Sunday, June 8, 2014

In The Rockies

Sunday – June 8 – We are now in Estes Park, getting ready to enter Rocky Mountain NP. So this post will relate some of what we have been up to for the last week or so. Still waiting for the lighting to strike so we can see something really spectacular about this part of Colorado. So far, it’s has been about as expected, so-so. Given our history that when anything is really popular, we don’t find it to be so for us, we are not surprised. A surprise would be most welcome. We do know it really expensive here. Even California is less.

Catching up with pictures from places we have been.

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On a rural road close to Grand Junction we found all manner of architecture. This one may have been the most extreme. Note the bridge trestle from a freight car to a deck. Why?

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The Colorado Monument

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The interior of the Colorado Capital is perhaps the most ornate we have seen. Rose Onyx and brass are used throughout the building.

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This rock formation would look good in our back yard

This is our first time in mountains west of Denver. [Well that’s not entirely right, we did a fly and drive a decade back, We spent two nights in Winter Park and drove to Vail] As we pulled the grade west of Denver on I70 it felt like we had loaded the rig with rocks as KoKo was maxed out at 45. When I checked the elevation we were already at 8,800 feet. No wonder she was not peppy, even with 91 octane gas. The CG is at 9,680 feet. Naturally no cell signal. The sky is blue with a few clouds and the forecast is good until the weekend. The temp should be in the upper 30’s at nights. At noon, it’s 70 here. Down the hill in Denver it’s 82.

We drove the Mt. Evans road. The highest paved road in the country. It ascends to 14,100. It provides a fine view of this section of the Rockies. It was in the high 30’s up there with a 20+ wind. We were cold and we had on two layers. Half the folks were in shorts. Mt. Evans is managed by the Forest Service. They charge $10 a car to drive the road. There were hundreds of cars on the road the Sunday we went up. Do the math. Having the Geezer card saved us the ten bucks.

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The view from Mt. Evans, like the one at Wolf Pass is OK, but this section of the Rockies is just not as interesting as the San Juan’s are to us. The tops of the latter are jagged and multi-colored. Here they are all the same, undistinguished. We are trying to find something that really interests us here, but so far, not much. This area gets the traffic since major highways cross the range. The only access to the San Juan’s is the Million Dollar Highway, which scares the beejesus out of most folks.

We explored the area around Idaho Springs and Georgetown. Both have old buildings which have been turned into shops to mine tourist silver. Georgetown is ahead of Idaho Springs in that respect. We drove part of the Guanella Pass road, but we were not impressed. We then crossed to the north side of of I70 and took the Virginia Canyon road. Again nothing to write about. Evidence of mining all over the place. I wonder how many of the mines paid off? We looked for and found a place to park through the weekend as most places are reserved.

We have been seeking a decent fish taco since we chomped on Jorge’s in Baja in 2008. We finally found one in Georgetown. Pricey, 3 for $12, but huge. We were stuffed.

Guessed wrong on a turn coming back yesterday and Glenda took us back to Golden. An extra hour of driving. Glenda is evil and can not be trusted.

We are north of Idaho Springs for a few days, near Central City/Black Hawk. These adjacent former mining towns have more casino’s than Atlantic City. The action must happen on the weekends as you could shoot down the streets with an automatic weekdays with no risk of hitting anyone. We have marginal internet speed most of the time, with bursts high speed.

We tried two trails seeking scenic vistas. On the first one we encountered a wall of snow. I guess that’s why they say this area is not really open until July. On the second one, we chanced on one of the three residents of the former mining town of Nevadaville, who regaled us with the history of the place. I really should not say former mining as gold is still being taken, just not in commercial quantities. One guy takes ten five gallon buckets of ore to a smelter in Denver everyday. He averages an ounce of gold for each trip.

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We turned on the road you see in front of the Jeep and two miles later we found a five foot snow slide across the road. I had no idea what would happen if we tried to scale it, so we turned around.

Our drive the next day to Gros Reservoir was more rewarding. We have never seen Forest Service camp sites widely spread out the hillsides, each with a table and fire ring. Tents only, you could not get an RV on the road. Campers can choose from sites close to the road or ones a hundred yards or more off the road. Plenty of privacy. Very well done. And most sites were in use.

After leaving the reservoir, I intended to drive to some oddly shaped tilted rock formations called The Flatirons. This would add two hours to our drive and my back was already hurting, so we dropped down one of the steepest curvy roads known to man [19% grade] and found ourselves only four miles from Boulder. I queried Glenda about places to eat and she showed several dozen restaurants all clustered together. One was named Mediterranean Restaurant. We enjoyed some of the best tapas dishes in many a moon.

Today, we walked about Central City. Most of the shops are not yet open, as the season starts around the end of June. We tried our luck at one of the casino’s with the usual results. We had a fine prime rib lunch for $7.77 at another casino.

We got to know Ken and Dawn, who are full-timers. It possible we might hook up with them in Lone Pine in September.

1 comment:

  1. Read my post about the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park. Might give you something to do.