Ready to Leave Colorado!?!

Finally weather I imagined for Colorado, a nice cool morning breeze, yet short-lived as daytime temperatures will quickly climb! I fell back on my sleeping bag in my tent and thought how fortunate I have been to visit my mom and friend, plus others, and to enjoy traveling across the beautiful country I call home. The pandemic did and continues to be of major concern; however, my only wish now is to be home in two days, hug my partner, eat a salad and home-cooked meal, have a glass of wine and sleep in my own bed!

The campsite I was at these last few days has been the best; Fort Collins Lakeside Resort KOA. It is more expensive than other KOA’s with all the amenities; if you have children this is the KOA for you. I loved it, especially because the few tent sites here are all with a lakeside view! They have family restrooms each with toilet, sink and shower behind one door … very convenient.

I was not leaving early this morning to bike ride or birdwatch so I had time to talk with a young woman who is moving from Omaha, NE to Oregon. She hopes to find a teaching job some place in that state. I am sure she will. She told me of a project she is doing. She gutted a tent trailer so she can build a teardrop trailer. Interesting! I have memories of a tent trailer my family used when we traveled from New York State to the Canadian provinces north of the state. That style trailer is nice until the rain leaves them sopping wet and you’re hoping for hot days to dry it out.

Another couple are camping from Arkansas to Colorado to Washington State to see family. This is the first time they are camping and this morning they were muttering about taking time to look at motorhomes. They have been camping each night at a different location and that is tough. To assemble a tent and break all down the next morning does get tiresome. I have been fortunate to be in a place for a few nights every so often and it helps!

I checked out various places today:

Watson Lake: I bike rode here the other day, but on this visit I spent more time walking a good portion of the perimeter of the lake and discovered a trail along the Cache la Poudre River. I saw some birds, enjoyed this beautiful location, and had a nice conversation with locals who gave me the best recommendation for dinner tonight! Birds and scenes of Watson Lake:

Next stop was where I had dropped the pin on my Google map. There are so many places to see that I thought this was one way to narrow them down. So by chance, I visited Bingham Hill Park. A tiny park with plenty of history, overlooking a beautiful valley appropriately named Pleasant Valley. Off in the distance beyond Bellvue I could just see Watson Lake!

Next stop: Horsetooth Reservoir. The reservoir is huge with people in their boats enjoying all the water! I truly do believe I have been here before, from a bicycling trip I had done years ago! The terrain seems so familiar. This was the perfect place for me to cook lunch: my black bean, cheese and tomato tacos as I overlooked the reservoir. I also realized if the dam for this reservoir ever was breached it would flood Pleasant Valley. On the other side of the road one overlooks Colorado State University – the Foothills Campus.

Last stop: Fossil Creek City Park, also known as Poudre reservoir #17. There is no doubt the city of Fort Collins does much work on land restoration and flood control. I walked the area, saw some birds and a new bird for my life list: western grebe. My last day of leisurely travel before I drive for 2 days to get home and I see a new bird, wow!

My treat, a hotel stay and dinner out for tonight! The young couple at Watson Lake recommended “Little”. I thought they would be open when I arrived yet I was 45 minutes early plus had no reservation. The staff were great. They let me sit at an outside table where I could buy a beer, write in my journal and catch up on emails. I ordered medium rare lamb t-bone with salad and potatoes, and a French rosé. For dessert, cherries with meringue … definitely something I never had before, delicious! This restaurant opened 3 months before the pandemic, do share tips with all their staff, and are doing well. Be sure to book a reservation! I asked where they get their mussels, listed on the menu. Apparently a woman in Maine only sends them to this restaurant and French Laundry in CA.

My travel is soon to end. I truly enjoyed the beautiful Fort Collins area. Of course I had more than enough time to travel to all corners of the outlying areas of the city and neighboring towns. I probably spent less than 10 minutes in the historic downtown. Years ago I remember it being quaint; not the case now as tourists flood the downtown. (Another reason I liked “Little” as it was not in downtown.) 

I think the city planning is interesting. There are many natural areas and ponds with some only accessible by people who live around the area. This is nice for those people. Many other natural areas are open to the public. Since the 2013 flood when the Poudre and Big Thomson Rivers inundated many areas around Fort Collins and made it difficult for people to get to the city, projects have been put in place to hopefully manage large amounts of water. I also heard about people who built their home west of Horsetooth Reservoir only to discover there are mountain lions and other wildlife in the area! (Seriously, did they know where they were building!) They felt uncomfortable in that environment with a dog and young children so they moved. Thankfully wildlife is still here and in Rocky Mountain National Park! We need to protect their lands too.

My final post for this travel adventure is in 2 days! And to close with photos from my meal at “Little” in Fort Collins!