Sunday, July 11, 2010

Uraling with my family in the Rocky Mountain National Park

My loving wife, two sons and I met up in Estes Park this past Friday, they'd ridden up during the afternoon and I after work.  We were staying at the Tyrol Inn in Estes Park and we were going to explore The Rocky Mountain National Park's roads.    

Saturday, after a hearty breakfast, I had Miles, my #2 son or as my wife calls him: "Thing Two" rode off in the sidecar with me and we made our way to the Fall River Entrance to the Rocky Mountain National Park, from this point forward to be referred to as RMNP.

My loving wife and Patrick, #1 son or Thing One, rode the family minivan along the Trail Ridge Road since it was rumored "better" for cautious drivers.  Ironically, it would turn out rougher (due to construction) than the "oh don't take a motorcycle there" Fall River Road!

Here's a couple of shots by Martha as they rode along Trail Ridge Road:

Marthacam: You can see the valley portion of the RMNP far below

Marthacam: One of the many mountain peak ranges visible from Trail Ridge Road


The weather was partly cloudy and warm down near Estes Park, it would steadily become more overcast and colder as the day wore on but still not bad at all.  I think the lowest temperatures we experienced were in the high 40s, low 50s at the highest point on Trail Ridge Road at the Alpine Visitor Center.

The ranger at the gate to the park shook her head and clucked.  Apparently she wanted to make sure that I understood that park personnel "did not recommend taking a motorcycle up Fall River Road".  I assured her that my Ural Sidecar rig could handle it and off we went.

The road turned out to be quite tame in comparison to other roads where I've taken motorcycles.   It was nice packed dirt and not very rough terrain at all.  The "many switchbacks" that park literature warned about were not bad at all, easy to negotiate whether on two or three wheels!  Yes, its narrow in parts but since they've made it a one way road, no worries about oncoming traffic coming down the road!

A sidecar rig's passenger's nickname is "the monkey".  I can tell you that was quite the fitting nickname for Miles.  He kept hitting me on the right leg asking me to climb the rock formations we rode by.  Finally, my leg hurt enough that I stopped and let him climb up this retaining wall to the next level of the trail.

I'll admit it made me a bit nervous seeing Miles climb higher and higher but he did fine.

As you can see, nice level hard packed dirt road, very nice for the Ural

Our own look at the valley below where we'd started.  
That mountain to the right shields us from view by folks on Trail Ridge Road.

Our closest encounter with the park's wildlife:  
A yellow-bellied Marmot.  
This one was no coward though, he'd been eating something on the road and did not retreat as I came to a stop next to him.  I turned the engine off after about a minute and then he scooted up into nearby rocks to keep watching us.

The requisite shot, by Miles, of the Pass sign we saw as we rode along Fall River Road

Here's Miles posing with Natasha as we neared the bowl shaped depression next to the Alpine Visitor's Center on Trail Ridge road, which lies on the other side of the mountain.

Miles takes my picture, he's pretty good eh?

Climbing away from "the bowl"

Did I mention he likes to climb on top of rocks?

One last shot of "the bowl" from the rocky outcropping where Miles climbed the rock above

As you can see, not much snow remains on Fall River Road. 
Plenty of folks before us though, leaving their mark.

Last look back at the Fall River Road, just before we got to the Alpine Visitor Center.

We met up with my loving wife and #1 son Patrick at the Alpine Visitor center. After a brief break, I swapped monkeys and now had Patrick as my sidecar companion.  We rode on US34 towards Grand Lake for lunch, my wife ahead of us most of the way.

 Marthacam: One of the views from the Alpine Visitor Center

Marthacam:  Patrick and I leaving the Alpine Visitor Center

 Patrick at Milner Pass

 Patrick must have not slept well in the hotel the night before because he fell asleep about halfway down to Grand lake!  He woke though when I stopped after having spotted a crowd of vehicles parked on the shoulder of the road, the family minivan included.  Turns out everyone was gazing at this moose:

Marthacam: This moose is probably wondering why all the people are gawking at him

After a nice lunch in Grand Lake, and some easygoing walks along the lake and shops of the town, we headed back towards the RMNP.  Miles was again my monkey and we rode up towards the Alpine Visitor Center where we'd arranged to meet back up with my wife, Patrick and the minivan.

Marthacam: Fooling around at the RMNP's sign near Grand Lake

The first glimpse of the RMNP's mountains from the Grand Lake Entrance to the park

Miles and Natasha with some of the peaks visible to you when riding up from Grand Lake

At the Alpine Visitor center, I swapped monkeys once again and rode eastward towards Estes Park with Patrick in the sidecar rig.  The weather had turned cooler but we were both well bundled up against the windy conditions.

Marthacam: Patrick gets his "rider briefing" from me at the Alpine Visitor Center

Marthacam: Ready to ride....

More peaks for viewing from Trail Ridge Road

I liked the way the rain clouds crowned this mountain range

Some of the magnificent mountains visible from Trail Ridge Road

Hmmm, that looks like rain coming our way

One last shot of the incoming front's clouds

We met up with my wife and Miles at the Falls River Visitor Center where she took both boys with her to do a little shopping in downtown Estes Park.  It had rained lightly on both Patrick and I as we made our way slowly back to Estes Park through the RMNP.  Of course, Patrick wouldn't know since he once again went to sleep on me in the sidecar!  Must be something soothing in the way Natasha's motor sounds and how the sidecar felt as we rode along.

That's my son, fast asleep, never even noticed it rained on us on the way down

Marthacam: A well rested Patrick

I went back to the motel, checked the oil on Natasha worked on this posting.  A pretty good day's worth of riding with my favorite two monkeys taking turns riding in the hack.

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