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Yes, we went out-of-town two weeks ago.  And yes, we did it again last weekend.  We are gypsies.  Gypsies, I tell you.

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Finally we had a weekend where the weather in Estes Park was going to be nice.  We jumped at the chance; only to realize that as nice and sunny it was going to be, it still isn’t tourist season.  You’d think that would be a good thing.  And it is.  Only problem is that half the campsites at Rocky Mountain National Park aren’t even open yet, and the ones that are have zero running water.

Not that we let that daunt us.  When we went to the sand dunes two weeks ago I (unintentionally) went two days without brushing my teeth.  Surely I could handle peeing in the wilderness.

For being ahead of tourist season, the place was crawling with people.  Don’t get me wrong, it is beautiful, but if it gets busier than THIS, I’m not going to be back until the fall.

I’m happy to report that our journey out there (by night, the same as last weekend) was delightfully uneventful.  When we woke on Saturday morning, it was beautiful as we expected, but both Nae and I were in serious need of caffination.  We ventured out into Estes Park proper and hit up Coffee on the Rocks for breakfast – oh, yes.  All four of us left happy campers; Nae and I got the buzz we needed, Finn got the bacon he has been so desperately craving since we went veggie/vegan.  Alice had a very hard time concentrating on her breakfast; we were seated next to a duck pond stocked with water fowl…

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After we ate, the kids had a ball feeding corn to the ducks and geese.  I, however, could have done without the damned Canada goose biting my finger.  I have a deep-seated hatred for these animals – I was attacked by one when I was a little older than Alice, and I think it may be my first memory ever.  Those ugly winged bastards.

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We headed up the Fern Lake trail to get a good hike in.  It has been forever since I broke out my hiking boots.  So long, in fact, that I had completely forgotten to take the proper precautions…  Lo and behold, I got a blister on my heel, therefore cutting our hike down by half.  Alice fell asleep and Finn was stumbling away before we even hit the trail head.  This was NOT what I had pictured when we set out, but I ended up carrying him the entire first leg anyway.

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When I was about seven, my dad stayed up with me all night while I had the flu.  (I think it may have had something to do with guilt; he made me take this medicine that I am pretty sure was Barbasol and it made me puke even more.)  He told me about him and my mom in high school – how she refused to take her coat off at a concert once and he dubbed her Susie Snowflake; a name she despised.  The furry mice on my bed whose Velcro-laden arms perpetually embraced each other; she gave them to him senior year.  And one time the two of them went hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park…  It was warm enough to wear shorts, but there was snow on the ground.

I grew up in Chicago, yo.  There is no such thing as wearing shorts in the snow.  I was in utter disbelief.  The image of my parents tramping through snow in summer garb was so fascinating that it stuck with me.  I thought of it when Nathan, my dad and I went backpacking in the Cascades many years ago.  And I thought about it again on the Fern Lake trail.

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We settled in for lunch overlooking “The Pool.”  We ate peanut butter, strawberries, sugar snap peas and an cartload of Goldfish crackers.  Filling?  For the kids, yes.  For us?  Not so much.  We were nothing but pack mules to them.

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1 RMNP 7Tummies grumbling, Nathan and I switched kids, hiked back to the car, drove to the campground, put the littlins back down to sleep and noshed on bratwurst (again).  Deeeelicious.

We headed back into town after the kids woke up to pick up marshmallows.  We stopped at the Stanley Hotel for a moment – you might know it as The Overlook Hotel from The Shining (one of the two used in the movie).  Maybe back in the 80’s things were different…  It was more than slightly comical that the fabled hotel, known for its isolation, is smack-dab in the middle of town – a stone’s throw away from a grocery store and a cluster of condominiums.  Ah, movie magic.

Crazy-ass Jack Nicholson or no, it was a little eerie.  Even with the view of the Safeway roof.

We did little on Sunday except for pack up.  Just before we were ready to leave, a group of deer decided to bid us farewell.  It was pretty cool, and again, Alice was completely beside herself.  She booked after the poor beasts, scaring the bejesus out of them; much to the dismay of a herd of picture-snapping onlookers.

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All in all, it was a peaceful weekend.  Another success with the House with Wheels…  But I think we’ll stay close to home this upcoming weekend.  I think we could all use a bit of a holiday from vacation.

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