Our base camp at Elk Meadow Lodge & RV Resort was an ideal spot. It is located next to the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center and entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park, just 2.2 miles from the very center of historic downtown Estes Park and on the free public shuttle stop, it was easy to see and do all the things one would hope for in the Estes Valley.
Day 1: A Historical Evening
The Rally began Thursday afternoon, with LTVers meandering in throughout the afternoon. A sprawling, sloped park with backdrops of the Rocky Mountains provided a supreme view of rows and rows of LTVs as everyone settled in.
Pizza was catered for a group meal and kick-off meeting. Despite some light rain, everyone came to the small pavilion and huddled under the shelter, umbrellas, and trees to enjoy a few slices. The rain subsided, and a fire was built in the nearby fire pit for all to enjoy.
This first evening we also had a guest speaker, Bruce Davies. Bruce shared stories on the history and first people of the Estes Valley, local fauna, geography, and the creation of Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. Born on the front range of the Rocky Mountains, Bruce’s passion and deep appreciation for the area are displayed during his speaking engagements.
Day 2: A Ride in the National Park
It was a lovely, cool morning and a relaxing way to wake up among the mountains. Our friends, the Clickenbeards, leaders of the Texoma Travelers chapter of the Leisure Travelers Club, brought a large coffee urn with a fresh brew and a container filled with donut holes to share with the group.
After filling up with sugar and caffeine, some of us embarked on a late morning bike ride into Rocky Mountain National Park, which bordered the RV Park in which we were staying. The ride started along the paved road leading into the park, with a bit of uphill pedaling on the way in. After a little climbing, we flew downhill as we entered the expanse that is Moraine Park. We were hoping to see some elk since the rutting season was just around the corner, but due to a warm summer, they were staying higher on the mountains longer than usual.
We enjoyed the views, the sound of the Big Thompson River, and the Aspen Tree Grove as we made our way down to the end of Fern Lake Road. After a quick snack at this turnaround point, we headed back to where we started. Two stops were made on the way back: first at the Moraine Park Visitors Center and then later at the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center. Those of us with National Park Passports were eager to get cancellation stamps, and others wanted to grab a souvenir.
One of the members attending the Rally, John Lynch, lives locally and is an expert wood craftsman. He and his wife opened their workshop and store doors to Rally attendees each afternoon, and many folks took the opportunity to visit during the afternoon on the second day. We learned how the wood was sourced for each artistic piece, be it a bowl, spoon, or other sculptural piece. We got to see the wood-turning and carving equipment in action through live demonstrations, and we were further treated with an intimate tour of the retail shop and its contents (including a unique display case made initially for a religious leader).
During this day, folks also took their antics into Estes Park for their own mini-adventures. Kurt and I found ourselves sneaking away to the patio of Avant Garde Aleworks, one of the several local breweries, where I ordered a flight of some favorite and seasonal pours. Others visited the infamous Stanley Hotel (of The Shining fame), toured the old town and its shops, and tasted honey whisky, among other activities.
This second evening, we all gathered for another group meal. The kind folks at Van City RV in Colorado Springs journeyed to Estes Park to join in on another Rocky Mountain LTVers Rally. They brought along grills, hot dogs, and chili fixings to make delicious chili cheese hot dogs (in addition to chips, beverages, and vegetable trays for good measure). They also provided deep knowledge of LTVs, sparking educational conversations and provoking great RV questions. Due to light rain (again), we gathered under awnings and trees and just put up with some sprinkles in order to fully enjoy the meal and conversations.
I was surprised to see how little the moisture bothered folks, and everyone was simply happy to be enjoying the great outdoors (especially our Texas attendees who were escaping a scathing southern summer). We took this opportunity to hold a drawing for prizes acquired from the LTV Online Store, including beverage tumblers, blankets, and even a dog bowl.
Day 3: A Tour, Tech Talk, and Tavern
With some coffee still remaining, the Clinkenbeards again hosted the group for morning coffee conversation. This came to be a favorite as everyone emerged from their RVs to learn of one another’s plans for the day.
About a dozen LTVs opened their doors to tours, so the broader group could see their gadgets, gain storage and decor ideas, and learn about the latest modifications. From hand-made rugs that fit floor plans exactly to sucking devices that kept doors from flying open in the wind to an array of pop-up grill tables, we all came away with a new idea to implement or item for our wish list.
The afternoon of this third day also included a group Tech Talk led by Kurt and some of the other technical and mechanically-inclined RVers. This open-ended group discussion helped folks solve problems, evaluate new energy sources, and consider additional on-the-road solutions to keep handy.
Those who didn’t attend the Tech Talk either returned to the National Park, wandered into the heart of Estes Park, or attended the Handmade in Colorado Expo. A few of us ladies came away with beautiful scarf-like ponchos that would prove useful in RV life for both nicer gatherings or keeping warm fire-side. After the festival and sunny afternoon, we sought a shady spot on the patio of a local beer garden, sharing stories and laughs while enjoying a refreshing drink.
This last evening, everyone had their own plans for dinner. One recommendation was to try the restaurant next to the park called The Rock Inn Mountain Tavern, where live music could be enjoyed while eating. Upon wandering in, we saw other LTV couples and small groups enjoying the savory food and mountain music. The Rock Inn Mountain Tavern is rich in local lore, off the beaten path, and a favorite among locals.
Day 4: A Final Mountain Morning
The last morning was an opportunity for everyone to have one final quick gathering to swap info, share a few remaining stories, and give our goodbyes. Bagels, muffins, and donuts were brought in from the local grocery, and we drank the last of the Clinkenbeard’s coffee. It was a beautiful, sunny morning to close this special Rally.
As RVs departed, it was hard to miss the elk wandering on the east side of Estes Park near the golf course; and those who were driving over the divide were sure to see the large herd hanging up high—a perfect Rocky Mountain ending.