In October, we really don’t as a rule worry too much about tropical storms or hurricanes in Florida. Sure, it’s still technically hurricane season until the end of November, but our peak is usually July, August, and September … at least according to this “almost native Floridian”‘s recollection. So, when we realized that a potential Cat.4-5 hurricane by the name of Matthew was lurking around Florida a few days earlier, we became concerned. We were thankful that south Florida was pretty much spared from the wrath of the storm, so when our flight allowed us to check in, we thought we were in the clear. WRONG … by the time we checked in online to the time we checked into our hotel, a few short hours from Denver, we received the text message … FLIGHT CANCELLED. Yep, lemons thrown our way.
I felt especially terrible because my daughter and her husband had just left for backpacking in Europe and we were charged with taking care of our grandchildren … doggy ones. 🙂 Luckily, we were in the midst also of sights like these …So with those lemons, we decided to make the proverbial “lemonade”. We altered our plans (after all, a friend of theirs was battening down the hatches until we got home and all flights into Florida were cancelled) and chose to not sweat it out and swing by Rocky Mountain NP with our newly gained freedom. OK, truth be told, it probably did involve some “sweating it out”, but you get the gist, right?
I hadn’t been to Estes Park in probably 2 years and this was pretty crowded for me.After we left the hustle and bustle of town and got into the park itself, it was much better. Right off the bat, we came across a gang of wild turkey. I believe that there were mature and juveniles within the group.Of course, everyone knows that October in RMNP is synonymous with the elk rut, so my hopes were high. Can you imagine how excited I was when I came across this handsome bull down by the lakeside … keeping a keen eye on his harem.It was really cool to get images of him standing almost chest deep in the water. Of course, when he bugled from there as well, it was well over the top for me. NOTHING compares to the sound of a bull elk’s bugle!He really was quite the handsome lad and quite cooperative with his poses. I have a feeling that he’s used to the camera lens. 🙂Of course, during the rut, the bull elk have more on their minds than eating, but that didn’t stop the ladies from getting their fill on the nearby vegetation.A very tender moment to me was when he went nose to nose with one of his gals. I wondered if she was his favorite … only just kidding. LOLInstead of eating the vegetation, he would use the bushes to scratch himself.The girls in his harem were about 15, which I thought was a pretty good size. While most of the rut was over, the mating had yet to begin.Yep, this bull sure knew how to work the camera. Never have I gotten them in the water during rut like that. I was thrilled.Sunsets are always a thrill and this place didn’t disappoint. I just loved how the colors were so mixed, yet oh so beautiful.Out at dinner one night, I happened to notice this sign … it warmed my heart to know that some people and places do everything in their ability to protect the bears from being labelled as a “problem bear” secondary to actually “problem people” who don’t exercise common sense. (I’ll now exit my soapbox)This time of the year, the mule deer were also out in force and sporting nice racks too. Such sweet, sweet faces.These guys were out for a little bit of jostling around as well.Now this bull elk, shown from afar so that you can actually see how many gals he had in his harem … 24 in all!!! Crazy to imagine how busy he was going to be in the near future. LOL. We even saw one of them actually try to mate him! Guess she was getting close to being ready. 😉So in the end, we got home a night later, got to go the Rocky Mountain NP, arrived to Jacksonville to pick up the grand doggies, and safely drove home. Yep, lemonade never tasted so good!Next Up: How about some birding?
© 2017 TNWA Photography / Debbie Tubridy