The hummingbirds at Fish Creek Estes Vacation Home in Estes Park, Colorado, are very happy to visit if you provide them with nectar, which is easy to make even if you’re only three years old. Just find an adult and a saucepan, add 1 part sugar to the pan and 4 parts water. Heat it for a few minutes, and stir it until the sugar is dissolved. Let it cool.
If you’re going to be there for a week, you might want to use 1/2 c sugar and 4/2 c sugar (do the math… 4 half-cups of sugar equals 2 cups!) and put the extra in a jar because you will need to fill the feeder more than once.
1 part sugar…
4 parts water…
Heat and stir until dissolved
Wait patiently while it’s cooling. Sing Mr. Rogers’ (or Daniel Tiger’s) song if you want to. “Let’s think of something to do while we’re waiting, while we’re waiting…” Maybe you could check to see if there are any elk behind the house yet (they usually appear late afternoon or early evening). You could also check on the golfers or get the binoculars and look at the mountains and clouds. (The binoculars are there for the guests to use, but be sure to put the lens caps back on after you use them, and then put them away in the case and back on the table under the map of Rocky Mountain National Park for the next person to use.)
When the nectar is cooled down enough, the adult can help you fill the feeder and you can put it back up and wait a few minutes… eventually one hummingbird will show up, and then more will come! Sometimes if you’re really lucky you’ll see a whole bunch! (Check out this nice video of hummingbirds visiting after the feeder was filled).
It sounds like a long drive from Wichita, where we live, to Estes Park (8.5 hours) but these days the drive flies by listening to audiobooks and podcasts, chatting or doing a little catch-up on email or social media. It’s also nice to be sitting in one place long enough to have a conversation that can wander. We try to start early so we can arrive into Boulder for a late lunch or even make a quick stop at Rubio’s in Flatiron Crossing south of Boulder for the tasty inexpensive fish tacos and then a quick check into a couple of stores to see what’s on sale that might be useful for the house.
This time, though, Lauren and William had arrived (from Cleveland by car with Milo, the dog) and had lunch waiting so we didn’t stop. It was a beautiful, beautiful day and after a hectic few weeks at home it was particularly wonderful when we started up along the St. Vrain river toward Estes Park. The effects of the flood of September, 2013, are still very much in evidence but the river restoration is beautiful and the roads are better.
Heading north out of Boulder
The Rockies come into view
The view near the Estes Park welcome sign on Hwy 36
It was a much warmer day than usual, 85, so we had lunch inside then chatted and unpacked and started our list of old favorites we wanted to do and new things to try. Which hikes? Any new stores or restaurants to check out? We never got around to that miniature golf game last time… maybe this time? (Something we would never do at home). Or maybe we’d get around to that game of actual golf, which we watch from our deck every day but never seem to get out to do ourselves. Which neighbors are in town? (Some are here full-time and some have vacation homes). What home improvement projects shall we do this time? How can we make things better for the people who come to stay here?
A little catch-up time
The hummingbirds at the feeder on the deck
The front of the house
After lunch we walked north on Fish Creek to check on progress of the road and creek restoration from the flood and the new houses in the development. We then turned back south and walked to the other end and around to access the creek behind the homes. That restoration is also coming along. This fall (2016) the rebuilding of the walking/cycling path that goes from behind our homes into town and we are very excited for that to be restored. We even were thrilled to find a fish in the creek, which used to be abundant with them before the flood. Progress!
Coming to see the fish
Where is it?
Watering the golf course at sunset.
Lauren and William took the lead on dinner prep and made a really tasty dinner. We marvel at the fact that our daughters have both developed such a love of food and cooking and we are (by far) no longer the standard they aspire to. Both have gone on to develop their own wonderful styles and have discovered flavor combinations or developed recipes from the inspirations of others or just figured out how to simply make something excellent from the ingredients at hand, many times from their own gardens. Cooking together in any home or vacation kitchens is a highlight of gathering together and we paid a lot of attention to making sure the kitchen here was outfitted well for that purpose. 🙂
We sat on the beautiful, warm deck and enjoyed the view, the food and wine and one another as darkness overtook the evening and the stars came out. A wonderful day.
I initially thought Estes Park was pretty much a summer place but we are discovering that every single season is wonderful here! The mountains are just beautiful dressed in green, brown or white and there’s always plenty to do.
There’s been a lot of progress along the creek behind our houses. The 2013 flood relocated the creek about 40 feet further from the house so now we have a bigger “back yard.” The temporary sewer pipe is gone and the creekbed has been cleaned up and planted.
We took our usual walk around Lily Lake (and the trail that goes a little above) and the views on this crystal-clear day were beautiful. The freezing of the lake had created some beautiful designs.
We hear the path to town is due to begin reconstruction this summer and we will be thrilled to have that back. And we’re delighted with the new chairs that swivel in toward the fireplace or out toward the view.
Once again we have been taken by what a great spot this is for spending time with family and friends! In addition to our daughters, we were thrilled to be joined by a niece and her fiancé, who live in Paris. It’s a true testament to the awesomeness of Estes Park that they enjoyed themselves so much. With three generations here at the same time we used both indoor living areas (upstairs and downstairs) and the three outdoor areas (deck, lower porch and front porch) to their fullest more than usual.
We didn’t realize we had such a nice dancing area…
Watching the hummingbirds
Learning how to use binoculars
Sharing binoculars with Papi
Games on the table
Helping clean off the water after a rain
The temperatures and weather allowed us to have most of our lunches and dinners on the deck. The quality of ingredients at the local Safeway are surprisingly good and we had some old favorites as well as trying some new things. Pasta and baked goods don’t do as well in the mountains but plenty of other things work just great, especially on the grill. We discovered that risotto behaves very nicely at altitude and pizza on the grill is AWESOME.
Leftovers on the deck
Shrimp curry with cilantro
Learning how to make pizza dough
Teamwork – the pizzas are ready for the grill
Checking the pizzas
This one was so good
And this one
This one was SO good!
A superb Mexican lunch (a touch windy on the deck)
We had to refill the hummingbird feeder almost every day! It was such fun to watch those miraculous creatures. 🙂
Our hikes were mostly to old favorites (Lily Lake, Gem Lake, Lawn Lake up to where it crosses the creek) and some of the group went cycling most days. Joe brought his ukelele on their trip so we were serenaded several times at home AND on one of our hikes. 🙂 Lots of people on the trail commented that they loved it as they passed by.
We love games and we played lots of them (Word Thief, Sorry, Carcassonne, Catan, cards, Midnight Party).
The view toward Longs Peak from the deck makes a great backdrop for pics.
Construction on Fish Creek Road is proceeding! We had a great time checking on the machines and workers every day. It’s fascinating to watch those guys do what they do (and we are so grateful they are fixing Fish Creek Road!). The creek and walking/cycling path to town should be starting in the spring of 2016.
One of our favorite things about the location of our vacation home in Estes Park is the fantastic wildlife we get to see from the deck. The elk on the golf course across the creek, with the mountains in the background, is such a treat. A recent visitor caught these beautiful photos of a herd crossing the golf course.
The weather in Estes Park the weekend of the 7th was glorious and unseasonably warm but our schedules didn’t permit a visit that weekend – our plan was to go on the 13th to 16th after the arrival of the front that was anticipated to bring snow and temps in the single digits.
We packed our warm things and headed across Kansas and Colorado, turned north toward Boulder, stopped in for a few provisions (cheese and bread, mostly) at Whole Foods and headed up. The average temperature for the drive was about 6 degrees and we started seeing the snow near Denver.
I assumed we would spend most of the weekend indoors, and we did, but we also bundled up and went on a couple of hikes from the Twin Owls trailhead… stunning! I knew Estes Park was awesome in the summer but it turns out it’s a great spot in the winter, too, and I hope we can get back again soon, in any weather.
Row trees just north of Boulder
On the road to Estes
Our view upon arrival
Hundreds of elk!
Front coming in!
Love the little rock formation – looks like a monk with his prayerbook maybe?
And here’s what the front was bringing
Our front yard
Trail to Gem Lake
Along the Gem Lake trail
Gem Lake Trail
The other side of the same sot
Cold but gorgeous
Love this trail
Love the little bit of blue (Mark)
Eagerly anticipating the amazing chocolate dessert
Coyotes across the creek every morning
The last morning
So happy to see guests have enjoyed themselves
Especially happy when friends stay (and take their family!)
We finally got our whole little family together in one place and are having a GREAT time.
Fish Creek restoration will take a long time as there are seven entities involved in decision-making and funding. However, decisions are getting made and progress is happening. It is hoped that the temporary sewer line (the bump along the creek bed) will be moved back under Fish Creek Road sometime in the next year. That will restore direct access to the creek, too. There is no estimated date yet for reconstruction of the walking path to town, which was heavily damaged.
New google map image
From the front of the house to the south
Front view (we are third from the left)
View to the west from the deck
View to the southwest from the deck (Golf Clubhouse in the distance)
View of the creek behind the house (we are third from right)
View to the south
Another view to the south
Stacking rocks in the creek bed south of the development
Good rock-stacking spot south of of the neighborhood
Andy the NRCS guy advising the homeowners
Willows and sedge will hold the banks best
The weather has been lovely, which has made for some nice lunches and dinners and general hanging out on the deck.
Dinner with the Fam
Studying (with a few distractions)
Golfers are so interesting
Pouring water on the deck – great fun
Making games for a niece
New hummingbird feeder!
We’ve had some beautiful hikes…
Juvenile redwing blackbird at LIly Lake
Getting ready to head up Twin Owls trail
Up the trail
Twin Owls trail
On the trail
View of Long’s Peak from Twin Owls Trail
Getting ready to head up Twin Sisters
Up to Twin Sisters
On the Twin Sisters trail
View from Twin Sisters trail
Twin Sisters trail
On the Twin Sisters trail
Longs Peak in the distance from the Twin Sisters trail
On the Lawn Lake Trail
Lawn Lake Trail
Mark and Judith
George and Katharine
William and Lauren
And fun times inside, too. 🙂
Such a tasty lunch!
The Estes Park Library has a GREAT children’s section.
Watching the rain fall
Duplos with Papi
We have often seen elk in the distance but they decided the vegetation in our back yard looked extra tasty, apparently and we were thrilled to get to see them up close!
We heard about a good fishing spot called Glacier Creek so we drove up about 5 miles toward Bear Lake from the Beaver Meadows park entrance and found it. Beautiful! And there were indeed fish in the creek…