Estes Park welcomed us with open arms with our first contact being a very gracious host, Diana, at Paradise on the River, a great RV Park where we set up our base camp for the next 12 days and were well taken care of by Diana, Robin, Jane and Rod. A comfortable trailer with all the necessities for comfort—soft bed, satellite TV, Wi-Fi and chairs by the river! What more do you need?
We met some amazing people while in Estes Park! For starters, Ron and Ann Wilcocks, owners of Earthwood Collections, were among our favorites! Down-to-earth and genuine were some of the ways we described them. We received warm greetings by them, both at their gallery and at their home where food and fun were plentiful to dozens of artists. Ann made all feel welcome by keeping drinks in hand and delicious food on our plates while Ron invited all to the kitchen to having a bonding moment with tequila shots, giving everyone the full blown experience offering the very best of tequila, along with the salt on hand, topped off with the slice of lime! Ah, smooth going down!
We met many terrific artists to whom we are now thrilled to not only follow their work, but also to add them to our circle of friends. I have added their blogs or web pages over under “links.” A favorite couple we met at the social at Ron and Ann’s home were Lou and Maggie Renner. Lou is a rock-climbing instructor and learned to get a better feel of how to climb the mountain by being encouraged to sketch the mountains he was going to climb. Maggie enjoys climbing with Lou, while Lou has become very proficient in painting while supporting Maggie’s profession! What a great team!
From On the Rock
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From all the wonderful artists we met, we learned that there are people who do art for fun and those who do art to teach. Then there are those who are in the trenches to make a living. This was the group that we met. These were hard-working artists, performing like rock stars, making a living . . . not afraid to pack up their painting gear and make a 4-mile hike to paint a beautiful mountain peak, or set up in a crowded park and “perform” in front of hundreds of people.
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With the loaded Element, we debated whether we had room for Jade, but the sad look on her face as we packed our bags, told us we best squeeze her in! She thoroughly enjoyed her time out painting with Doug or sitting outside near the trailer. She was entertained for hours either way, just “watching” for critters! Driving through Rocky Mountain National Park, she begged to get back up on my lap so she could see the elk out the window! (notice the scratches on my leg from her excitement!) Estes also had a great playground for Jade . . . a dog park! What a dog-friendly community! When we arrived at the dog park, there were 7 or 8 fairly good size dogs there already and they came bounding to say “hey” to Jade! All tails wagging and ready to play, with no threat of “this is my territory!” Jade was in “sniff” heaven! Sooooo much to sniff and so little time! Also water nearby and Jade swam a few “laps” playing fetch while Doug threw a tennis ball out into the water.
South Saint Vraines
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Food was amazing as we always try to enjoy the “local” restaurants and food. Best in the West wings were pretty amazing .. . we tried those a couple of different times, along with Poppy’s Pizza and Mountain Home Café for a great breakfast! And let’s not forget Fish Fry Night at our RV Park, where everyone in the park brought a pot luck dish and the park provided fish from the river! It was amazing and we met some great friends who thought we were a little young to be retired! We decided if we ever retire, we’ll be doing pretty much what we’re doing now - - painting and golfing!
A childhood friend of mine, Cozan, who moved away when she was in 6th grade, came one afternoon to take me to lunch and shop in town! We had a fabulous time laughing and reminiscing over a great enchilada at the Grumpy Gringos and then window shopping and giggling, like a couple of school girls, over fashion merchandise that looked EXACTLY like the “perdy outfits” we used to wear in Escalante. We were also pretty easily amused by the t-shirts - maybe you had to be there, but we thought they were hysterical! “Dude - I Think This Whole Town is High--Estes Park, Elevation: 7,542 feet” being one of our favorites. So seriously, did you think that was funny or were WE high that day? haha I also finally got to vent my dissatisfaction of her getting the cutest boyfriend in 4th grade and “assigning” me to, I think, my 3rd cousin! what the heck was that all about? Well anyway, glad to get that off my chest. We ended the afternoon with a visit to the chocolate shop, where, if we spent $18, we got a ¼ pound of chocolate free! I mean, seriously, who can pass up a bargain like that! mmm, toffee, chocolate covered caramels, suckers, and turtles, just to name a few of the bargains we walked outta there with . . . They are now permanently affixed to my thighs, however . . .
Of course, we couldn’t have a “working trip” without some golf where you get to share the tee box with elk! No kidding! Elk not 10 feet from the tee box and people just walk right up and tee off without giving them a second thought. Met one of Doug’s framing suppliers, Amy Lorenz and her husband Rick, for a great 18 holes at Estes Park Golf Course. It wasn’t our best round of golf, but when Doug finally got his driver to cooperate, was affectionately called a jerk-ass by Rick for making such an amazing drive! They were a lot of fun!
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One of our painting days was spent in Ward, Colorado. I’m trying to find the right way to describe this little mining town without offending! Quaint yet sweet . . . friendly, yet, almost “ghost-town” spooky! Doug’s painting of “Downtown Ward” might help you visualize the setting. We were approached by the town sheriff who’s “look” resembled the rest of the people we saw—beard halfway down his chest, with hair length about the same, except HIS hat said “SHERIFF” across the front. He was very friendly and said we weren’t the first “of our kind” to come and set up and paint their little town. Also said he thought we’d be "jist fine parked there as it didn’t seem too busy" that day. We also had a visit from a 3-legged dog that was as close to a bear as I saw. We also got a kick out of a couple of the “locals” who just “chilled” in the middle of the road – and I’m not sure, but I think they were the designated crossing guards during rush hour!
The final day brought a quick-draw in the downtown park which meant 90 minutes to paint a painting and there were over 300 spectators walking around watching them paint! Doug did a great painting of an Estes alleyway. 50+ artists set up all within a one-block radius was very entertaining for Jade and I, and all the spectators.
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The competition ended with a gallery stroll and announcement of winners. Doug received a third place for Glacier Creek, of which also won the Director’s Purchase Award! Yahoo! Very exciting for "the new kid on the block."
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Estes was a wonderful experience. The people were warm and friendly—the countryside was beautiful and serene. And did I mention, the chocolate was to die for! It’s a place now vividly imprinted on the “timestamp” of my journey through life that I won’t soon forget. And that, my friends, was our Estes adventure from my perspective . . .
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