Elk in the Field, Book in the Freezer
(Originally posted February 11, 2013)
October has always been a big month for me, mostly because my birthday is at the end of it. I was excited for October to come to Colorado, but also found myself getting increasingly nervous. I think Tracy and I both started feeling like it was time for another big change to start rolling around. We loved staying at her parents’ house, but eventually you start to miss having a place of your own and feeling independent. I think we knew October would be our last full month in CO even if we didn’t have the car registration deadline looming over us. We were starting to get anxious for the rest of the adventure.
Of course, that didn’t mean we weren’t going to live up another month of relatively carefree life here in CO. We started off the month going for a day-trip up to one of our favorite places in the world, let alone the state.
The little town of Estes Park has always had a special place in Tracy and my relationship. It’s one of the first places we ever went together, and we’ve celebrated a lot of milestones there since then. About an hour northwest of Boulder, it’s a beautiful drive through the mountains to get up there, and it’s a wonderfully quaint town to walk around and explore.
The end of September/beginning of October is one of the best times to head up to the mountains in Colorado in general, but specifically to head to Estes because it’s elk-bugling season. What? You say you’ve never heard of elk-bugling season? Well, what happens is this: when it’s mating season for the elk, the herds will all flood into the town. Usually it’s rare to see elk in Estes Park itself, and you have to go to the neighboring Rocky Mountain National Park to see them, but during this month or so each year, they’re all over the golf courses, playgrounds, soccer fields, etc. There’s usually one bull elk and his harem of females.
He will chase all these females around despite the fact that they are almost always entirely disinterested.
Then the action will pick up for a while when another male will come along and a fight will ensue.
Both during these fights and when trying to attract the females, the male elk will make a “bugling” noise, which is high-pitched and anything but masculine, though very cool to hear up close. One of the males will win out, and chase the other one away into the next field.
Then the winning male will go back to looking tough, but generally being unable to attract the attention of any of the females who usually look like they hate him.
And the losing male will sit around and sulk.
Somewhere in the midst of all of that, the elk mating does actually take place as proven by the new elk born each year, but we luckily rarely had to witness that part.
Here we are with the loser of the day.
After our run-in with the elk for this afternoon, we decided to drive up a little further to the Stanley Hotel. In case you haven’t noticed, Colorado has a lot of these historic hotels, and they all have a lot in common: most people just go to visit for the afternoon but don’t actually stay there, they’re all extremely stately, and they’re all supposed to be very haunted.
The Stanley actually provided Stephen King with the inspiration for the hotel in The Shining. Apparently, he got most of his ideas for the framework of the novel while he and his wife were staying there and enjoying the slightly-creepy ambience. Tracy and I just like to go up there occasionally to enjoy the well-manicured grounds and the beautiful views.
Behind the hotel is a great statue garden.
And inside, the lobby is kept looking relatively historic.
We moved outside and just enjoyed sitting in these rocking chairs for a few minutes, admiring the columns around us and the mountains in front of us.
When we were done exploring, we left The Stanley. After all, as Joey Tribbiani points out, “All blank and no blank make blank a blank blank.” We drove down to the main part of town and parked.
We started walking and quickly had to pass through this tunnel. If ever I expect to get attacked by a dementor in life, it is in this tunnel. It looks EXACTLY like the one they filmed in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
Anyway, we came out the other end, and we rewarded our hard work saving our souls by heading in the direction of our favorite Estes Park establishment for a delicious afternoon beverage.