A Couple of Weeks in the Rear View Mirror

The posts we are sharing here on our travel blog are on a delay with our current location; in other words, we’re behind with posting about our adventures once again!  I’m writing this from Flagstaff where tomorrow we pick up Claire & Kyle from the airport to commence our rafting trip down the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon.  But a lot has happened between our last post and today that we’re trying to capture because this travel blog also serves as our personal trip journal.  Fred has some great photos and is finalizing a couple of posts on our visits to Great Sand Dunes NP and Rocky Mountain NP — places we’ve been in the past two weeks — but before we get to those, let me share a few of our other adventures, albeit viewing them in the rear view mirror.

Fort Laramie NHS — Yet another fort we have had the pleasure to visit, this one in eastern Wyoming, Fort Laramie’s history dates back to 1834 when it was established as a fur-trading post bringing trappers and traders together.  By the mid-1800s, as weary westward-heading pioneers followed the North Platte River along the Oregon, California and Mormon Trails, they found Fort Laramie a good place to rest, repair their wagons, and resupply for the next portion of their journey.  The fort was acquired by the U.S. Army in 1849 as tensions with Northern Plains Indian tribes grew.  Finally, it was abandoned in 1890 and homesteaders took over the upkeep of the little settlement until local public agencies came along to protect it permanently.  Today, Fort Laramie National Historic Site tells the story of commerce, westward expansion, and the Indian Wars; it is a blend of beautifully-restored buildings and foundations of what once was.

Some unplanned down time — During the last few days of our stay in Glacier NP I was feeling a little tired and weak; feelings I attributed to some physically taxing hikes.  As it turned out, I had picked up a water-borne parasite called giardia up in the backcountry in Alaska.  Taking about two weeks before symptoms show up, the timing of me feeling punk was just about right.  In short, the bugs won and my gut lost.  Acute dehydration meant a 40-minute ambulance ride down to a hospital in Colorado Springs where I spent the next four days and three nights.  It took eight IV bags before my body would keep anything in — not pleasant days no matter where you spend them!  The one silver lining in this terrible episode is that I was in the hospital when my Badgers played LSU, so I got to watch the game!  If I was in our campground where I was supposed to be, I wouldn’t have had a TV signal and would have missed the epic upset!  So all’s well that ends well — I just completed a two-week cycle of antibiotics yesterday and am happy to be back at full strength.

Friendly meet-up in Colorado — Two years ago we met a couple, Tina and Ron, who happened to be camping next to us at a state park in Pennsylvania.  They rolled in one night and unfortunately we were rolling out the next morning, but our quick connection with them was strong enough for us to keep in touch.  Over these past two years they’ve followed along with us here on our website and have taken a couple of nice trips themselves.  We’ve compared notes and shared stories, and about a year ago we made plans to meet up this year in Colorado.  On September 3rd, Fred sprung me from the hospital and we got back to our campsite in Woodland Park within minutes of Ron and Tina pulling into the campsite next to us — pretty good timing as they had just spent the last three days driving from Eastern Pennsylvania to meet us there!  While I wasn’t my normal, chipper self, seeing them did put a smile on my face and we were able to spend five days in total at two different places, dining together, hiking together (most of the hiking was just Fred, Ron and Tina as I continued to rest and recover), laughing together, and making some more memories together.

We’re not “selfie people” but we did want to capture the four of us sharing a little happy hour time together. We struggled some with the selfie stick someone had given us — we never would have purchased one ourselves and this was only our third time using it! — but we did have some good laughs over it all!

Florissant Fossil Beds NM — Camping in Woodland Park allowed us to visit the nearby Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, an area in Central Colorado where ancient volcanic eruptions buried redwood trees, plants and insects in 15 feet of ash, mud and volcanic debris.  These mudflows, called lahars, preserved these remains for 34 million years.  Today Florissant features one of the world’s richest deposits of fossils from the Eocene Era, and fossils from here are in museums and universites throughout the U.S. and U.K.  In addition to seeing fossils in the Visitor Center, visitors can also stroll along the mile-long Petrified Forest Walk, viewing stumps of giant redwoods that were preserved in the lahar — they’re as wide as they are tall.

Making new friends — At our second stop with Tina and Ron we met another couple, Randy and Althy.  Four of us quickly became six, and over the next couple of days we shared food and wine, swapped stories, and exchanged addresses and phone numbers for future rendezvous.

Randy, Laura, Althy, Ron, Tina and Fred at the Zapata Falls Trail
Randy, Laura, Althy, Ron, Tina and Fred — rendezvous on the Zapata Falls Trail

So there’s our view from the rear view mirror.  Fred’s next post covers our visit to Great Sand Dunes National Park and we’ll get that up in a couple of days.  We’re slowly getting caught up….