Friday, July 11, 2008

Colorado Trip 2005

I left the old airport at 5:00 AM and after a short stop in front of the Moab library, headed for Grand Junction, Colorado.
I arrived at the Grand Junction Moose Lodge at 8:00 AM and by 9:00 AM I was at the entrance gate of the Colorado National Monument.
I drove the 23 Mile Rim Rock Drive, which offers breathtaking views of the canyons and the Colorado Valley.

The landscape is very different than from Utah. There is more vegetation in the canyons and at the top of the mesas. Since it is Sunday there are a lot of people with bicycles on the road. It takes stamina to go up those steep hills with a bicycle.
The afternoon I spent relaxing, reading and playing with the computer. I am the only person here and I am able to run the motorhome air conditioner without worrying about blowing a fuse. They only have 20 amp service at the camp sites.
The bartender was very nice and let me use his telephone line to hook up my computer for a few minutes.

I left Grand Junction at 6:00 AM. I-70 follows the Colorado River for about 100 Miles. East of Grand Junction is wine country. They grow grapes in the valley. After the vineyards came a narrow canyon. The morning sun was shining on the canyon walls north of the river. The colors were spectacular. Near Glenwood Springs came a 13 Mile narrow canyon. The railroad was on the south side of the river and east going I-70 on the North side. West going I-70 was on pillars, like a bridge. I also had to go through several tunnels. This stretch of Interstate must have been
very expensive, but it is a scenic route. There are rest areas every 25 Miles and the view from them is fantastic.

After Vail comes the Vail Pass, 10,600 foot high. It is an eight Mile climb. There is still snow up there, but not enough to ski.
I arrived at the Silverthorne Elks Lodge at 10:00 AM.

I packed a lunch and drove back to Vail. After a short stop at the library I went to the Village. A lot of the stores and restaurants are closed right now. They will open again for the summer season.
Some of the streets are torn up and a lot of building is going on. The town is charming, one could almost think that one is in Bavaria, Austria or Switzerland, almost, the flowers on the windows and balconies are missing.

I looked for a cheap ice cream shop, no luck. For what they charge for a single cone, I can by the store in Carlsbad.
The Elks Lodge in Silverthorne is on the edge of town. I can look across the fields with flowers and see the snow covered mountain tops.
The town is at 8,500 feet and the temperature is perfect; I do not have to run the air conditioner today.

I-70 could be called a scenic byway, the mountains are so beautiful and one has to be in awe. The only bad thing about them is, one has to get over them. The first Mountain Pass was 11,995 foot high. It took 12 miles to get up there. On top of the Pass starts the Eisenhower Memorial Tunnel. It is a long tunnel and saves motorists from more climbing.
The second Pass was 10,000 feet high. I took my time and made it both times. If I had a co pilot with me I would have disconnected the car and we would have driven both vehicles separately.
Raging rivers follow the road. Because of the heat wave snow is melting fast.
I set up the motorhome at the Lakewood Elks, a western suburb of Denver. I went shopping and filled up the refrigerator, got a hair cut, and went to the library. The hair cut was $ 10.00, still a lot for a few hairs.
Then I went for a ride and looked for Denise's house. She is a friend form Chicago and later Clairmont, a suburb of San Diego. Hanna and I moved three houses from her parents house. Her son is graduating tomorrow from High School. Denise's mother is flying in from Oregon, the party is tomorrow at 4:00 PM. Denise's father has to take care of the zoo, the dogs and cats. I just said Hi and took off again, to beat the traffic.

I woke up and had to turn on the electric heater. The heat wave is over. The high for today was 69 degrees F.
To get some exercise I drove to the Cherry Creek Shopping District. First I walked the Cherry Creek Mall, there are the fancy stores. Then I walked across the street to Cherry Creek North. The stores, restaurants, and galleries are along the tree lined streets.
It was cool and I had to wear my jacket.
On the way home I drove through down town Denver, past the Colorado State Capitol and Civic Center.
At 3:00 PM I left for Denise's house. She had invited her neighbors and friends. There were some interesting people there and I had a good time.
Seeing Emmi again was very nice too. The food was very good and I have to ask Denise how she prepared the chicken.
During the graduation ceremony people froze, but in the afternoon the sun came out and we could sit outside.

I drove to Longmont, 35 Miles North of Denver, to check out the Moose Lodge. I have two reasons to move there. Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park are nearby, and friends of mine live in Longmont.
The Lodge has electricity in the camping area and they still have room. I also visited Robyn, the wife of my friend. I had never met her, but she knew about me. Martin, her husband is about the same age as Claudia. The kids grew up together. We had Christmas Parties, and Easter Egg Hunts and picnics together. We were about ten German Families, all living in the Chicago area.
Robyn got on the telephone right away to call Gertrud, the daughter of other friends, she lives near Longmont. They plan a get together over Memorial Day weekend.
Since I was that close to Estes Park and it was only 10:30 AM, I decided to go there. Estes Park is 35 Miles from Longmont. The last ten Miles are a sight for the eyes. Estes Park has grown in the last twenty years, but I still remember the center of town. I went to the town hall and to the library next door.

The sun had come out and with wearing a sweat shirt it was comfortable. I took my little cooler out of the car and went across the street to the park and ate my lunch. One can see the mountains from anywhere in Estes Park. With the lake and the mountains, Estes Park is a beautiful place.
Many of the houses are build in Alpine style and have big balconies toward the mountains.
Since the weather was perfect I also drove in the National Park. One Mile in the park, I saw a herd of Elks in the meadow next to the highway. They were feeding during the day, instead of late in the afternoon or early in the morning.
The ranger at the visitor center had told me that they had opened the road yesterday in the tundra region of the park. So I was able to travel the 48 miles to the other end of the park. The recent heat wave made that possible. The Alpine Visitor Center is at 12,183 feet. It will be open in a few days.
At the tundra trail head I walked for a half mile. The last time I was up here, there were really small flowers blooming, this time there was still snow.

In the lower regions of the park, the trees are in bloom and in the meadows, mixed with the lush green grass are flowers in all colors.
I stopped at many of the outlooks and enjoyed the views. Snow removing equipment is still parked along the highway. I am glad I left Moab and came here now instead in a week or two. There are not many tourists here now and it still can snow and close the road in the higher altitude.
On the way home I passed through Winter Park, one of Colorado's major ski resorts.

I arrived at the Longmont Moose Lodge at 8:30 AM. After filling up the fresh water tank I took off for Estes Park. At the library I set up my own computer and sent and received E mail. Then I down loaded my credit card statement. I am doing fine with my budget. Today I filled up the car
and paid $1.99 per gallon of gasoline. I am way below the $ 2.75 figure I had used to estimate the trip.
Then I went to the Rocky Mountain National Park and drove up to Bear Lake.
The Bear Lake trail head is a major starting point for hikes. The parking lot accommodates hundreds of cars and free shuttle buses bring hikers from the visitor center and other trail heads. A lot of people were on the trails. Signs are warning people that there is still ice on the trails.

I would have liked to go on a hike but I am not used to the altitude and
would only suffer. The trail head is at 9,000 feet. At the Sprague Lake picnic area I ate my lunch and then walked partially around the lake. It is one of many beautiful spots in the park.
Places like that are more enjoyable when you can share the experience with somebody. The weather is incredible. In Denver it was cloudy and in Estes Park and in the National Park there was blue sky. The high of the day was 70 degrees F.
The lodge served spare ribs for dinner and after dinner there was dancing. I had planed to go, but changed my mind and cooked my own dinner.
Martin came by on his motorcycle and we had a nice talk. It went rather well, considered that the last time I saw him he was probably 15 years old. He designs chips for the computer industry.

At 7:30 AM I was on the road to Estes Park. I knew, later, there would be a lot of traffic towards the park.
First I went to the Stanley Hotel, the Stanley is to Estes Park, what the Del Coronado is to San Diego. The hotel was build by F. O. Stanley, the inventor of the steam propelled car. It is a very elegant hotel and very expensive. The movie " The Shining" was made here.

Then I took the Aerial Tramway up to Prospect Mountain. From there one has a panoramic view of Longs Peak, the ranges of the Continental Divide, Rocky Mountain National Park and Estes Park Village.

Down in the Village they had an Art Show at the village park. I spent some time there and then went to the library.
I noticed in Vail and now in Estes Park, the vehicle of choice is the Subaru Outback all wheel drive. In Moab it was Jeeps, here they are more refined and want car like vehicles.
On the way home I had a lot of oncoming traffic. The Denver people are heading for the hills. Many cars had bicycles on top or on the back. Colorado is bicycle friendly, even along I-70 are bicycle paths. Sometimes they are along the road and then they disappear in the woods and later appear again.
I have neighbors now. A couple from Hawaii arrived in a big motorhome. They store the motorhome in Oregon. They spent six months of the year traveling on the mainland.

This day started as a dark day and ended up as a rainy day. In the morning I went to the Laundromat and did laundry. Then I got a bucket and washed the car. I could have saved my energy on that one.
At 2:30 I went to the store and bought some flowers. When I came out of the store it started to rain. Martin and Robyn, and their son Eric live two miles out of town, in a large house on six acres of land. They share the property with three horses, two dogs, two cats, about 30 chicken, about ten ducks and one goose.
Gertrud and her husband and daughter were there already. Duane had come in his own car since he is allergic to cats. He lasted two hours and had to leave because he had breathing problems. I had a small problem but managed to stay.
It was wonderful to see Gertrud and Martin. We talked about old times. Last time I saw them they were teenagers. Our families spent many good times together. It was also nice to meet their spouses.

This was a boring day. In the morning it looked like it would rain any minute. At 3:00 PM it started to rain and would not stop until 7:00 PM.
On the television I found a German TV station. German stores in the Denver area advertised their services. If I would have known this earlier I could have bought some bread. In the last two weeks I have been eating 12 grain bread. This is still too soft, but better than that white artificial looking stuff.

I left Longmont at 6:00 AM and arrived at Colorado Springs at 9:00 AM. I-25 through Denver was very slow, there was a lot of road construction.
At the Elks Lodge I got the last camping site with hook ups. They have easy telephone connection for my computer and a heated swimming pool.
After setting up the motorhome I drove to the Air Force Academy. There are more buildings now, but the main tourist attractions are the same.
My first stop was at the Chapel. The design is unique. The stained glass windows illuminate the chapel in many colors. There is more security now and access to the base is limited.

When I came out of the chapel I heard marching sounds. The cadets had a parade. The uniform was white pants, blue jacket and white gloves.

They looked good, but my old drill Sergeant in Ft. Leonard Wood, would have screamed his head off if we would have marched like that. I noticed a lot of family members of the cadets were at the Academy.
In the afternoon, Barbara, the WIN host for the gathering in Colorado Springs, came to my motorhome. She came one day early too. The group will be here from the first of June to the sixth.

The parking lot is filling up with WINs. So far I know three people. Most of them come from the East coast.
I left early this morning and visited the Miramont Castle in Manitou Springs. A rich, French born Catholic priest had it build in 1895.

From there I went to the Pikes Peak Cog Railway station and got some information. It was a bit cloudy and I rather wait for a blue sky day to go up the mountain. It was a perfect day though for visiting the Seven Falls. The Seven Falls are at the end of the Cheyenne Canyon. One can walk up several hundred steps, or take the elevator to go to the top. I took the elevator.

There is a graduation ceremony at the Academy. The Vice President is in town. The parade I saw yesterday must have been a dress rehearsal.
Doreen called me at 7:30 PM and told me that her friend had just died.

I got up early and had in mind to take the 8:00 AM train up Pikes Peak. The mountain top was in clouds though. After Hugs and Mugs I went with the group to the "Garden of the Gods". I drove and had two passengers.
We went to the Visitor Center and saw a movie about the park and its origin, and how the stone formations were formed. Then we went on a hike. I did rather well and do not feel dizzy anymore. My friend Mark wrote me to drink a lot of water. This seems to help and being now here for some time helps too.

After the hike the group split up. One of my passengers went with another car up to Pikes Peak, they went up by car. My remaining passenger and I ate our lunch at the park, while other people went to Old Colorado City for lunch. Old Colorado City is like Old Town.
We went there after we ate our lunch, but stayed only for a short time, too many knick knack stores.
After the 4:00 PM circle meeting 18 of us went to the Mason Jar Restaurant for Chicken Fried Steak. Drinks and water are served in mason jars.
Since part of the group had lunch there, the owner and help knew what to expect. Some of the WIN women are very funny and outspoken. The owner of the restaurant spent a lot of time at our two large tables.
One of my San Diego friends, who camps in the desert, calls the organization:" Women In Need". Of course he is wrong, they drive the biggest motorhomes and take care of them. And they do not look like truck drivers.

The group took the train up Pikes Peak, I am still waiting for a clear day. I went to the Mining Museum. It was very interesting.
The rest of the day I took it easy. I bought a one gigabyte USB Flash Drive and loaded 193 pictures from this trip on it. That is all it took. In the future I have to cut the size of the pictures.
The pictures are also on the disc from the camera, but they are not edited and named and numbered. In the camera I have now a 512 megabyte disc. The 256 megabyte disc is full. After I burn the pictures on a CD I will format the disc.
At 6:00 PM we went to the lodge for a pork roast dinner. For $7.00 it does not pay to cook a meal. Besides one is in good company.
The meal was very good. I did not stay for the Kariokee. Some women of our group were singing too.

At Peterson Air Force Base was an Air Show today. The Thunder Birds are in town. They did an Fly Over, Wednesday, during the graduation ceremony at the Academy. Today they performed during the Air Show. People had come in shorts and T shirts. Early afternoon it got cold and windy, and people froze. I had not planned to go and left the motorhome at 12:15 PM and was looking for the restaurant in an old military airplane. I could not find it and since I was near the Peterson Field I decided to go. I was properly dressed but the wind bothered me.
After I looked at all the air planes I walked back to the shuttle buses and waited there for the Thunder Bird performance. I was on high ground and could see better than at the airfield. As soon as the show was over I got on the red line bus, which took me back to the parking lot.
Three more rigs have arrived today. Ken and Lois were with me in Utah. Lois is 76 years old, has some health problems but will not give up the gypsy life. She scaled down to a 24 foot motorhome.

I woke up at 6:00 AM and there was blue sky. After a fast breakfast I took off for Manitou Springs. The ticket office of the Pikes Peak Cog Railway opened up at 7:00 AM and I was second in line. I got tickets for the first train. At 8:00 AM we left the station.

It took one hour and 15 minutes to climb from 6,000 feet to 14,110 feet, the top of Pikes Peak. Some of the sections were a 25 per cent incline. The conductor ask people, who sat opposite to each other, to introduce them selves. In case one person ends up in the lap of the person sitting
across, it would be easier for both.
We slowed down at Inspiration Point where Katherine Lee Bates was inspired to write "America the Beautiful".
The view on top was spectacular. One could see 250 miles in all directions.
The temperature was 18 degrees F. There was no wind and with a jacket and a cap it was beautiful.

On the way up and down we saw mule deer and yellow bellied marmots, which look like beaver with a bushy tail. This outing was quite an experience.
Back at the lodge I barely made it for brunch. The rest of the WINs went for brunch at 10:00 AM and took off for more sightseeing. One new lady was there, she comes from the east coast and I have not seen her before.
The wagon master of this tour took off this morning for Canyon City, our new location. He will inspect the new camp site and report back. We are all leaving tomorrow morning. It will be a short trip, about 50 miles.
In the last five weeks I drove 2,000 miles by car, more than by motorhome. Some of the National Parks are very big and the miles add up.

This was a difficult day. I left Colorado Springs at 7:45 AM. When I took exit 140 off I-25, I experienced my first mishap.
I needed to go on highway 115 but ended up at a canyon road. It took me a while to notice my mistake. It took me also a while to find a spot to turn around.
This was not the only time I got lost today. When you come to a Y take it. I took it, of course the wrong way, instead of going right I took the left turn. I ended up at the main gate of the Ft. Carson military installation. This worried me, it would have been embarrassing to have to make a U turn inside the gate. To my luck there was not much traffic and enough room in front of the gate to turn around.
The rest of the trip to Canon City was without a problem. The scenery is beautiful, with the mountains and spring flowers in the fields and along the road.
I was the second to arrive at our new home. The wagon master had come yesterday. I saw his Jeep with the two Kayaks on top, when I came through Canon City. I found a level spot and was happy with the view. We are on public land, above the city.

The wagon master came back and told me that I was taking the space of three motorhomes. I had to move the motorhome 90 degrees and could not level it. The levelers were at the end of the stroke. I moved to another place and had no luck. I moved to four different places and finally found a place which satisfied me.
The rest of the group came later. One person had to leave and go to a RV Park. He has a one month old 40 foot motorhome with three slide outs. One of the levelers blew a seal. Without being level the slide outs will not come out.
In the afternoon I went to the library and the Super Wal-Mart to buy groceries.
At the 4:00 PM circle meeting the wagon master gave us the schedule for the next three days. I had done most of it many years ago, but can not wait to do it again.

Five car loads of us took off at 9:00 AM for the Royal Gorge. Since we were 20 people we received a large discount.

First we walked across the bridge, and then to an outlook from where one can see the whole bridge, the mountains and the gorge with the Arkansas River. While I was up there a train came through the gorge.

The bridge is 1,053 feet above the river.
Then I took the Aerial Tram, which goes across the gorge. The Incline Railway took me down to the river. It goes down at 45 degrees. Rafts came by. The Arkansas River is a favorite for rafters at the gorge.

The weather was fine too. We all had a good time.
In the evening some of us went in town for a free Concert in the Park. The Fremont County Chamber Orchestra played tunes from Fiddler on the Roof and Classics. The concert was over at 8:00 PM. It was still light and I was able to maneuver around the pot holes and rocks in the road.
The last three miles of road on the government land are only dirt and I was worried coming back in the dark.

Today we took the Phantom Canyon Road to Cripple Creek. It is a 50 mile long dirt road. I did it with the Saturn. The road is part of the Gold Belt Scenic Tour.

Our first stop was at Victor, an active gold mining town. There they take down a mountain, remove the gold and with the remaining earth and stones build a new mountain.

Cripple Creek was once the world greatest gold camp. It is a gambling town now. The town and area are beautiful. Instead of going to a casino I drove to the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument.
I ate my lunch at the picnic area and then went on a ranger guided walk. In this area they find fossils of insects and animals which still have to be identified.
Stumps of petrified giant redwood trees are sitting along the hiking trails. Because of the climate change there are only ponderosa pines growing now in this part of the United States.

Half the group went kayaking and I went with the other half on the scenic train ride through the Royal Gorge. Years ago I saw the Denver and Rio Grande trains passing below the bridge. Now the Royal Gorge Railroad uses the same tracks.
We boarded the train at 9:30 AM, in Canon City, for the 24 mile ride. The train follows the Arkansas River through the gorge. The river has Class 5 rapids, and it was fun seeing the large rafts coming down that fast water, fighting the currents and rapids.

We reserved inside seats, but spent most of the time in the open car. The view of the canyon walls and river was spectacular. We went under the suspension bridge, and hardly could recognize people on the bridge above, they looked like ants.

Our timing was perfect, when we returned to Canon City, clouds appeared and it cooled off.
In the afternoon I went on the Skyline Drive. This is a one way road on a 500 foot high ridge which divides the valley. The road is narrow and there are only five feet on each side and then it goes down 500 feet on each side. There are no guards or rails, one has to keep the eyes on the road and only enjoy the view at the few outlooks.

The city must have had some spare money to build this road, it is only for a pleasure ride. Highway 50 runs parallel in the valley.

No big things were planed for today, so Ken and I went to Pueblo to the Aircraft Museum. What had caught my eye in the brochure was the International B-24 Memorial.
They have a lot of information about the B-24, like production numbers from all the plants in the US, and statistics and a lot of pictures, no B-24 though. There are a B-29, B-47 and other planes. Among the smaller planes was a Convair HC-131 Samaritan.
While I was still working, the retired people were rebuilding one of those at the Harbor Facility.
Besides airplanes they also have the fast train build by Rohr Industries and a big monster, riding on an air cushions, this was built by Grumman.
We had our lunch at a picnic bench at the Riverwalk. Along the Arkansas River are sidewalks, trails, Cafes and spaces for art and entertainment.
Pueblo learned a lot from San Antonio, Texas. We got our exercise walking along the river.

From the Riverwalk we walked to the Union Depot and the Union Avenue Historic Shopping District.

On our way home we saw dark clouds over and near Canon City. When we came near the town it rained. It stopped as soon as we came to the motorhomes.
We had our 4:00 PM circle meeting, and after the meeting it started to rain again.

Yesterday's rain brought cool air to Eastern Colorado. I had to use the heater this morning.
When I got up the sky was blue, no clouds in sight. I went to town and did laundry, did some grocery shopping at Safeway and went back to the motorhome to change in shorts and T shirt.
Then I went back to town to check out the happening at the City Park. There were many booths and music. It was a fund raiser.
From there I went to the Prison Museum. Prisons are an industry in Canon City. There are ten Prisons in the vicinity. A movie has been made about the prison riots in Canon City.

I left the camping area at 7:00 AM and went to the gas station to get gasoline for the motorhome and empty the holding tanks. Since I could not turn the key in the pad lock for the water faucet, I had to leave without water. The one person working in the gas station could not leave her post to help me.
At the library I got my E mail and by 7:45 AM I was leaving Canon City. As soon as I am familiar with a town, it is time to leave.
It took two hours to drive the 70 miles to Buena Vista. Highway 50, the rail road and the Arkansas River go side by side up towards the Continental Divide.
Buena Vista is named correctly. It is located in a large, beautiful valley and twelve mountain peaks exceeding 14,000 feet, along with 500 lakes and four rivers lie within 20 miles of Buena Vista.
When I followed the Arkansas River I saw hundreds of people wearing helmets and gear for rafting, waiting to go on rafts. I am still thinking about to join them in the next few days.
Instead of going to an RV Park in town I went 11 miles north of the city, to check out the place, where a group of WINs will gather from June 22 to 28.
It is a Colorado State campground on Clear Creak Reservoir, has pit toilets, which I do not need and camping is free. The weekend campers were leaving when I arrived. I asked one person where I have to pay, and was informed that there was no charge. I should have known that.
After setting up the motorhome I went to Leadville, a mining town and now a tourist town.

Leadville at 10,152 feet is the highest incorporated town in the United States. During its heyday the Metropolitan Opera and the Chicago Symphony, as well as the actors and actresses of the era, played in the Tabor Opera House. During that time Leadville rivaled Denver as most important city in Colorado. After the gold and silver boom, Leadville became a ghost town, Now, about 3,000 people live there.
The Victorian homes are beautiful and the mountains are spectacular. During my visit in town, snow flakes were in the air, and when I came to a lower elevation it rained heavy. From the highway to the lake I have to drive on a dirt road. My white car is brown now.

The rain stopped for about an hour and I went for a walk through the campground. Behind the big pine trees I found more sites. They are protected from the cold wind coming through the valley. I found one site next to the river. An older couple in their big motorhome, and their son and his family in a truck camper were camping there. I told the older man that I was staying in the open area and the cold wind was really blowing.
He told me to come to this spot, there was plenty of room. I went and got the motorhome and later picked up the car. Just in time, it started raining again.

I knew it would get cold in the night. The blankets are neatly packed away in a plastic bag and I did not feel like tearing them apart. So I took the comforter from Doreen's bed. The two comforters kept me warm.
When I woke up at 6:00 AM it was 40 degrees F in the motorhome. I turned on the little propane heater first and then decided to turn on the furnace too.
15 minutes later I got out of bed and turned off the furnace. I got dressed and went outside and took pictures of the winter wonderland which happened over night. The rain had turned into snow.

After breakfast I took off for a day trip to Aspen. When I got to highway 82, a flashing road sign said that Independent Pass was icy. When I arrived near the pass, two cars were stopped in my lane, the snow plow had gone around them.
I got out of the car and stopped an oncoming car. The driver told me to keep on driving, there was some ice in the higher elevations, but I could make it.
The snow plow had cleared the oncoming lane and spread salt and sand. They did not want anybody to go over the edge. I was driving on the mountain side. Since there was no traffic I could take my time and maneuver over the icy spots. I stopped at the pass, people coming from Aspen had stopped to take pictures at the sign. I had them take my picture too. The pass is at 12,150 feet.

Two men on bicycles also were there, and when I drove down towards Aspen I saw a couple in a convertible, the top down, and a guy on a motorcycle, he had both feet on the ground.
In Aspen I parked the car in a parking building. When I got to the elevator, there was a sign: "Library" I pushed that button and ended up in the library. A 15 minute computer was available and that was plenty time for me.
I walked to the center of town and still remembered how to get around. I like Aspen, they have some of the side streets closed for vehicular traffic and planted trees, so people can sit outside of the restaurants and cafes, and have their coffee or meals.

McDonalds advertises:" You can afford to eat in Aspen". I should have checked what a Big Mac costs there.

Some people walked around in T shirts, it was not cold, sweat shirt weather. The snow in Aspen is gone. On the way home I stopped at overlooks. The road was clear, the sun had done its job.

My neighbors have left. I have this beautiful spot by myself. It is very quiet, the only sound comes from the fast running water and the birds. The motorhome is parked ten feet from the rivers edge.
Since the sky is blue and it is warm, I got a bucket of water from the river and made my car white again.

I took it easy today. I went to Salida and was able to use my computer at the library. From there I walked to the historic part of the city. I spent some time at the bridge over the Arkansas River. Kayakers were learning how to tip over and come up again. They were doing it in white water.

I also stopped at the Wal Mart and recognized a motorhome. Two WIN's had stayed the night there. They were getting ready for the outing in Villa Grove, which starts on the 16th. The next outing is at Clear Creek Reservoir, that's where I am staying. This outing starts on the 22nd.
I am out of sync since I am on my way home. I had planned to go to Villa Grove though.
I had a nice chat with them and told them were water was available and the tanks can be emptied.
On the way home I stopped in Buena Vista and went to the Visitor Center.
I also stopped at a Rafting Company and got some information. When I came back to the motorhome I noticed a new arrival with a WIN sticker on the trailer. I went over and introduced myself. Will is the host for the outing at the Reservoir. He came early to set up things to do.
I told him that I saw Wayne and Alice at the Wal Mart in Salida. He had seen them yesterday and they told him that they went by car to Villa Grove and did not like the road going in the wilderness area. This makes me think. They told me that they were still undecided. I wanted to go there and see the Great Sand Dunes.

I did it. After driving along the Arkansas River for many miles, and watching people come by in rafts, I floated on that wild river too.
Early in the morning I went to the visitor center in Buena Vista and got six gallons of water and then checked my E mail.
Back at the motorhome I had an early lunch and then went to the Arkansas Valley Adventures company. They do all kinds of outdoor activities, from rock climbing to river rafting. They had told me to be there at 11:15 AM for getting fitted with a wet suit and jacket, and helmet.
I was there at 10:30 and filled up my six gallon container with fresh water. They told me not to wear a cotton sweat shirt. Cotton is cold when wet. Since I had no shirt without cotton I had to do without a shirt.
All I had to bring was a bathing suit and water shoes or tennis shoes. I wore water shoes.
We left by bus at 12:00 noon. The weather was perfect, blue sky and it was warm. When we arrived at the river, twenty minutes later, the sky was black and there was a strong wind. We were 45 people and five rafts. I was with a family from Illinois. The boys were between ten and thirteen. Our raft was not completely filled.
We were told not to wear flip flops, this family could not be told that. The parents said they would be OK.
We took off and when we hit the first rapid, the parents were swimming in the river. I helped the women get back in the raft, and she helped her husband, while I helped the guide steady the raft. We had a training session before we went on the river. We actually sat in the raft, on dry land and went through the rescue procedures. Rule number on, never stand in the river and get one of your feet caught between rocks, always have your nose and toes toward the sky.
We were lucky this happened when we went through small rapids. If it would have happened later, when we went through giant rapids it would have been more difficult to get them back in the raft.

The weather improved and we had a screaming good time. The two boys were on my side and I had to make up the difference in rowing. The kids were not very strong.
We followed commands though very good after a while and were able to turn the raft around, after we spun out of control. We had to row forward and backward, depending on the situation.
Joanne, our guide is a graduate student at a university in Utah, this is her summer job. She comes from New York and can scream commands very good. She is an excellent rafting guide.
We were lucky, we saw about ten mother mountain goats with their babies try to get a drink of water. They waited until we passed them.
When we arrived at our destination the sun was warm and welcome. We appreciated it. All of us were wet.
On the way back in the bus, I talked to the guide from Australia. I told him where I was camping. He and other guides camp at the same place. They have little tents at the end of the park.
Back at the motorhome I fired up the water heater, ate dinner and then took a shower, and a nap, I was beat.

Today I drove part of the Top of the Rockies Scenic Byway. I drove North to Leadville and then took highway 91 to I-70. From there I went to Frisco. Frisco is a ski resort area. I saw the library sign and went in to check my E mail. From Frisco I drove South to Breckenridge. This is one of the top winter sport areas in the USA. And it is a beautiful town.

I walked along the river. The have little bridges for walking across the river. On the bridges and along the river they have flowers. Fast food restaurants are in town, but they are in regular buildings. No arches or Pizza Hut building with the red roof. They blend in. In the old part of town the building look like western buildings, with the fake front. Some of the buildings are from the 1800's. The ski runs are not in use right now, there is only a little bit of snow left.

Biking and kayaking are the sports of the season now, and of course walking.
Then I drove further South to Alma and Fairplay. In Alma I saw a lot of "For Sale" signs. The town is not doing so great Fairplay has an authentic reconstruction of a gold rush mining town. They brought 37 buildings from old mining towns to the South Park City Museum.
The weather was on my side, sunny and warm.
When I came back to the motorhome I had a lot of new neighbors. An extended family has a long weekend here at the reservoir. I counted seven pick up trucks and three cars, and there are more relatives coming tomorrow. So far there are one tent trailer and nine tents.
I let them carry away my fire place and the wood. I was too lazy to make a fire, besides it is no fun to sit alone at a fire.
I said goodbye to Will, the host for the WIN outing, which starts next Wednesday. He has gone every day to line up things to do. The group will have fun. He is doing a great job. I will leave here early in the morning.

I moved this morning to the Wal Mart in Salida. When I arrived two WINs were leaving. I would have liked to talk to John and his dog conch. The dog comes from the Florida Keys and is very smart. I had not seen John for a while.
I parked the motorhome and went to the library and from there I traveled to Villa Grove, where the WIN outing is in progress.

I am glad I talked to people about the roads going there and did not take the motorhome. Five people went. Maggi, the host has room for 20 motorhomes. She lives in a beautiful home in the middle of nowhere. Villa Grove is 12 miles away and five miles of road are dirt. Villa Grove has twenty houses. The nearest doctor is in Salida, 32 miles away. She has only one neighbor.
When I arrived there they were lining up to go gold panning.
I continued my journey and went to Great Sand Dunes National Park. The huge dunes are the tallest in North America. The Indiana Dunes are very small compared to those. The tallest dune is 750 feet high.

What interested me, why are the dunes there and why are they so tall. The rangers answer all the questions. The movie helped too.
This was another sunny and warm day. It should be warmer tonight, Salida is only at 8,000 feet. I am seven weeks on the road now.

From Wal Mart I moved to a posh resort. I am at the Blue Mesa Recreational Ranch in Gunnison. It is a membership resort, owned by Western Horizon Resorts. They accept Passport America members when they have camp sites available. I pay half price, $15.00 per day.
I left the library in Salida at 6:30 AM and I am glad I did. The road going up to Monarch Pass has very few passing lanes. It took me a long time to drive the last 12 miles to the pass. Only one car passed me. I passed a lot of bicyclists, they were going all the way too. People spent their weekend going up mountain passes.
Now I am 68 miles closer to home. Tomorrow will be another short trip. From Gunnison to Montrose, highway 50 follows three reservoirs, The Blue Mesa Reservoir, the Morrow Point Reservoir, and the Crystal Reservoir, they form the Curecanti National Recreation Area. This is heaven for anglers. Most people, here in the RV Park, have boats.
After setting up the motorhome I took the 28 mile drive to Crested Butte. This beautiful town is surrounded on three sides by high mountains. There is only one road in. I was surprised of the amount of snow, which was still on top of the mountains.

Crested Butte was an old mining town and has found white gold in the winter. It is a major ski area. The afternoon I spent in the swimming pool and took a nap.

I left Gunnison at 7:30 AM and an hour later arrived, near Cimarron, at one of the Curecanti National Recreation Area campgrounds.

By 9:30 AM I was at the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. On my previous Colorado visits I missed to go there. Today was my day.

Where the rock formation are the hardest, the river carved the canyon straight down,. the vertical walls are 2000 feet high. Every hundred years the river carves one more inch deeper. Looking down that deep canyon and hearing the noise of the water, and realizing how long it took to create that canyon, is an inspiring experience.

I took the Rim Drive and walked to all the lookouts. At the Sunset Point were picnic benches. I had my lunch there and was thinking about how lucky I am to be able to see all those natural wonders.

Back at the motorhome I had visitors. Three WINs were checking out the campground. They had seen my car in the National Park, at different lookouts, but never saw me. They knew that I was a WIN from the sticker on my car. When they came to the campground they saw my car again and stopped to say hello. One of them I knew from the Thanksgiving outing in Borrego Springs and the Dance Rally in Yuma. They are staying at the Elks in Montrose, and are getting ready for the outing in Grand Junction.
It is a very warm day and I had taken a camping site away from the trees. The motorhome was very hot. Since the batteries were charged, I did not need the sun anymore, so I moved to a site with a big Cottonwood tree.
There was a light breeze and it was pleasant sitting in the shade. I started a new book, Paris to the Moon. The first chapter bored me, but the second and following chapters are very good.

Because of road construction I left early and arrived at the Montrose Elks at 6:30 AM. It took me only 45 minutes. Three miles of the road are torn up and I like to drive slowly, without anybody pushing me. Besides, when the work crew is there, they close one side of the road, and there are long lines.
I stayed in the parking lot for an hour, so I would not wake anybody up, and then took an empty site.
At 8:00 AM I took off for Ouray. The whole town is on the National Register for Historic Places. All the building on Main Street were built between 1880 and 1900. The town is at an elevation of 8,000 feet and surrounded by peaks which reach 12,000 to 14,000 feet.
The town is scenic, but I was a little bit disappointed, they call it the Switzerland of America, and the buildings are not Swiss at all. There are no balconies with flowers, or windows with flower boxes. The mountains could be in Switzerland.

The gold mines are closed and Ouray lives of the tourists. The town has a large, one million gallon, swimming pool, fed from hot springs.
I did not bring my swimming suit, and I know they would not let me swim without it. Big fuss about nothing much.
My neighbors at the Elks is an older couple, they must be in their eighties. They walk very slowly. I think they are not married. If they are, they must be on their honeymoon, because they do not know much about each other. He drives a big diesel pusher and he has a SI (Singles International) sticker on his Jeep Cherokee. He was six times in Alaska and she twice.
The afternoon I spent under the poplar trees. It was hot again. The last seven weeks I had the lounge chair in the trunk of the car, today I took it out and used it.

I arrived at the La Mesa RV Park in Cortez at 10:00 AM. The roads from Ridgway to Dolores were very scenic. There was most of the way a river on one side or the other. The leaves of the Aspen are in a fresh green color. Deer were grazing on the side of the road, not even looking up when I came by. There was very little traffic and I took my time climbing up to the two mountain passes, which were over 10,000 feet.
I stopped for a short while in Telluride, another beautiful, fancy, expensive Ski Resort town.
Cortez is at about 6,000 feet and it is very hot. Since I have been at Mesa Verde several times, I will skip a visit there.
I have the air conditioner running and I am taking at easy. I loaded the rest of the pictures from the camera to the computer and will work on the pictures, like renaming them and deleting the bad ones.

This was a driving day. I snug out of the RV park at 5:00 AM. I knew it would get hot when I got to the lower elevations, therefore I wanted to drive as much as possible in the morning.
A cloud cover helped to keep the temperatures down a bit. When I was south of Flagstaff, at 4,000 feet, it was hot.
I had in mind to stay the night at Camp Verde RV Resort. We stayed there eight weeks ago on our way North. Camp Verde is about 70 miles North of Phoenix.
Before I arrived at Camp Verde I stopped at the Rest Area and had lunch. From there I called our friend Susan, who lives in Phoenix. She invited me to come to the house and see what she has accomplished in the last few months. The house is a new house now.
Jack was home too. I wanted to go on the road again before the traffic worsened, and did not stay very long.
The objective was to drive to Indio and stay there, and tomorrow morning drive home.
When I was near Quartzside, it was 4:00 PM, and I did not feel like going any further. The temperature was about 108 degrees F.
When I started out I was worried the motorhome would overheat with a car in tow, and with those high temperatures. But the temperature gage stayed steady.
The lady at the RV park gave me a pull through camp site. I left the car attached to the motorhome, plugged in the electrical cable and went in the motorhome and turned on the air conditioner. That poor sucker had to work hard. I had to turn up the control for the refrigerator, it has to work harder too.
The Trail of the Ancients Tour and the Colorado Trip were fun. There were a couple cold days and now a couple hot days, but overall everything worked out fine.
I saw a lot of beautiful towns, towns, where a lot of the workers can not afford to live. I heard on the news that the fire fighters in Breckenridge live far away from town, and now, with the high gasoline prices, they have even more financial hardship. The town changed their working hours, to help them, so they will spent more time at the fire house than at home.
The WIN group is rolling on. They will be in Wyoming soon. from there they go slowly west and in October from Oregon go south again.
I hope we can join them in Borrego Springs for Thanksgiving, and later in Quartzside, and at the end of February at the Dance Rally in Casa Grande, Arizona. Next years summer trip will be British Columbia and Alberta. I hope we can join them also for this trip.
The next two months, the motorhome will not leave California. It is too hot away from the coast.
I hope all of you have a super summer.

To avoid the heat, I left Quartzside at 4:00 AM. At 8:00 AM I had crossed the mountains near Palm Springs. I stopped, had breakfast, shaved and got ready to head for the coast. When I was near I-15, it was cool already. It was 10:30 AM when I arrived in front of the house.

No comments: