Colo-NOT SO RAD-o
We have a hard time turning down cheap airfare; when you can fly somewhere for considerably less dough than driving, it’s worth a shot. Such was our occasion for an extended weekend in Colorado.
After our 3am (CST) wake-up call we made the hour-long drive to the airport and eventually found ourselves in Denver just after 7am (MST). We commenced our plan of driving to Grand Lake by way of Estes Park…and every Toys R Us/TJ Maxx/Marshalls/Target/Wal-Mart we could find along the way. We are still looking for the Marvel Legends Black Widow figure and provided ourselves every opportunity to find her. To no avail, sadly.
Our retail endeavors took us to Boulder, where we happened upon the Batmobile (see previous post). While waiting for ECTO-1 to arrive, we visited Wal-Mart and found the Doctor Doom Marvel Mashers figure that a friend had been hunting.
Thus began the Detour of the Dubious Doctor Doom.
ECTO-1 did not show up for its appearance at the comic book shop, so we continued north on I-25. Roughly 7 hours into our travels we realized that the tags on our rental car were expired. So we crossed our fingers, vowed not to drive recklessly and continued on.
Between shopping and stopping to explore natural areas like Devil’s Backbone, we expertly killed time and ended up in Estes Park at twilight. Having passed through the flood-ravaged corridors of Hwy. 34 we were more than ready to finish up the last 90-minute leg of the drive to Grand Lake. It was only then, as fatigue took hold, that we saw the sign—flashback to Ace of Base, anyone?!
The sign warned that the highway was closed just west of Estes Park “for winter months”; a quick search of the interwebs confirmed this. Not to worry, we reckoned, this was May.
May is firmly footed in spring, nearly summer! Colorado, it seems, runs on a different calendar.
The roadway was indeed barricaded at the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park (through which Hwy. 34 winds). At this point, just after 8pm, we called the hotel to find out how we were supposed to get there with the highway closed. The unsympathetic clerk indicated that the road is closed annually until Memorial Day—this is what the internet should say rather than leaving an open interpretation of “winter months”—so we’d have to go all the way back down to I-70, travel west to Hwy. 40 and then up from the west on Hwy. 34. In short, nearly 4 more hours of driving ahead of us, complete with all of the roadwork that comes with an area devastated by flooding last fall.
We pulled in the hotel’s parking lot right at 11:50pm. Sleep came swiftly…and was rudely interrupted at the first light of dawn. The east-facing hotel room had wood blinds on the picture window, vertical blinds on the sliding door and sleep masks on the end tables, but no drapes. Sunlight is a glorious thing unless you really just want to sleep.
Our loosely planned itinerary originally included doing some horseback riding outside of Estes—that proved to be a pipe dream with the unforeseen detour. Instead, we thought it might be fun to do some sightseeing via dog sled/cart. Given the muddy conditions, though, they weren’t running carts and the ground wasn’t icy enough for the sleds. Even the kennels were closed so we couldn’t visit the pups.
Restaurants were closed for the season in the more ski-friendly areas, and most hadn’t yet opened in the mountainous lake areas since the lakes were still largely covered in ice. Many of the nature areas we attempted to explore
were closed, including Corona Pass.
The park ranger at the Kawuneeche Visitor Center told us we could park and walk along Trail Ridge Road (Hwy. 34) since it was closed to thru traffic. While that sounded like a cool idea, we quickly learned we would still have to pay the $20 park entrance fee, which seemed a little pricey considering we weren’t offered the full compliment of sight-seeing. And so it was back to town to hike the somewhat less exciting Adams Falls area.
Our last full day, we took a road trip to Colorado Springs to see the Garden of the Gods. Upon arrival, we learned that the visitor’s center was closed there as well. Fortunately, the park itself was open. After a little while checking out the rock formations and sweating more than should be allowed in a state like Colorado in “winter,” we decided to check out Seven Falls…closed for renovations. How do you close nature?! And on our way back to the hotel that night, we hit a hare.
I blame Doctor Doom.
Being the smart cookies that we are, we surmised that we found misfortune every time that little jerk was in the car. He had become our version of the Brady Bunch tiki idol.
On the way back to the airport, we stopped to visit one last Toys R Us. As it turns out, that Toys R Us is invisible or fails to exist outside of its website listing and Google Maps directions. A very frustrating start to what proved a very frustrating day. Our flight was delayed in Denver, so we got back to Kansas City later than expected. Upon arrival we learned that our usual route home was closed for construction, because OF COURSE IT WAS! We had to go north before we could go south.
Doom wasn’t done with his shenanigans. Half-way through my commute on Wednesday morning, I realized I had left my laptop at home. I wasn’t about to go back home without first passing off the wretched action figure to my unsuspecting coworker. Things have gone smoothly since his departure from my life.
Moral of the story: don’t go to Colorado in early May. Also, do not, under any circumstances, buy a Doctor Doom figure if you’re on vacation.
Photos coming as soon as I get around to uploading them from the memory card.