More Thrilling Than Cheap

Rocky Mountain National Park - Sprague Lake 2013
Rocky Mountain National Park – Sprague Lake 2013

We’ve been on vacay at Rocky Mountain National Park for almost a week.  After dropping #1 and cousins at the Denver airport, DH, #2 and I headed to Estes Park for a little R&R.  And hiking.  And climbing.  #2 led us on a terrific trail hike yesterday — about 3 miles there and back on a trail with lots of variety, and we were the only ones on it.  The walks around the lakes have been very nice with lots of wildlife.  A bargain for a week’s entry at just $20!  But beware the term “easy.”  The hike to Gem Lake is easy only if you’re a youthful billy-goat — do not attempt this as a “warm up” on Day One.  Ever.  Trust me.

We are in a cabin overhanging the Big Thompson River, just east of Estes.  It is….rustic.  DH found the place online, and while it wasn’t Cheap (is there such a thing in Colorado?), it was a pretty good bargain.  The river lulls us to sleep at night.  And we don’t need air conditioning.  There’s a passable kitchen, plumbing, TV (for rainy days like today), and solid walls.

We bought groceries and have not eaten out once, except for a couple of snacks and a funnel cake.  I’m glad I planned our meals; however, I wish I’d included more chocolate.  And we’ll be carting home little in the cooler.  We’ll be able to make more sandwiches for the ride home, too.  I did spend much, much more on groceries than I spend in a week of my regular shopping, though.  Still, I saved $15 with a Safeway card the cashier offered at checkout (thankyouverymuch).

My Forester has averaged about 26.5 mpg, which goes down when we’re behind slower vehicles (love the electronic mpg thing).  We got 27.4 mpg on the way here, and I’m guessing we’ll get more than that on the way back, since we’re not going across from Denver.  Gas is $3.33/gal here in Estes today, which is pretty good!

#2 found us some free entertainment:  glass blowing demonstration, walking downtown (meh, but free), and picnicking.  We also did the Cascade Creek mini golf and bumper boats, and used spare change for the arcade (about $3).  Before we leave, we’ll take the free Stanley Hotel tour ($5 for parking), and stop once again at Rocky Mountain Chocolates.  I’m still lobbying for a stop at “You Need Pie!” for a slice and coffee.

I got a few clothing items for this trip: Sportif nylon zip-off pants (thrifted .99),  Cabela’s fleece vest (thrifted .99), Liz Claiborne jeans that didn’t get worn (thrifted .99), and a pair of LLBean shorts (thrifted .99).  Best bargain by far was the zip-offs, followed by the vest.  I did not get a T-shirt on this trip, because the only one I really liked was too pricey for the quality — $25, really?!

On the way home, we’ll be stopping east of Cheynne, WY, to see the archaeological dig out there (free).  And who knows what else?  No matter what, this vacation has been worth every penny.  I asked #2 if he was having fun, and he didn’t even hesitate to say, “Oh, yeah!”

Besides, you can’t put a price on this kind of family fun.

On top of the world!
On top of the world!



2 thoughts on “More Thrilling Than Cheap

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