Sunday, July 24, 2005

Fort Collins, CO

The drive from Estes Park to Loveland via Route 34 through Big Thompson Canyon was one of the most beautiful drives we've ever seen. The canyon walls reached high above on both sides. There was only enough room on the canyon floor for the road and the Big Thompson river. Well, there was an occassional cabin. Those residents must be very brave. I'd be afraid of falling rocks, rising waters, or both. But unfortunately, both Andy and I were driving so we weren't permitted to gawk as much as we wanted to, or take any pictures. Since it was only 28 miles to Loveland and we were stopping there for an RV oil change we didn't feel it was worth towing. I definitely drew the short straw on which vehicle to drive since it's harder to see above the cabover on the RV.

Ft Collins is a neat city. We're finding most college towns are. They are vibrant and active. It is very outdoor-oriented with many, many pathways through the city for biking and walking. Many of the roads have wide, designated bike lanes. They are still developing pathways that would connect nearby cities, such as Loveland. And the town sits right at the foot of the Front Range mountains. The temperatures since we've been here have been breaking records. Thursday was 15 degrees above normal, hitting 104 degrees. Since then it's been in the high 90's. This has slowed us down on our outdoor adventures. The dry heat "burns". You actually feel like you're being cooked alive versus our humidity + heat in Florida where you feel like you're suffocating. So our activities have been reserved for morning or late afternoon. We've tested several of the pathways through town. We have one path that is 1/2 mile from the campground and we can make it to town in 14 minutes. We found one of the five microbreweries so far.

One day we took a driving tour into the Cache la Poudre ("pooder") Canyon. This canyon cuts through a National Forest and offers many hiking trails and small campgrounds along the Cache la Poudre River. Many rafters, kayakers and tubers were using the river to cool off. But we thought this water was a little too cold for us...40's maybe? My feet went numb as soon as I stepped in. We took a short hike up the mountain to get a different perspective on the valley. It was a gorgeous 40-mile drive into the canyon. Supposedly you can find the elusive big horn sheep in both the Big Thompson Canyon and Poudre Canyon...but they continue to elude us. Andy keeps joking that he's gonna butt heads with one when we find one. Don't know why that should surprise me considering he butts heads with everyone he meets ;)
If you look closely at the bottom left corner, you'll see an inflatable kayak that just flipped while I was taking the picture of the tunnel.

It fascinates me that the north-facing slopes are always covered with trees, and the south-facing slopes are dry and desert-like. We hiked through sage-brush on this trail.

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