A Week Off in Fort Collins, Colorado

by jdroth on 08 June 2015 · 1 comment

At the start of our year-long road trip, Kim and I saw a lot of family and friends. We visited with people we knew throughout California and Arizona. But for the past few weeks — since leaving Tucson — we’ve been winging it on our own. We love the freedom, no doubt, but it’s also nice to reconnect with folks now and then.

Thus we were happy when our rambling route landed us in Fort Collins, Colorado, where Kim’s mother and stepfather live. Judi and John opened their home to us for eight nights, for which we were very grateful. More than that, they cooked delicious dinners, made fudge for us, and took us hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park.

First photo with the selfie stick
Goofing around with Kim’s mom and our new selfie stick…

To reach Fort Collins, we had to drive several hours from southwest Colorado. Part of our path included a magnificent stretch of interstate (I can’t believe I just wrote those words) running east from Glenwood Springs. The Colorado River cuts through a narrow canyon there, which means there’s not enough room for a traditional freeway format. Instead, engineers have devised a multi-level highway that blends beautifully with the surrounding terrain. We tried to capture this section of our trip on video, but for some reason the GoPro decided not to record. Alas, we have only memories.

But here’s a video from somebody else…

From Glenwood Springs, we climbed east into the Rockies, then made the long descent to Denver and its surrounding communities. On the eastern slope of the mountains, the terrain finally turned from the rocky, desert-oriented features we’d seen for the past month to rolling grasslands. And as we approached Fort Collins, the rolling decreased (along with the trees).

Kim and I felt at home in Fort Collins, and not just because of Judi and John’s hospitality. Sure, we had a bedroom to ourselves for eight nights, but we also appreciated the city and culture we found. It felt very much like Portland. For instance, we spent one day bicycling the extensive network of trails around the city.

Biking through Fort Collins
Biking through Fort Collins

“This is amazing,” I said. “In fact, I think these bike paths are even better than the ones back home.”

We cycled along the Spring Creek Trail to the Poudre River, then made our way back into downtown, where we stopped for happy hour at The Whisk(e)y.

The Whisk(e)y in Fort Collins
The Whisk(e)y has a vast whisky library and great vibe but is far too expensive.

One morning, John drove us up into the mountains, through Estes Park and into Rocky Mountain National Park (our thirteenth national park of this trip). We hiked a short, easy trail. We drove to scenic views. We stopped at the Continental Divide.

John and Kim, hiking through the forest
John and Kim, hiking through the Rockies…

Atop Rocky Mountain National Park
Atop Rocky Mountain National Park

While in Fort Collins, we also took time to visit friends in Longmont, an hour south. There we spent a couple of evenings with Mr. Money Mustache and the entire Mustache family. We also connected with colleagues Derek and Carrie, two other financial bloggers who are making a cross-country RV trip. We compared notes about our experiences, sharing bits of wisdom we’ve picked up along the way. (Derek and Carrie told us about Boondockers Welcome, for example, a site that connects RVers with folks willing to host them for free.)

Financial friends in Longmont
Financial friends in Longmont: Derek and Carrie and the Mustache family.

As much as we enjoyed our time in Colorado, after a week we knew it was time to go. When we pause too long, both Kim and I get restless. We like being on the road. We enjoy visiting new places and meeting new people. We’ve become accustomed to the constant change and the rhythm of travel!

Bright and early one Sunday morning in June, we waved good-bye to our friends and family. We drove north to new experiences in Wyoming…

Note: To enrich our experience in the places we visit, we’ve been reading books and watching shows about each region. For instance, I’m reading James Michener’s Centennial, which is about the history of the Fort Collins area. It’s fascinating, and the things I learned from the book helped add context to the things we saw and did around town.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 PawPrint 18 June 2015 at 15:37

Thanks for post about Fort Collins. We lived there four years in the early 90s and really enjoyed going to the park often. One of our favorite things to do in the fall was get off work, grab a sandwich and drive up the canyon to the park where we’d park by the side of the road and watch the elk. The males would be bugling and sometimes fighting each other–nature at its most fundamental. We spent many a weekend hiking in the park.

Old Town FC was always fun to visit. Hopefully the Stone Lion Bookstore and Coopersmith’s are still around. We’re planning a nostalgia tour for next spring. The extensive bike paths you mention didn’t really exist when we lived there so that will be fun to explore.


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