Because we had to reschedule our flights, we ended up flying the “scenic route” to Denver via Orlando, with a 2-hour layover. Estes Park is about an hour and a half’s drive from Denver, so we had a long day of travel.
As soon as we got on the highway in Denver, we could see the Rockies in the distance. First we passed acres of open farmland and then we started to climb through the foothills. As we neared our destination, the hills turned to mountains of tumbled boulders dotted with fir trees. Majestic ranges made a stunning backdrop for the town of Estes Park.
We checked in at the Silver Moon around suppertime and took the desk clerk’s recommendation to try Smokin’ Dick’s Barbecue. It was a good choice. We stuffed ourselves with chicken, ribs and beef brisket, accompanied by a variety of sauces and sides. On our way back to the hotel, a herd of elk had traffic stopped while they crossed the street and climbed a hill on the other side. The big bull, with a full rack of antlers, followed the herd at a regal pace, seemingly unfazed by the cars that had stopped in both directions.
Still on Eastern Time, we fell into bed early, anticipating ascending into the mountains the next day.