Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Mostly Moab

Monday, April 2 - We parked on one of our fav "rocks" overlooking the Goosenecks of the San Juan River. We planned to stay for two days and just veg. We did not check the weather. There was the usual wind out of the south with gusts over 25. In the afternoon we were rocking and rolling. It settled down after dark. Not being able to sit out, we decided to head to our next stop an hour north.

I think this is the fifth time we have been through Monument Valley while the wind was howling. Looks like we will croak before we get second chance to see it.

Tuesday, April 3 - The loneliest road in Utah must be UT 95. There are almost no humans between Natural Bridges and I70. Our kind of road. We saw three other vehicles in 30 miles. We found a  parking place just a 100 yards off the highway. It has a great view of Jacob's Chair beyond a white rock canyon. Perhaps one of the best views we have ever had in Utah.

 Jacob's Chair Above KoKo

Along UT 95

We tried to drive Jacob's Chair trail, but about halfway up the mesa the trail was blocked by large rocks. Next, we tried Paiute Pass, but after a mile or so, we encountered a really off camber slope with deep loose dirt on the downhill side. I deemed it ripe for a rollover so we aborted that trial. Then we drove a few miles on Fortknocker trail and could have kept going until it reached the Dark Canyon. But that was a bridge too far in mid-afternoon. 

Wednesday, April 4 - We continued north on UT24 through some of the best red rock scenery in the state. Since there was no traffic, I was able to poke along at 40 and enjoy looking. It's like Island In The Sky, but better. Before you get to beautiful downtown Hanksville, the show is over, as you enter a desert scape. 

We parked at Temple Mountain as we have many times in the past. Finding the parking area almost empty was not surprising to us. When we took the Jeep to the dirt road we figured out why the parking area was empty, everyone in Utah was dispersed in the red dust- dozens of rigs. We had never seen so many people here. And they kept coming even after dark.


Thursday, April 5 - We got to Moab to find Keith's Jeep fuel pump had gone south and it was three miles down a trail. I pulled it out with no problem. The tach never got above 1,500 even going uphill in 4 wheel high. I think I could have pulled two Jeeps. Impressive machine. 

We are parked where we were last year, but instead of being alone there are dozens of RV's all around. We thought Utah spring break was over. We are told schools have different schedules.  

Had a good campfire with seven other couples last night.

Friday, April 6 - We pulled Keith's Jeep into town and a mechanic replaced the pump in little over an hour. We headed back, but it quit again after a mile or so, so we pulled back to the shop and left it overnight. Dorothy and Sandy chatted at the camp. 

Saturday, April 7 - The morning was cloudy, so we decided to do chores. Two laundromats in Moab have closed which is a surprise since there are so many dirty tourists here. We got that chore done and then went to our favorite grocery store, City Market. Even on Saturdays, employees are busy restocking the shelves that quickly empty. In the evening we went back into Moab and had prime rib dinner at Susie’s Branding Iron. Strange things happening here - it’s raining and I mean really raining.  Whoever heard of so much rain in Utah! Anyhow, we now have mud but it will dry out quickly.

Sunday, April 8 - This afternoon we had a goal to go to Klondike Bluffs.  I missed our trail and had a real Jeeping experience. We drove over a lot of slick rock and saw dinosaur prints. Although we missed the bluffs, it was good to get out and see some scenery.  We will get back to the bluffs another time.  The Weyer’s son, Brett and D-I-L, Linda, arrived along with their friends, Rob and Norma.

Spring break is over, the crowds left.

The Largest Expanse of Slick Rock We Have Seen

Monday, April 9 - We all went Jeeping today.  We climbed a lof rock on 7 Mile Rim, but I never got uncomfortable with it. We had others with us in case something went wrong. So we bounced along the road/trail for four hours. We went to Uranium Arch.  I find arches fascinating for some reason. 

Keith found a rock and snapped his lower control bar bracket. The clever guy wrapped a length of chain around it and around the axle. He went really fast on the way back and I wondered why. His axle could now move back allowing the tire to contact the wheel well when he braked. So he was not braking downhill.

We were very tired when we got back to camp. I fixed a quick dinner, we went over to Keith and Sandy and had a very good campfire - no smoke.  We were back in Koko at 8:20 and I was sound asleep by 8:30.  Don read for a while but I did not hear him when he got up at 3:00 to turn the cat heater on. We did not wake up until 6:30 which is very late for us. I slept ten hours without waking up once, which tells you how exhausted I was.

 Optional Step- We Opted Out

 Arches National Park and The La Sals

Uranium Arch

Tuesday, April 10 - Not doing much this morning. I’m fixing foods that I don’t have time to do when we go out on the trails. Planned to go out in the afternoon, but it turned full overcast, so no picture taking. After dinner, we went to the snowbirds campsite and had a big bonfire. They are all headed back home after spending the winter in the southwest. We all chatted about places we have been.

Facetimed with Alecia. Bennett walked in and saw the landscape where we are parked. It's not scenic. He dismissed it a desert. It is but he has no clue of the wonders close around.

Wednesday, April 11 - The forecast for today and tomorrow means we will be doing sedentary activities like reading. The barometric pressure is dropping and the winds will be building - up to the mid-30's tomorrow. Batten the hatches. 

Team Weyers will be doing the Metal Masher today. A trail way over the capabilities of a stock Jeep.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Around Zion - Now Escalante Country

Seeing old places in new ways

Thursday, March 15 - Have I carped about DST too much? I don't care for it at home. But, it sucks more on Mountain Time. It's 7:30 am and the sun is still below the horizon. Grump!

There was a storm last night. It was supposed to be partly sunny today. It was totally overcast and showers started around noon. I think half of the 14 days we have been gone have been cold and wet. It's supposed to be partly sunny tomorrow then rain again Saturday, then be chilly for the next week. And so it goes. Last year we were hot everywhere we went. This year we might be chilly all year. We saw some Frogs down the road readying their climbing gear. Zion has had a had a dark cloud over it for the last 48 hours. We can wait out the weather. Those on vacation have to deal with the weather.

There are three campers permanently parked out here that look like this. They are rentals. The first we have seen of them. Would never have suspected that BLM would allow permanent campers. We met the owner. He got a permit. Remains to be seen if BLM will renew it. About $150 a night.

 Zion Out Our Rear Window 15 Miles Distant

Friday, March 16 - It snowed in the higher elevations last night. It was 32 where we are parked. The catalytic heater kept us toasty. Partly cloudy today. 

Keith and Sandy from Iowa joined us.

Saturday, March 17 - Mostly cloudy, breezy, chilly. More of the same in the forecast. Card games with Keith and Sandy filled the afternoon. Rain and snow overnight. The snow reached down to about 500 feet above us.

Sunday, March 18 - Sunlight! A glorious day. We drove up Hurricane Mesa looking for shots in the snow to photograph, then we made a run to Wally World and then a surprisingly good and huge meal at Costa Vida, a local chain. After being deprived of scenery we decided to go with the hordes to Zion. It is always stunning. The snow made for a little extra interest in the pictures.

Monday, March 19 - After an overnight low of 24, we have sun. We sat with Keith and Sandy sunning like lizards.  I went from a lined jacket and two other layers to a cotton T. Ed and Carol arrived. A nice surprise.

The schoolhouse and a home in the ghost town of Grafton

Tuesday, March 20 - Overcast in the morning, so we did laundry. The sky turned blue after lunch. Sandy found out about a waterfall so three Jeeps headed out over a rough road to witness water in southern Utah. Not a bad falls and some decent red rock scenery along the way.

We have seen clusters of new homes all over this area. A headline this morning notes that Washington county (St. George) is America’s fastest-growing metropolitan area.

Wednesday, March 21 - Weather wise a repeat of yesterday. We drove Smithsonian Butte in the afternoon. Lots of warning signs about needing high-clearance 4WD. That was true the last time we drove this trial. The uphill was exposed sharp rocks. Now they have covered them with dirt.

 Dorothy, Sandy, Ed, and Keith

Thursday, March 22 - Very light rain in the morning, but cloudy all day. We did errands, propane, Costco, library and looked at the 2018 Jeep.

We are having a great visit with our camping buddies, swapping stories and even having a campfire.  Life is good!

Friday, March 23 - Dear Diary, it seems every day there is a weather report. It's just not the usual Utah weather.

This was a beautiful Utah Day, just what we have come to expect in our travels. 

Not much going on in the morning, except that the “boys" sat outside chatting and looking at maps, making plans for our continued journey.  I started lunch and then went outside to join them.  Soon the “girls” were outside also and we all had a chat. After lunch and a quick nap, we headed to town to pick up the mail which had Don’s new CPAP and to get the rest of the groceries that I had forgotten the previous day.  Back at the campground, more chatting.  Before breaking up to have dinner, we agreed to meet at the campfire.  When three couples get together with mutual interest, there is a lot of chatting going on.  

Saturday, March 24 - The weather was not as nice today with cooler temps and cloudy.  In the afternoon, we headed to the Kolob Reservoir.  As we gained altitude, we saw snow on the roadside, then snow on the road.  The reservoir was frozen.  Back at our rigs, it turned very windy so we could not have our evening campfire.

We moved to Escalante Country

Sunday, March 25 -  It’s sunny, but cool and windy. We went see the Toad Stools under the cobalt blue skies. After walking for a while, I got tired and turned around. I’ve learned not to go too far because you always have to walk the same distance back. Note to our daughter: Our traveling buddies like rocks as much as we do.

Monday, March 26 - Sandy and Keith made the 33 mile nearly three hour run with us to White Pocket. I had wanted to tent camp there and photograph in the morning and afternoon light, but the weather was like it was it was two years back. Just too chilly and windy for two pampered old folks. I had to accept the flat light of mid-morning. It was a 7+ hour day in the Jeep. Dorothy took a pain pill when we got back and was asleep at 7:30.

 Streams of Color

 What Is It?

 Made in the same way as The Wave, just swirled in odd shapes

My fav Juniper Tree

Tuesday, March 27 - We took the ranger’s suggestion to go to the Paria Canyon overlook. It was an OK wide canyon, but not as spectacular as others we have seen. We did find a great place to put out our chairs and have lunch. When we exited we went to Big Water for gas priced at $3.07.

When we arrived back at the campground, we moved to a mesa. This is a great spot to overlook the red rocks and there is no noise. There is nothing like scenic views, quiet, and free. Thanks to Ed, who is finding us some great spots to camp.

Wednesday, March 28 - The goal was to visit the White Rocks. Keith put this at the top of his list. We had been to the north section a few years back and I expected to find it without any problem. We were thwarted. They have made it a wilderness study area. You are now required to hike 8-miles round turn to get to the hoodoos. Another case of making scenic attractions only for the able-bodied.

Since vehicle traffic is no longer permitted, they removed the limited signage. There is one road and we had to read the sign several times to understand that it was OK to use the road as long as you did not use it access the hoodoos.  We turned on one branch road which led to a dry wash. Keith, the tracker, noted that a truck had recently used the road both ways. That jived with the feed and water we saw left for cows. We followed the wash knowing that it would eventually lead to the highway. Along the way, we encountered a portion of the White Rocks and we stayed clear of the forbidden hoodoos.

 Dorothy expresses her fondness for Study Areas

 Just for our daughter

 What Is It? Seems to have a smile and a hat.

The Forbidden Hoodoos

Thursday, March 29 - We made a long distance move - almost 30 miles to Lone Rock on Lake Powell. A long time fav of ours. It's a little lower here, almost a thousand feet, so we put on shorts and stored the heater. We all got a little sunburned.

We decided to do laundry, had a decent pizza and salad in town and made a quick trip to Walmart. We spent the rest of the day chatting, enjoying the view and the warm weather.

Friday, March 30 - Another lazy day and warm day. We have enjoyed brilliant blue cobalt skies and rose-hued sunrises and sunsets. We took KoKo into town did grocery shopping. On Friday, Safeway has 8 pieces of chicken for $5. We cleaned some of the dirt and water spots off KoKo at the carwash.

The town of Page is bordered by a Navajo Res. So more than half the shoppers in town are Navajo and most of the rest are tourists, mostly Asian. It's expected that the Navajo resent whites and they do. The Asian's have no respect for anyone. They are on holiday in another country and rules don't apply to them. They drive here just as they do at home, anything goes.

Saturday, March 31 - It was a full moon last night and the space junk comes down tomorrow.

After lunch, we drove Smoky Mountain Road. So named for the coal seam fire that has been burning for half a century. We did not go that far, but we did go up Kelly Grade which takes you up nearly 2,000 feet to a plateau above Lake Powell. It's a long, long distance view and any haze renders a photo worthless. So I did not try. It was a great winding road with a narrow shelf section.

Back downhill, we headed east to Alstrom Point, which we had visited several years back. It overlooks Gunsight Bay on the north side of the lake. This is my fav photo to date on this trip. Golden Hour was canceled due to clouds in the west, but I got this one two hours before sunset.

 Gunsight Bay From Alstrom Point

 Reverse View - Gunsight Butte Taken From The Lake Last Year

Sunday, April 1 - Lazy, lazy day. We are splitting paths for a time. We will wind up together in Moab shortly.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The 2018 Voyage - So Far

To start with:
In Babylon, during the eleven-day New Year's festival, each spring a priest severed the head of a ram, smeared blood on the temple walls, and threw the carcass into the river so the “scapegoat” could carry away the year’s sins. Now you know.

Part of our excitement in crossing the country was witnessing Skunk love season in North Texas. We saw a roadkill about every 5 miles for two days. Real tough love.

86 octane Regular gas begins to disappear in West Texas. Regular here is 85 octane which usually has 15% corn squeezings which makes KoKo quite ill. So we have to pay for 87/88 octane mid-grade and that's an extra two-bits a gallon. It's always great when the government makes rules that cost people more money for no benefit.

Dead Machinery
The water pump I replaced just before leaving started leaking. So I replaced it with the new spare water pump I ordered. Now I need another spare.

The next day the hot water heater would not ignite. The gas was not being turned on. But it came back to life in a few hours and has not given any more problems. We are haunted.

My CPAP died three days after we left home. Just two months out of warranty. Now I've got to deal with getting a new one. Should be fun. You can not just buy one, you need a script. That keeps the prices at maximum. Plus the supplier is stocked out for a week.

The trip so far
Friday, March 2 - We had lunch at Ezill's Catfish Cabin. I read it was really special. We could only give it a B. Our usual first night stop was at Rosevelt SP half-way between Meridian and Jackson,

Saturday, March 3 - A city park in Quitman, TX. We think this was the first time we have crossed Louisiana with overnighting. Moving fast for us.

Sunday, March 4 - Rest area in St. Joe, TX

Monday, March 5 - Travel Center in Amarillo, TX. 27 degrees

Tuesday, March 6 - Our usual RV park in Albuquerque, NM. 27 degrees again

Wednesday, March 7 - Homolovi SP in Winslow, AZ.  Warmer!

A lunch stop in The Petrified Forest. We traded stories with a ranger. We liked his story about the guy who asked if he was there when it was a forest. Yes, they are among us.

Not my picture, a fellow named Andrew V. Kerns took it.

Thursday, March 8 - Damn fine RV park in Kingman, AZ. Delightful weather - warm and sunny. We had never driven US93 from Kingman to Boulder City. Quite dramatic views as you descend to the Colorado River. It looks like the several valleys around Death Valley, only better.

Friday, March 9 - We reached our destination in the boonies of southern Nevada.  More delightful weather - warm and sunny. The 20-mile road in is heavily patched asphalt with potholes. Good speed is about 20mpg.

Saturday, March 10 - The weather report was for partly cloudy. It was completely overcast all day. Light rain late in the day. We explored a bit but did not try to get to our destination since the clouds made everything gray. We have the parking area to ourselves after the rude folks left who feigned great indigence because we parked with them. 

Sunday, March 11 - Mostly sunny with no haze. Off in the Jeep to see strange rock formations. It took about an hour to get there down one dry wash after another. We did not see a soul all the way until we parked, then another guy appeared. A glance at his gear and I knew he was not an amateur. He said he comes to this place quite often as it's not well known. He thought the overnight rain would fill the depressions in the rocks, making for some interesting compositions. But, there was not enough water. He pointed out some interesting places for us and we left him to his work. I had great difficulty with the light. I needed a drone facing the cliffs, between the sun and rocks. I managed to get a few decent ones, but nothing dramatic. I did not risk staying until the golden hour as I did care to risk a wrong turn getting out in the dark. I had lat/log waypoints, but they were not accurate.

 Out our back window

 The gray clouds added some drama to this exposure

Someone has named this The Control Tower

Monday, March 12 - We tried for over an hour to match the description we had to a trail that leads to a slot canyon. No joy. We headed out and planned to stay at Snow Canyon SP in St. George. I had a mental image of a mostly empty campground. It was full. It's freaking spring break in Utah. We tried a dispersed place a few miles north, but it's now day use only. Back into St. George and paying $45 for an overlook of I15. Really no better choices. We needed water and a dump and we were tired. 

The slot we could not locate

Tuesday, March 13 - We left the city eastbound toward Zion. We parked on a low mesa with a decent view of the gates of Zion. Perfect weather today, but wind, rain, and cooler temps are forecast. We are out of the chaos of the masses and only 4 miles from water and dump, 6 miles from Walmart, and a little farther to Costco and the big box stores. 

We wanted to boondock here before but never did. I don't know why not. Some years back we got a site in Zion, which was OK. Now, it's reservations all year long. Private parks are over $50 and even the state park is $28. Everyone likes Zion. Our closest neighbor is over a hundred yards off to our right and there is no one in front or back of us. 

The reason we wanted to come here is to take an extended look and photograph a bit of the east side of the park. To me, it's the most interesting section. Yes, that means more pictures of red and white "rocks". While we can't do more than walk a bit from the roadway, that will be fine. So one morning when it's not overcast, we will leave here about 8, just after sunrise, (freaking DST), get to the east side and find one of the few pull outs to park. 

Wednesday, March 14 - Dark heavy clouds at daybreak. Wind forecast for the afternoon and evening, followed by light rain. Seems like a good day to veg, use some bandwidth at the library and do a few small projects. And just maybe they will ship my replacement CPAP.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

On The Road Again - Well Almost

We've been six months in Montgomery and it is now time to hit the road.  That means time to do all the things that we have been putting off.  When we got home in September, I was in a state of exhaustion and was not able to do anything in Koko.  I had our two oldest grandchildren come over and unpack the kitchen.  When you have two teenagers unpacking, they can do it in 15 minutes.  They made many trips and worked quickly.  I appreciated that so much.

The extreme exhaustion continued for a few months and I was not able to go back to my volunteer jobs where I only sat at a desk and answered phones.  After several tests, my doctor was unable to find out what the problem was.  I have post-polio syndrome and went to a neurologist, and while he is very knowledgeable about this, he was not able to give me a pill that would cure me.  He told me that in order to extend my energy levels, I could do everyday housework and then rest, lots of rest. If I overexert myself, I am never able to recover from that.  The recliner and I are now very good friends.  The good news is that I am much better and my energy is back to normal, at least normal for me.  I decided to eliminate the everyday housework and do fun things instead.

After cleaning the inside of Koko, it was time to get the kitchen stocked.  After 11 years of traveling, I am doing things a little differently this time.  I don’t have to take tons of food from home.  There are wonderful grocery stores where we travel, so I am packing lighter.  I will try to stay in the “pack it lighter” mode with my clothes.  That will be a real challenge for me!

Koko needs to be washed and waxed before we leave town.  The weather in Montgomery has been crazy this year, with snow twice!  There has been lots of rain this year also.  We need two days to do this chore and I have many other things to do that will take me away from this.  I’m sure I will go into my stressed out mode, but it will all get accomplished and I will breathe a sigh of relief when Koko’s wheels start turning.

We are looking forward to our 12th year of travels in the wonderful southwest!

Monday, October 2, 2017

Life At 200 Feet

After spending most of the trip at over 4,000 feet and the last month or so, at over 8,000, we are back home at 200 feet above sea level. Slowly unpacking. Some many things to do.

Silverton, CO

Wednesday, September 13
KoKo is 10 today.

In the morning, we drove to Stoney Pass. No dramatic vista’s, but enjoyable alpine scenes.

We enjoyed lunch with new friends Mary and Stephen. We visited with them all afternoon and then had had dinner with them. Mary baked chicken.

Dorothy’s drugs were enroute to Silverton at 10 yesterday morning. At 10pm they were back in Atlanta supposedly due to weather.

Thursday, September 14
The saga of Dorothy’s drugs is concluded as far as we are concerned. Tracking shows they are back in Montgomery. They may be returned to our daughter or they may never be seen again. I have enough to share with Dorothy for her critical meds. We are headed home. We left Silverton and stopped for two days in Durango. We were out of food.

During our previous visits to Silverton, our refrigerator would go off, due to the altitude. It was no problem as it would relight. This time it only went out twice in a week. Last year Dorothy would “go out” every time we went above 7,000 feet. Her blood pressure would spike and she would cough. This year we were above 8,000 for over a month and she had zero problems. Same refrigerator and same wife. Strange.

Friday, September 15
Dorothy summarizes the trip:

As we now head home, here are some of the highlights of the trip for me:
Visiting our friends and former neighbors in Louisiana, Coral and D D
Spending time in Fredericksburg, TX with fellow Lazy Dazers Ross and Beverly and then seeing them again in Vernal, UT
Spending two nights in Llano, TX eating at Cooper’s BBQ
Another visit to St. Clair Winery in Deming, NM
Spending time at Lone Rock on the AZ/UT border and renting a boat to explore Lake Powell
Staying at Valley of Fire SP in NV
Going to Alabama Hills once again
Spending a long time with friends, John & Mary Jane, and we think they still like us
Meeting very friendly people in British Columbia
Eating good Pacific salmon several times
Spending time with another LD couple, Ed & Carol
Going to Silverton, CO and getting to visit with Keith and Sandy, whom we met in Silverton on our first trip there. We had drinks at The Rum Bar and good pizza at Golden Brewery with them.  Also got to meet Harley & Elaine, a very friendly and nice couple. Then we met, new to us, LDer’s, Mary and Stephen. We went to town and had another good pizza. By then it was our third time there.
I have enjoyed good health on this trip and the high altitude did not bother me this time! Don is also doing well.  We couldn’t ask for more.

Homeward Bound

Saturday, September 16
Durango, CO to Lake Heron in NM

Sunday, September 17
To the Wild Rivers rec area. We were here 10 years ago this month. KoKo was two weeks old. We met some friends from Tennessee for one night. Terry was not impressed with our new RV, because it looked like an RV. He is very much into stealth vehicles. 

On our first western trip, I termed northern New Mexico’s flora soft. I have not come up with a better description. Nothing dramatic, just pleasing muted tones.

Monday, September 18
It was a 2.5-hour drive to Las Vegas, NM and we made it in only 6 hours. We took the roundabout way to see film locations used the Longmire series. All we found was a doorway on the plaza in Las Vegas. Like most of New Mexico, Las Vegas is a sad town. We could not locate a decent restaurant.

Tuesday, September 19
Three hours to the city campground in Muleshoe, TX. We lucked on this overnight spot the week it opened a few years back. They have enlarged it and it now has full hookups and tables.

Wednesday, September 20
We drove a long day for us, 4:15 south of Abilene, at Buffalo Gap. The reason was to eat beef at Perini’s. And we did. We both had Prime Rib. The entire meal was well above average. One of the tastiest salads ever and homemade bread with garlic butter. I had a side of Zucchini Perini, which is served in a divine red sauce.

Thursday, September 21
Three hours of driving brought us a COE park near Ft. Worth we use when we drive I20. The AC did not cut off. The temp is 96, typical for this time of year in Texas. I had thought we would follow the low-pressure system home, but when it reached Texas it went poof.

Friday, September 22
Four hours of driving
We stayed at a private CG in Marshall, TX

Saturday, September 23
Three hours of driving
We stayed at a private CG in Vicksburg and pigged out on catfish and sweet potato fries at Roudy’s.

Sunday, September 24
Three hours of driving
Our usual COE campground on Lake Okatibbee north of Meridian.

Monday, September 25
Three hours of driving
Arrived in our old neighborhood and parked in Frank and Sandy’s driveway. It was good to see them. As usual, Frank cooked a gourmet dinner. This time salmon cooked to absolute perfection with a divine dill sauce and popover bread. Also, as usual, Sandy got Dorothy drunk and they stayed up and squealed until 10:30. I was asleep before 9.

Tuesday, September 26
Stopped at the polling place to vote before we got home. Stocked the larder at Costco and Publix's. Had dinner with the grandkids.

PS Dorothy's drugs arrived September 30 after traveling around the country for four weeks.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Colorado Mountains

Monday, August 28
We drove to Tincup Pass. I always wanted to do it simply because of the name. We were not impressed. On the way, we stopped in the not so ghosty town of St. Elmo. Most of the former mining camps are now privately owned and inhabited. Some of the structures are deteriorating, some have been rebuilt and some are brand new. The best ghost town for us remains Bodie in the eastern Sierra.

Tuesday, August 29
An hour south to Ohaver Lake CG which is at 9,200. It has a small charming lake. We grocery shopped in Salida. We sure do eat a lot.

Wednesday, August 30
We took another trail through mining country. Porphyry Pass. We were again not impressed with Colorado scenery. Gray-Brown rounded mountains just don’t do it for us. Most of the time you are in the trees with no view. We have tried Colorado twice before and were mildly disappointed. This trip confirms our previous opinion.

It’s cool in the mountains. Texans flock here to escape the heat. Strong demand and limited supply always mean higher prices. It allows the town of Salida to charge $7 to dump your tanks and then they ask for another $5 for fresh water.

Time to kick the tires and light the fires and head south to the only part of the state we like - The San Juan Mountains. We will leave the Rockies for the rest of the folks.

Thursday, August 31
But, first, we have to stay in one place for the freaking holiday. We lucked out and met up with some friends in a great campground north of Gunnison - One Mile.

Friday, September 1
We made a late start and took a leisurely drive up Spring Creek Road. Nice valley and the rocks are sand colored, much better than gray brown. There are lots of dispersed sites along the way, but the road is way too much washboard for our RV.

Saturday, September 2
Absolutely no whining today about Colorado scenery. It is totally different here than 30 miles away. We drove to Crested Butte. We expected a zoo. It was. They were having a street fair so the main street was blocked off and people were walking, biking in the streets daring to be hit. It seemed normal for a long weekend.

Escaping CB, we turned north on Slate River Road. This turned out to be one of the most picturesque roads we have been on. There was haze, but even through it we could tell this was a spectacular place. We had never heard of it, but it’s very popular area. There was plenty of traffic to prove that, but everyone respected right of way and like us were just out to enjoy.

We drove up Slate River Road to Schofield Pass and came back to Crested Butte on Gothic Road. Had we known, we would have returned the way we came, because scenery along Slate River beats Gothic Road which itself is not shabby.

The roads are rated 4WD, but most vehicles were AWD, mostly a smooth road bed and wide enough for passing.

Sunday, September 3
We are changing the name of this trip to The Smoke Trip

The plan was to drive Keebler Pass, but what we thought was haze yesterday is actually smoke and it was denser today, so we abandoned the trip. We spent the afternoon doing laundry and enjoyed a pretty good dinner at Garlic Mike’s. Dorothy had Sea Bass and I had Veal Scaloppine Piccata.

Monday, September 4
Dear Diary,
We wanted to get on the west side of the mountains near a little burg of a town named Marble to drive two Jeep trails. I had thought we might drive the well-maintained dirt road from Crested Butte there. Glenda advised us that it would take an hour longer, so we drove the longer paved road route. The longer route used Colorado 130 which twists and turns up from the Gunnison River. We had been on this road before when we day-tripped to the north end of the Black Canyon. It’s quite scenic but gives precious few views into the canyon. On top, there is a south facing view of the San Juan’s. We could make out the jagged contours of the mountains, through the smoke.

We picked Redstone campground because it’s hot in Colorado right now and the place has electricity. It has the highest rates we have ever seen for a Forest Service campground. $39. Our cost is $22, but that is still high for a Forest Service campground.

We were also surprised that the town of Redstone is a Carmel like artists colony. About a quarter-mile of shops offering artistic items. There must have been some big deal holiday event that had just broken up as the street was filled with folks returning to their cars that had been parked at some distance to the town.

 Cleveholm - Now a B and B

Tuesday, September 5
Yeah, the smoke is still here and now denser. We drove a loop road through the mountains. The far views would have been excellent if the air was clear. Next time. We did get to see “the most photographed mill in Colorado”. And Dorothy describes it.

My first post since we got on the road.  Today the goal was to get to Crystal Mill, which is one of the most intact and photographed in Colorado. We started at Marble, CO.  Marble is just not your ordinary mineral mine, it is a marble mine. Marble from here is in the Jefferson Memorial and many other places.  Driving through town, you see yard ornaments, except they are made of marble.

After leaving Marble we began our ascent through the aspen trees over the very rocky dusty road. You need high clearance in a few places and definitely need tires that are up to lots and lots of sharp rocks.  After two hours, we started descending into the very small town of Crystal.  The old mining homes are now private residences and are rehabbed. I don’t know why anyone would want to live there. Right past the town is the Mill.

We pulled off the road so Don could get some pictures.  He started down a rough looking path - I knew I could not go there. Immediately a man on a motor bike pulled up and very politely told him to come back. We asked who he was. He told us that the land was private property and he was the owner. He said that path was dangerous and just a couple of months ago, a woman in high heels started down it, had a very bad fall and had to get life support to air lift her out.  Of course, she sued him. She was trespassing, wearing high heels and obviously stupid and still wants to sue.  The law says that if you trespass in Colorado and are injured, then it’s your fault. Totally makes sense, but the owner has to get a lawyer and fight the case.  This has happened three times this year.

He talked to several of us for a while.  He is fourth generation owner.  His great-grandfather was one of the founders of Aspen having tent-camped on the main street during the mining heyday. His grandson is now the sixth generation. He doesn’t want to fence the area off so that others can enjoy it, but in the last ten years, the site has become so popular from the internet that it is getting damaged. People have crossed the stream, climbed up the ladder and kicked in the door to get inside. This is a wooden structure that is 100 years old and is not in a constant state of repair, so it’s not only dangerous, but it is damaging private property. I admire the owner for wanting to share history with others, but at the same time, the lawyers are expensive. Since it is in the national forest, I thought it was forest service land.  He said that if there is a building from the “old” days on forest service land, they knock them down - there goes history.

The 15-mile trip took four hours. It takes a long time when you go so slowly. It’s exhausting to bump along a rocky road for hours. Soon we should be in real “Jeep” territory.

The loop was rated “Red” in Wells book. Other than being extremely dusty, rocky in places and a narrow shelf in other places it was not anything exceptional. I am sure when it is muddy it is a difficult trail, but who in their right minds would drive a narrow muddy shelf road. I think only Utah offers technically challenging trails.

The Hamlet of Crystal's Fire Equipment

 The Crystal Mill

Your Guess Is As Good As Mine

Wednesday, September 6
We drove 3.5 hours south to Ouray encountering the densest smoke we have seen. A wind storm came up just before dusk and cleared a lot of it out. Woohoo!

One forecast calls for rain almost every day for the next week. Another says the chance is much less. We have drugs being shipped to Silverton so we will get whatever falls from the sky.

Hiking: There are almost as many hiking trails as there are hikers. Some trails are short, some long, some take days to complete. I was thinking, why bother with trails? You can be anywhere and start a hike, even an epic hike. How about through the Bob Marshall Wilderness in March? Or you could be in an elevator and decide you want to head north. You would just path find when the elevator doors opened. This is the what the first American path finders, like Fremont and Bridger did. Be a real hiker, be a Pathfinder.

Thursday, September 7
We were inclined to stay in Ouray another day or two. We did a little touring and had lunch at the local Mex place. It was still good and way too much food. We noticed several trailer loads of ATV’s heading south and it alarmed us. Could they be going to where we were going for the weekend? We decided screw Ouray and headed south 23 miles and found our campground half empty. Good news. I walked around the river sites deciding where I want to park based on who might be using a generator. I asked a guy in a motor home if it would be OK with him if we parked next to him. Fine, he said and then he said he knew our rig and the woman standing next to it was named Dorothy. I looked at him and nothing registered and then I figured out it was Keith who we met here six years ago. Serendipity. We went into town for drinks and pizza and jawed until I was got sleepy.

Keith, Elaine, and Sandy

Her Royal Self On Mineral Creek

Friday, September 8
Keith and Sandy were due to leave but elected to stay another day and visit. We are so glad they did. We also got to know Harley and Elaine who are a lot of fun.

It got hot, then chilled off three times during the day. I about wore out my clothes changing.

Saturday, September 9
The sky was totally clear at 9:30 so we got away to a Jeep trail I have been wanting to do since we were last here. Last time, the narrow ledge trail greatly alarmed Dorothy, so I back down and turned around. This time she was not in the least bothered by the drop-off. Near the end of the trail there had been a massive slide and rather than try to return it as a road they just ended the trail there. So I had to hike the last half-mile or so, starting at 12,250 and going UP. Dorothy went a little way, but she was huffing and puffing and had to give it up. I was not doing very good myself, but I decided to push it. I made it to the first lake but had no energy left to continue to the second and third ones.

This is the picture I was after. But, the little bog lake was dried up, only a few pots of water remaining.

So I continued to the real lake. Which was not as cool. The sky cooperated, remaining almost cloudless for the whole climb. Five minutes before I got the lake gray clouds suddenly appeared behind the jagged rocks and the another cloud hide the sun. I was torked. I did not have time to wait it out as we had to get to post office before it closed at 1. I stayed 30 minutes, but the clouds did not budge much. And so it goes.

 I got this “also participated” shot

The road to the lake

Still a few flowers blooming up high

Sunday, September 10
The day opened with mostly blue skies, so we made haste to get to the roads that transverse the Red Mountains. We had some great views and I got a few pictures before dark clouds appeared. The San Juan’s remain our fav mountains.

The county has really made an effort to improve the roads. We were surprised by the sparse number of people on the trails on a Sunday.

Why We Come To Silverton

Heard on the radio; Colorado has an Alligator Park where you can go and wrestle a gator if you are of that mind. Reminds me of Florida in the 50’s. Also heard an ad for condoms, a first for us. The couple were whispering what they wanted to the clerk. They were told there was no need to whisper. They replied they had lost their voices from pleasure screams using them.

Monday, September 11
We wanted to return to Red Mountain again today. We got away too late. By 10:30 the clear skies were replaced by gray clouds. After noon, we had light rain.

Dorothy’s drugs were in Denver Saturday en route to us according to the postal tracking service. This morning they were in Atlanta!!!

Tuesday, September 12
We took the short drive up to Clear Lake and got a few pictures before the clouds made too much of an appearance.

 Even The Creeks Are Stained With Minerals

The End Of The Trail To Clear Lake

About 2PM, we got a deluge of rain, hail, and sleet.

Dorothy’s drugs have been turned around and are now crossing the country again. No expected delivery date yet.

Actual suggestions made to park rangers:

Trails need to be wider so people can walk holding hands.

Trails need to be reconstructed so they are not uphill.


Bullwinkle and BF chilling in the mud