August 28th, 2006

batik talon

Sight seeing day!

Emerald LakeDay5
Rocky Mountain National Park

Dad and I drove the rest of the way to Rocky Mountain National Park and hiked from Bear Lake to Emerald Lake. It was 3.6 miles round-trip, which looks puny on the map of the whole park. If you count the driving that we did, we got to see a decent portion of the park, I guess. With the crazy altitude the hike was more of a workout on the lungs than on the legs. We huffed and puffed and I oohed and ahhed as I saw lots of great photo opportunities. There was light misty rain most of the time, but that wasn't much of a problem. It's kind of funny in August for it to be cold enough there for raincoat over sweatshirt over t-shirt. I tried to keep my head up to take in the scenery, thinking of what I learned in my Tracker class. We made friends with a mother and daughter from Kentucky, and with them ran into a pair of park rangers who were carrying a shotgun but wouldn't say what they were after. The park info contains warnings about mountain lions and bears, and I can't imagine that anything more dangerous was wandering about. Dad and I also ran into a ground squirrel that was brazen enough that we ended up throwing a piece of bread for it. Feeding the wildlife is bad bad bad... my only defense is that this one had obviously been fed a lot before based on its behavior.

Speaking of Tracker stuff, it's a little frustrating that National Parks have a look-but-don't-touch kind of attitude, in which going off the trail even is considered destructive. No dice for those of us who know how to tread gently and want to dive right into nature.

People were happy and smiley, and so was I.

When we were done our hike, we went to a museum in the park and learned all about the geological events that made the mountains. We then drove out of the park and into the tourist town of Estes Park. We got hot cocoa and coffee and looked in a couple shops, but then decided that we were too exhausted even to look at kitche. Came back to the same motel for the night and ate at the same Denny's, hehe. Must make a point to eat vegetables tomorrow.

More pictures are in Scrapbook.

Why, God, why?-oming

hills in WyomingDay 6
Miles travelled on I-80: 450
Ending trip meter reading for the day: 2822
States: Colorado, Wyoming, Utah

I don't really mean that subject line. Wyoming (where we spent most of our day) is remarkably beautiful in its own way. I'm just saying it makes Nebraska look like a booming metropolis. Oh, and we crossed the continental divide today :) Twice, apparently, because somehow it splits into two in southern Wyoming.

Most of Wyoming, especially the eastern part west of Cheyenne, was endless hills of brown grass and low scrub. There were a lot of fences, which confused me because most of the time we weren't seeing any cattle or anything else that looked like it needed a fence around it. Many of the exits led to dirt roads. Towards the western end of the state we started seeing some awesome rock formations.

Also toward the western end of the state is Little America, a town/rest stop/restaurant/hotel. To give you an idea of how sparsely populated the state is along I-80... we saw a ton of billboards for this one rest stop, starting at two hundred miles east of it, and I'm not exaggerating. There were other places to stop, but this was the only one that wasn't sketchy. As the billboards promised, they had soft serve cones for fifty cents. You bet I got one.

As I looked at the landscape I got to thinking about how difficult it would be to survive on it and how difficult it would be to move unseen. There would be plenty of grass seed to eat but one would have to search hard for water. It probably wouldn't be too hard to be disguised as a bush. Well, the harshness of the landscape is probably why there aren't too many people settled there.

We drove the rest of the way to Salt Lake City, and are tenting there. I'd never seen a campground right in a city before but uh, this is exactly what I'd expect one to be like. Hence the wireless.
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