We had rented two cabins at the Valhalla Resort on the border of Rocky Mountain National Park. The larger of the two, Cabin #20, was ideal for this type of gathering with a large well furnished living room and a huge stone fireplace. The combination kitchen-dining area easily accommodated 12, the overflow sitting on the deck or in the gazebo. The smaller cabin, close by, served primarily as sleeping quarters. A swimming pool, miniature golf, shuffle board and ball courts provided added attractions
Eileen and boys arrived already on Sunday, followed by Annette. The boys immediately found the trail from the end of the road that leads up to the top of Eagle Cliff to enjoy the views. On Monday Lili and I arrived. While we awaited other arrivals, Eileen, Steve and Annette and the boys drove off to explore the old trail road into the heights of the National Park. Driving up the rough one-way road they saw elk and a bear.
They returned down the modern Trail Ridge Road with its fantastic views. Later that day Philip and Panny arrived, followed by Shawn and Leigh with the little boys. Later that night Ryan and Monique as well as Brandon drove in. The last to arrive were Brian and Jennifer who struggled in late Tuesday night.
On Tuesday we all drove out to Bear's Lake. It was necessary to park at Hollowell Park and take a shuttle bus for the last 5 miles. It was an easy walk from the bus stop to the beautiful lake with spectacular views. Most of the group walked the trail that circles the lake. The more energetic ones walked the 4 mile trail back to the parking lot, stopping at the lovely, shallow Bierstadt Lake.
Wednesday was the day for horseback riding. For some, like Brandon, this was a first. Alexander rode by himself, while Parker rode in Leigh's lap. The ride was about 50 minutes along an easy trail. During this time Brian and Jennifer checked out possible climbing venues.
On Thursday we all went to the cliffs close to St.Mary's Lake. Brian, assisted by Jennifer, taught all their cousins the basics of climbing, starting with rapelling down an easier cliff, then down the higher cliff. Alexander enjoyed the excitement of rapelling down with Brian's support, Then several of the boys tried to climb back up. None (except of course Brian!) quite made it, but they all did very well.
There had been some talk about hiking to the top of Long's Peak, 14,259 feet (4,346 m), the highest peak in the park. The 7.5 miles (12 km) long trail starts from Long's Peak Trailhead on highway CO 7. It is recommended to leave the trailhead at dawn in order to be able to get back down before the late afternoon thunderstorms, which are frequent at this time of the year. However, for Friday, Brian settled for the easier hike to Chasm Lake, a 9 mile (14km) round trip, reaching an elevation of 11,760ft (3,584m. Four boys (Ryan, Erik, Jeffrey and Raymond, Monique, Philip, Brian and Jennifer left at 8am, and returned about 4pm, tired but very happy. The weather had been perfect but at the hig elevation it had been chilly.
The rest of us went into Estes Park for a walk along the Thompson River and then up to Prospect Moutain on the aerial tram, to enjoy the great views of Estes Park and the mountains, and watching the birds flying around.
All wonderful gatherings have to come to an end. Saturday morning we all departed. However, Brian and Jennifer and Annette still stayed in the area over the weekend.
Lili and I, together with Philip and Panny drove up the Trail Ridge Road. It is the highest continous paved road in North America, and crosses the Continental Divide from Estes Park to Grand Lake and reaches an elevation of 12,183ft (3,713m). The highest paved road in North America is the Mt.Evans Byway to the top of Mt.Evans 14,130ft (4,397m) south of Idaho Springs, CO, but is only a spur, not a through road.
We stopped several times for photos, then had a picnic lunch overlooking Grand Lake. Finally we parted, they to drive home to southern California, we to drive east to New Jersey. However the first day we continued south through Colorado along CO 9, then US 24 to Colorado Springs, crossing two more passes. In Colorado Springs we visited the spectacular red rock formations of the Garden of the Gods.
Summary. The Reunion was a great success. We all enjoyed being together, the wonderful views, the hikes and other activities. The excellent weather was, of course, a great help. Each family was responsible for preparing one evening meal and nobody was disappointed. Special thanks to Steve, who in addition to his own excellent planned meal, helped everyone else. All the cousins got on well with each other, there were no quarrels, no fights. The facilities of the Vahalla Resort were excellent and the service impeccable.
Our family has always been close, and individual family groups frequently meet. But being spread out over the entire continent has made it difficult to organize such a large gathering. Thanks to Brian for suggesting that we do it this year. The effort to find a suitable venue, and the expense involved, was totally justified by the pleasure we all enjoyed. Lili and I were especially very happy to be together with nearly all our family.
Continue to the first photo page, great scenery.
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Read about the unique wedding, 66 years ago.