July 31: Moraine Park Campground

Moraine Park is now a haven for elk who fed here morning, noon and night, but was once dotted with rustic lodges from end to end.

I guess everyone did OK because they were all still sleeping when I woke up at 5:30. After taking my own pee break and grabbing a morning Coke I started down the interstate at 5:45. I had to admit that Nebraska was not nearly as boring as I thought it would be and the traffic was light--prefect conditions for my lead foot. I pushed the van 80 mph down the interstate.

At Odessa, NE I had to get more gas and quicky calculated that we were now getting about 17 miles a gallon. Of course, we were now heading uphill to the great plains so this didn't come as any surprise. I woke up the boys when I stopped at another rest area at 8:20. After pounding down some Lucky Charms we quickly entered the Mountain time zone and gained an hour back, and in another half hour arrived in Colorado at 9:20. We were practically there!

Almost immediately the topography changed. No longer in the middle of croplands, we were now in semi-arid desert-like rolling prairie. Beautiful in its own way but boring as hell. There were some decent views but for the most part it was a dull drive until we got to the metropolis of Sterling, CO just after 10 AM. Not more than an hour after we left the Rockies came into view for the first time. I was almost home. All that I needed to do now was guide my little semi through downtown Denver without incident.

To say that traffic sucks in Denver and along I-25 would be far too kind. What I had thought would and should take about 60 minutes took close to two hours. We could have made it down to Colorado Springs fast on horseback. Eventually we made it to the girls hotel and had to wait about 45 minutes for Yumi to return from the airport after returning her rental car. We were finally all together and decided to grab a late lunch at Chili's.

Now all we had to do was sufer through the I-25 traffic north and make our way to Rocky Mountain National Park. I figured it would take us at least 4 hours, but we managed to get there in a little more than three! We were able to check in after a brief wait but I noticed the rangers on duty seemed sort of nervous and out of focus. A few moments later I realized why: One of theirs had been missing for a few days. Backcountry ranger Jeff Christiansen had not returned from a routine backcountry patrol two days earlier and everyone was on edge.

Upon our arrival to our campsite at the Moraine Park campground, it became clear that my ability to fit large things into small areas would again be put to the task. On our reservation request we clearly stated that we had two larger tents so we figured our site would be able to handle this simple request. Nope. Our tent pad was probably no larger than 13' x 13'. With a 4-5 man tent and a 3-man tent it was not going to be big enough. Happily, I was able to configure the shelters so that all but a foot or the larger tents fit the pad. The space hanging over would we used to store our duffle bags. Not a big problem though we grew tired of the boys constant chatter and giggle from their tent set up a mere 3 inches away.

Camp now set we decided to hit the sack early and refresh ourselves for the upcoming week.


Rocky Mountain National Park
The Drive West
Moraine Park
Trail Ridge Road & Trail Ride
Dayhiking the Bear Lake Area
Ridge Road & Trail Ride II
Rafting the Poudre
Back to the Springs
Visiting Coach Paul
Home Again
Final Thoughts
Back to Vacations and Getaways


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