain National Park and traverse the Trail Ridge Road, which skims the continental divide at over 12,000 feet of elevation, before the snows shut everything down until May.

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…  Love in the Aspens                      and                        Chipmunk with Winged Friend ….

First stop … check into our cabin, on trout pond, at the quaint Trout Haven Resorts () and make plans for the next two days:

  • Trail ride in the RMNP by horseback ()
  • Make reservations for meals ()
  • Estes Park Fine Arts & Crafts Show ()
  • Driving Trail Ridge Road () in hopes of catching the seasonal color change of the Aspens and perhaps …
  • See wildlife “doing their thing”:  those bull elk aren’t “bugling” for nothing () …

AND … if I thought we were going to have any place to ourselves, not so: “No Vacancy” signs on cabins everywhere, packed restaurants, traffic snarled the streets in Estes Park and the shops were hopping. Clearly, Fall in the Rockies and Estes Park in particular are quite the traditional weekend outing from Denver and  the weather could not have been better:  dry 80 degrees daytime temperatures followed by chilly crisp nights! What’s not to LOVE!

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We chose the Gateway Stables, located just outside the RMNP, offering a 2 hour trail ride ($55pp … GREAT VALUE) that would take us miles along the Fall River through Little Horse Shoe Park in the National Park where the terrain and views would be awesome with elevations above 7,000+ feet. Our guide, Miller, from Georgia, was a “Yes Ma’am” kinda guy and his spiel was great. We were one of the last groups of trail riders for the season and our horses will be the tail end of the herd to be moved next week to over-winter in Iowa.

After our morning trail ride we shopped in town, sampled delectable taffy,

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and threaded our way through the Fine Arts & Crafts tents that were set up in the Knoll Open Space: amazing photography and lots of of jewelry and crafts one would expect to find in the Rockies.

The drive through the Rocky Mountain National Park ($20 for 6 day pass) which, by the way, celebrated its Centennial Anniversary this year, was amazing: winding roads with rising elevations and changing vegetation as spruces and golden aspens gave way to tundra and rocky terrain. By the time we summited Trail Ridge Road (12,183′), we found ourselves in a moonscape at the Alpine Visitor Center above which a short but steep trail takes hikers higher still offering spectacular 360 degree views. The mind-blowing Jurassic-sized timbers (below), scissored as buttresses over the roofs, speak to the massive amount of winter snowfall typical at these altitudes … not shoveling that stuff!

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Whether ascending or descending, a line up of vehicles parked on the edge of the road telegraphed that wildlife was present. Of course, we were happy to add to the bottleneck by parking and sprinting to join the gawkers and pointers. We were just as excited to witness first hand the moose or elk who were minding their business lying in tall grasses like this very large female moose.

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There is an exception and I call it, safari Rocky Mountain style. That would be where the throngs of “watchers” and “photographers” and a “wedding party” …     (Seriously… Leboutins wedding sneakers?!)               Stillwell_Bride_RMNP  …

gather en masse in the hills and meadows (along with their chairs, coolers and fishing rods) during the late afternoon to quietly watch the elk herds’ daily migration down into Moraine Park. We had just such an encounter with an unhappy and testy bull elk who was trying to get his 3 gals to cross down from the hillside across a packed road to the lower meadow.

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He “bugled” with great intensity and passion until the rangers stopped traffic affording him a wide swath to traverse. Unfortunately, the ladies weren’t convinced so he had to do an about face and return to the hillside …

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This limo was probably looking for the bridal party … seriously tho

… “bugling” a whole lot more until they relented and followed him across the road, into a stream … and the meadow beyond.

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Harrumph … Very brave stuff!

When it comes to dining out, everywhere you go the theme is rustic and casual and the atmosphere tends to be loud and cheerful with everyone having a great time. Dinner the first evening was in a converted dance hall c.1937: Rock Inn Mountain Tavern. As its original purpose suggests, the interior is an open floor plan with a large wrap around bar and plenty of seating for casual dining. The exception in the decor department was at The Dunraven Inn which brands itself as “The Rome of The Rockies” and uses as its signature image, The Mona Lisa, which is placed ubiquitously … along with origami dollar bills …

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… yes, perhaps a little confusing but since the cuisine is Italian and the decor very eclectic and homey, it eventually all makes sense. By the by … reservations are listed simply as (!) so absolutely reserve in advance. Our dinner was delicious with an ample wine list, sweet desserts and our server, Bianca, was great!

Summing up the adventure in the Rockies is best done visually:

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Well … I hope you enjoyed this Skedaddle to the Rockies … if so, please “Like” and “Share” on Facebook and visit:

http://www.KateStillwellPhotography.com OCTOBER 1st for your Stock photo needs and Photography holiday shopping: available in various sizes, matted and framed or photo shipped in cylinder …

Rocky Mountain National Park and Estes Park Links:

http://www.trouthavenranch.com let Marisa take care of all your needs

http://www.dunraveninn.com ask for Bianca

http://www.rockinnestes.com Try their local IPA by O’dell’s

http://www.skhorses.com They suggest: Kiss your horse n’ tip your guide

http://www.estesparktaffy.com Their moto: “Spoiling Dinner Since 1970

http://www.nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/trail_ridge_road.htm for more info

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Skedaddling to Playland in Rye, New York

Skedaddling to Playland in Rye, New York

Rye, NY holds a special place in my heart. We lived there for many years and since it is where we started our family whenever I return,  it is with a fond heart that I visit friends and explore old stomping grounds. Such was the stop over en route home from Maine when I visited a dear friend. Catching up over drinks and dinner on Purchase Street in town at Encore: Bistro Français was a treat: a choice of 6 OR 12 escargots and the branzino was delicious … our waiter, Roy was tremendous and it was a special treat chatting with Manager Nicolas who was raised in Paris in the arrondissement next to that of my parents’ … what a small world.

The next morning, after a hearty breakfast at On the Way Café, we walked off the calories on the boardwalk of the adjacent Playland Amusement Park and Edith G. Read Sanctuary

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Playland is almost a century old Art Deco style amusement park in Rye, NY. Its flanking towers stake their claim like sentinels on a beautiful stretch of beach on the rocky north shore of Westchester on the Long Island Sound.

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Once upon a time, scheduled boats plied the waters transporting families from the sweltering city to the pier for a day of respite and fun. They were welcomed with food, a public pool, an ice skating rink, picnic and grilling areas, as well as typical Amusement Park fare: popcorn, cotton candy, hot dogs & hamburgers, Arcades, Haunted House, bands and theatrical performances and an assortment of rides with the most popular being the historic all white wooden “Dragon Coaster” and the beautiful Grand Carousel.

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Eventually buses off-loaded throngs of visitors and for many, summer was incomplete without the requisite Playland outing. It has undergone changes over the decades and regardless of challenges wrought by nature or man, the park remains a destination for many and an iconic symbol of Rye.

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The boats no longer ferry passengers but the park’s appeal and popularity remain strong. Now that the park has closed for the season, residents are assured of ample space to park and exercise as well as meet to picnic on benches or find a quiet place to read. Check out the ginormous Pier Restaurant & Tiki Bar located at the far end of the boardwalk offering five levels of patio dining as well as indoor seating for year round dining: an amazing setting and killer views!

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After the white Dragon Coaster, the “jewel” topped tower is the most recognized symbol of the park

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No park is complete without a ferris wheel and Playland’s gives riders unprecedented views of Rye, the Sound, the Manhattan skyline on a clear day and a peek at the Westchester Country Club to the north in Scarsdale.

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Next chance to enjoy the views from the ferris wheel  … May 2016 …

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Until then … I’m off Skedaddling to new destinations … meeting up with travelers … having new adventures … and taking lots of snaps … I hope you enjoyed this slice of postcard worthy coastal Rye, New York …

Bye for now and stay tuned for my next post … please “Like” on FB and “Share”

Kate

PS Look for stock photos: http://KateStillwellPhotography.com which is under construction but will be ready for visits shortly …

 

http://www.encore-bistro.com      ask for Roy (waiter) … Bonjour a Nicolas

http://www.onethewaycaferye.com    say hello to Grace (owner)

http://www.pierrestaurantandtikibar.com

http://www.ryeplayland.org 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Skedaddled to Maine: Kittery Point and York & Portsmouth, NH

Skedaddled to Maine: Kittery Point and York & Portsmouth, NH

I could not have chosen a more beautiful time to celebrate the end of summer in Maine: temperatures were well into the high 80s and this summer’s dry spell extended its dominance. When I think of Maine I conjure up images of rocky shorelines …

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… a Labor Day Weekend, packing in folks at Fort Foster during low tide for their last hurrah …

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… and by the next day … having the beach to ourselves once again …

… HIP HIP HOORAY!

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… there are those times when a pattern catches your eye … like atStillwell_Foster_Pier_SupportsFort Foster Pier

… or driving along the coast to enjoy Nubble Lighthouse …

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… where you are welcomed by volunteer,

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who joyfully asks if you would like your picture taken!

… walking allows you to “see” things otherwise hidden … such as old boats and weathervanes,

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… Victorian homes …

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… and the fabulously angular historic Wentworth Coolidge Mansion

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After a full day of exploring and walking and snapping pictures, the appetite kicks in and where better to purchase the evening’s repast of L O B S T E R S than from Seaview Lobster Co. 

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… and sumptuously prepared by my host …

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… luckily we had the turkey frier filled with lobsters when a flock of these filed past …

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When Traveling to Kittery, York and Portsmouth a stop for artisan breads and amazing jams, jellies et.al. is always on my to do list so I stop in at When Pigs Fly

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… and attempt to buy less than 3 or 4 breads …

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As always, I am indebted to my dear and supportive friends, you know who you are,  who open their homes and hearts and are so very patient during outings as I stop and fall back to take pictures and then hustle to catch up  …

Well, I hope you enjoyed this skedaddle and that you’ll check in again for my next post!

PS Several of these images and many more will be posted shortly on: KateStillwellPhotography.com