June 13, 2012

What a Welcome Home

After spending the night in the Medicine Bow National Forest, we began our climb over the Snowy Range Scenic Byway on Saturday.  This byway is one of the most beautiful mountain drives in southern Wyoming and climbs over the second highest pass in the state.  We reached the highest point on the byway at 10,847 feet and were amazed to find that the Snowy Range didn’t live up to its name.  Even at that elevation there was a surprisingly small amount of snow.

On the Way to Snowy Mountain Pass
Is this the Snowy Range?
Although we saw very little snow, we loved the rugged peaks and the alpine ecosystem.  The mountain lakes were beautiful, as were the abundant wildflowers.  We stopped at the highest overlook on the byway where we were almost blown away.  The visibility was good, and we were able to see many of the adjacent mountains ranges, including those at Rocky Mountain National Park.  Tim spied a wildfire in the distance, but we didn’t think too much about it at the time.

Beautiful Mountain Lakes
View toward Distant Mountain Ranges
Alpine Ecosystem
More Evidence of Beetle-Killed Trees
Alpine Flowers
Colorful Wildflowers

After stopping in Laramie for lunch, we turned south into Colorado.  Record high temperatures and a wildfire burning out of control near Fort Collins, which is not too far from our home, welcomed us back to our home state.  The small fire that Tim had spotted had grown from 500 to 5,000 acres in just a few hours.  We followed the progression of what came to be known as the High Park Fire as we drove south.  It was a scary sight, and we knew that the recent drought and the high number of pine bark beetle-killed trees would make containing the fire difficult.

Welcome to Colorful Colorado, and Wildfires
We Watched the Wildfire Grow
What a Scary Sight
We passed through Eaton, which was a kick for me, since it was fun to visit a town that shares my last name.  Our final destination for the day was Fort Morgan where Tim’s sister Chris and her husband Tom live.  They had kept our car and truck while we were away, and we wanted to visit with them and then retrieve the car.

Welcome to Eaton
We spent a wonderful evening with family.  Although we had wanted to take them to dinner, Chris and Tom thought we might enjoy a home-cooked meal instead.  How thoughtful they are.  They had invited Tim’s sister Cathy and other members of the family, and we were able to catch up with everyone over a great dinner.

Tim and Family
I can’t believe that we arrived back in Colorado when temperatures reached a scorching 101°.  We are just not used to such heat.  We had only a handful of very hot days on the trip, and that was just fine with me.  Maybe we should have waited to return until Sunday, when a cold front was predicted to drop temperatures by at least 20°.  Later in the evening the cold front ushered in very high winds.  I’m just glad we stowed the awning or it would have blown away.  It was blowing so hard that it was even hard to close our vent cover.  Now, we could add high winds to record high temperatures and a wildfire.  What a welcome home from Mother Nature!


  1. Hard to believe 101 in Colorado. No wonder they had that terrible hail storm. It sure does look scary driving towards that fire. I'm hoping things were a little more serene in Estes Park. Wondering how Kitty is adjusting to not living in the camper anymore. :-) (you too!) LV

    1. LV, We couldn't believe the temperature either. That's way too hot. Luckily, Estes Park has not been affected by the fire, and very little smoke has drifted our way, unlike the rest of the state. Kitty and I are adjusting, but we miss all of the new sights each day. Sarah

  2. I was wondering of you had gotten any of the smoke from that fire. When does Tim have to be back at work?

    1. Luckily, we've had very little smoke in Estes Park. It's been much worse in the rest of the state. Tim goes back to work on June 18. So soon! Sarah