Twenty-four years ago DH and I discovered Rocky Mountain National Park, while taking a quick trip to investigate Colorado and family connections to the place (my father’s family came from Colorado). We fell in love with RMNP and have made several subsequent visits. Three trips were focused on RMNP; the remaining four trips were associated with other reasons to go visit Colorado (String Cheese Incident concerts, Worldcon). Oddly enough, we’ve never visited the park at the same time as previous visits.
This year was the earliest we’ve been in the summer (we found our way there in March 2011 and drove as far as we could). We were hoping to see some megafauna (elk! lots of elk! and maybe a moose and bighorn sheep or two). As we discovered, the big herds of elk cows and calves aren’t that high up early in the season, but for the first time, we actually spotted a bighorn sheep in the area bighorn sheep were supposed to be.
We did see some buck deer, a bull elk and some young cow elk. Obviously early July is not when you see herds of elk at the higher elevations.
Marmots on rocks, marmots on the road, marmots grazing in alpine fields, and this fellow, quite calmly and happily destroying the wood frames on the bathroom structures. Lots and lots of marmots. While we were out hiking, one marmot took quite vocal exception to our presence and squeaked at us while running and wringing her tail.
It only took about nine shots to get a pika picture that wasn’t part of a nose, ear, or butt. They move fast, those little critters.
Besides another visit to RMNP, our main purpose for this trip was to attend another three-night performance by String Cheese Incident. DH and I discovered this band a few years ago and we’ve liked their mix of rock, electronic music, and bluegrass. The venue at Red Rocks is also stunning. From the upper levels it’s possible to see Denver and suburbs, and on a good day you can see all the way to Denver International Airport. Well, this time wasn’t laden with good days. The Thursday night performance opened with one of my favorites, “Sometimes a River” and took off quite nicely from there until closing with another favorite, a sequence of “Desert Dawn.”
SCI is best classified as a jam band. One feature of this sort of rock is that instead of playing a song or two, stopping, then picking up more tunes, each set is an integrated mixture of songs with very rare speaking interludes. They’ll start one song, segue into one or two others, then return to the first song. The mix generally includes songs which either have similar topics or similar musical themes. Plus SCI has some very nice lighting stuff going on (especially at Red Rocks).
The first night was warm and dry. Not so the next two nights. Friday night, the show had barely gotten started (with a very nice Birdland mix) when the thunderstorms that had been flashing lightning all around the venue moved in, dumping massive amounts of rain and creating a small flash flood in the venue. We watched the amazing light show (don’t get storms like that here in Oregon, even in the mountains and the high desert). But when the lightning started striking in the canyon behind the stage, a weather hold got declared and we were told to take cover.
Um, yeah. 9000-some people present. You can imagine the challenge. Nonetheless, it’s Colorado and we figured they knew the weather, so when we were directed to take cover, we got down off of the high seats and started toward the car. About halfway down the 193 steps to the exit, we realized that–uh, maybe not. Water poured down the steps, three to four inches deep in places. Most people kept their cool but there were some folks getting panicky about the water. We looked at the narrowing corridor down the steps and decided we were low enough in the arena that risking lightning was a bit safer than risking getting trampled in a panic flight.
So we held at a lower level. Eventually, the rain went away. The crew cleared the water off of the stage, and the second set started. Another lovely night, including me dancing with a bunch of folks to “Bumpin Reel” on a lower landing. Lightning still flashed in the distance, with long strokes of ground to cloud and cloud to cloud types. If I’d had my camera I’d have gotten some good shots…but I had decided not to risk the camera in the rain.
The third night was wet but the rain was more of a Western Oregon type of slow, steady, mist rather than flash flood downpour. More dancing, more friendly people. One young woman commented to us that she hoped she could still keep going on like us when she got to be our age.
Which leads to another element of SCI concerts–all ages are well-represented, from babies to grayhairs. The younger adults openly appear to enjoy having us middle-aged (and older) folks sharing the music. And DH and I apparently appear to project a lot of happy couple vibes that the younger set pick up on. SCI crowds are for the most part pretty social and friendly, even more so than at Dead or Furthur concerts. It’s not just the music but the overall positive feel of the crowd that works for us.
I also got quite a bit of writing in, with the exception of the travel day yesterday. Overindulgence in caffeine, alcohol and rich food did my gut in and I felt wretched. OTOH, not too bad a way to spend a travel day. Southwest did its usual fine travel management (I’ve rarely had a bad experience with them) and we got home with little fanfare.
And now, another short week before more adventures. July is the adventure month this year. Fun times ahead.