Denver was the closest thing to civilization we'd seen in days, so we indulged in some P.F. Chang's for lunch. You really must try the Dan Dan Noodles. So good. Yum, yum. We took a quick drive by the original home of yours truly before we went to the Rocky Mountain National Park.
Not that Colorado made it easy. To begin with, not to slander my own home state, but Colorado drivers give New Jersey motorists serious competition for the Crappiest Driving in America award. I don't know what they're doing wrong in Colorado Driver's Ed courses, but everyone there seems to think you should enter the freeway at twenty miles per hour and accelerate very, very slowly, no matter how many fatal accidents this is causing directly behind them. They are probably just looking out for the bicyclists. You read that right. Colorado allows bicycles regular, leg-powered bicycles on the freeway. So the interstate is filled with insane Colorado drivers very, very gradually working up to speeds of seventy-five miles per hour, and even insaner bicyclists.
So we got the hell off the freeway and onto Route 36, which goes directly to the park. Part of the road was closed, but there were signs clearly posted giving the distance, duration, and reason for the closure, with directions to the quickest detour. Ha ha ha ha! I'm just kidding. There was none of that stuff. Just a patrol car parked across the street pointing people down an unlabelled country road. Forty minutes later, we somehow ended up back on Route 36, about one mile further toward our destination. Meanwhile, for all we know, the Colorado Highway Patrol was having a big kegger in the middle of the road.
We enjoyed the Rocky Mountain National Park under a thick blanketing of clouds which periodically drizzled on us, the elk, the mule deer, and the chipmunks. We set up base camp at the foot of the mountain and climbed to 12,236 feet. Ha! I kid you again. We drove up to 12,136 feet and climbed a foot path the rest of the way. By this time, it was starting to get dark, and threatening to rain, which for us means only one thing: time to drive over a mountain! So we headed down out of the park and over a few more mountain passes, in the dark, in the rain, complete with lightning and thunder, and as a special bonus, in the fog. Compared to driving over the Sonora Pass, this was like a walk in the park with an ice cream cone and a magical dancing puppy.