Epic Roadtrip 2018 – Part 3

The drive from Colorado National Monument to Rocky Mountain National Park was adventurous, to say the least. As we were driving through the mountains on a 2-lane highway at I-4 speeds, the Jucy campervan started to shake every time I pressed the brakes. It got worse and worse until finally I pulled over and called the Jucy Support number. Jucy was friendly, and they scheduled us for an appointment the next morning at a mechanic near our destination, Aspenglen Campground, located just inside the Fall River entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park. The van did fine on flat roads, and we took it slow coming down steep inclines until we finally made it to the campground. 

Estes Park is a beautiful little town, and the campground was just a few miles outside of town. The area was teeming with wildlife, it was absolutely amazing!

Elk!
Again, apologies for the buggy window. 😉 

Upon arrival we were given a briefing about how important it is to put all food, drinks, toothpaste, etc. into the bear boxes at night because the bears have broken into cars to get something that smells tasty. This lecture was accompanied by a photo of a minivan almost identical to ours (but without the rooftop tent) with the windows smashed out from a bear. YIKES! Jacob and I debated whether or not to empty our built-in fridge, but ultimately we decided it was probably very well insulated and smell-proof!, so we left the food in the fridge – and it was fine. 

The campsite was gorgeous, as was the whole campground. Plenty of space between sites, and everywhere we turn it looked like a picture from a postcard. 

Our campsite
A few steps away from our campsite; we loved the constant sound of the water.
There was SO much wildlife here!

Once we got settled in, Chef Jacob cooked a delicious chili dog and Frito dinner for us. 🙂 Not the healthiest meal, but it sure was tasty as the sun was going down and temperatures were dropping.

That night we slept in the rooftop tent and enjoyed the sound of the rushing water from the nearby stream. 

The next day we woke up early to get to our 8:00 appointment at Big O Tires in town. Leaving the campsite takes a little bit of preparation because we have to move all our items out of the rooftop tent and collapse it down in order to drive the vehicle. We got better and faster as the trip went on, but it always took a bit of time.

Once we dropped the Jucy off at Big O Tires, we took an Uber into town and had breakfast at a place called The Egg and I. The service was friendly and food was delicious – we’ll definitely stop in again next time we’re in Estes Park. 

After filling our bellies we walked over to the local library where Jacob quickly found the computers and got his gaming fix . This was an awesome little library – so nicely done. There was also a “quiet room” full of comfy chairs of all shapes and sizes – some with a table or desk, others without. Cell phones must be silenced. There were about 10 people in there but it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop.

We got our first update from Big O pretty early in the day. Turns out I destroyed the brakes and rotors coming down the mountains. I haven’t owned many automatic transmission cars in my life, and I’ve never lived in the mountains, so I didn’t realize you’re supposed to downshift and use engine braking when coming down a steep incline! OOPS!! Big O was great and said they would do everything they could to get the brakes installed before close of business. This was of course extremely nice of them because we didn’t have an appointment and this was the only brake/tire place in town, so they had plenty of customers lined up.

While we waited we just walked around Estes Park vising the little shops and restaurants, and a Jacob bought a deck of Uno cards to help pass the time.

It took several precious hours for Jucy to authorize the repair, but this was important because they were paying the bill. Once the repair was authorized, Big O ordered the brakes and rotors to be delivered same-day. The brake pads arrived in about an hour, but they were the wrong size so had to be re-ordered. The second order was the wrong size too, so the parts store made a 3rd trip to Big O and this time they brought all possible sizes for this make/model/year of vehicle – finally, they got the correct size. Needless to say, we didn’t get our car back until 5 minutes before they closed. But Big O was great, they kept me informed every step of the way and all the delays were completely outside of their control. They even sent me a HAND WRITTEN thank you card which I received in the mail after I returned home!

Best. Tire store. Ever. 

Next time I need brakes or tires I might just drive to Estes Park, Colorado to get their excellent service again! 🙂 Thank you, Big O Tires!

Once we got the car back we headed straight back to the National Park lands and looked for a trail to hike, but we only had a couple hours before sunset so it needed to be a short one. 

We ended up doing Bear Lake Loop, which was a little less than a mile long. On the way there was passed lots of signs that warned us of icy roads, so we opted to take the free shuttle bus up to Bear Lake. It was a nice ride, but very curvy and snowy so I’m glad I wasn’t driving. 

This was our fist exposure to snow so far on the trip, and Jacob was SOOOOOOO happy. Honestly, I think the snow was Jacob’s favorite part about the whole trip! We could have been anywhere. Parks, schmarks, he just wants snow. 🙂 Crazy kid.

Once we finished our hike little hike, we headed back to our campsite for our last night at Rocky Mountain National Park.

Next stop, Yellowstone!

 

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