Colorado Adventure, Day 2 // Friday, September 11, 2015
After our night in Cheyenne, we headed South for Colorado – but not before grabbing our first letterbox in Wyoming! As we drove through the plains, the sky was overcast and it was difficult to see where the Rocky Mountains began. But as soon as we exited I-25 and drove through Loveland, the skies cleared and the views were phenomenal. Both of us had been to Rocky Mountain National Park before with our families, but we were still blown away by the views – everything from the vast canyon walls on the drive in, to the high mountain peaks, and the valleys with the hidden blue lakes.
Our plans for the day simply involved driving through the whole park and then finding a place to camp on the West end. We would have loved to spend lots of time in the park and do some hiking, but the rules for dogs made that impossible for this trip. We understand why there are rules though – to protect the wildlife – and we are okay with that. It’s probably for the better anyway, considering that Charlotte was terrified of the bear statue in the visitor’s center parking lot. We’re talking hair on end, tail between her legs, growling, and refusing to take a single step toward it. You may think “can’t you just pull a 30 pound dog toward it to teach her?” No. No I can’t. She’s a tank. She’s the heaviest 30 pound dog ever. You don’t ever want to have her run into you. Ouch.
And so, being the loving parents we are, we decided to just drive through and enjoy the scenic pull outs rather than dropping our child off at puppy day care. As much as an inconvenience it can be, we still enjoyed traveling with Charlotte, and seeing how she takes in the views and experiences while on the road. And how could we keep her from great places like this?! Even without a hike, it’s safe to say Charlotte thoroughly enjoyed her first time in a national park. 🙂
After driving through the park, we stopped at a visitor’s center in Grand Lake to get the scoop on dog friendly camping in the area. We chose the campground furthest out, next to Lake Grandby, with some dog-friendly hiking nearby. It was 10 miles off of highway 34 on a dirt road, but the fall colors all around the peaceful lake made the drive worth it. We also enjoyed seeing the dams along the drive. After staking our claim on a campsite, we drove back to Grand Lake for some letterboxing and hiking.
There are so many good reasons to visit Colorado in the early fall; our favorite thing throughout this whole trip was the golden aspens. Wherever we went, they were there, and they were always our favorite part. Other good reasons are less people, (still lots of people, but less than you’d find in the summer!) and gorgeous weather for hiking. One downside was that some campsites along the way were already closed for the season. It may have been a little chilly some nights, but if I can survive sleeping outside without a sleeping bag on those nights, I’m pretty sure anyone can.
We grabbed several boxes in Grand Lake, then walked around town searching for a local place for dinner. Our only requirement for restaurants was a place with outdoor seating so Charlotte could be with us, but we couldn’t find anything that fit the bill there. We gave up and headed South to Grandby to continue the search. There, we found a pizza place called Lina’s Pizza and got the biggest Stromboli EVER which the 3 of us happily enjoyed back at the campsite. 🙂 Curtis set up the tent while I followed Charlotte’s nose all over the campground, letting her sniff to her heart’s nose’s content.
So, our first attempt at camping with a dog kind of turned out to be a fail…Charlotte absolutely refused to get in the tent. She would have none of that nonsense. We ended up cracking the windows in the Jeep and letting her sleep in there. Hey, it was 50 degrees and quickly dropping, so at least heat wouldn’t be a problem… The cold, however. Yikes. Not sure how I survived that. 😉