Monday, September 12, 2016
During my sophomore year of college, I found a book called "Outlander", by Diana Gabaldon. This became my favorite book and then series of all time. When my parents suggested we might go to Europe that summer, I argued for a two week trip through Scotland and they agreed. I loved every moment of that trip. One of my favorite moments was attending the Highland Games near Inverness.
A few weeks ago, I saw that there was going to be a Highland Games and Scottish Festival in Estes Park. We have been wanting to drive up to Estes Park to check it out and this looked like a perfect opportunity. Michael and I love festivals and this looked like it would check all the boxes.
I bought tickets online and then went to book some cheap place to stay. Only there wasn't a cheap place to stay. Everything was completely sold out. I called bed and breakfasts and begged. I looked at more and more obscure options. And finally, finally, I found one. Jellystone Park had ONE "comfort" cabin left available. I snagged it immediately and we were set.
On Friday, I packed up our sleeping bags and clothes and food and cooler. I threw in pokemon cards and fake swords for the kids and extra wine for me and Michael. I picked Michael up from the airport (he was in Florida all week), and then while he was changing, I put everything in the car. We picked up the kids from school and were off!
The weather was in our favor. When we stopped in Boulder for dinner and a potty break, a cool breeze was blowing in.
When we arrived in Estes Park after a lovely drive, (we are listening to "Peter and the Starcatcher" on audible), it was downright chilly! We put on our coats and ate our sandwiches in front of our cabin. The boys were thrilled with Jellystone and quickly ran off to play miniature golf. We had a camping kind of evening, but were thrilled to curl up inside our warm cabin overnight as it got down into the 30's!
The next morning we put on our plaids and kilts and fake swords and drove off to the festival. We were highly amused to see the Loch Ness monster floating in the lake by the festival.
We LOVED the festival. The children loved the festival. I loved the festival. Michael loved the festival. There was a living history renaissance section where Michael and the kids watched a blacksmith, learned to load a pistol, and held a real 200 year old claymore. There was a section with dogs of the british isles. We watched dogs do agility, dogs catch frisbees and dogs herd sheep. There was a section with an international jousting competition. There was scotch tasting and folk music and irish and scottish dancing. There were pipe bands aplenty and a clan gathering and a fly over and shops and amazing scottish food. We ate and played and explored. We watched the strong men throw bales of hay and long logs. The kids climbed a giant rock and played on the playground and fought mock battles with other children wielding foam and wooden swords. The sky turned blue and the sun came out and we sipped Belhaven Scottish lager and listened to Scottish Bag Pipe rock. It was FUN.
That evening we went back to Jellystone and the kids took off into the woods for a game of laser tag. Michael and I walked hand in hand around the park admiring the Halloween decorations each campsite had put up for the Jellystone Halloween themed weekend. Then we drove through Estes Park to the Rocky Mountain Inn Tavern where we ate a delicious dinner, but mostly enjoyed because we got to drive to the entrance of the National Park.
The next morning we woke up early and packed the car and went back to the festival to do it all again. We spent another four hours at the festival. My favorite moment was at noon when the clans gathered and four huge pipe bands came onto the field and played Amazing Grace and Scotland Forever. I was moved.
We drove home to laundry and laundry and laundry. The kids joyously embraced their friends as if they had been away from the neighborhood for months rather than days. It was a great weekend.