A Special Day of Firsts

As I sit here in Phoenix, Arizona, enjoying the desert sunsets and regular visits with our son, my thoughts drift to our daughter.  You see, it’s her birthday. I wish I could spend the day with her, but knowing weeks ago that I would no longer be in Colorado for the special day, she and I managed to celebrate early and often before I hit the road bound for the desert southwest.Rocky Mountain National Park

Ashton and I always enjoy spending time together and although due to her work commitments we weren’t able to take one of our memorable road trips, we did manage to take in several day excursions.Fall colors in the mountains

Hands down, our excursion to Rocky Mountain National Park turned out to be one of our favorite day trips.  We could not have timed it better.  Fall colors were almost at their peak and the weather was near perfect this 3rd weekend in September.quaking aspen

fall colors in the RockiesSince I had already camped a week in Rocky Mountain National Park as well as taken a few day trips exploring this past summer, I left the plan of the day up to Ashton but did help by giving her several ideas and recommendations.  After a quick discussion, she decided she wanted to retrace our route from our trip six years ago.

Trail Ridge Road it is!fall colors in the Rockies

From Denver we took a lovely scenic drive via Highway 36 and arrived in Estes Park, Colorado, about an hour and a half later.  As we drove down Main Street, we made note of stores and restaurants for our return back through town.  A few miles later, we entered the National Park via the east entrance; Fall River Entrance Station.Fall River Entrance Station

We planned on traveling up Trail Ridge Road (America’s highest paved continuous road) and making a bunch of scenic stops along the way with Grand Lake being our destination.  Our first stop was at Sheep Lakes.  This is a popular area for mountain sheep to be seen from spring to about July.  Starting in mid to late September and all through the rut, Elk can usually be spotted in this meadow.  During my several visits this year, I’ve never had any luck spotting wildlife at this location 😦painting in Rocky Mountain National Park

Next stop was just a little further up the road on a side street.  We noticed a group of ladies on the side of the road and had to check it out.  There was some big event happening that weekend in conjunction with an Art Gallery in the town of Grand Lake which was tantamount to a painters marathon (my take anyway).  Later that day, Ashton and I actually stumbled upon the art gallery that was behind the artist event. Grand Lake Art Galleries

Ashton was rather excited when we spotted this gallery.  A little browsing was in order. Too bad I don’t have any wall space these days because some of these works were breathtaking and I found several I wouldn’t mind owning.  Thankfully the lack of wall space in my RV allowed me to spend money on more important things…. say fudge.canvas painting of the Rockies

Ashton and I watched these gifted ladies capture the scenery on canvas.  I’ve never possessed such talent but I have always appreciated it.  This was a first for Ashton.  She had never seen an artist in action before.  She was fascinated and in total awe.art galleries in Grand Lake

We reluctantly tore ourselves away from the artists at work, and continued on our journey.  We made a couple of quick stops before taking a more leisurely stop at the Tundra Communities Trailhead near Rock Cut.unique rock formations

I wanted Ashton to see Mushroom Rock and hopefully a few Pika’s.  She’d never seen a rock shaped like this before and found it quite interesting.

I noticed the tundra during this visit looked very barren and brown.  What a sharp contrast from my August visit.  I could feel the harshness of the land knowing winter was just around the corner.  Although I found it rather strange that the temperature during this September visit was warmer than my August visit.  At an altitude of 12,125, I expect cold temperatures.  During my visit in August, I wore gloves and earmuffs but the tundra wildflowers were still present and the pika’s and marmots were everywhere.  No wildlife sightings today and no need for earmuffs.  I almost didn’t need to wear my sweatshirt – that’s how mild the temps were.photography in ColoradoLast time I experienced a little light-headedness on this trail, but today was no problem.  Thus, Ashton and I hiked to the end.  At the end of the trail, we climbed up the rocks a little to take in a bird’s-eye view.  Before doing so, I reminded Ashton to be sure to step only on rocks and avoid stepping on vegetation.tundraThe tundra has a very delicate ecosystem and the plants are quite fragile. I am totally intrigued by the tundra and the ability of anything to survive in such a harsh environment.  Ashton and I find ourselves lingering in silence and in awe.  What splendor lay before our eyes!Tundra

Our stomachs growling finally broke our trance and had us returning to the vehicle.  We decided to bypass the Alpine Visitor center and continue down Trail Ridge Road in search of a scenic spot for lunch.

Lake Irene Colorado

Ashton tries to cut a bagel with a butter knife.     After some serious laughing and attacking the bagel – success!

Lunch along Lake Irene proved to be the perfect place for our picnic lunch.  Stomachs satisfied, we were off to Grand Lake for a little shopping.

shopping in Grand Lake

hitching posts are still used in Grand Lake, Colorado


stuff we all could live without 😉

One ice cream cone, one piece of fudge, and one key ring later we were back in the truck driving the 48 mile stretch of Trail Ridge Road back to the town of Estes Park.  Let’s see – it only took us 3 hours to drive 48 miles from the east side of Rocky Mountain National Park to the town of Grand Lake.  Gorgeous scenery has a way of lengthening any drive.  I believe it’s called ‘photo-op’.three amigosThe return trip to Estes Park took a little less time but still ended up taking a couple of hours due to Elk viewing.  Ah, yet another first for Ashton as she listened to the Elk bugle.  Although the ‘rut’ hadn’t officially started, it was obvious the time was nearing.Elk in rutAfter a light dinner at an Irish pub in downtown Estes Park, it was time to head home.

elk in rut

It was exciting to stand this close to a herd of Elk

It was definitely a memorable day with several first’s for my daughter…….

*  Fall colors near peak in Rocky Mountain National Park
*  Artists at work in the field
*  A rock shaped like a mushroom
*  Elk bugling
*  Standing so near to a herd of elk

It was a special day indeed –  Happy birthday, Ashton!Rocky Mountain National Park

Picnic Time Sorrento Insulated Cooler Backpack with Picnic Service for Four (Green)
Eddie Kohair Elk 8″ by Douglas Cuddle Toys



68 thoughts on “A Special Day of Firsts

  1. So glad I found your blog. Linked here from another I am following and liked it so much I went back to the beginning. Your post about New Orleans made me realize I hadn’t done anything with my pictures from there and I was able to update my blog with my pictures. I am really enjoying reading your posts from the beginning – love your photos!

    • Thanks for stopping by and commenting. NOLA is one place I’m hoping to get back to soon. We didn’t have enough time to explore everything we wanted to see. The history and architecture is indeed unique 🙂

  2. Wonderful memories and beautiful photographs, Ingrid! I don’t get to visit that part of the country very often, so it’s nice to travel through your eyes. Very very nice!

  3. Mother-Daughter time is always great…The older they get, the harder it is to MAKE that time..Mine have their own kids to spend time with …I LOVE that park.. it’s been forever since we did that trip…Thanks for sharing..your kids are really neat..(and that’s coming from a gramma!)

    • Yes, we have to grab the time we can we our busy adult children. I have fallen in love with RMNP and hope to spend more time there next summer. Around every corner is more eye candy to savor 🙂

  4. What a fabulous day with your daughter! Simply stunning photos. I definitely want to travel to the Rocky Mountains now! So gorgeous. Thank you for the tour and sharing your daughter’s birthday with us.

    • I would highly recommend Colorado…. the Rockies are absolutely stunning any time of year. Although now that I’m older, I leave the winter months to the youngens and escape south away from snow and cold 🙂

    • I too am ready to head back to RMNP. Even though I managed several visits this past summer, I did not get my fill of that beautiful place. More plans and ideas for next season :-

  5. Oh, Ingrid, Happiest Birthday to your sweet girl, and happy Mom-wishes to you.
    I was so excited reading about this (and truly, I haven’t fully digested it – what a nice long blog post tribute to your Girl – and I know it will be a treat I’ll enjoy with coffee in the morning.) This really rang bells for me becuz of this coincidence – this (the 19th) is also the birthday of my oldest son! AND Friday, (the17th) was my Girl’s B-day. Lots of mid-October fun, that’s for sure, and those October babies are the best (& I sure better praise February babies since I have one of those too)!
    I always love to read about your good times with Ashton!

    • Being a mom still remains my greatest joy and spending time doing fun things with the kids is the best. We have one more weekend with our son before heading toward the whoopers. So we’ll be making the most of our time here 🙂

      • Agree with you – I’ve loved it too (the Mom Job.) I know you’ll enjoy the days with your son!
        When do you get to the part of TX with the whoopers? Not right away, I’m guessing? I was delighted to read that you’re following the OM journey from Wisconsin – they’re really having a time of it, stuck there in mid-Wisconsin waiting for the winds to slow down or change direction or both. This happens. It’s a tricky undertaking; eventually it works out, they’ll get to Florida, and all will celebrate!

    • Aw, thank you Karen…. I sure try to be a good mom. The month of September was filled with little adventures with my daughter – I loved it. So I totally agree with you: a month of celebration 🙂

  6. Happy Birthday to your daughter Ingrid. So hard to be away from our kids especially on such special days. It looks like your time together was fabulous. Gorgeous photos as always.

    • We made the most of our time together making September a month of celebration; hiking, shopping, and eating – good times. Special people have October birthdays, don’t they 😉

    • Oh, I do love RMNP and am already looking forward to returning next season and with my daughter. Lucky you to have it practically in your backyard.

  7. Hi Ingrid, Thank you so much for sharing the memories with your daughter and moments with her. These photos will alway look so beautiful and special!

    • Thanks Amy. We had quite a few wonderful moments this past summer, but the trip to RMNP was our favorite. Hope you like your bag as much as she does (my present to her) 🙂

      • I used this morning for my Sunday trail walk for the first time, I thought about you 🙂 I love, love it, it’s very light and very well constructed. I used all the pockets of the bag, really enjoyed it. Thank you so much, Ingrid! 🙂

  8. Anyone who can paint is amazing to me. What a gift!

    What a memorable birthday Ashton had. I know I would enjoy that exact day for my special day!

    • Thank you Sylvia. It’s a day she nor I will forget. Perfect weather, beautiful scenery, and amazing wildlife – doesn’t get much better!

  9. What a wonderful birthday celebration! So sweet that you are creating these special memories with your lovely daughter. Spending time together is the best gift of all.

    • I’m sure you treasure the time you can grab with your daughter and grandson as much as I do with my children. With jobs and distance it’s not always easy 🙂

  10. I love this post because this is the first trip we took when our daughter arrived to visit us in Estes Park. We hiked up to the Mushroom Rock and I have a similar photo of her:) We then continued to the end of the trail and took various photos on top of the rock pile. Of course, it was early June so we watched the skiers on the slope behind the rocks. Jessica, also, go to see plenty of elk:) Fun times with our daughters:)

    • I think Ashton and I will need to make a return to mushroom rock early in the season in hopes of seeing those skiers. Yep, we’ll be back in Colorado next summer. At the rate we’re going, we’ll never make it to the Pacific NW. Perhaps I’ll need to kidnap daughter and then head up there LOL.

    • Yep, had a great day and that scenery is amazing. Hubby and I both have curly hair so Ashton got a double dose. The curly hair isn’t so fun when we visit Chicago. All that humidity and poof but she’s learned how to work with it over the years 🙂

  11. What a beautiful day with your daughter! I can’t wait to see my daughter next month and enjoy some of those mother/daughter days. We are so fortunate! Happy birthday to Ashton!

    • Yes Linda we are fortunate to have such wonderful relationships with our gals. I know you’re looking forward to the holidays with family. Always special times 🙂

  12. Fantastic day, Ingrid! Those painters you encountered were practicing Plein Air style painting, one of my favourites! So great to see them creating these beautiful works of nature art while out in nature! 🙂
    Happy Birthday to your daughter! Mine was Thursday!

    • Well ….. a belated happy birthday to you Nancy. The paintings were quite lovely and we enjoyed seeing a bunch of finished product at the art gallery. Ah, to be so talented.

  13. Looks like a great way to spend a special day with your daughter. I like the shot you got of the bull elk and the Aspen’s are really pretty.

    • Thank you Larry. I too thought the elk among the golden aspen leaves was pretty darn sweet. Awfully nice of the elk to be so accommodating LOL.

  14. Awww…I loved reading this! Is it just my imagination or do mothers of our generation have fuller relationships with their children than when we were growing up? It seems our young adult kids do more “stuff” with us than we did with our parents at the same ages? I ask because my own mother posed these questions to me and I had no real explanations for her. What do you think?

    • I totally agree that it’s a generation thing. I never did stuff like this with my mom. I think ‘our’ generation as women we were allowed independence versus the previous relied much more on a man. I think nothing of going hiking by myself or taking a road trip with my daughter. Things my mom would never have done. I love my relationship with my daughter …. oh, we’ve had our ups and downs and disagreements but that’s normal life.

      • I guess i had forgotten about how our mothers perceived themselves given society and the times during which they became mothers. I’m glad each successive generation of women has more opportunity to define themselves as they like!

        • Definitely. Even though I’ve been married a long time, I’ve always maintained a level of independence. I can’t imagine living any other way 🙂

  15. What a loving friendship you two share…can’t think of any other way to share time together. What a beautiful day…the artists would have been my kind of stop and see for sure.

    • She and I always manage to find ways to have a good time together and we’re already making plans for next summer. I think I’m going to plan a repeat to RMNP next Sept around the same time in hopes of coming across the painters. It was a beautiful day in all regards 🙂

  16. Special days are hard to be away from loved ones. Looks like you and Ashton know that, and made the effort to re-schedule a birthday. Good job. Thanks for a relaxing post.

    • Thanks Judy. The holidays this year will be challenging being away from both kids, but adventure awaits. Thus, we try to reschedule those holiday celebrations as well. Hope you’re enjoying those MI fall colors 🙂

  17. Indeed I hope Ashton has a wonderful birthday and that she gets to celebrate just so many more with her Mum… it would be an area that I think I’d return to often, as it has so many different attractions…. your photos make it all the more attractive and the ellk in rut would be just one of those events that would have me come back over and over…. I love to witness the impala rutting, with his oh so busy time trying to keep his harem from wandering off, his competitors from stealing one or two of the harem and then still having to pair with them all …. not forgetting to eat to keep up his strength to cover his harem of up to 20 odd females…. wow actually nature makes things so much harder for some species….
    Not that women don’t make our lives difficult as it is…. BUT……

    • Ashton and I had a lovely time with plans next year to have more adventures.
      Ah, me thinkith you and hubby have much in common – the desire to come back to this world as an impala or elk with a harem of beauties to satisfy. I know, tough job but I’m sure the two of you would rise to the occasion 😉

  18. Times with family take on special significance when you can’t be with them all the time. I know that has been true for us. I think that advice given to us early in our married life about marriage applies equally to family. “Everyone talks about investing in their retirement, but no one talks about investing in family. Make sure you do.” Family ties built over decades need maintenance and care just as any relationship and if you don’t find some way to stay close then you’ll grow apart; that’s just human nature.
    Glad you had special times with Ashton before you headed South.

    • I couldn’t agree more. We’ve curtailed some of our travels or at the least rearranged travels keeping family in mind. Some may view it as a sacrifice, but we sure don’t. We love having our children request our presence – they actually want to spend time with us. We consider ourselves fortunate and treasure the making of fond memories with our children 🙂

      • Ingrid, There are so many families that aren’t close that if you have one that IS, to risk losing that because of carelessness is really flying in the face of the gods. Enjoy. Life is short, eat dessert first. 🙂

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