I drove down to Chicago in the Subaru getting in at around midnight and with the expectation that we would be driving the Subaru westbound the next day. Something about the drive made me uncomfortable enough with that plan that we decided to take Janet’s Honda Fit instead. It’s been a few months now and other than inspecting a few more things and replacing the spark plug wires, which was likely unnecessary, I can’t actually find anything that would have affected taking the Subaru.
We departed Chicago in the Fit around noon. A little later than expected, but there was some delay for making the final decision and transferring gear to the Fit. We did have to deal with a mostly flat tire at some point along the way and then another one shortly after due to a misbehaving valve stem, but otherwise the drive wasn’t too eventful.
Our “destination” for the night was some Walmart, probably in Nebraska, where we stopped at 3AM or so to sleep for a bit in the parking lot (which was apparently a pretty common occurrence there). While we were there we picked up a portable tire inflator as a safety precaution for the rest of the trip.
The only other part of the trip that I specifically remember was passing Sierra Trading Post in Wyoming, and that’s only because we had stopped there years ago, not because we had any intention or need to stop this time.
We got to Rocky Mountain National Park (Estes Park) mid-morning. There was no elk parade through town as there had been on our previous visit. We headed into the park and drove short loop stopping at a few of the overlooks before getting to Alpine Visitor Center which is about half way through the park. We got some moderately overpriced coffee (it was $3 and 20 miles from the nearest town, so this is not a real complaint) and hiked out the short, somewhat steep, and paved Alpine Ridge Trail to nowhere.
The second tiny hike was the Tundra Communities Trail past the mushroom rocks and to a geological marker (as seen guarded by the octopus). And, now thinking back, I might have these two out of order. It was pretty cool being at altitude and all so we might have been slightly chilly, thus adding to the motivation for the coffee before the second hike.
We returned to town by a slightly different route through the park. It was raining lightly, so we stopped in at the Estes Park Safeway to see what seemed appealing for dinner – I think we ended up choosing some roasted chicken and beers to supplement what we had brought along. After that, we headed to the hotel (Estes Mountain Lodge, I think, that Janet had booked sometime during the day) relatively early, expecting to need an early start the next day.