Colorado Trip #3

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

The view from the top most overlook (Rainbow Curve parking and viewing area) before you start to head further over the divide.

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.

Horo looking cute sitting on the wall at Forest Canyon Overlook in Rocky Mountain National Park. Couple of loose strands of hair in the breeze, oops!

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.

A little boy placed his stuffed penguin next to Horo while I was shooting. Later he asked if he could pet her tail.

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.

A bird seen off the side of one of the overlooks at Rocky Mountain National Park.

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!

A zoomed in view of an area in a photo above, looking down at where I'd seen a lot of deer the first year I visited.

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)

Looking southwest off CO-103 just north of Nederland, CO.

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.

A Geodedic Survey Marker found just north of Nederland, CO. Located at an elevation of 2,661 m on CO-103 position N 40° 00.150 W 105° 30.267. More information: Perhaps the only time I'll have Horo's exact GPS coordinates Horo sits next to the Geodetic Marker. Lots of waving and the wind has picked up a bit as well. Horo's still next to the Geodetic Marker.

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.

Not only did I get the exact location thanks to the Geodetic Marker, but a humming bird flew up to say hello to Horo.

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.

Taken facing north east at 40°3'12" N 105°31'12" W on Peak to Peak Hwy. Along US-7 facing north west at 40°11'50" N 105°31'45" W.

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.

Heading up Old Fall River Rd in Rocky Mountain National Park. Taken facing west at 40°25'10" N 105°40'53" W. From this perspective you can see three levels of switchbacks along Old Fall River Rd in Rocky Mountain National Park. Horo's trying to hold her ear to stop the wind from annoyingly fluffing it out. Taken facing east, the direction we came from along Old Fall River Rd in Rocky Mountain National park.

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.

Nearing the top of Old Fall River Rd in Rocky Mountain National Park, the weather starts to take a turn for the worst. Taken at 40°26'26" N 105°44'40" W and an elevation of 3,474 m, facing south west in the direction of Trail Ridge Rd. Wider angle from the same place as above, showing more of the weather. If you look carefully you'll also see another motorcyclist. Taken facing west.

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.

Caught an F-18 landing on my way home from Rocky Mountain National Park somewhere outside Denver.


  1. Tian says:

    Wow, this was an epic post indeed. You’ve inspired me to plan another road trip! It’s unfortunate that I missed you just as I was gearing up for NDK. That was a good time, and somehow I completely missed all the flooding. Anyway, great photos as usual. You’ve really gotten a knack for sweet landscapes and outdoors photography. Hope to see more!

    • Aka says:

      Yeah, it’s too bad it didn’t work out, but I’m sure I’ll be there again next year or something. Too many things I’d like to ride still.

      Landscape photography is so much easier than people photography lol. You can just keep shooting until it works out, people you have to catch just right or ask them to pose etc… I feel the same way with dolls as well, have to really think out the pose, which I didn’t do too well on the trip. I think I got better as time went on but maybe next time I’ll be good.

      Missing out on the flooding isn’t a bad thing, especially if when you returned your place of residence was fine too.

  2. Smithy says:

    Looks like you had quite the adventurous trip!

    Gorgeous photos of that stunning scenery and some lovely shots of Horo too. Impressive!

    • Aka says:

      It really was quite an adventure. I still think it’s crazy how much ground I covered though on my “Big Trip” part, it was just destination after destination after destination. Was really hard to piece it all together after the fact, the only way I managed was I’d saved the GPS tracks so I could track back each day and break them apart.

      Hopefully next time I go, I’m a little bit more competent with my posing and can make Horo look a little bit more into the trip than sitting all the time. Still, I like the photos, it adds something over just plain landscapes I think.

  3. Rajura says:

    Great pics man!

    Looks like you had you had a great trip!

    I loved the Horo shots… I was kind of scared for her in a couple of them, but I know you made sure she was safe before you left to take them.

    Also, regarding your experience with the kid, I am glad to see there are other males out there that like her fluffy tail almost as much as me.

    Pros of your shots: It’s Horo, shots from behind… loved seeing her tail in all its glory and that she was unabashedly showing it off, new outfits for Horo.

    Cons: Human ears visible at times (that’s the only con… doing pretty good there)

    Oh, and those images are coming your way soon.

    • Aka says:

      Was a great trip indeed! I miss the state already.

      I did try and take as much care as I could with all the placements, but once I walk away there’s no telling what could happen. Would one of her joints give way, would the wind pickup, I am on mountains after all where weather changes rapidly. So many uncontrollable variables, I just had to give way and try anyway.

      As per your con, I’ve actually become to accustomed to the ears being there, that I don’t notice at all or even try to hide them ever. It’s just not something I care about so much at this point. Perhaps in making her ‘perfect’ in the end, but right now I care more about getting her tail attached properly and perhaps better matched to her hair, and shrinking her ears and putting magnets in them so that they’re easier to deal with on the road. The human ears really are the last thing on the list since it’s such a destructive mod.

      Interestingly, the people who seem most disapproving of Horo (and Dollfies in general) are anime fans and figure collectors. They seem to feel the doll is too much of the uncanny valley or RealDoll vibe. Which strikes me as really odd, since every doll meet I attend, and every outing I’ve been on, average people seem so interested and complimentary.

      • Rajura says:

        Wow, that is weird… my philosophy… the more real Horo looks… the better!

        I would that “average people” liked her more than a niche group.

        Keep up the good work!

        • Aka says:

          The more real the better, yes. But in terms of what’s more important to me right now, the human ears are like the bottom of the list. Her tail and animal ears bother me more that they’re not right. The human ears require destructive modification that can’t be undone.

          Think you missed a word in that second line, not sure what exactly you meant. Could go many ways if I try and read into it.

          • Rajura says:

            Sorry tried to go a little long more older style on that comment… read it as “If I had my way, more average people would be interested in her.”

            Also, the “weird” part I mentioned pertained to your comment about people who were seemed more likely to not like the current approach to Horo. Keep up the good work; fix those wolf ears and that tail to your standards.

          • Aka says:

            Ah I see. I’m alright with anime being a niche thing. I don’t think it’d be as fun if everyone knew.

            As for the weird, I think there’s just some stigma about dolls, and they don’t want to be caught liking one.

      • CptNerd says:

        Beautiful job, the few times I’ve been to CO the scenery was fantastic (I was there during the flooding, my great-nephew was supposed to get married that weekend in Estes Park). As for your Horo doll, you have to understand that every person has their own “uncanny valley”: for example, I have no problem with the CGI “Appleseed” movies, but my friend can’t watch more than a few seconds of them, because they fall into his discomfort zone. Your version of Horo is okay by me, but there are some aspects that are just on the edge for me. I have to say there are quite a few dollfies that I’ve seen that I can’t see, they’re just too far “into the valley” for me. But then I was always creeped out by the “sad kids on black velvet” paintings…

        • Aka says:

          I find they’re far less creepy in person. That added dimension I guess really helps. And once I’d seen them in person, I found most of the photos to be less creepy than they were beforehand. I think it’s the unfamiliarity perhaps.

          I suspect I’ll be making a habit of visiting Colorado… I just hope there isn’t a disaster every time. There were the fires, and then the floods… what next?

          Anyhoo, glad my Horo is ok by you! 😀

  4. Otakusan says:

    Have been seeing all your instagram pictures ^^ looked like you had a lot of fun this trip ^^

    • Aka says:

      Started taking the shots with my phone just to get the GPS coordinates of each location. Ended up posting them on Instagram because I couldn’t wait to share haha.

  5. B-Sabre says:

    The air base is Buckley AFB ( and is home to the 460th Space Wing (Air Force Space Command). There’s also Colorado National Guard and Air National Guard units based there.