We used my handicapped sticker one more time to get a place to leave the car at the end of Bear Lake Road for a final hike to more alpine lakes. The weather is great, the scenery is gorgeous, but there are just too many people here. We often had to wait to take a photograph as other folks posed and posed and posed to get their selfies just right. The water on the lakes carries conversations that I would just as soon not be hearing all too well. End of rant!
The elevation here continues to challenge our lungs whenever climbing is involved and it usually is. We've been told you get used to it in a few days, but we remember spending a whole summer in Colorado and never getting used to it. The gasping and wheezing I suffered our first day here has not been back since the sky has cleared. Tomorrow we are planning to drive farther west and may be closer to some of those fires.
After hiking we visited the Stanley Hotel, a must-see in Estes Park. Many older national parks have classic odges, often on their grounds that were built by the railroads to fill their trains with passengers as they built new tracks west. The Stanley is not in the park and was built by one of the founders of the Stanley Steamer company. He came here to get rid of his tuberculosis and was overjoyed to be cured after one summer here. But this cultured man did not find much else to interest him here in the land of lumberjacks and trappers, so he built the hotel to attract his kind of people. At the beginning of the 1900's his steam powered cars had the power to handle the steep hills around here. But drivers had to pay attention to their water consumption as well as gas supply. This was not the car to use to take your pregnant wife to the hospital. It took at least twenty minutes to fire up the boiler and get going. We were surprised to learn that these cars were relatively safe. It doesn't seem like sitting over a can of steaming water would be a good idea, but these cars drove much faster and safer than early Model T's. The cars had a range of about twenty miles. In the 1970's the Stanley Hotel fell on hard times until Stephen King stayed here and wrote The Shining, which purportedly took place here. When Jack Nicholson made the movie version, this place was indelibly etched on frightened viewers memories. Today it is a law-di-dah spot to stay.