We were out the door by 6:30 Saturday morning. I had packed us a picnic lunch, threw sweatshirts in the backseat of the little truck, and had our route all planned out. We stopped for gas to top off the tank. I always like starting out with a full tank of gas before embarking into virgin territory especially when heading into the mountains.
The drive into the mountains via Interstate 70 west out of Denver went smoothly. Although, there did appear to be more traffic than one might expect at this time of the morning.
The day’s destination was Mt. Evans. My daughter and I visited Mt. Evans last year and I was eager to share the scenery with hubby. As soon as we exited the interstate in the town of Idaho Springs, I knew something was up; there were way too many pedestrians and cyclists for this time of the morning.
A mere mile north on Highway 103 and my fears were confirmed….. a cycling event and therefore the highest paved road in North America was closed for the event. Bummer! Looks like we won’t be taking highway 5 to the top of Mt. Evans 😦
However, I’ll admit I wasn’t too terribly disappointed as the weather didn’t appear very agreeable; gloomy skies and cold temps with storms threatening. We definitely would’ve needed those sweatshirts especially at the top of Mt. Evans; 14,265 feet in elevation.
That’s the thing about Colorado, if you don’t like the weather in one spot you can drive a mere thirty minutes in another direction and go from 80 degrees Fahrenheit to a cool 50 degrees and Saturday mornings temps near Mt. Evans were closer to that 50 number than the 80…. burrrr. It’s been hovering in the 90’s all week in Denver so this felt very chilly to me and my bare legs.
Oh well, since plan A didn’t work out it’s onto plan B. I had never driven Highway 103 from Echo Lake to the town of Evergreen; an alternate route for picking up Highway 5 up to Mt. Evans. The last thing we wanted to do was drive back the way we came knowing the event congestion would just increase with every minute.
We were so glad we ventured via this route. The scenery was beautiful and the road was in excellent condition.
We even detected some possible boondocking locations. We’ll need to check with the Arapahoe National Forest for the rules and any other pertinent information. We know we’ll attempt a return visit to Mt. Evans sometime in the next few weeks and this is the route we’ll take…. I-70 to 74 to 103/66 to 5
It was only 8:00 in the morning with our plans for the day foiled. I just couldn’t bring myself to return home. I had to think of a place for a picnic……..
Last week, I received a question from a blog follower wanting to know if I’ve ever been to Golden Gate Canyon State Park. I knew exactly where this park was located. We’ve spent some time over the past two summers camped around Denver and I had every intention of previously checking out this State Park, but never got around to it. Her inquiry was just the nudge I needed to explore, as my interest was equally piqued. The next day, with camera in hand, I explored Golden Gate Canyon State Park and immediately knew I needed to show this place to hubby.
So here we were, driving back towards Denver on a Saturday morning after our failed attempt to visit Mt. Evans with an unopened picnic basket when Golden Gate Canyon State Park pops into my mind. I wanted hubby to see this park anyway, thus this was the perfect opportunity.
From the town of Golden we headed north on highway 93 then turned west on 46. We meandered along this 2 lane curvy road at about 30 mph dodging weekend cyclists here and there (Coloradans love their outdoor activities – share the road!). After about sixteen miles, we turned onto a small road heading toward the campgrounds. Mountain Base Road has a 19% grade and some switchbacks. Therefore, RV’s of any kind aren’t allowed and need to stay on highway 46 and continue to 119 to access the Reverend’s Ridge Campground.
As we slowly made our way deeper into the state park, we stopped at several trailheads to take notes for future hikes. The road was lined with wildflowers which had me wanting to savor the moment. Al was lost in his own thoughts as he was deeply inhaling the scent of the pine forest.Pine trees, Aspen trees, snow capped mountains in the distance, endless hiking trails, and wildflowers…. yep, the perfect place for a picnic. But first we wanted to check out the campground.
Well, we’ve hit the road, moved on, and I’m sitting in a new location just south of Glenwood Springs, Colorado. We found ourselves a pretty little spot with lovely views and a quaint little pond; perfect for a two night stay.
As I sit outside in my chair watching the clouds roll over, I reflect on my first couple of weeks as homeless a full-timer. So far, there hasn’t been much down time, which I know will change in the coming weeks. Mind you, I am not complaining.
Once the house closed, we took a two-hour drive north to the town of Golden, located just west of Denver, Colorado. I love this small town nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. We spent a week in this area last year and I immediately fell in love. What’s not to love about a town that installs a cross walk specifically for deer and elk?
Last year we played tourist and took the scenic drive up to visit Buffalo Bill’s Grave and Museum. Click here to read about it. It was a pretty drive complete with Paragliders. Last year the skies were dotted with several Paragliders throughout the day…..fascinating. During this visit, we didn’t see any possibly due to the extreme heat.
Farmer’s Market in Golden CO
Farmer’s Market in Golden CO
Farmer’s Market in Golden, CO
Al and I enjoyed strolling Golden’s downtown more than once. Coors Brewery sits in the background and is available for brewery tours. Been there, done that…..pass. However, we won’t pass on the Saturday morning Farmer’s Market. We knew we wanted to return for some fresh veggies, flowers, and lunch at one of the unique food trucks. Daughter joined us at the Farmers Market, which made it even more special. Al, Ashton, and I each ordered food from different vendors and had fun sampling each other’s tasty morsels.If I didn’t have this itch to move on, I could easily make Golden, Colorado home. The new light rail transit system also makes it very convenient to attend a Rockies Game or enjoy some night life in Denver’s LoDo District and not worry about parking a car. Oh yes, attending my first ever professional sporting event; a Rockies Game, was a memorable experience. What a great way to start off this new RV adventure.
Al & Ashton pre-game
So let’s recap the first couple of weeks of our new chapter: Rockies Game, Farmer’s Market, Denver’s LoDo District, Red Rocks Park, Mt. Evans, exploring Golden, meeting new full-timers at the campground, checking out Cherry Creek State Park, visiting daughter at work and having lunch with her and a co-worker, shopping with daughter, dinner with daughter and roomy, test driving some new cars with daughter, researching our next location, more time with daughter……. daughter the best part about our stay in Golden.
I had so much fun spending time with our daughter, aside from our memorable Mt. Evans day was the day we went car shopping. Since I didn’t take photos of the car shopping experience, I’ll intersperse random photos taken this week.
Ashton is still driving the VW Passat we gave her when she was 16. It’s at a stage where it needs a lot more attention and repair than a young gal wants to deal with. Later this year, she’d like to buy another car….new or gently used, but she is unsure of what kind of vehicle she’d like other than something with good gas mileage. Ashton and I have always enjoyed shopping together. Thus, we decide to go car shopping and try on a few….kind of like shoe shopping. Our little excursion turned into an interesting experience for Ashton; one she was glad her mother accompanied her on.The abridged version:
Our first stop was a Honda dealership with a “no haggle” style. The salesman was experienced, nice, and very informative. The prices were clearly marked and not negotiable…..just like buying a pair of shoes. Ashton couldn’t figure out why Al and I have told her not to buy a car without one of us along to help. This stop turned into a pleasant experience for her.
Side note; I’ve spent most of my working years in a “commission” based compensation scenario. As we visited the dealerships, my first comment was, “We just want a quick test drive and an idea on pricing. We will NOT be buying today and will not take up too much of your time.” I am always sure to take AND keep business cards for future referral. I respect folks who work on commission….. time is money.
Next stop was a Chevrolet dealership. They were advertising “Employee pricing”. We’re on the car lot looking at some vehicles when a young salesman approaches Ashton and me. He proceeds to inform us how lucky we are because it’s the 4th of July weekend, and they are having a special sale; offering the public the very same prices and break that employees get. “Ah, yes…this will be fun”, I ponder! We take a vehicle for a test drive. As we return to the lot, Ashton barely gets the car in park when the salesman attempts to go in for “the close”. “Is this the one? Let’s see what kind of deal I can get you on it”, he comments. We go inside and sit at the desk. The young kid tries to get us ‘on paper’. He wants us to make an offer. I very politely say, “Since this is employee pricing, tell me the price”. Now in my book, this should be pretty cut and dry, but of course it’s not. He wants us to make an offer…… Ah, the proverbial “first pencil”. Ashton sits next to me totally perplexed….. this is so NOT like buying a pair of shoes.
I’m not sporting this gray hair for fashion. It’s called experience and this ain’t my first rodeo (I kind of feel sorry for the kid). Here goes…. “If this is employee pricing than you should know what the MSRP is and deduct the employee discount and voila – my price. What seems to be the problem?” “I’ll need to check with my manager”, he says as he leaves his desk. I bend toward Ashton and say, “Now the desk guy will come over and try to work us. He’ll tell us he wants us to be happy and will give us the best price he can”. He’s our friend, ya know! Yep, that’s exactly the next turn of events. So now HE tries to get us to make the first move, “What kind of payment are you comfortable with? Did you like the color? What about the features?” blah, blah, blah…..
As the desk guy finally pauses, Ashton looks at me and says, “Mom, I don’t understand…. what’s going on? They said Employee pricing. Don’t they know the price of the car?” I respond, “Ashton, you have a Business-Marketing degree. This is called ‘Marketing’. Ashton’s eyes light up, “Oh, I get it. The Employee pricing ad is bullshit to get us to come in the door”. I respond to her while looking at the two guys, the young salesman and the desk dude, “That’s right honey. It’s their job to get us to make the first move so they can bump us above that figure and push us to the limit. They want us to get emotional about the purchase and get as much out of us as possible. AND the advertised sales are usually bullshit to instill a sense of urgency”. Ashton looks at me, then at the guys. The guys have no rebuttal. I think they were a little taken aback by the conversation. Ashton’s final comment, “Mom, I don’t think I like doing business this way….this sucks.” With a huge smile on my face, I say, “No, problem. Let’s go. You boys have a great day”. On that note, we got up and left leaving the two sales guys with their mouths open. And to think, they thought they were the ones going to have fun with these two chicky-poos.
When we got into Ashton’s car, she started laughing and said, “Did you see the look on those guys faces? They were still wondering what the heck just happened. And, mom…..I won’t ever buy a car without you or dad next to me.”
I totally understand the guys were just doing their job and need to make a living. However, this was not a pleasant car buying experience or the experience Ashton was expecting. Fortunately for her, it was exactly what I expected. It’s kind of the norm in car sales. With my guidance, she hopefully won’t be taken advantage of due to ignorance when it comes time for her to purchase a new vehicle. She now understands it’s a process and a game. If you know the system, it can be quite fun especially for someone like myself who doesn’t get emotional over purchases like cars or houses. It’s business. If the numbers work fine, if they don’t…. next.
She still isn’t sure what kind of vehicle she’d like, but now she has the confidence to walk onto a car lot and test drive a few more cars…..after all, you can’t just buy the first pair of shoes – you have to test drive a few. Of course, there was a lot more explaining / teaching on purchasing a car and the negotiation process as well as the ‘backend’…..another way for the dealerships to make money once they get you in the finance department…. a lot of information. It was an overwhelming day for Ashton, one that called for Mexican food and Margaritas in the end.
Ok I’m back to me sitting outside looking at the ducks on the pond. Yes, indeed a pretty little spot. As I reviewed all the things we accomplished in a short amount of time, I realized it’s been a fun filled, eventful start to our journey. Hmm, this afternoon I think we’ll run into Aspen. It’s been 25 years since our last visit to this well-known ski town in Colorado. I wonder, “Will I be every bit in awe as I was all those years ago…. a flatlander from Illinois?” I guess we’ll find out!
On that note, I’ll leave you with a few more images of Mt. Evans……
It’s Sunday, our last day in Golden, Colorado, before heading west. I’m not sure when I’ll visit with my daughter again, so I want to do something fun today. Initially we were going to head back over to Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre for some more hiking and exercising, but since Al and I already got in a 45 minute hike at the park early this morning and daughter and I have already explored the park together, I opt for something different; a scenic drive.
When daughter arrives at the RV, I greet her with, “Let’s drive to the top of the Continent and take the highest paved auto road in North America”. This is said with great excitement and enthusiasm. With hesitation and a decided look of concern on daughter’s face, she responds, “Ooh….kaaay”. All the while looking over my shoulder toward Al with the look of “Help me daddy”. LOL
Ashton and I always have a great time on our adventures, and usually encounter some sort of funny situation that makes us laugh until tears stream down our face from laughter.
“So where exactly are we going, mom and why?” “I want to go see goats….Rocky Mountain Goats to be exact. It’ll be fun”, I respond. I once again hear the proverbial drawn out, questioning, “Oh….kaaay”. We pack a picnic lunch, bid farewell to Al, and hop in my little red truck.
The Mount Evans scenic byway is located 60 miles west of Denver and is the highest paved road in North America. The journey climbs over 9,000 feet in elevation and temperatures drop from 3-5 degrees for every 1,000 feet. The weather is typically cold and windy, with an average summer time temperature around 42 degrees Fahrenheit at the summit. During our visit today it was a balmy 56 degrees and dropping as the clouds started rolling in.
It’s common to have afternoon storms roll through in the Rocky Mountains and quite often accompanied by lightning. This is one of the main reasons Al and I hike before noon. Lightening around here is deadly and not to be taken lightly.
As we pull around the last hairpin turn and approach a parking spot at the summit, Ashton blurts out exuberantly, “Goats….I see goats”. The vehicle is barely in park when she jumps out moving quickly toward these adorable mountain goats with me in quick pursuit, of course.
We spend 15 to 20 minutes hanging out with the mountain goats. The baby was too cute for words. They do occasionally cause traffic backups while crossing the road at their leisure.
The summit parking lot sits at an elevation of 14,130 feet. From the parking lot, we take a rugged quarter mile hike up to 14,264 feet. Ashton and I notice a number of visitors struggling with the altitude and rocky terrain. She and I don’t seem to have a problem. Although I had fun teasing daughter that I was experiencing symptoms of hypoxia. This wonderful mother can’t pass up an opportunity to share such vast knowledge with her off spring 🙄
We boulder around…… what feels like the top of the world, being careful not to take a wrong step. The views are stunning.
As we start the drive back down the mountain, we find a place to pull off and a great spot for our picnic lunch…..lunch with a view.
Ashton and I are so glad we took this day trip to the top of the continent. Another memorable mother/daughter adventure filled with plenty of laughter…..scrapbook worthy, for sure.
I won’t lie, the drive at times did turn my knuckles white and daughter more than once politely (or maybe not so politely) asked me to please stop looking around and pay attention to the road. The road is narrow and consists of lots of hairpin turns, sudden drop offs, and no guardrails. This is an excursion I would highly recommend……start early and take your time.