Confessions…..

Rocky MountainsBack in June I broke my camera.  It accidentally got exposed to water.  I loved that little Panasonic Lumix and initially I was very upset until it dawned on me, “I have to buy a new camera.  Oh, darn”.

Let the shopping begin.  I wonder, should I get a SLR with a couple of different lenses?  The last SLR camera I had (film) never did get much use.  With kids there was always plenty of other things to haul around…..diapers, toys, snacks, juice boxes, etc.  A bulky camera just wasn’t a priority.  My little point and shoot Olympus Stylus Zoom, water-resistant  :-), was the camera of choice and kids became the main subject.  Used and abused, that camera served me well and provided years of memories archived in photo albums.

So after A LOT of soul-searching and shopping, I purchased TWO new cameras, both will fit in a purse or pocket for optimum use. The first purchase and the main camera is another Panasonic Lumix.  This one is a DMC-ZS15.  It has quite a few more settings and options than my last Lumix point and shoot.  I had tons of fun playing around with it on our recent trip to Steamboat.  However…..I confess, the best photos were taken in the “intelligent” mode.  I believe the camera is indeed, at this point, smarter than the photographer.

Cows
I have a thing for cows !

My second purchase was a Panasonic Lumix waterproof camera TS-20.  This camera is good to 16′ below the water’s surface.  So should we ever go snorkeling, this is the camera for the job.  It’s also good for hiking in the rain, which is the real reason behind me buying this little guy.  Once again, one must be smart enough to adjust the settings for the task at hand.

Rocky MountainsDuring this trip to Steamboat Lake State Park, we experienced a couple of rain storms.  I don a raincoat and boots and head out of the RV in search of photo ops during one such storm.  I would like to capture ringlets of water as the raindrops fall, but each time I set out upon this task the rain stops.  Fortunately there were plenty of other photo opportunities available.  Not wanting to ruin another camera via water exposure, I’m sure to take the waterproof camera on this outing.

Like any kid with a new toy, I’m excited to play with this little camera.  It takes pretty good pictures, especially in the IA mode.  Off I go… exploring…. in search.  I slip and slide on some of the muddy, wet trails.  I snap away.  Ain’t digital great?  If you don’t like….. delete!  No more paying for bad photos to be developed.

Rocky Mountains
Not crisp or in focus – food setting used 😦

I return to the rig and quickly download my photos…..”Gosh, I’m so excited.  I bet I got a few really scenic shots”.  NOT!  “What the heck happened?”  With head bowed, I confess, the camera was set to photograph food.  My wonderful husband, Al, cannot contain his laughter when I explain the camera setting.  You see, Mr. Protector had kept his eye on me from the comfort of the RV whilst I was traipsing around in the mud and rain.  Somehow he found that entertaining.  I was sure not to get out of hubby’s line of sight too terribly long as this is Bear and Mountain Lion country and he doesn’t like me running around the woods by myself.

So although I had a good time, I was disappointed with the results.  Live and learn.  Oh, did I hear you ask, “Didn’t you look at the dial or the LCD display?”  “Sure I did, without glasses though”.  Now for the BIG confession…..I need glasses, but don’t always wear them!  I leave the camera in IA mode, point and shoot.  Without glasses on, I still see outlines and shapes and snap away, hoping for a good result.  I’ve tried, I’ve tried really hard to get used to the bifocals and usually end up using the drug store purchased cheap readers.  I use the readers half the time when I’m out photographing and the other half I wing it.

Rocky Mountains Colorado
taken without glasses

Al has specifically asked me not to wear the bifocals when we’re out hiking and exploring.  I have actually lost my balance more than once and ended up on the ground.  Yes, I have incurred some minor injuries but more embarrassment than anything else.  So as I fight getting older, I find ways to compensate for my short comings.  I am able to see large objects and shapes on the LCD monitor and guess on anything else.  Photography is my fun, not my profession….thank goodness.  I realize, some of my photos are better than others and now you know …… I can blame the glasses, or rather lack there of and no one need know the truth but me…..lol.

It’s Not Always Fun…

We reluctantly back up, hitch up, and depart Steamboat Lake State Park, Colorado.  As we head in a southerly direction, Al and I discuss the weeks excursion.  We do a quick recap and then Al asks the question, “If you could pick only one place in Colorado to visit, which would it be”.  It doesn’t take long before I respond, “Crested Butte”.  Al responds with surprise, “Really?  I would pick Steamboat”.Steamboat Lake

SteamboatApparently Al is partial to northern Colorado and I to southern Colorado.  Fortunately for us, we don’t have to choose.  However, perhaps we’ll need to “pick straws” to see who wins for our next adventure.  We continue our discussion on what we like most about our preferred locations and compare notes.

We’re heading south on Highway 9 toward Breckenridge.  We’d like to stop in Breckenridge to grab a bite to eat and walk Bear.  Al’s thirsty now.  A few miles north of the town of Silverthorne, Al pulls over to grab a beverage out of the RV frig.  It’s approaching lunch and we’ve been on the road two and a half hours.  Good thing we pulled over.  We blew a tire and had no idea.  Al felt no change in the way the Rig was pulling.  Luckily for us, just three weeks earlier, I purchased RV Roadside Assistance.  Talk about timing.  I give Al the paperwork for him to call.

Breckenridge Colorado
Not good – tire blown, rim ruined, minor body damage

Al’s walking around with his cell phone in the air.  We all know what that means….no cell service!  He has me try mine.  I start walking up the embankment, cell phone in air, searching….please, just one bar.  No luck.  We’re on our own.

Al proceeds to go in search of all the necessary gear to change the tire.  He’s a bit unorganized and definitely NOT a happy camper.  We hadn’t been on the side of the road but 10-15 minutes, when a pick-up truck pulls over…..”You folks need any help?”  I respond, “Sure do”.  Mr. Cowboy proceeds to take over as if we had called roadside assistance.  He does most of the work with occasional help from Al.  Al and I look at each other and shrug our shoulders.  “Go for it mister”.Silverthorne Breckenridge Colorado

We exchange idol chit-chat.  He’s a contractor, rancher, jack of all trades kind of guy.  He’s wearing Levi jeans with a shiny belt buckle, cowboy boots (the working kind), western shirt, and of course, a cowboy hat.  He’s about 5’10” tall, slight build, and his bow legs give you the impression he’s spent some time on a horse.  He’s in his late 50’s, early 60’s and has lived in the mountains the past twenty-five years.  He loves it, but it doesn’t love him.  He’s developed some health issues which are going to require him to move to a lower elevation.  The thin mountain air at 8500+ feet is no longer agreeing with him.

SteamboatHe asks us where we’re heading.  When we tell him we’ll be going through Breckenridge and Hoosier Pass, he politely informs us we’ll need to wait somewhere for about an hour.  Hoosier Pass is currently closed until one o’clock due to the US Pro Cycling Championship.  Bicyclers are riding from Breckenridge to Colorado Springs and the pass and road is closed for the event.

While I’m walking Bear, Al and the rancher finish up.  The rancher makes some recommendations, Al hands him some cash, which he doesn’t hesitate to accept.  Yes, he does stop and help stranded folks often.  Somehow Al and I think this is just another way of adding to his income.  He has us pull out first so he can follow us into town to make sure all is looking and running good.

He follows us as far as his intended destination.  As he turns into Murphy’s Irish Pub, we each honk and wave our farewells.  You see, Mr. Cowboy was on his way into town for lunch with some buddies when he came upon this damsel in distress.  No doubt, he’ll be able to afford an extra pint or two after helping said damsel.

Cow
Just another road hazard

Mountain towns, as well as cities, can present some challenges to us longer vehicles….  foremost, parking.  Silverthorne has a large outlet mall with plenty of parking.  Perfect.  We park next to other RV’s and grab a bite at Wendy’s.  After lunch, Al and Bear take a short nap in the RV while I get in a little retail therapy.

Forty minutes later, we’re on our way.  The Cycle event is wrapping up.  We get through Breckenridge, the pass is open, and we’re homeward bound.  Just two more hours and fingers crossed we’ll be home.  We’re extremely familiar with Highway 9 between Breckenridge and Canon City.  We know cell phone signal is sparse as is traffic and without a spare…..well as I said, “fingers crossed”.

We made it home safe but exhausted and learned a lot !Steamboat Lake

Rocky Mountains

Let’s Sum it Up !

Steamboat Lake State ParkThis past week spent at Steamboat Lake State Park has flown by.  We’ve hiked, we’ve explored, taken tons of pictures, enjoyed a couple of great campfires, read, had some yummy meals, and relaxed.

Watching the sky and weather change through-out the day, never got boring.  I found myself changing clothes three times a day.  I felt like a school girl, never satisfied with my outfit.  Now the adage in Colorado is “dress in layers”.  Ok, tried that and failed.  I try….pants, no wait, shorts.  Long sleeves, no short sleeves, long sleeves, ok short sleeves with light jacket, maybe.  Oh no, this doesn’t coordinate with that.  Oh dear, with such limited closet space, what’s a gal to do?Steamboat Lake State Park

Columbia ClothingIn all seriousness, I don’t get too worked up about my attire these days while back woods n it.  That is unless daughter is around.  I might get, “Really, mother. You’re not seriously going to wear that?”   Then it’s back to the closet for this mother to find something that coordinates with mother earth and mother nature.  I can think of another word that aptly fits with the word mother, but we won’t go there.

I can’t go wrong with my white Columbia shirt.  I can leave the sleeves down or roll them up and white goes with anything, but best of all I found this gem at an Outlet Mall at a fraction of retail….yeah!  Sure to amuse was this ever-changing weather along with my numerous clothing changes.  Al and Bear were duly entertained, and I ….. well let’s just say, I was humored.Steamboat Lake State Park

Although we didn’t make it out on the water during this particular visit, not without a little begging on my part, we did hike and drive around the area.  We also explored Hahns Peak Lake and Pearl Lake State Park.

Steamboat Lake State ParkWe explored downtown Steamboat Springs and spent a couple of hours hanging out at a quaint little bookstore…. Off the Beaten Path Bookstore & Coffee HouseFree WiFi, great coffee, and enough seating to hang out.   I’m a sucker for Cookbooks and books on Travel.  As a matter of fact this trip to Steamboat Lake and our earlier trip to Crested Butte / Lake Irwin were both inspired by a book;  Colorado Campgrounds, The 100 Best And All the Rest by Gil Folsom.   We’ve had this book sitting on our bookshelf since 2000 and have referred to it a few times.

Hahns Peak
Hahns Peak

While wandering around Off the Beaten Path, I see a posting on the window and at the coffee shop counter discouraging the purchase of a Kindle.  It goes on to note these e readers will be the death of bookstores such as this one.  Hum, not the first time I’ve heard this.  Well, since we’ve hung out here awhile, it’s only appropriate I support this establishment and make a purchase (in addition to the coffee and treats).  I am a huge fan of books written by Moon and find one I don’t own and must have; Colorado Camping, the Complete Guide to Tent and RV camping by Moon Outdoors.  Now granted, we use the internet for a lot of our info on travels, etc. but I sooo enjoy a good old fashioned book in my hands.  There’s something about flipping pages, folding page corners, and keeping notes stuck between pages that technology just can’t replace.  I understand the need for space in an RV, but there’s always a little corner that can be designated for a few books.  I actually have a book self above the frig in my RV.Steamboat Lake State Park

We’ve supported local establishments and explored, now it’s time to return to camp and enjoy a few of our purchases.  You know, the bottle (or two) purchased at the mom and pop liquor store.  Life’s good.  Tomorrow we return to reality….Steamboat Lake State Park

Rain, Rain, go Away

SteamboatI was really hoping to rent a Kayak or Canoe today and get out on Steamboat Lake.  I love being out on the water.  Al’s hesitant to paddle and would rather rent a boat with a motor.  “But I want to paddle”……envision a three-year old throwing a tantrum 🙂  “But, Ingrid, we haven’t been out paddling since our Boundary Water Canoe Area days.  Don’t you think we’re a bit out of shape?  You do realize we’ll probably end up in the water?”  I’m up for the challenge!

Fortunately for Al, the weather wasn’t agreeable.  We awoke to overcast cool temperatures and a gentle steady rain fall.  Not the kind of boating weather I was hoping for.

We’re in need of a few groceries and could use some internet time as well.  Day three of no internet and Al and I are starting to feel the beginnings of withdrawal symptoms.  We grab the laptops and head into Steamboat Springs.  A little retail therapy wouldn’t hurt either.

Sheepherder
We stop to watch this sheep herder and dogs move this flock of sheep
Hahns Peak Lake
Hahns Peak Lake

Time spent on the internet at a cute book store, check; retail therapy, T-shirt purchased, check; groceries, check; yummy lunch at a bistro, check…….time to return to camp.  Although it’s still overcast and the rain comes and goes, we’ll head back to camp slowly, exploring along the way.

Pearl Lake State Park offers a more intimate wilderness experience than Steamboat Lake.  Pearl Lake is a tranquil 190 acre lake perfect for fishing and canoeing.  The campground is rustic and not recommended for RV’s longer than 35′.  There’s only 39 sites, and in our opinion, only a hand-full would accommodate our 31′ rig….all on the upper loop.  Pearl Lake State Park is perfect for small trailers and tents.  Elevation 7800 feet.

Hahns Peak Lake
Hahns Peak Lake

SteamboatWe continue heading north on County Road 129 past Steamboat Lake to check out Hahns Peak Lake.  This small lake is a paddlers dream.  No motors allowed.  The campground sits at 8500 feet in elevation and offers 25 sites.  Hahns Peak Lake and Campground is managed by the Routt National Forest and camping fees are very reasonable.  It is definitely a little more of a challenge and effort to get to this remote Campground, nestled within a pine and aspen forest.

Al and I are both happy and satisfied with our camping experience at Steamboat Lake, Colorado, and aren’t interested in changing locations during this visit.  In the future, we would most likely choose Steamboat Lake State Park again as well.  This is truely a beautiful and serene place….a place we hope to return to again and again.

Steamboat Lake

Steamboat Lake

Steamboat LakeSteamboat Lake

Nothing to do, but Admire the View

SteamboatWe watched the sunrise.  We ate breakfast, drank coffee, and just sat while admiring the view.  We hear cows mooing and sheep baaing. Al and I are both morning people.  As a matter of fact, when we lived in Las Vegas, Nevada, my favorite time of day on the strip was 5:30 – 6:00 in the morning as the sun was rising.  And why would I be on the Strip that early?  Let’s just say “college football and checking spreads”.  The rest of that story will just have to wait.Steamboat Lake State Park

Ah, back to the beauty of Steamboat Lake and the Colorado Rockies.  Steamboat Lake State Park is located 26 miles north of the town of Steamboat Springs and sits at an elevation of 8000 feet above sea level.  There’s 198 camp sites and the park is open year-round, but full-facilities are only available late May to mid October.  It gets cold around here and Steamboat receives plenty of snow each winter….over 300 inches.

Steamboat Lake State Park
We’re camped on a peninsula 🙂
Steamboat Lake State Park
Camper Cabin

This 1,055 acre man-made lake is a haven for water sports and anglers.  Steamboat Lake is well known for sizable rainbow trout.  Visitors can rent a watercraft from the marina; canoes, kayaks, ski boats, and fishing boats.  There are plenty of hiking trails in the area, and are surrounded by meadows of wildflowers.

The Dutch Hill Campground offers campsites with electric, campsites without electric, and Camper Cabins for those lacking their own equipment.  We opt to camp at the Bridge Island Loop, which is on a peninsula and surrounded by water.  We take a small bridge over a creek to access the land.  This is a less popular camping loop since there’s no electric.  Fine by us, we have a generator and plenty of battery operated lights.  Right now there’s only two other campers in this area.  However, the weekend will fill up.  Thus, we’ll leave prior to then.  Right now, we’ll enjoy our own private slice of paradise.Steamboat

Sandhill crane
Sandhill Crane

The weather is gorgeous today….sunny and 72 degrees.  It’s the third week in August.  Al and I take a couple of short hikes today.  We meet and visit with the couple hosting at the campground and they share some information on the area.  We enjoy lunch at camp at the picnic table and later in the evening a wonderful campfire.

Wildlife in the area consists of sandhill cranes, waterfowl, elk, deer, bear, coyote, fox, beaver, chipmunks and other small mammals.  The trash containers have a special locking mechanism, making it “bear proof”.Steamboat Lake State Park

Oh, what shall we do tomorrow?

Hahns Peak
Admiring Hahns Peak

Steamboat Lake State Park

Burrrr, its quarter to six our first morning at Steamboat Lake and Bear is restless.  “Really, Bear.  Can’t you wait awhile?”   “No mom, gotta go, gotta go. Come on.”  I gently roll out of bed and quietly throw on some clothes trying not to disturb Al.  Bear on the other hand, makes no attempt to be quiet. Steamboat

I raise the blinds on our large rear window and am amazed with the awesome beauty.  I gasp louder than intended, “Oh my gosh”.  Al comments, “Is everything ok?”  I respond, “I didn’t realize you were awake”.  Al says, “Did ya really think I could sleep through Bear’s shenanigans?”  Yeah, he was a little crazy this morning.  Must be the cool, rather cold air.  I love seeing him so energetic.  I just wish he would have slept in.Steamboat Lake

It rained last night and this morning there is a fine layer of mist and fog engulfing the landscape.  It’s stunning.  So stunning, Al jumps out of bed to join us on the morning walk.Steamboat Lake

It’s quiet, it’s serene.  We watch the sunrise………Steamboat

Hubby wins !

Steamboat SpringsAs Al and I enjoy a leisurely lunch on the outdoor patio at Grappa Bistro in downtown Golden, we discuss a new location.  Although I am in love with Golden, Colorado, it’s time to move on…..move on to cooler temps.  I suggest Rocky Mountain National Park.  It’s August 20th and the tourist season is winding down.  So I feel confident we’ll have no trouble finding a camp spot.  Besides, it should only take us about an hour and a half at the most to get to Estes Park.

Al has other thoughts.  He suggests Steamboat Springs and the campground at Steamboat Lake. We return to the RV and he presents me with information on Steamboat Springs and the surrounding area.  It’s been almost fourteen years since our last visit to Steamboat.  Al, the consummate gentleman, always acquiesces to my whims.  Perhaps it’s time I agree to his……nah, I allow him to plead his case and pry me with champagne and chocolate before submitting….”you win”.  I’m kidding, no champagne was needed.  I really didn’t care where in Colorado we went, but it was fun playing with hubby.

Golden Colorado
Al taking care of ‘business’

We say our good-byes to daughter and the next morning we depart Golden and head west on Interstate 70.  We’ll need to cross the Continental Divide twice.  Our first summit is Loveland Pass at 11,158 feet above sea level.  We drive through the famous Eisenhower Tunnel.  This tunnel is the highest vehicle tunnel in the United States and is approximately 1.7 miles in length.  The Eisenhower Tunnel is located 50 miles west of Denver.

SteamboatI have no photos because I’m busy being a back seat driver co-pilot.  As we exit the tunnel we are graced with the most gorgeous view of the Rocky Mountains.  However, what goes up, must come down.  We decrease in elevation with a series of turns….first left, then right.  Al downshifts the truck transmission to keep from riding the brake. That’s ok because I’m pushing down hard on my imaginary brake on the passenger side and gripping the “ah sh*t” handle until my knuckles turn white.  I’m very used to mountain driving and don’t usually stress, but we’re pulling 31 feet and can’t take the turns like a normal vehicle.  We also don’t have the ability to stop as quickly.

Whew, one pass behind us.  At the towns of Dillon and Silverthorne, we head north on Highway 9 and eventually pick up Highway 40 in the town of Kremmling.  We’re heading toward the northwest part of the State of Colorado.  Rabbit Ears Pass is our next Continental Divide crossing at an elevation of 9426 feet.  This pass is long and more gradual.  No white knuckles necessary!

We arrive in the town of Steamboat Springs in time for lunch.  We manage to find parking and a rustic, quaint restaurant where we devour a couple of Buffalo Burgers before heading north on County Road 129, twenty-six miles to Steamboat Lake.

Steamboat Lake
Steamboat Lake State Park

We arrive at Steamboat Lake State Park and set up camp on Bridge Island; a less popular loop without electric that sits on a peninsula.  We have a private spot in paradise.  We spend the rest of the evening relaxing and taking in the beauty……Steamboat