Thanksgiving in the mountains


It seems like every time I turn around this year, I’m in Colorado. It’s no coincidence that my daughter, Lauren, moved to Denver in January. Since helping her move, I’ve visited three more times, most recently over the Thanksgiving holiday.

I traveled this time with my husband, Dave, and our other daughter, Katie. We actually didn’t spend much time in Denver, because I booked us a cabin in Estes Park where we could relax, spread out, cook meals, and enjoy the holiday together.


It was awesome. We visited Rocky Mountain National Park, where there was snow at Bear Lake (above and top) but easy walking everywhere else we went. We took a nice walk around Lily Lake (below) the day we arrived. The weather was wonderful for late November.


We saw a few elk in the national park, but many more in the town of Estes Park. They were everywhere we looked – a huge herd of 30 or more traveling together through town. Unfortunately, I didn’t bother to take pictures.

Once we got settled into our cabin, which was located just a block and a half north of the main street through downtown, we braved the Safeway to buy some provisions (not a smart thing to do the night before Thanksgiving, but we needed milk and beer and stuff) and then ordered pizza. I made myself familiar with the kitchen and made some food for the next day.


On Thanksgiving, I baked a pumpkin pecan bread pudding for breakfast while we watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade – one of my favorite things all year. We had a lazy day, just playing games, eating snacks, watching TV, and taking a walk through town. Oh, and we had the traditional playing of Adam Sandler’s Thanksgiving Song and the reading of Katie’s friend Emma’s Thanksgiving homework from third grade. (Emma is a vegan, and she did NOT like the idea that we celebrate Thanksgiving by eating turkey, even in third grade. It’s the funniest thing ever.)

We had Thanksgiving dinner reservations at The Stanley Hotel, for which we got all spiffed up (unnecessarily, based on what other people were wearing, but still nice). The Stanley is all old and fancy and haunted, and we all think it’s pretty cool, mainly because Stephen King got the idea to write The Shining when he was staying there back in the 1970s, and The Shining is one of our favorite books/movies.


After dinner (nothing special, but overpriced – that’s my two-second review), we took a ghost tour of the hotel. It was a hoot. We had a hilarious tour guide named Voo-Drew (he used to do ghost tours in New Orleans) who showed us some of the “most haunted” parts of the hotel and its outbuildings. I’m still cynical about the ghost thing, but I didn’t expect to have so much fun. He told some great stories — like the things the spirits do to unmarried but nevertheless cohabitating guests.

So that was Thanksgiving. The next morning, we went back to Rocky Mountain – it was a gorgeous day – and then back to The Stanley for some daytime photos. Here’s the whole gang:



The hotel had added more holiday decorations overnight (above). We ate lunch in downtown Estes Park, did some shopping, and found a nice little coffee shop. Back at the cabin, we killed some time playing games (I actually beat my family at Monopoly – this may be a first), watching Christmas movies, and drinking boozy cider.


The highlight of the day actually came tonight, with Estes Park’s annual Catch the Glow parade. We got to the parade route early, and lots of people had already staked out their spot. This is apparently a very big deal for Estes. By the time the parade started at 5:30 p.m. there were tons of people there.





The event was great – definitely a small-town parade, but with a lot of holiday flair. We loved the lights throughout the downtown area. The weather was still very mild, and everyone was in a festive mood.


What a fun thing to do the day after Thanksgiving! Much better than Black Friday shopping!



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