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.
A short but sweet visit in June, 2015. We never get tired of this view or these skies!
Lily Lake regulars
This guy loved the new grass by our patio
Discussing the progress on the creek with our neighbors
We came to Estes Park with dear friends at the end of March and happened on some great weather! We continue to be thrilled with how enjoyable Estes is at all times of the year. 🙂
Sunrises are so beautiful
A little later in the morning
Love this birdhouse on the golf course (our house is in the background)
Closeup of the birdhouse on the golf course.
On a walk at Lily Lake
View from the trail above Lily Lake
Toward Long’s Peak from Lily Lake Trail
Lily Lake from the trail above the Lake
What a sky!
Lumpy Ridge behind the houses.
Next time we’ll wear the Trax
Great view from up here, though (toward Alberta Falls)
Elk late afternoon
The elk are quite used to people
Majestic creature and view
Gathering in the shade
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…
We picked up Katharine and Martha from Valley Center, KS, nice and early on a Friday morning and drove out for a quick weekend. It was short but very sweet.
The sunrise Saturday morning was spectacular… worth the drive!
We had ordered a console table and a couple of stools and the large box one of the pieces came in was perfectly Martha-sized. Katharine took a knife to the box and little by little it became a fantastic little playhouse.
It was wonderful to celebrate Thanksgiving here this year, especially since there is so much to be thankful for in this very place. We looked things over carefully when we arrived and other than the changes to the creek and landscape behind the house, everything looks fine. We were so engaged in enjoying our time together that we didn’t get a lot of pics this time. 🙂
Making the traditional pumpkin ravioli.
A bit of work, a bit of reading.
The view north from the remains of the walking path to the south of the house.
The view from where the bike/walking path was washed away and the new creek bed.
On September 12th, I noticed a Facebook post from our wonderful trim carpenter about nonstop rain for the previous four days and wondered what our little tiny creek behind the house was looking like as a result. Then I received a video from our next door neighbors that showed the creek was definitely UP. The next email we got was from another neighbor reporting that things were getting really bad and soon afterwards he followed with some photos and video and also reported that the neighbor next to him had lost the back half of their house. We were stunned. That tiny little 2-foot creek behind our house had become a 50 foot wide river and it had completely changed course, knocking out sections of the road, sewer, water and electricity and flooding homes upstream. The two neighbors who were in their homes at the time were told to evacuate over Trail Ridge Road (Highways 34 and 36 from Loveland and Boulder were too damaged) and expect not to return for at least 8 weeks. (It turned out to be 7, thanks to amazing effort by the Town of Estes Park).
The Town of Estes did a great job of communicating on Facebook
The Town of Estes Park Facebook Page started posting lots of information and updates, EP News and Trail Gazette FB pages became more active, and even the Upper Thompson Sanitation District (sewer) was instructed to get a Facebook Page up. (If you look at their Facebook Page, you can see it was instituted on September 13th, 2013… very poignant.) Someone in the marketing or public relations department in the Town of Estes Park should get an award of some kind for the impressive way they keep information flowing (and still do).
As of this writing, the sewer line repair is complete, water has been turned back on and we are out of the “No Flush Zone”! Our wonderful housekeeper, a neighbor and our stellar real estate agent have all been in the house and all report they couldn’t see any damage. We started hearing early on that our lower level had not been breached, but with that much soggy ground we were a little concerned about the foundation and are greatly relieved to hear it appears to be okay.
The photos below were taken by friends who were there at the time of the flood or have been there since. We will return to the house ourselves to celebrate parents’ significant birthdays (80 and 85!!) and Thanksgiving, which will be heartfelt this year. Considering how much damage was sustained in the area, we are truly grateful the house appears to be fine.
Beginning of the flood
Taken by the neighbor who was at his new house for the first time…
Their house was saved, amazingly enough.
Fish Creek and Brodie Avenue
The day after
The Corps of Engineers will be moving the creek.
Joe Biden surveying the damage from the helicopter (AP image).
The day after. The road to the right collapsed after this was taken.
The view south from our back yard
The view north from our back yard
The new view south from our deck
New view to the south
View to the south just before the flood
The new view north
New view to the west
We finally got to spend a week in the finished house without a long to-do list! Heavenly. The mornings were in the upper 60’s, days in the mid-70’s and the evenings were glorious. Sitting on the deck and watching the sunsets was all the entertainment I needed, but we did get some walks, hikes, fishing and bike rides in, along with some reading. And of course since we all love cooking, we had some marvelous dining adventures, all at home. 🙂 Lauren’s chicken/mint/onion kebabs were to die for, as was Mark’s pork with smoked paprika pork on the grill. Katharine had brought blackberries and made one of her fabulous cobblers, which we had for breakfast and dessert the rest of the week. We had brought along our last CSA share of veggies from Elderslie Farm, and some eggplant from our garden, so we were set!
A special treat was the visit on Saturday from old friends from Wichita who now live in Colorado Springs. Cary and Susan picked up their daughter, Kiley, who lives in Boulder, and came up for a hike near Lily Lake and a nice long lunch on the deck.