Posted July 31, 2020 – Narrated by Carmen
“I have found a dream of beauty at which one might look all one’s life and sigh.”– Isabella Bird, Adventures in the Rocky Mountains
High Country in Colorado panned out all of the golden nuggets we desired for this historic Summer Of COVID: cool air, shining lakes, mountain trails, and quaint and cozy villages with outdoor seating at charming restaurants and top-notch breweries.
Kayaking and hiking are important to us right now.
Staying fit during the pandemic is crucial, but I haven’t had a good pool workout since January. So kayaking has become a substantial part of our summertime fitness plan, and Colorful Colorado‘s abundance of cool and serene high-country mountain lakes is the solution.
Leaving Colorado Springs, we drove the rig through downtown Denver toward Loveland. Before the coronavirus, driving through Denver pulling a 5-ton 30′ trailer in midday traffic would be a nightmare – but the highway was tolerable and we enjoyed this first glance of the city.
Our destination: the location of the cancelled 2020 Airstream International Rally where we had been scheduled to speak. Later we accepted an invitation to make a video of our presentation.
Our reservation (made months in advance) was at Boyd Lake State Park. Just a couple of weeks before we arrived, we received notice of the campground’s reopening.
Boyd Lake State Park – Loveland – Elevation: 5,000′
Loveland is nearby Fort Collins, where we briefly ducked in three years ago for Beast repairs. The city was welcoming and beautiful, and the residents, neighborly. With the feeling that this is an area where we could, someday, settle down, we explored as much as possible given the restrictions of the pandemic.
As soon as we settled into our electricity-only campsite, we detected signs of a hitchhiker onboard. Jim set the humane trap.
The next morning our hearts melted when we met this sweet little wide-eyed creature who looked like a character from The Hundred Acre Wood. We let her (him?) take a little nap in the sunshine and then, choking up a bit, released her in a lovely field surrounded by cottonwoods. We will miss her.
Afternoon thunderstorms guided our daily schedule. Mornings were for kayaking, or cycling and walking the bike trail. Afternoons, we drove into town to visit our favorite haunts …
and also, AKA Kitchen
and Rock Coast Brewery…
and the Sunday Farmer’s Market at Fairgrounds Park…
and Benson Sculpture Garden …
and just walking around downtown Fort Collins while our computer keyboards were replaced.
Boyd Lake Reservoir is a favorite day-use area for locals. It is situated in a valley surrounded by homes, businesses and farms.
Families set up day-camps around the lake and urbanites from Denver cycle the Loveland Bike Trail.
The boat launch is bustling – especially on weekends. This is bass fishing and Big Mable Country. Yet, the lake is sorta small for all that activity. So, every weekday morning I rolled my kayak to the shore, hoping to find an uncrowded spot to put in – then, hugged the shoreline as closely as possible.
On a good day I was able to circumnavigate the lake in about three and a half hours.
One day the helpful and always cheerful seasonal staff at Boyd Lake Marina suggested I visit Horsetooth Reservoir west of Fort Collins in Larimer County.
Thanks Guys! This lake is huge with gorgeous red-rock formations. Another fabulous Colorado State Park with lake-side camping and many other recreational opportunities.
We left the Fort Collins area with the same impression we had years ago. This beautiful city is on our short list of long-term and permanent future locations.
We pulled out of Loveland and followed the spectacular Cache la Poudre River as we headed up higher into the mountains.
Special thanks to our friend Dane who recommended we stop at Mishawaka for lunch. Great suggestion! Lunch and entertainment.
Driving these curvy Colorado mountain roads is an exercise in awareness – the dangers are obvious – but you never know what you might see around the bend.
Colorado has one of the oldest highway systems in the world. Before white settlers arrived, the nomadic Nuche (commonly called Ute) had traveled these roads for tens of thousands of years. From the great basin of Central Utah to the Rocky Mountains and to the plains, The People of The Shining Mountains are the only North American tribe without a migration story. These mountains are their summer home for the last 20,000 years.
As we drove toward Steamboat Springs I wondered what the Ute call this road and the names of these mountains that we invaders celebrate as, The Switzerland of America.
Steamboat Lake State Park – Steamboat Springs – Elevation: 8,100′
But these colonial musings evaporated when we settled into our flowery alpine dry (no hook-ups at all) campsite …
and noticed that our fresh water tank had sprung a gusher of a leak.
Fortunately, we had a decent enough cell signal to consult with Vinnie Lamica, our Airstream technician.
First, he gave us the bad news: We need a new tank and it will take weeks for it to arrive to his shop in Wilton, California. The good news is that it could be temporarily patched with silicone. And so far so good – seems to be holding.
Now, enough of the man problems. Back to the flowers. It was Springtime in July. Steamboat Lake gushed with these beauties.
I’m a sucker for wildflowers – big ones, little ones, fluted ones, round ones, pink ones, yellow ones …
It took an entire day just to get over it.
That’s a lie. I never got over it.
Steamboat Lake is so beautiful the trees grow eyes.
Daytimes, we kayaked at the foot of Hahn’s Peak …
and relished our home-cooked meals …
and enjoyed the many small pleasures of mountain life.
In the evening, when the hikers, cyclists and anglers went home for dinner, the path around the lake was clear and we took these tranquil moonlit walks around the lake.
Colorado’s Great Seal bears the latin motto, Nil Sine Numine which translates to “Nothing Without the Divine” The word numine includes any deity or spirit, male or female – and historically, Mother Earth reigns supreme in Colorado.
That profound feminine energy would often cause me to catch my breath as she moved across the valley acknowledging every creature and element in her care.
“Everything suggests a beyond”-Isabella Bird
We celebrated our 45th Anniversary with an early morning two-hour soak at Old Town Hot Springs …
… and a fabulous dinner at Mahogany Ridge Brewing.
Later, we took a stroll through Hahn’s Peak Village where we suffered a serious bout of cabin envy …
then, watched the horses get a brush down at Hahn’s Peak Roadhouse (renamed Steamboat Lake Outpost in 2021) and head home to their evening pasture.
“Truly a good horse, good ground to gallop on, and sunshine, make up the sum of enjoyable traveling.”– Isabella Bird
The ideal climate at Steamboat Lake – mid 80’s in the daytime and mid 50’s at night – suggested we stay longer. But Jim could secure eight days and no more. Ah well, Lady Luck had run her course. But it was all for the best to say goodbye. What’s the saying? Too much of a good thing …
So, farewell to Steamboat Lake in the luscious Yampa Valley. A place to love and to be in love.
If you want to see our exact route, click here.
*photos in this post (unless otherwise noted) were taken and copyrighted by Living In Beauty.
31 thoughts on “Lakes in the Sky With Sunsets”
What a lovely place! We will have to check it out if we can get in someday. Sorry about your tank leak! That’s terrible. Water is everything. Glad you could do an emergency fix to hold until you get to Vinnie’s!
Hey Steve! Thank you for the water tank condolences. We received notification that the tank is already on it’s way, so it didn’t take as long as we expected.
Yes, you should check out Steamboat Lake. It’s a fairly large campground, so you should be able to get in with a couple of weeks notice.
Safe and Happy Travels!
What gorgeous pictures!! Especially the ones of your evening walks. Colorado is so incredibly gorgeous. We stayed in SW Colorado in 2018 and just fell in love with the area. And we definitely want to get back to the Fort Collins area.
I am so sorry about the water leak! I hope the silicone continues to hold until you can get it replaced. Will you have to head back to CA for that?
You two amaze me with your boondocking skills, we’re still afraid to boondock. 😉 And please come and teach me how to cook.
Wonderful to hear from you.
Fort Collins has been able to maintain an Old Town atmosphere with a modern perspective – the best of the past and the best of the now. And, I could never tire of the scenery.
Ah, the leak. We’re probably paying for towing Beauty down too many washboard roads. It’s a 24 year-old tank and it’s been working very hard these last four years, so it’s probably due for replacement anyway. But thanks for the sympathy. There is never a good time to have a leaky tank.
Our boon docking skills are nothing compared to some people we see in the out-back. It took us a while to gain confidence, and then we got hooked. We prefer campgrounds without hook-ups because they’re usually more scenic. But we also love the resorts with all the services. But during the pandemic those campgrounds are still charging the same exorbitant prices and all the pools are closed.
Oh, I’m sure your cooking is fine. We’re still learning what to stock. Overstocking can be a pain. Understocking is also a pain. We’re still learning how to carry enough and not too much. We don’t eat prepared foods which take up too much room. Raw dry goods – dehydrated mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, rice, flour, oats, quinoa, chia, couscous, pearl barley, pasta, and dried beans and peas go a long way. For seasoning we keep bacon and salt pork and smoked pork in the freezer. Pesto and white miso are in fridge for seasoning. We have really good veggie bouillon cubes in dry storage and also tins of anchovies. All of these things add big flavor and take up very little space – so no need for heavy boxes of store-bought broths.
Also for flavoring, we keep a good sherry, red wine vinegar and champagne vinegar, and maggi sauce. We cook with olive oil and grape seed oil, avocado oil. We buy these in cans because they travel better.
Spaghetti squash, acorn squash, apples, sweet potatoes, onions and garlic are always on board because when properly stored they have a long shelf life in dry storage. Fresh tomatoes, lemons, limes and avocados are important to us. We always start out with in large quantities and use them first and are the only items we’ll out of our way to restock.
I freeze sandwich sized bags of chopped green pepper, celery and onion (Holy Trinity) for flavoring soups and stews. We also grill heads of garlic, smash up the meat, mash them into silicone cups and freeze them into “cubes” – a fabulous seasoning for almost everything.
We are not milk drinkers, but for dairy, we keep eggs (I use Bob’s Red Mill dry flax eggs for baking) butter, mayo, sour cream and yoghurt (which I use instead in recipes that call for milk) and cheeses in the fridge. We keep a big wedge of parmesan (great for seasoning), feta packed in water lasts a long time, also those little baby bells never go bad (I use those to season grains, oats and grits), and condensed milk and ghee are always in dry storage and come in handy when we run out of fresh dairy. (A very satisfying creamed sauce requires nothing but dried mushrooms, garlic, herbs, ghee and canned milk and a dash of sherry.)
We buy bread when it is available, but in a pinch it’s much easier and less expensive to make flat bread – tastier too. I always making some kind of bread. There are so many recipes online for easy no-knead bread, brioche buns, flatbread, naan. Bread is usually worth stocking for us – too large and bulky.
We’ve found that the best greens to store in the fridge are cabbage, arugula, kale and collards. Everything else is too bulky and delicate to keep in our small fridge. In the past, we would dedicate a separate cooler for greens, but over the years we have adapted to other choices.
Hard cheese keep longer in the fridge, so there’s always that. Hard cheese is nice for melting on sandwiches, soups and eggs and the rinds are used to season broth. We keep dried meats onboard, like sopressata, for seasoning soups and stews. Prosciutto keeps well in the freezer takes up less room than bacon and ham hock and is great for seasoning omelettes, quiche, soups and stews and also for swirling around shrimp on the grill.
When we keep those basic items stocked, it’s easy to throw together a delicious, quick home-cooked breakfast, lunch or dinner in any situation. But my next challenge is to learn how to make corn tortillas.That staple food item is the most difficult to find on the road – and when we do find them they’re only good for frying up to make chiliquilles.
Thank you for being with us, Brenda!
Safe and Happy Travels!
All my favorite places in Fort Collins! ❤️
We just love that place. Our plan to go there someday for an entire Spring and Summer and Autumn!
Safe and Happy Travels!
Happy anniversary you two. So happy that you’re able to travel through all this crazy covid and pandemic. Each place you go to, I suppose is a little different. As we all do, you adapt. I so enjoyed your travels through Colorado. I’ve never been there, so, I travel vicariously through you two. Happy travels, stay safe. Teresa, from Golden Hill West, San Diego, CA
Thank you for the Happy Anniversary wishes and for being with us. It is such a pleasure to have you along for the ride.
We do hope that someday, you will have the opportunity to visit Colorado. We would have come here sooner if we’d known how gorgeous it is – and how expansive. One could explore west of the Rockies for all one’s life and still not see it all.
Safe and Happy Travels Teresa!
We enjoyed this post so much and were very close to where you were. We also picked up a hitchhiker and just ordered the humane traps from your link. Hopefully we can move it/them to a better place. Do you share your recipe for posole?
Hey Mrs. J,
Sorry we missed you in Colorado.
We love making traditional Mexican meals. I do not have a specific recipe that I follow – it all depends on what I have. But making posole is four major steps: Red Sauce, Posole, Pork, Broth.
Sauce: It’s better to make it yourself but you can cheat and buy your red sauce at a Mexican grocery, which I did for this one.
Pork: You will need to season and braise the pork and then stew it as well. I always cook pork two ways. You could also broil it and then stew it.
Here is the closest recipe I could find to explain how to cook authentic posole:
Posole: When we lived in San Diego I would have to buy the raw posole raw, in the refrigerator section in a Mexican grocery – but it is a staple item in most grocery stores in Arizona and Colorado. However, if you want to make it easy on yourself, you can buy posole in the can at Smart & Final and other stores. If you use the canned make sure you rinse it very well and add less salt overall to the broth.
We found another hitchhiker this week. Same species of mouse. We found no signs of habitation in the pantry though, just noises. We set the trap with peanuts and it worked within hours. I released this on under a juniper bush that is full of berries. I hope its okay.
Thank you so much for being with us, Mrs. J.!
Safe and Happy Travels!
Beautiful pictures Jim and Carmen
Thank you Mike and Sylvia. We hope you two are able to get your Airstream out there and make the most of this crazy pandemic.
Safe and Happy Travels!
Outstanding……hard to believe it’s been 4 years+ since your Dad picked up your Airstream at our house…..life is good!
Hey Larry and Jacquie!
Ever since we called you to start the haggling, it’s all a blur to me, but Jim says it’s been 5 years. We flew out to Mississippi to bring Beauty home to San Diego in July ’15. And Daddy picked her up from you in April ’15.
Hey! Did you see the wonderful article in Airstream? Here’s the link:
We love you two! Hope to see ya in the winter!
Carmen & Jim
Our old stomping grounds. We lived in Ft Collins for 7 years. We do miss it. You definitely checked off a lot boxes while you were there! We stayed at Boyd Lake for 2 weeks getting the motor home ready to start our full-time adventure in 2016. It would be a great place to retire.
So this post must have been like old-home-week for you. Still on the road? Still full-timing? It would be great to meet-up sometime.
Safe and Happy Travels,
Beautiful pix and and an even much more beautiful narration of it! You are truly blessed!!!!
We do feel blessed. When things don’t go as planned, we stop and consider how consequences are not as bad as they could be.
I’m so happy you like the pix and the narration. Traveling on a budget, taking pictures and podcasting are my retirement hobbies. We will have to settle down before I can take up quilting 🙂
Safe and Happy Travels!
I’m so curious…aside from Fort Collins, what other places are on your short list for long term or permanent living?
Oh, that’s a big question Jeannette!
Part of the reason we are traveling is because I prefer mountains and Jim prefers beaches … but occassionally we arrive to an oceanfront area where I can envision us living happily for ever after. Jim is the same, even though he’s a beach boy, he finds mountain areas where he feels at home.
Hilton Head South Carolina is our favorite wintering spot – but, because of hurricanes, we wouldn’t want to own property there. We both agree that we would be happy living in one of the small California college towns like Davis, San Luis Obispo or Santa Cruz. Also, Humboldt County is a possibility – Arcata, perhaps – where the mountains meet the sea. Small cities with good colleges are appealing for continuing education, arts and good coffee and breweries. We would probably be happy almost anyplace on Puget Sound.
We’re also open to Canada if they would take us for the six temperate months of the year. Montreal, Nova Scotia or Victoria – then winter in Baja.
Upstate New York is another potential fair-weather possibility that is fun to consider. We also fell in love with Kalamazoo … go figure.
But, all things considered, I wouldn’t be surprised if we just go back to San Diego 😉
Thank you for being with us, Jeanette.
Safe and Happy Travels!
We, too, are looking for that “perfect” location for if/when we finish life on the road. Fort Collins is on our short list. I would like to check out some Oregon locations, too. I am thinking that it might be nice to have a place to live in a cool-weather location during the summer months (when campgrounds tend to be busier), and then travel spring, fall, and winter when it is quieter. Our 25-foot Flying Cloud is named Joy and we like to say that we are “traveling with joy!”
We love the layout of the 25′ Airstream. We knew we were going to travel full-time, so we felt we needed a place to put two large comfortable recliners, and the 25′ did not seem to offer as much room for them as the 30′. So we went with a 30′. Advantages and disadvantages between the 25′ and the 30′. Hope our paths cross someday on the road. Stay safe out there!
I just started reading your blog a few weeks ago, having found it on RV Lifestyle. I love your writing and photography — both are beautiful! My husband and I will celebrate 45 years of marriage in August. We enjoy camping in our Class C, but have no desire to be full-time. I do enjoy living vicariously through your blog!! Many blessings to you.
Hello, Carmela! Welcome. We are delighted to have you on board.
Hey, full-timing isn’t for everyone. We’re really not sure what launched us from pleasure camping to full-timing, but escalating property values did play a role. Once we sold our over-priced property, we didn’t want to reinvest the money or rent a house. We just took the money and ran.
We are fortunate to be doing this in an ideal window of opportunity – that sweet spot between old age and infirmity. Something will eventually cause us to stop. But we do feel safer knowing that we have other experienced campers like you, following our progress on these extended travels, providing resources and telling us what we are missing.
Thank you for being with us and helping to make the road a bit smoother.
Safe and Happy Travels!
I think you did the right thing for you. I retired two years ago at 62 for the exact same reasons — we wanted to travel and do the things we love — hiking, biking and kayaking, while we are still fit and able to enjoy it. I love your philosophy!
Beautiful wildflowers! Now I’m officially envious, as Colorado (or Wyoming or Montana) would be our preferred summer destination this year. 🙂 It’s nice to enjoy some virtual travels there through you.
Interesting about Loveland. We have been playing with the idea to check out a few “potentials” as a future home base for us – after being nomads for seventeen years – and Loveland was one of the options our internet research came up with. Except for the cold winters! We will certainly have to check out the places you enjoyed exploring in Colorado.
Hey Lisbet! Loveland and Fort Collins is a fine area for a home base and for a permanent place to settle down. And we also love everyplace on the western slope. It would be tough to decide …. but that’s why we’re nomads, right?
Thanks so much for being with us. It would be fabulous to meet up sometime.
Safe and Happy Travels!
This post brings back fond memories of the two summers our son was employed at Steamboat Lake Marina. What a beautiful place up there at 8,000 feet. Took some getting used to. He rescued many a kayaker from that windy place. Some days you can paddle out, but you can’t get back in. So glad you got to stay for awhile.
Hello Susan! Yes, we observed several paddlers who found themselves out of their range of difficulty. There are a couple of calm coves the wind seems to spare for families with children and novice paddlers on sups and kayaks. How lucky your son is to have such a beautiful place always in his memory. I’m sure he will always have stories to tell.
Safe and Happy Travels!
Just a small correction from a catholic gal…Nil Sine Numine means “nothing without light” It comes from the miners in Colorado. We bought our Poppy vintage gulfstream cruiser 19 RBS the day the State shut down. March 17th. Because I worked from “home” we were able to spend 60 days tramping in her. We now realize she is our training trailer and will be graduating to an Airstream in the next year. Loving your blog. Any doubts we have about living full time is gone after reading about your adventures. thanks
Diane, thanks for your comment! We based our translation of “Nil Sine Numine” on this website, https://www.ereferencedesk.com/resources/state-motto/colorado.html. I guess there is some ambiguity about its origin and meaning. Congratulations on your plan to graduate into an Airstream in the next year. You will love it!! It really makes us happy to hear our writings have helped remove some of your doubts about this amazing lifestyle. Safe travels! Jim