Morning dawned the same as previous ones, cloud-free and blue-skied, deer and cute furry rodents abounding, and the half horse chestnut on the ground outside the fire ring. Before hitting Estes Park we found a pull-off with reliable cell coverage, so family connections were made and directions given. Family was three hours away, so there was time to use touring the park.
First destination was the alluvial fan, left when that natural dam in the park gave way in 1976. Maria was finally impressed by the size of the boulders moved by the rush of water. The memorial down canyon was suddenly more significant, as was the force of the water causing the flood.
But it was time to wander leisurely up to Sprague Lake, taking pictures, enjoying the scenery, and try to figure out how to find relatives when nobody had seen each other for something like 25 years when everybody forgot to mention what their vehicle looked like in their phone conversations.
We took the handicap parking spot, since they had enough backing out room for the RV and the ranger we'd talked to at HQ didn't find fault with that idea. The staff were working on repairing the railings on the bridge across the creek to the lake. When I say railings, I'm talking tree trunks, de-branched, de-barked, and being cut, notched, fitted, sealed, and whatever else was needed. We stopped on the bridge, attached polarizers, and took pictures of the fish in the water, the water running over the beaver dam, and later the fly fishermen out in the lake and the duck families moving around its perimeter. Again, Paul took the camera for a full hike and I took the camcorder and moved from bench to bench.
Once we returned to the RV, we waited while Maria stood outside smoking and scoured each incoming vehicle to try to determine whether they were family. Wrong state license plate: not them. Wrong numbers and types of family members: not them. I had offered to cook lunch, figuring on three more adults, and decided to start the process because we were getting famished waiting. We could reheat mac & cheese and hotdog pennies when they showed up if they were that late. I was making a double batch, and it was taking double time, anyway.
Eventually we came up with AN IDEA: We'd find a sheet of blank paper, write the family name "Brundy" in bold black caps, and use some of our supply of duct tape to fasten it to the outside of the RV facing the driving lane. If they were unable to see that, well...
It was done, we had lunch, I excused myself to hit the restroom. When I came back, there was a whole crowd of folks gathered around the back of the RV. I had expected the three adults, but nobody mentioned the four kids! Luckily, they had stopped and eaten on the way up. What we had would not possibly stretch. Their family retired to a picnic table nearby, now dry after an earlier shower had passed through. Paul and I enjoyed a reading break in the RV. Matt had to be back in Denver by 6:00 to work, so they left just as the next shower came through.
Returning to camp for an earlier campfire than the previous night, so we could enjoy it longer, we had plans to just relax a bit. Like all plans, this had a hitch.
It started with neighbor watching. The couple across from our site and down one had a huge three-room tent. They carried something silver out of the tent to the car, unfolded it, got out a pump, and started inflating a queen size double height airbed. Once full, both lay on it, sprawled out in their driveway, in no hurry to move it into their tent. We started speculating that they might not actually be able to get it into their tent in its full state, and wondered if they were planning on sleeping under the stars tonight, or otherwise providing us entertainment. Eventually they did move it to the back of the tent and presumably inside the door.
New neighbors arrived next door, and after setting up, came over for a visit. We had just been sitting chatting with them around our fire, exchanging those we've-been-there-you-too? travelogues, pretty much ignoring the weather, when somebody noticed that the raincloud passing off to our south wasn't exactly staying to the south. In fact, it seemed to be moving closer each time we looked. The wind picked up and suddenly the tent was no longer exactly where it had been set up! Much flatter as well, and folded over besides. Three of us straightened it out, restaked it, this time adding the rope tie stakes that came with it to help hold it in place despite the weather. My contribution was to stand holding the center pole more or less vertical while Paul and Maria hustled around. Steve took a jug of water and put out the fire that was now blowing sparks towards the tent. About twenty minutes and ten drops of rain later, the storm fulfilled its earlier promise of skirting to the south of us.
So far as I know, nobody overtly laughed at us over the tent.
But we did have a small chuckle over a pair of young boys heading up to the bathroom building. A pair of deer had been coming down the road, heard the boys coming up, and stepped a few feet into the grass by a tree, and froze in place. Oblivious, the chatting boys came on, until one was even with the deer, looked up, and, "WHOA!" Now it was the boys' turn to freeze in place, and watch the deer slowly amble off.