the Paladinos


Wednesday, October 21, 2015 by Leslie Paladino

We just got back from our October break vacation to Colorado.  It was our first time there and we loved it.  Such a beautiful state!  Or at least it is once you get to the mountains.  The area close to Kansas, not so much.  Sorry Kanorado folks! 

Much like last year I waited till the last minute to plan this trip.  Like the Tuesday before we left last minute.  For some reason I have an aversion to vacation planning.  We started out in Grand Lake which is a sleepy little picturesque mountain town.  We soon discovered that fall is not really the season for Colorado, specifically Grand Lake.  Summer and Winter are their seasons and they kind of shut down in the fall.  But we wanted a relaxing trip away from everything so that suited us just fine!

We rented a small cabin/house with a view over Grand Lake.  During the day we hiked and explored the Rocky Mountain National Park or hung out in town.  At night we would drive around looking for elk which Michael and I never got tired of.  The kids got a little bored with it though.  And yes, I know that we have elk available about 2 hours from here but it’s way more interesting in Colorado for some reason.

After 3 days there we drove across the mountains to Estes Park.  Like literally across the top of the Rocky Mountains.  I could barely stand to look out the window sometimes we were so high.  Estes Park was a welcome sight after crossing the “frozen tundra.”  Yikes!  It was much more populated than Grand Lake and more tourist oriented I would say.  Elk were everywhere!  We saw a huge bull right outside someone’s condo.  All over the golf course.  Everywhere!  As we were watching them on the golf course we met an interesting character.  Gary August, who is a famous “artist to the stars” and Johnny Depp’s uncle.  He had all kinds of interesting stories about his life.  In addition to being an artist he helped design sets for Pirates of the Caribbean, was on a PBS show for years about people with disabilities because he had polio, and was an orphan in China.  Very nice and very interesting guy!

From there we went to Colorado Springs.  We visited the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and Garden of the Gods.  The kids loved the zoo which was very interactive and let you feed and pet giraffes, as well as birds and lizards.  Garden of the Gods was beautiful!  Who knew huge orange rock formations could be so interesting.  Winking smile  

Grand Lake
Our fox friend who welcomed us to the cabin and came to say goodbye the last day. 

My favorite place and one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen.  It was just a quick walk from one of the local waterfalls.  You walked out of the trees to this amazing landscape. 
Darn camera focused on the mountains instead of us (but I guess who can blame it). 

Buddy the Elk.  He was the first elk that we saw and we had been driving around for a while looking.  We pulled up to a park entrance to sit for a minute and no sooner than the words “I guess we’re not going to see any elk” were out of our mouth we looked over to see this guy standing a few feet from our car.  Oops!  We found him the second night we went looking too.  He was easy to spot because of his missing antlers.  DSC_7591_thumb1DSC_7611_thumb1DSC_7640_thumb1DSC_7657_thumb1DSC_7659_thumb1DSC_7662_thumb1DSC_7665_thumb1DSC_7682_thumb2DSC_7708_thumb3
We tried to get another family pic here with no better luck on the focus.  Oh well!  
Can you spot Michael? Smile

These two are views from the top of one of the mountains on our scary drive.  Doesn’t even come close to capturing it.

Estes Park


Colorado Springs
Real or not?  Smile

Love the look on his face!  He had just gotten the bird to land on his stick for the first time. 
Double fisting some parakeets.  This small, confining, claustrophobic room was terrifying for me.  I DON’T LIKE BIRDS!  I didn’t last long in here and had to keep yelling at the kids “don’t come close to mommy, don’t come close to mommy.”

This bear was so funny to watch.  Peter captured this pic of him underwater. 

Here chicky chicky!

Garden of the Gods
This captures the size of the rocks well.  The little dot in the middle is a rock climber.  Ummm, no thank you!


And that concludes our trip to Colorado.  Well, not quite actually.  On our way back across the wastelands of Kansas, after dark, in the middle of nowhere, we hit a deer.   Thankfully it was a relatively small deer and the car was still drivable.  But it definitely left it’s mark and we’ll have to have some front end work done but we were very thankful no one was hurt (other than Bambi of course).  From now on, I think we’ll fly to Colorado instead. 

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