16 September 2009

A Weekend in Estes Park


Men in kilts, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.
One of my annual delights for many years now, has been attending the Longs Peak Scottish/Irish Highland Festival in Estes Park, Colorado. Though I am not Scottish, I fell in love with all things Scottish through the writings of my favorite author, George MacDonald. Estes Park is surrounded by mountain peaks and often the weather mimics that of Scotland according to many of the people I've met from there. This weekend was no exception! Even with the damp chilly weather, the festivities went on. Above are the dancers from the 1st Battalion Scots Guards doing a sword dance.

Umbrellas
All day Saturday, the rain drizzled down and umbrellas were in abundance!

Raincoats
There weren't a lot of kilts in view as most of them were covered up with rain gear! There were some dour faces among the pipers, but the perfomances were as wonderful as ever.

Leader of the BandMaking an entrance
In the evening, my son the Marine and I went to the Tattoo. The 29 Palms Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Band made quite the entrance! They put on a splendid performance!

29 Palms Marine Corps Band
Throughout the evening, the rain came down harder and harder. I felt so bad for all those performers out in the rain getting soaked to the skin. But the performances went on as though the weather was perfect. Then, just as the evenings ceremonies concluded, the rain stopped!

1st Battalion Scots Guards
The next morning dawned clear and bright! My youngest son joined me for the day and we spent it listening to the many muscians, including the Brigadoons, Colcannon, the Boston Kiltics, Hadrian's Wall, Brother and The Next Chapter. We could have listened to many more wonderful groups but there just wasn't enough time to take them all in. Each year, there is an amazing amount of great Celtic music to enjoy at this festival from the most traditional folk music, pipe bands, modern Celtic music to Celtic rock!

Jousting
We also took in a little of the International Jousting Competition. This is the real thing, not something stages, but full contact jousting! Pictured here is the light armor joust. The end of each lance is tipped with shoe polish and points are awarded for the location of the "hit" on the opponents shield. It's really something to watch! Later in the day was the Heavy Armor Joust in which the jouster attempts to unhorse his/her opponents!



Elk in the meadow
Each evening, between the day's and evening's activities, we took a couple hours in Rocky Mountain National Park, just up the road a few miles from Estes Park. It's the beginning of the rut and the big bull elk are gathering their harems. I love seeing them out in the meadows.

Magnificant Stag
We watched this particular bull run another large bull off and take over a harem after a clashing of antlers. We didn't have a clear view, so no pictures, but the sound reverberated across the meadow and hills.

Autumn Bracken
Autumn is well underway in the mountains. I was struck by the loveliness of color in the bracken.

Rose Hips
The wild roses are filled with hips this year. Bright orangey red jewels tipping every branch.

leaf light
These leaves seem to be turning white with the changing season. I loved how the light coming through the aspen trees above lit them up.

Endo Valley, RMNP
Rocky Mountain National Park is one of my very favorite spots. Each visit brings something new, whether it's a view un-noticed previously, a new wildlife observation or a new enjoyment of the flora and fauna of the park. I highly recommend a visit here to view the abundant wildlife, the magnificant mountain views, to experience the hiking trails of all levels, the drive over the continental divide at an elevation of nearly 12,000 feet and to just enjoy nature in all her glory! Mid September is especially nice with the changing colors, the aspen turning to vibrant gold on the peaks and the eerie sound of the elk bugling in the evening hours echoing through the canyons and across the meadows. I've been to a lot of National Parks throughout the west this past year, and Rocky Mountain remains my overwhelming favorite!

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