2022-08-26 Epic Summer Road Trip Days 3,4,&6: Big Scenery and Big Changes in Scenery


We decided on another leisurely morning on Tuesday and slept in (sort of) instead of getting up early to catch the sunrise. The sunset is where it’s at anyhow. I say “sort of” because we still got up relatively early and did that exercise thing we do. This is part of how I know I’m with the right person. We both have a similar set list of how we want to spend our time. Getting that cardio first thing is excellent! Then we hit the breakfast area and picked some goodies to take to our room. 

Day 3 was our big Canyonlands/Needles day. Honestly, after doing the drive the night before and seeing the sunset from the “Island in the Sky” district, we really wanted to optimize our time here and not do the same thing twice. Would we miss out? Maybe. But there’s so much to see and do here a person would miss out on something no matter what (unless they had unlimited time here). 

The drive to Needles was about two hours because there was a road closure. I’m sort of detecting that as a theme for this trip. I think normally it’s only an hour from Moab, but what can you do. It was a great drive anyhow.. very scenic in and of itself, the highway wasn’t very busy, and there were a few cool stops along the way.

Needles was really cool. Sort of like the South Dakota Badlands but on a larger scale. And it was not busy at all. Probably because it’s late August and also 96+ degrees out. In any case, the actual road through the park was not that long and we stopped at all the lookouts and did a few of the shorter hikes.

The hikes presented us with a few fun opportunities to climb and explore just off the trail and the lack of people meant we could take our time and just do whatever.

Just like the Arches (and everyplace out here), the pictures don’t do it justice.

When we had seen all there was to see, we drove back to Moab and got cleaned up to go to an early-ish dinner. We went to an El Tapatio which we discovered in Flagstaff and absolutely loved. We didn’t know then it was a chain but they seem to be all over down in this part of the country. It did not disappoint.

The evening was pretty chill and we opted to ignore the sunset just as we had ignored the sunrise. Instead, we went back to the hotel and enjoyed the pool and hot tub.

Then retired to our room and surfed options on the TV. It was a relatively early-to-bed night because we knew day 4 was going to involve a LOT of driving (again).

As planned, day 4 was dedicated to driving from Moab to Estes Park–6.5 hours with a stop in Glenwood Springs for lunch. 

Our place in Estes was super swank and it was kind of a last-minute booking by yours truly because we only had one night there. I was like… “hey, I found this really romantical spot at a Chateau and there’s only one room left.” He gave me the thumbs up.

The place was called Della Terra and their main thing is hosting weddings because it’s nestled up on the hill and really beautiful. The building itself is stone and wood and looks really cool. Besides us though, there wasn’t a soul around who wasn’t at the wedding so we had the loft bar to ourselves. That’s pretty much where the trouble started (and by trouble, I mean drinking). 

After having the first, we ordered a second to take to our room but apparently, that’s all it takes at this altitude. I think it did not help I had not eaten for hours and also just started my monthly cycle. It was the perfect storm, if you will, for disaster. Still, it was a pretty good time in the moment.

The room itself was on the lower level so we did kind of feel like we were in a basement. There was a two-person hot tub on the patio with a small opening a person could climb up and out of if they needed to. No surprise the room was the last available. 

At the top of the post, you will notice that I don’t include day 5. That’s for a reason. I basically wasted a whole day of my life being sick and not being able to enjoy the journey we were on through RMNP to Grand Lake. We did Fall River Road up and that was pretty freaking miserable. Nothing like doing the coolest thing ever and not being able to enjoy it because you are heaving every time you get out of the car. 

We made it to the cabin at Grand lake by 3 in the afternoon and were happily greeted by our hosts. They gave me hugs, Excedrin, and ginger ale and didn’t ask too many questions which I was grateful for. There are six of us here and we sat around the living room and chatted until dinner. They made us street tacos with a wonderful spread of options for fillings and toppings. By that time, I could enjoy it, so all’s well that ends well.

On Friday, day 6, we woke up at the cabin after a chilly night. We’re in the “service quarters” which is a private and secluded bedroom off the kitchen and pantry.

Very isolated from the rest of the sleeping quarters and has two twin beds. Very romantic! 😜

We had a slow morning chatting with our hosts and other housemates in the living room. The decision for us was what to do with our limited time. We were only going to be there for a day so we wanted to make the most of it. 

We opted for a stroll through the town of Grand Lake grabbing breakfast and Coffee before embarking on a great hike up to see some falls just inside Rocky Mountain National Park.

The town is a typical tourist mountain town and the fare we grabbed at The Hub was a typical tourist sub-par meal. The coffee was pretty good though and soon we were on our way to Adam’s Falls from the East Inlet trailhead.

The reports of this trail having magnificent view payoff with very little effort were spot on.

The falls are a short distance from the trailhead, mostly elevation gain. We kept going from there to see the meadow and a little farther to take in more of what the area had to offer.

After about an hour we turned around and made our way back down to the falls where we climbed around the rocks a little more to get some different views. 

It was a great hike and took us into the afternoon. We opted to hang out and relax at the cabin, and wander the property.

The lake surrounding it is actually two lakes, Grand Lake which is the natural lake and Shadow Mountain Lake which is man made reservoir. The cabin is on a small neck of land that separates the two and is also home to the famous “Scout Rock.”

The rock is on their property and we climbed all up and around it. Great for bird watching. We saw Osprey, seagulls, ducks, and a unique looking bird we had to look up in the bird pamphlet on the coffee table.. A Northern Flicker.

That night our hosts were planning a party for their daughter and her friends and on one hand, that could have been a great time but on the other, we didn’t want to intrude too much in their event. We decided dinner with just the two of us at the lodge restaurant was the right call.

I was still not feeling particularly great and the dinner was good, but too much. It was a three course meal and I was done after the first drink and appetizer. I could have easily quit at that but that’s not how the experience works.

We were seated on the porch with a partial view of the lake. That was neat.

I could barely eat two bites of my main course (filet and mashed) and yet had no trouble eating all of Jim’s dessert. He liked mine better and I liked his better.

After, we sat at the lodge fireplace and then drove around the reservoir a bit while the sun set.

We got back to the house fairly late and the party was winding down. We sat around the table chatting about our cats and sharing pictures. They are all cat people apparently so we were in great company. Hindsight being 2020, it would have been ok had we stayed. 

After that We all retired to our respective rooms and that was the end of day 6 which just also happened to be my birthday. 💃💃🎉

Cheers for Celebrating on Vacation! 

~Miss SugarCookie


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