Friday, March 30, 2012

Train to Denver Trip: Day 5 - Peak-to-Peak Scenic Byway

We were up early today to pick up our rental car and hit the road.  Our plan was to do the Peak-to-Peak Scenic Byway which runs from Black Hawk to Estes Park, Colorado.  Getting out of Denver was easier than I thought it would be and we were on our way.  The Peak-to Peak Byway is a beautiful drive through the Rocky Mountains with lakes, rivers, mountains, forests and great views everywhere.  Although there was snow to be seen on the high peaks, there were only a few patches here and there that we saw.

Along the way we made a side trip into Boulder to visit Celestial Seasonings, a large tea manufacturer based in Boulder.  Val is a big tea drinker, so she was looking forward to this as they offer tours.  After much difficulty and frustration we found the factory (poor directions on their part / lack of good maps on our part).
 After a bit of tea sampling we started out on the tour.  Because we would be in the factory and around the tea processing everyone had to wear hair nets, which made for a strange looking group, but at least everyone was in the same boat.

The tour turned out to be very interesting and despite the fact that I'm not a tea drinker, I really enjoyed it.  If I remember correctly, Celestial Seasonings manufacturers 500,000 tea bags a day.

After the tour, a visit to the gift shop and lunch at the company cafe, and we were on our way back to the Peak-to-Peak Highway and on to Estes Park.  Our original plan was to go into Rocky Mountain National Park, but after having spent more time than expected in Boulder, we just walked around Estes Park and enjoyed the beautiful weather.  Our plan was to explore an area called Big Thompson Canyon on our way back to Denver, but once again, the lack of a good map and poorly marked roads, we had a frustrating time finding where we wanted to go.  We finally found it and had a beautiful drive through the canyon following the Big Thompson River (which didn't seem that big).

By this time, it was getting late and we had an hours drive to Denver, so we headed for home.  It was a great day with once again beautiful weather and we had a great time despite the several periods of frustration.  Tomorrow is our last day in Denver.

Val here...  Yes we did have a very nice day.  I really enjoyed the tour of the tea factory.  The smells were amazing!  Since Celestial Seasonings makes herbal teas, and there were huge bags of all kinds of herbs that filled the processing area with lovely smells.  At one point in the tour they took all of us into the "mint room".  This was a separate room filled with large gunny sacks of peppermint and spearmint.  The smell was so strong that it really cleared your sinuses and made your eyes sort of tear up, but it wasn't unpleasant at all.  Our day cruising through the Rockies was excellent.

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