This week's travel post is a continuation of a series of our May adventure to Colorado. If you missed any of the posts, you can catch up by just scrolling in the Blog Archive of my side bar and clicking on the Colorado Adventure titles. If you need to start from the very beginning, go HERE.
Our third day in Colorado was a very relaxing, almost uneventful one (at least until the end of day, which will be explained at the end of this post). But, we needed a more relaxing day after spending the day hiking in the snow and cold in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Probably one of my most favorite things about visiting Colorado is that you really don't have to go anywhere to see nature's beauty. It is everywhere! I swear, there isn't a spot anywhere in this state that isn't absolutely gorgeous (well, except for the Nebraska side. JK! Nebraska has it's own unique beauty). All the roads, even the major highways, have gorgeous mountain views. I wanted to stop every twenty feet just to take a picture, but if I did that we would never get anywhere.
But we did stop on this road between Estes Park and Ft. Collins. This gorgeous river was just too tempting.
I had read about Ft. Collins Old Town Square and I was very excited to see all the historic buildings. However, when we got there the entire square was under construction. I was so disappointed I could have cried because this was the entire reason I came to Ft. Collins in the first place…to see the square. The stores and restaurants were all still open, but the streets and sidewalks were all torn up and filled with construction workers making deafening noises with their equipment. It was not the environment I was expecting.
They had signs and pictures up explaining the project they were doing, and what it would like when they were done. They are renovating the entire square, and the finished project in the pictures looked beautiful, but it won't be finished to fall.
Because of the construction, I took few pictures of Ft. Collins. And unfortunately, the few pictures I do have are not the best quality because I left my DSLR camera in the car. Neither one of us wanted to carry it all day, so I only had my IPhone with me.
Although the town square was all torn up, the rest of downtown Ft. Collins was not. It's actually a very impressive downtown. There is a university nearby, which always helps increase downtown traffic in my opinion. And there are a lot of interesting shops and restaurants, not just your usual over-priced touristy shops that most downtowns have.
One of our favorite shops was Mary's Mountain Cookies. This is the cutest cookie shop ever! And very popular too by the number of people coming in to buy cookies. They sell HUGE cookies (I don't even want to think about how many calories are in one cookie) and every flavor you can imagine.
If I learned anything on this trip, it was that the zoom lens on my IPhone doesn't work very well. The pictures turned out very grainy. But I wanted to share them with you anyway so you could see some of the historic buildings.
HERE if your interested..
The city of Ft. Collins is filled with beautiful paved streets and gorgeous planters.
I always love to visit botanical gardens when we travel, so I googled botanical gardens and discovered there was one only a few miles from where we were. So we hopped back in the car to check it out. But we ended up driving around in circles and couldn't find the place for anything. Finally I used the google maps app on my IPhone (my husband hates taking directions from 'The Lady' (what we call the voice on the phone) so we only use this app as a last resort.) and she took us to the city arboretum, which was just a place where they store the city's trees before they are ready to be planted. We were getting very frustrated. Eventually, we found the right name and location of the gardens we were looking for, and 'The Lady' took us right there with no more incidents. Ah yes, finding away around while traveling can be challenging!
"The Gardens on Spring Creek" is a small community botanic garden, but it is really worth a stop if your ever in Ft. Collins, and especially if you have small children for they have the cutest children's garden I have seen. There is no fee to get into this attraction, it is by donation only.
Our first stop once inside was the children's garden. Oh, what a fun place this was! We loved the giant sprinkling can that you had to pump to get water out of.
Once the water came out of the spout, you could watch it move in all these pretty swirling directions on this concrete block.
As we were soaking up the sun, my husband and I started to notice a wonderful scent perfuming the air. We then realized we were seated to a cluster of lilac bushes! Ah! Heaven!
After visiting the Children's Garden, and briefly walking through the outdoor kitchen and 'Garden of Eaten', we headed for my favorite garden: The Rock Garden.
To get there you have to cross a bridge over Spring Creek, but you get to say 'Hi!' to the geese first.
I love rock gardens and although I have a lot of retaining walls on my own property, I don't have anything I could call an official rock garden. I have many slopes in my yard which would be perfect for turning into rock gardens with a dry river bed. I would love to do that someday, but it would be a lot of back breaking work unless I hire a landscaper.
The rock gardens at Spring Creek were gorgeous, absolute perfection! They showcased all the perennials and evergreens that enjoy the rocky mountain climate.
Hens and Chicks mixed with flowering ground covers.
When we were done touring the rock garden, we decided to find our hotel and check in before dinner. We saw a local steak house was right next to our hotel, so we were able to walk there and eat. The Charco Broiler is one of those dated, run-down old restaurants that doesn't have much for ambiance, but the food is second to none! This place is a local favorite and is known for it's great steaks. My husband and I both ordered ground sirloin, and it was absolutely delicious. We wanted to try one of their home made pies too, but we were just too full.
After dinner, we wanted to walk a bit to work off our meal so we decided to head back downtown to hike the river walk. And that was where our adventure began! You see, due to all the spring rain, most of Colorado was experiencing flooding issues. We started to hike the Poudre trail but it was partially closed because the river over flooded the trail. So we turned around and hiked the opposite direction.
Well, it was starting to get a little dark (at least it appeared so in the woods), and all the homeless people were starting to enter the park to bed down for the night. There were a few by a public outhouse, and some even started fires and were camping by the river. I was starting to get a bit on edge and began to wonder if this short cut was such a good idea. I suggested we turn back, but my husband said that he was sure there was another bridge we could cross over not that far up ahead.
Well, he was right, there was another bridge but it was for trains only. I wanted to turn back, but I was afraid of walking through the park in the dark again, so he pressured me to walk across the bridge. Now besides being a train bridge and having to worry about a train coming any moment and running us over, the only thing to walk on was the train tracks themselves or these planks on either side of the track that had one foot openings to the raging river below. To say I was terrified would be an understatement. I walked behind my husband as fast as I could saying "Go faster, go faster" over and over again. I don't know what I was afraid of more, being hit by a train or falling into the river below.
Well, we eventually crossed to the other side of the river but now guess what? The area surrounding the tracks was fenced in so we couldn't get back down. My husband found an opening through the fence that the locals must have cut. So now in addition to climbing up a hill to get to the tracks, illegally walking across a train bridge, I was now crawling through a hole in a fence. I felt like such a hooligan. This was way too much of an adventure for a fifty two year old. But, when it was all over, I loved it. And I knew I would have quite the story to tell.
After we got back onto the trail on the other side of the flooded river, it was just a short hike to our car. I had enough adventure for one day, and I definitely worked off my dinner meal, so I was now ready for a good night's sleep.
Tomorrow Golden, Colorado!
Until next week's travel post,
Have a great day! Amy