Monday, July 4, 2016

July 3, 2016 Lory State Park, Roosevelt National Forest & Childhood Friends

"And I don't want a never ending life
I just want to be alive while I'm here"
 from Spirits by The Strumbellas

In my never ending quest to enjoy life as much as possible, I flew to Denver yesterday and drove up to Fort Collins where I spent a wonderful evening with my old friend Nick, his wife Mary and their son Zach. After dinner we hung out on his front porch enjoying a cool breeze, a few drinks and catching up on the past 25 years or so. It was the perfect way to start this trip. So today I have to acclimate myself to the higher altitudes. I decided to start at Lory State Park at 6,000 feet.   

I saw this great quote by Aldo Leopold at the Arthur's Rock trailhead.

It's a little past peak wildflower season but I found a few still hanging on.

The north end of the Horsetooth Reservoir is in the background of this picture. The park was very crowded on this 90 degree day.

After the initial ascent up the valley, Arthur's Rock dominated the view.

I took a lot of rest stops and pictures on the way up.

Getting closer...

...and higher up where the lodgepole pines grow much taller.

This was as close as I got to Arthur's Rock. I didn't have enough gas in the tank to continue hiking uphill.

I liked the flower with the quartz rock behind it.

Looking back uphill on my way down.

Definitely had some big sky shots today.

I saw this father with his little boy on the way up and again on the way down. Earlier the boy was hiking up the rocks and was very determined to do it by himself. I met a lot of very friendly people on this hike. More on that topic later.

On my way back to the parking lot.

This was on the car next to mine. As I was taking my hiking boots off, a group of young men & women who I talked to on the hike showed up to this car. We talked about Johnny Cash, other bands we like in common and places to hike. It always seems to me that the people I meet while hiking have lots of similar  interests as me....bands, social issues, politics and obviously a love of the outdoors. I really enjoy this community of strangers with so much in common, especially when it is young people. So I have hope that the younger generations will protect these places just like the older generations did for us.

My next stop is Roosevelt National Forest and higher elevations. I drove Hwy 14 out to a town called Rustic then drove back to Fort Collins. Here's the pictures from my many stops along the way,

The road follows the Cache La Poudre River...

...which was full of people white water rafting.

I guess it was easier to make the tunnel than blow the whole rock up.

There were several burned areas along the road usually accompanied by a sign warning of falling debris and no parking in the area.

I deciding to eat my lunch, a blueberry Clif bar, a bag of nacho cheese Doritos and a Pepsi, along this rough section of the river. And before you ask, I did not partake in any of Colorado's legal marijuana. It was all I had in the car.  

I love the sound of water rushing downhill. This half hour or so was very relaxing, which is exactly the reason I decided to spend a week in the Rockies.

My turn around point.

You just have to respect the power of Mother Nature when you see a tree growing on a rock in the middle of a river.

I even found a flowering cactus on the shoreline near the tree.

So on my way back to the hotel I grabbed a late lunch at a diner. Then I cleaned up and met Nick & Mary at Wayne's house for a Fourth Of July party. Mary had just met Wayne recently and he invited her to this party. Then insisted to Mary "the more the merrier" which is how I got invited. It turns out Wayne is from New Orleans. "Born & Bred" is how he said it to me. So Wayne is on the deck grilling food, his backyard is full of people, a blues band is playing and they are really good and several people get up and join the band for a song or two and they are amazing too. I love New Orleans and Wayne is exactly the reason why...the people of New Orleans know how to party. And if they aren't in New Orleans, they bring New Orleans to wherever they are. I just sat back drinking my beer wondering how the hell did I end up at this party and so damn glad I did.

This young lady belted out incredible vocals on "The Thrill Is Gone" then rejoined the party like it was no big deal. After we left the party, we stopped in downtown Fort Collins for Colorado pizza and drinks. I know what some of you are thinking...Yes the pizza was good. Since we didn't take any pictures last night...'s a couple from Saturday night at Nick & Mary's house.

Childhood friends, there's some kind of bond that if you are lucky, even spending years apart can not break it. 

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