So this time around, James and I decided to take the dogs camping with us. We accompanied our friends Les and Jan to Westcliffe, Colorado. Camping at DeWeese Reservoir is actually free of charge. There are two options: the shaded pine tree area up the hill or anywhere around the lake. Les and Jan have their camper, and the lake area is better suited for that; therefore, we joined them by the lake.
view from inside tent
our disheveled tent after assembling during a wind storm
friends’ camper and Lake DeWeese
No electricity or running water is provided. Several unisex restrooms can be found spread around the lake. Generators are permitted. Someone had their’s on 24/7, and it was somewhat annoying to be honest.
playing in Lake DeWeese
Dexter getting wet
Of course, dogs are allowed. I’m not sure if we were expected to clean after their messes (We didn’t). Pancho (Chihuahua) and Dexter (Goldendoodle) certainly had a lot of fun.
Les and Jan
James and the dogs
I was the only one who didn’t fish, but the others tried. Overall, Les caught a trout by leaving the pole out overnight. Other than that, I cannot say there was any luck. As for the weather, it was the typical random mess that is Colorado. There was heat and blue skies, sprinkling, overcast, heavy winds, and cold nights–all in one day, each day. Our phones barely had one bar most of the time.
me laying on the ground
James and Dexter
I can’t deny that the camper was convenient with all it’s amenities. We only spent the first night in our tent and the other two nights in the camper with Les and Jan. It was ridiculous considering how we struggled to move and rearrange the tent during a short wind storm. I still enjoyed my time there, but I definitely missed taking a warm shower. It’s just not the same cleaning up with a washcloth. Oh well. The dogs definitely didn’t have that issue.
I must be that one American who hasn’t experienced many “American” things in life. No, I had never been camping before; therefore, my husband thought it would be a good idea to try it for our second wedding anniversary. We traveled about 4 hours away to Estes Park since that is where we were married. It made sense. Our chosen camping area was the Estes Park Campground at Mary’s Lake. Obviously, my husband had me start off easy. The campground was in the middle of Estes Park and had extra amenities.
Map of Mary’s Lake Campground
We picked a tent spot without electricity, but it was near the restroom and showers building. It’s decent to have flushing toilets. I didn’t even mind paying $2 for a 6-minute shower each time. Let me just say that shaving is annoying. Looking back, I would have filled a bowl with water and shaved as much as possible while in the shower before turning on the shower head. Otherwise, it’s $0.25 for every extra 30 seconds of shower. The office, store, and laundry area were all within one building located at the entrance. If I remember correctly, the washer was $2 per load while the dryer was $0.25 per 7 minutes. Also, there was a tiny pool that was supposedly heated (I felt it was chilly). They even provided free drinking water.
The camping spots are definitely within close range. I found humor in that. It’s almost certain that neighbors heard everything from flatulence, bickering, and sex. Altogether, the experience may not be considered real camping, but I think it’s a start. I see myself eventually backpacking for days at a time in the future–not necessarily the near future, but you know… We actually made several mistakes in forgetting a tarp, an extra cooking pot, extra blankets, my husband’s jacket, warmer pajamas for me, and several other things. Thank God for thrift stores. See the convenience in the location? I froze during the first night.
Cooking was fair enough. There was a fire pit. We traveled with our own firewood which wasn’t recommended, but we like to cut corners. I may have still preferred the small propane gas stove for certain foods. Potatoes take forever to fully cook in the fire pit. Then again that’s just me being a Millennial. Meat certainly does taste better with the smoke. We had s’mores twice, of course. I had to bring my own dairy and gluten-free crackers. It’s kind of difficult finding certain food items at many stores. I like to avoid the Safeway in Estes Park and prefer to take my introverted business to the Country Market. Anyway, it’s not too bad having to keep the cooler filled with ice. It did cost about $2 once or twice a day (It depends on the weather).
Mary’s Lake Campground
We spent our early mornings, late evenings, and nights enjoying the experience since we were out most days. It seemed like everyone else just left their tents unlocked with varying levels of belongings when they would go out. Theft isn’t an issue as far as I know. Anyway, we hiked Gem Lake trail the first day. On the second day we fished at the marina and Mary’s Lake with no luck. There was a lot of that going around. Since we fished at different locations and times, we did walk around downtown, and we visited the Estes Park Museum. We completed the Lily Mountain trail on the third day. All of these activities were free other than the one-day fishing license ($9) and the one-day parking permit at the marina ($5).
Estes Park Marina
Estes Park Marina
End of Lily Mountain trail
Overall, I had an enjoyable time at Estes Park. Fishing was kind of, eh, but I liked the campground, the hiking, the local history museum, and walking around the town. Other individuals may not find it such a romantic way to spend an anniversary, but I thought it was fine. It’s not like we didn’t hold hands while walking around town (we are those people). I liken hiking up a mountain, as a couple, to life’s random ascents and descents. My husband sacrificed himself so that I could have my fun. I don’t want to sound perverted, but our camping location resulted in a row of 3-4 couples in their twenties during that week. Basically, the nights were not that cold, quiet, or lonely. In the end, I would do it all again with better organization, longer hiking, and maybe with the company of our Goldendoodle. The poor Chihuahua wouldn’t make it…