Al said these scenes look like landscapes that model railroad hobbyists strive to emulate.
We stopped in the cute little town of Idaho Springs for lunch. Two Brothers Deli had best sandwiches we've had since arriving in Colorado...definitely worth the stop!
A few miles further up I70, we exited and started up the Peak to Peak Highway. Peak to Peak goes from I70 up to Estes Park, and is Colorado's first designated scenic byway, established in 1918. It goes through Clear Creek Canyon, the towns of Blackhawk, Nederland and Allenspark, then past the Twin Sisters mountains and Lily Lake before arriving at Estes Park, the eastern gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. Clear Creek Canyon was a beautiful drive, and then we saw this as we approached Blackhawk:
Major casinos! Wow, that was a visual shocker. I did not expect to go from gorgeous natural scenery to high rises and neon lights!
Central City, a side road off the byway, was an old gold mining town that has been converted to a new gold mining town...via casinos!
There were awesome views all along the ride, and we turned into Brainard Lake Recreation Area to stretch our legs and go for a walk. And we were very happy we did! The ranger at the entrance booth told us to stop at Red Rock Lake, there had been moose sightings reported there this afternoon.
We didn't see anyone at first, and then, there it
was! coming out of the trees to get a drink.
It wasn't real close, but I got a decent enough picture, and now I can say, I saw a moose!
It even turned to give us a front face view..good moose!
Headed back into the forest
A short and buggy walk led us to Long Lake,
and views of the Indian Peaks Wilderness.
Indian Peaks Wilderness beyond Brainard Lake
One last stop at Red Rock Lake, but the moose was nowhere in sight.
We arrived in Estes Park a short while later, and checked into our cabin for the night, the Iris at Colorado Cottages. Small, but neat and clean, and a decent spot to spend the night. We asked for recommendations for a dog-friendly dinner spot, and ended up at Poppy's Pizza and Grill, on the bank of the river in downtown Estes Park. We both had hamburgers, and they were excellent! Needless to say, the pups were a big hit with passer-by's. Anyone looking to meet people, just get a cute dog and go sit in the downtown area...you'll meet lots of people :-)! In fact, some of the folks we met told us about great horned owls that were nesting in the cliffs behind the library, just a short walk away. So we walked back to the truck after dinner, retrieved the camera, and were able to get a photo of one of them!
I was surprised the photo came out as well as it did, it was so far away and I didn't expect anything besides a brown blob :-).
After dinner, we drove to Mary's Lake Campground, where we had been invited for a visit by blog followers, Dick and Judy Mott of Travels With Dick and Judy. They are volunteer camphosts at this county campground for the summer, and when they heard we were passing through the area, invited us on over for a chat. Isn't the RV world terrific! You get together with folks you've never met, but feel as if you've been friends forever. We had a great time, and all too soon it was after 11:00PM and time for everyone to go to bed! After all, we have a big day planned at Rocky Mountain National Park, and this day was a great start to our "3 day weekend"! And thanks Dick and Judy, we'll see you again down the road :-).