2016 Greater Colorado Tour The Final Chapter | Day Four

Good morning readers! Today’s blog is going to be a bit different. It’s was long day of traveling and I’ve decided to give you the highlights of what happened on the trip from Lake City to Estes Park. Why just the highlights and not the minute by minute detail that I usually provide? Much of what happened today is best described by visuals with captions. Without seeing it, there are a few things that you just wouldn’t believe. Also… this blogger is road weary.

We wake up early to begin our day – we have at least 6 hours on the road. We got snow last night and Lake City is beautiful this morning.

Lake City

We make breakfast, make sure we’ve left the cabin in good shape, sign the guest book and load the cars. Then we head into town for a coffee stop. After that, the drive begins. The scenery is gorgeous. The water in the river is turquoise.

turquoise river

I unwittingly play a game of chicken with a chipmunk – no picture of this one folks. Resident photographer Ben was too busy calming me down to snap one. (Hey – I like critters)

We reach the reservoir that lets us know our turn off is near and we’re stopped dead in our tracks. There’s something in the distance that’s blocking the road. Whatever it is, it’s big and it’s moving. And it’s… mooing. Cows. Lots of cows! We find ourselves smack dab in the middle of an honest to goodness cattle drive. There are over 1,000 head of cattle and they are surrounding our vehicles. The sounds of our camera shutters almost drown out the mooing and the cowboys yelling “hee-yaw.” (Not “yee-haw,” I’m told you get a very different response from the cattle with that one). Charles, who loves all animals, calls these big pups and is smitten. We wait and watch until all of the cattle have passed us and then continue on.

In the distance, something moves


Moving ahead – for all of 5 minutes. We get to our turn off and are waylaid by road construction once again. We’re behind schedule but we’re still on a cattle drive high. Charles leaves the Denali and walks up to our vehicle asking for tissues. Wow. He really was moved by those big pups.

Finally allowed to move again, we head into Gunnison where we make a quick pit stop and then continue on towards Monarch Pass. We get to see some of the amazing views today, but it still snowed.

Monarch Pass

We make another pit stop and visit a scenic overlook to see the grad vista that is the Collegiate Peaks. It’s amazing and we get a chance to stretch our legs. Alaina, Will and Charles have a debate on if the large red ants they have found are fire ants or just large red ants. We leave before they can test their theory.

Scenic overlook of the Collegiate Peaks

Back on the road, we make our way to Fairplay where we stop for lunch at a local coffee shop. The food is yummy and we’re happy to be out of the car for a while. Will needs sustenance and we make sure that we offer him our leftovers so he can grow big and strong. Our efforts are clearly working. After lunch we make a quick photo stop to showcase the true beauty of the region and these fabulous Young Artists.

YA at the scenic overlook

On the road again, we’re now headed towards Bailey, Conifer and into Denver. Here’s where the traffic gets absolutely nuts and I feel like I’m on the Indy 500 track. We pass the time by listening to Don Giovanni, but karaoke style. This is a thing when you have opera singers in a car.

Skirting Denver, we make one final pit stop to get gas. The moans and groans as we get out of the cars are vaguely reminiscent of the cows we heard earlier. Emily says she felt everything crack when she stood up. I’m really hoping that excludes her mental faculties… our Emily is a sharp one. An hour behind schedule, we make the final run into Estes Park.

The last hour of our drive is stunning. The mountains are incredibly green. As we get into town, there’s a feeling of relief. We made it. Total travel time – 8 hours and Alaina didn’t nap once. I pull up to a stop light and check my mirror to see how Charles and Will are doing. Judging by the gesturing I can see and the singing that I can assume is also happening, they seem content. We make our way to our hotel and get checked in. We have exactly 15 minutes before we head out to meet the amazing Steve Dilts. He’s the Young Artist liaison and does so much throughout the season to support them. We’re excited to spend some time with him.

cocktails at Steve's cabin

YAs with Steve at his cabin

We meet Steve as his cabin and enjoy some time outside, drinking in the view of Long’s Peak and a veritable treasure trove of wildlife. Charles is smitten again, this time with Elk. Soon, it’s time to head to dinner.

Our friends, the Elk

The evening is delightful and just what we needed after a very long day. This is the real last chance we’ll have to spend dedicated time with Steve before the season ends and that fact doesn’t go unnoticed by anyone in the group. Before we leave the restaurant, we all sign a dollar bill and Will, the strong lad that he is, staples it to the ceiling. No, it is not vandalism, its tradition. Then, to honor Steve and share what we do with an unwitting audience, the Young Artists sing the final chorus of the Libiamo. Everyone loved it and it was a fitting tribute to this man who has done so much to support us. Thank you Steve!

Will stapling the $1

We head back to the hotel, stopping to avoid Elk crossing the road. I go over tomorrow’s schedule, which is a doozy, and then we all head to our rooms. We’re performing a double bill of Hansel and Gretel for the elementary school students and rehearsing for Sunday’s Young Artist Farewell and then driving back to Denver. Everyone will need their rest tonight.

Whew – what a day. Hope the pictures do it justice. It was something you could only experience in Colorado.

Wishing you a good night readers,


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