Day trips Pt.1
For the first week and a half we alternated between going on day trips on the motorcycles and doing chores around the house and around town. It wasn’t quite the pace I wanted as I wanted to explore every day, but it was what needed to be done and to be honest, probably a good start in Colorado. The air’s a little thinner there and while I didn’t have a hard time breathing, pushing yourself too far could get you into trouble. Every ride we did go on throughout the week were to places between ~2,500 m and ~4,250 m above sea level, heck the first place we went was ~3,600 m.
Rocky Mountain National Park
On the first of our day trips we rode down Coal Creek Canyon Rd to US-119, then rode that into Nederland and stopped for a drink and lunch. From there we followed Peak to Peak Hwy to US-7 to Estes Park and visited Rocky Mountain National Park, for my third time in as many years. The first two years I’d visited the park in a car (as a passenger, I’m a terrible passenger) it was amazing but on a motorcycle, and in the perfect weather that we had it was unparalleled. I didn’t stop as frequently for photos as I had in the past, and perhaps should have to get some more shots of the bikes and the mountains, or myself and my friend, but alas I did not.
What I did get however is someone recognizing Horo. I was setting up Dollfie Horo at Forest Canyon Overlook and lots of people were looking and commenting and asking questions about what exactly I was doing with a doll on the top of a mountain, when in the background I hear “She’s from Spice and Wolf”. Immediately I turn and to a crowd of strangers ask aloud “Who said that? Who knew who she was?” As it would turn out it was a young boy holding a stuffed bear, I’m not sure how old he was but I might say somewhere around twelve years old? Immediately I say something like “Get over here, I need to get a photo of you with her” and he obliges happily. I was so happy someone recognized her I didn’t think how creepy any of this might seem, however his family were totally into it, they asked for a photo of him with Horo as well. In fact, it looked as though they’d all brought something to photograph in much the same manner I was doing with Horo. Unfortunately in all the commotion I didn’t think to ask his name or permission to use the photo online, so I can’t share it. But never the less it was definitely a highlight of my trip and needed to share the story.
That wasn’t the end however, also while I was up there another small boy this one perhaps 4-6 years old comes up and puts a little stuffed penguin next to Horo, so I snap a shot of the two of them. Next he asks me if he can pet her tail, I can’t help but have the biggest smile on my face at this point, so I quickly glance at his hands to make sure they don’t look sticky while simultaneously telling him if he’s very careful he can pet her tail. The little boy reaches up and scratches at her tail much like you might scratch a cats back and after a short time passes he grabs his little penguin and just before running back to his parents turns to ask me who’s doll it was. I tell the boy that the doll is mine but he doesn’t believe me, I insist that she is and he laughs and says to me “But you’re a boy!” as he runs back to his parents. My friend says to me “He has a point.” A little while later he returns, much to the annoyance of his family trying to pack up and head back to their car, and asks if he can pet her tail again. I tell him that he can, but his parents think that he’s bothering me and tell him he can’t touch the doll and not to touch other peoples things so he heads back and they head off to their car. Of course I didn’t mind, I thought it was the best thing ever how much attention Horo was getting.
Because of these two little events it really made me feel like I’d got Horo right (albeit not perfect), she was recognizable and her tail garnered lots of attention. That’s totally Horo. There are things I could have done better in this situation however, like let the first kid who actually recognized Horo hold her. It’s not that I didn’t, but I didn’t suggest it and I don’t think he or his family wanted to if they even thought of it either, because it probably would have seemed disruptive to me, and her being expensive also would have made it seem inappropriate to ask. But I think they would have enjoyed that photo more, and as I found out over the course of the trip she’s really quite durable, so I wouldn’t have really had to worry about her being damaged. Additionally, I should have got their contact info and told them at the very least I’d email them a copy of the photo I’d taken, as well as introduced myself. That seems much more appropriate, but having never been in that particular situation I didn’t think of these things. Live and learn! And, if they stumble across this blog and recognize the story and Horo, I hope they’ll contact me!
Continuing on the ride we followed US-34 through the park and out. I told my friend that this was the route I’d taken a couple years ago and that there was a fun section way up ahead. Well, there was a fun section way up a head, waaaay up ahead, way down US-40, and it wasn’t that fun this time because the temperature dropped in the mountains as we climbed and it started to rain. My bad… Though there were only two ways to get home, back through Estes and this way, and I don’t like to back track. So even still I’m happy we went that way, if only because it reminded me that I-70 is even a fun road, which I’d experience again later on my Big Trip.
Rocky Mountain National Park II (Actually IV)
Having been in Colorado a couple days now and having only done one ride I was a little anxious to get moving again, however my friend had more chores that needed to be done. So I decided that I’d go out on my own for another ride as I didn’t want to ‘waste’ too much time not seeing things as that’s what I’d gone to Colorado to do after all. But I also didn’t want to go places he hand’t been to yet either so I went back to Rocky Mountain National Park. This time however, I decided to do something I hadn’t done the previous three times I’d visited, that was to go up Old Falls River Road, which traversed the other side of the mountain and was the original road to the top. It was a one way dirt road that had lots of tight switchbacks and far less traffic than the main paved road.
Before getting there however, since I had no schedule nor had to worry about my friend and his cruiser, I decided to randomly take dirt roads on the way there and came across a U.S. Coast & Geodetic Survey Benchmark embedded in a stone. It seems to claim some number of feet above mean sea level, however no number on the disk appears to be correct, they’re both way too low. Still, it seemed a neat random thing to find on a side road a couple km outside of Nederland.
While stopped there I took a few photos of Horo and out of no where a humming bird flies up to her. This is the only shot I got of the bird unfortunately, but you don’t get second chances with these things so it’s neat to have gotten it at all. Even the birds like Horo.
The ride up the Old Falls River Road was beautiful. It felt a little more dangerous but at the same time it seemed more calming in the scenery it passed and the far fewer number of people on the route. The road seemed less like it had a destination and more like just a stroll through the woods, with a view. Unfortunately the good weather didn’t last and cloud cover started to head my way as the wind picked up. So I was forced to move quickly and once I got to the top it started to rain.
I was asked a couple times on this excursion about Horo, one person picking up the logos on my motorcycle and connecting the two asking about my fascination with this particular doll/model/character. Having already done doll meets in public, I didn’t much care about any stares I may have received, and I did receive some looks, but not the looks I expected. I’ll be honest, I thought people would either look with disgust or laugh, but most people looked amused or interested, and many spoke up but positively rather than negatively.
On the way back, still raining, I must have passed an air force base in around Denver and got some pretty close up shots of what I believe is an F-18. There were two flying in formation above me, I stopped to take some photos of the crappy weather I could see to the north of me and then one of the planes landed, and I caught the 2nd plane. Unfortunately I’d left my camera in poor settings for the conditions and everything turned out quite dark.