July 3rd: We have a rousing breakfast of toast and coffee before heading off for the morning's fishing. (sorry fishes) I should point out here that I do love fishing, but I don't tend to eat fish. I prefer catch and release, but that's not in the cards for these little guys.
Jean caught the first fish today, and she's so proud; she took Jeff and I off to the spot where she caught it. I think it was my second cast in that spot when I catch the next fish. We both caught the spotted variety that I had fished out yesterday. Jeff gets all frustrated because his lure keeps snagging on things, and although I'm trying to help by getting it loose, it just irritates him more and more each time it happens. By the time we leave he's more than ready.
We crossed over the Continental Divide today, and finally saw a bunch of elk. Last year they were everywhere, but this year we've barely seen any animals. Dan says that they're all further up the mountains. I suppose they're not impressed with the warm weather this year. I had a bad time at the summit where the gift shops were. Something was messing with my eyes, I'm not sure if it was dryness or pressure changes, or just sinus issues from the combination or all the above and being sick, but I started freaking out and went to hide in the car. Everything was fine in the truck, so I just waited for everyone to finish their shopping and knat for a bit. I did manage to toss Jean the gift that I wanted for my dad and the cash to pay for it for me, so at least everyone gets a souvenir.
On the west side of the mountain the trees were all dying, it was terrible. There has been a pine bark beetle infestation, and there's nothing to be done. A week of temps below 20 degrees would have killed them off, but the forest is just too big to spray the whole thing. A forest fire would also take care of the problem, but is obviously not a desirable way to deal with the problem. The ranger says that eventually the bugs will run out of trees to eat (since they only eat one kind) and then they'll die off. I have no idea how long it will take the area to recover from the damage that's been done though. It was just weird, because the side of the range that we've been on has none of this devastation.
At that end of the park is another town Grand Lake. We had some beers* and then Jeff and I went to the bank to get pennies for some penny poker. After the bank we went to a chocolate shop and got some of the biggest caramel apples I've ever seen in my life. Mine had caramel then pecans and then drizzles of dark chocolate, omg it was soooo good. Jeff's had caramel and then toffee candy smooshed on. His was okay, but not anywhere as swoon-worthy as mine**.
The trip to the bank went better than the prior year's trip. See I was even more photo happy the year before and I actually started taking pictures in this bank. It was all rustic looking, and I just thought it was kind of cool. I got some nasty looks from an old teller lady who must have suspected that I was a burgeoning bank robber. This year I didn't whip out the camera and everyone was all smiley nice to us.
I was the big winner with the penny poker at the end of the night. I won all $2 of pennies. The final game was really the only good game that I played all night. We were playing Texas Hold Em and on the River I drew the card that made my flush to win. I'm not a very good poker player, but we all had fun, and now I have $2 in pennies.
*note: Estes Park Brewery Red Ale = Awesome, Grand Lake Red Ale = Teh Suxxor
** Later during the trip Jeff tried to out-do my apple and got one with caramel, nuts, a full coating of dark chocolate, and drizzles of white chocolate, but he failed. I still had the best apple of the trip. All the stuff on this one made it way too thick, and the white chocolate tasted icky.