Thursday, August 02, 2012

Rocky Mountain National Park and Estes Park, Colorado

 Well, it's been a little over a month since Jamie and I had the amazing privilege of being able to visit with a couple of amazing friends in Colorado. We were invited to share Nuru's story at a Java software developer conference, and while in the area, we were able to visit with our great friends Josh and Carri Drake and their young son. Josh and Carri, aside from being die-hard Mountaineer fans and lovers of the great outdoors are both pretty amazing athletes.

Josh picked us up in the Denver airport, and took us to their home in Fort Collins, CO. Josh is a graduate student working on a PhD in Exercise Science at Colorado State University. Carri also has a background in exercise physiology, and they are both incredibly fit folks. Josh rode on the cycling team at WVU, and Carri was a gymnast on WVU's team as well.

When considering where to take us to experience Colorado, they decided on Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park (we also spent some time exploring Fort Collins which was pretty cool too!).

My hope for the trip was that we would be able to see Elk (Wapiti in Shawnee), and almost immediately upon arrival to Estes Park, we saw a herd hanging out in a neighborhood, and eating the blooms and leaves off trees. It was absolutely amazing to be so close to an animal that once roamed the entire United States. They were truly beautiful creatures. The only way this experience could have been better is if I would have heard an elk bugle. Perhaps another time.

After our brief stint in Estes Park, and our visit to the Stanley Hotel (site of The Shining), we traveled into Rocky Mountain National Park. We hiked a trail that was fairly level, but was at 9,100 feet elevation. That was the highest point Jamie and I had ever experienced together. We hiked along for a couple of miles, and the scenery was absolutely breathtaking. While we were hiking, we may have been adjusting to the higher altitude, but Carri was six months pregnant, and Josh was carrying his two year old son on his back. At our turn around point, I traded Josh and carried their son on my back all the way to the car.

It was a lot of fun hanging out with Josh and Carri, and singing Shawnee songs to their son along the way. I'm so grateful that Jamie and I had the privilege of seeing some great friends while we were away from home. Not only that, but it was absolutely beautiful country. I felt like I was walking along a movie set the entire time.

If you ever have the opportunity, you should definitely visit Rocky Mountain National Park--it is truly a beautiful place. And even if you never get to visit this park, my suggestion to you is to go outside, and explore the beauty that is around where you live. Walking in nature helps us to slow down, and simply appreciate life and the gifts that each one of us is given. And we could all use more time spent in appreciation.

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