Sunday, August 20, 2017
In the mid-1800s, fortune-seekers flooded Colorado for gold, homesteading, and the promise of a new life with their families in the Rocky Mountains. Fast-forward 137 years and Colorado has received a new influx of people also seeking a kind of fortune, but this time they’re panning for a career and hoping to break even on student loans rather than panning for gold. One thing the new Coloradans in Denver, myself included, may have in common with those who came before is a thirst for adventure and one ear listening for the call of the mountains.
Located in Park County, Colorado, Eleven Mile State Park is approximately a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Denver. Mostly on the recommendation of friends, but also because traffic would not have been great on I-25, we decided to take US-285 for a scenic trip through the mountains. After making it out of the city, we entered the majestic Rocky Mountains and were greeted with the wide-open space of grassland flats and the many cows and horses that make their home there. The highway took us through South Park, which is the area that the TV show by the same name is based on. We couldn’t stop admiring the scenery--even the storms in the distance added something mystic and appealing to the atmosphere.
We eventually reached a point in the road where we decided to pull over and take a minute to admire the vast beauty around us. I jumped out of the car with my camera in hand and started taking in our new Colorado surroundings. I took deep breaths of the clean mountain air and declared that I already never wanted to leave. Suddenly Brian informed me that Kiki had stepped in something. I reacted as though an alien had oozed from the ground to eat her foot. Thankfully, there were no real aliens. Unfortunately, Kiki had wandered into a puddle of tar just behind the car. Luckily, it wasn’t hot, but it was still incredibly sticky. We did our best to wipe it off and cut it out of her fur. It didn’t seem to be hurting her, so we decided to go on our way after our not-so-restful rest stop.
The drive to the campground continued to be beautiful, and stormy in the distance. We knew that rain was in the forecast, but it was looking like we would make it in time to set up camp before the rain came down. The campground’s office was easy to find. We registered our vehicle, bought some wood, and were quickly on our way to start our weekend getaway.