Friday, September 27, 2013

Shades of fall ..........

The sun came out to heighten the glowing color of the aspen and the snow.   It was a beautiful ride.

 Remnants of the Yankee Girl Mine.......

It was a very windy day and this is a mostly in focus  leaf.     Last night and today it has rained and blown and the temperature keeps dropping.    The hardy pickleball players did not let it deter them however.......and now the sun has come out and the mountains are bathed in new layers of white.

  We had planned on heading to Denver today but Vail Pass and Eisenhower Tunnel are getting snow and very cold temps which are NOT conducive to a lumbering 40 ft moving house.    So we will wait a couple of days........and enjoy our views.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Changing seasons......

We moved up the road a bit and now have in-house WIFI.... feels a bit luxurious and decadent.   But this private campground doesn't allow campfires so we're still deciding if it was a good tradeoff.   The stars out here are brilliant and worthy of contemplation amid the pines and crackling fire each night.   But it is a lot colder than when we arrived so maybe our non-crackling electric fireplace will have to suffice.     Interesting note:   Ouray County has an ordinance that limits outside night lighting to 40 watt bulbs....and we haven't been in town at night to see if and how that would be accomplished.   

On Sunday, after we had moved, the skies darkened and torrential rain and even hail came down.   Even pea sized hail sounds like rocks on the MH roof..... This CG is located  a few miles south of Montrose...a nice community of about 20,000.   As you drive further south towards Ouray, you see the San Juan Mountains.   This is an view when we first came to the area a few weeks ago.
 This was the same view after all of the rain................stunning and magnificent.

 This is the land of large ranches .....horses in abundance as well as cows, mostly black and sheep in the higher country.    But occasionally, you find a bit more exotic these yaks.   We've seen another small collection closer to Ouray.    The yarn store in Ouray sells local yak yarn....very soft.  

 But we didn't expect to see this in the same field.  
 We wandered a bit farther up the mountains  and the snow cover seemed even deeper.   We're wondering if some of our trails are now impassable.  
I noticed this sign as we were exploring.....not sure if you can read the first word "DEAD"....The road is actually listed on the map.   All of the area streets have regular city street signs but suspect that this one kept being 'removed' so they gave up and someone made a wooden one.   The original probably graces some realtor's wall.  

P has been playing PB with a group on a regular basis about 4 times a week.    Coincidently , one of the guys retired here from Bethel, CT, which is the next town over from where we lived in Newtown.  Last night, we joined him and his wife for dinner.    She grew up in Newtown, as did her mother so we had a lot of history and commonalities to talk about..     And then, later, another couple popped in and they were from Southbury....the next town north of Newtown!!  Small world and fun to share stories.

Looks like we'll hang around here 'til the end of the week or so and then maybe head back to Denver before going to the Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque on the 5th.   Our time on the road is getting shorter and we're beginning to feel the pull of home and friends.

Friday, September 20, 2013

How do you like my new hard drive........?

I'm back at the Looney Bean once more.    Trust me, they make the best frozen skinny mochas I have ever had and I've enjoyed the 2 baristas, especially Morgan, a cute kid with piercing and various hair shades and tattoos.....and she is just so good at what she refreshing these days !  

Anyhow, the new bigger  hard drive is successfully installed.    Thanks to Mr Fixit....with a little help from the local Apple expert who also works at the Horsefly Brewery and is where you take your MAC for help.....nice guy as well.     I now have tons of storage and probably a lot of other things that I have no knowledge of.    Now, if I only had internet in the moving house.......but then I wouldn't come to the  Looney Bean..... 

We are still in the San Juan Mtns and despite daily rain and thunder and lightning and damp campfires, we still are very happy with this neighborhood.      Yesterday, the rain stopped and the blue sky showed it's magnificence and we headed out.       
This is a view of Ouray as you head south towards Silverton.   

The aspen are just beginning to show their color..........
We chose Ophir Pass this day to explore.   It has some bumps and narrow ledges but mostly it's just a beautiful ride .........

After the heavy rains, the streams and falls are again running......
Once you get above tree-line, amid the rocky landscape, you find the busy marmots.    I managed to capture this one as he was about to scamper into his den.....that dark hole in front of him.   I need to find out info on them but I think they must hibernate....he had a mouthful of grasses.
Ophir Pass connects Silverton with Telluride.   We didn't see any mine debris or buildings but I'm sure it was some sort of road to carry silver and gold.  It was COLD at the top, and windy.    In the low 50's.

As we decended lower, the aspen stands were huge and color yet.
We came to the old town of Ophir , of which I haven't researched, but it is now a small residential area of cabins and this quaint post office.  
We headed on Rt 145 towards Telluride but came to Mountain Home Village first.    Wow, what a developed  area this has become.    Beautiful log condos, hotels and large homes perched at 9600 ft.   It reminds me a bit of Vail with the flowers and walking paths and scenic golf course.    In the heart of it all is the gondola.....It is functional year round to get you up to the top of the mountain or over the mountain to Telluride.    It's designed to carry the masses and to keep the cars and buses to a minimum. It is a brilliant transportation system....
And a really fun way to get around.    As we came out of the launch pad, I had the feeling we were going to drop like a stone......well, not quite but we did drop and it was a bit like an amusement ride.....with stunning scenery.
The gondola is free in the summer but suspect you need a lift ticket or something in the winter altho it is a main link to Telluride from Mountain Home.
It is popular with hikers and bikers as they ride the gondola up and come back down the mountain via trails .....
This is the only shot I could get of the aspen turning from yellow to orange...blurry as it is.  It was a beautiful day .....

And now, to catch up on the previous week.....  we met Joe and Gay in Silverton one chilly Saturday.   It was fun to share good times once again after our first meeting in Moab and then Park City.    They are off to Albuquerque and then Georgia before heading to the Florida panhandle for a bit.   Hopefully, we'll meet up again.    We showed them Animas Forks and it was cold and drizzly so we didn't stay long.     

Then, a few days later, we met up with Nancy......if you've read the blog for a bit, you'll recognize her as the one who just had to ride a water buffalo in Costa Rica.   She was the photographer part of the Art and Photography Tour ..... she was in the Silverton area, camping at 12,000 FT !!!  Her husband finally got a buck tag for hunting and they were up there in the cold and rain and snow.    Alas, the efforts were not successful but they did see a moose.    You are assigned an area so it's not like they could move to a different area.    She was happy to come down to warm up !!  This is a "selfy pic" with her phone.
On another day , we headed up to Owl Pass....not very high or rugged.    Perfect for raising sheep apparently and they were in no hurry to give up the road.    We saw many large herds and 
 the sheep herders wagons.   Years ago, the herders were Basque but now they are mostly Peruvian.   We saw one sitting among the trees .... what a lonely job that must be.    And, one in the area was gored by an elk (according to the local weekly paper) but was able to somehow get himself to help 4 miles away and altho in critical condition after being airlifted out, he was expected to survive.  
In the same area, we saw some deer and as I snapped the pic, he decided to leap the fence.   It's not a great capture but I'm always surprised by what the camera finds.
One morning, on our way to Ridgeway, we came across this pretty site....we'll look for the balloon when we get to Albuquerque.   

OK, almost done with the travelog...... we are only about 30+ miles from the Grand Canyon of the Gunnison NP.    It is very hard to capture the depth and awesome-ness of this deep chasm in the earth.    The Gunnison River carved this scenic wonder.  

This area is called the Painted Wall.   During peak tourist times, they offer boat rides down the river but they are done for the season.....
With all the rainy days we've had, we've almost become accustomed to the rainbows that usually follow.    This one was especially brilliant and complete.

Here's my comfortable spot at the Looney Bean.  

Thursday, September 12, 2013

When the computer dies........

....can life, as we know it,  go on ...??   Just a quick note to say that we are currently technically challenged so the blog is awaiting .    But wanted you all to know  that we are nowhere near any of the massive flash flooding that is devastating beautiful Boulder County.    We are in the western part of the state where we have had rain most days but not of the torrential part.    And, altho we are next to a river, it is far below us and we feel safe unless the earthen dam that we view out our front window decides to collapse.     We are staying off the mountain trails and canyons just being cautious.

So, we are back at the Looney Bean trying to figure out why my MAC is misbehaving and it looks like it needs a new hard drive  Not being in a metropolis, we're not sure if we can pick one up here or will need to order it.    And the iPad is so slow that it would take me forever to add pics to the blog.
So, go read a book, take a hike or enjoy a favorite person for a few days and  then check back....... hope to see you sooner than later.......

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

San Juan Mountain High...........

Connecting back into the internet is a beautiful thing when it isn't readily available unless you drive somewhere.    I'm at a place called the Looney Bean in Montrose.....big, comfy chairs, lots of tables and a big fireplace and VERY fast free wifi..... and a delicious frozen mocha to boot (that was a bit pricey at $4.75 for a regular size ! ).    Anyhow, I'm putting up some pictures of our trail rides, sort of in order and you can get the idea of the scenery and our reason to be here.   
 This is the view as we leave the CG and head towards Ouray.....(pronounced U-ray) and named after an Indian Chief.
 As you get closer, you can see why it's called Little Switzerland as it is located over that middle hill and nestled deep in the mountains at about 8,000 ft.    It is a quaint Victorian town with well maintained  historical buildings......Google it as I have no good pictures.
 We headed out one day on the Alpine Loop ( a combination of trails that go to Ouray, Silverton and Lake City.   This is the back side of Red Mountain....
 As we approached the top of a pass, there was this outhouse,  sitting on the edge of a steep ridge...and functional.  
 On the other side was Lake Como, and it really is that color.  
 In case you want to do some exploring but don't have a Jeep, there are many rental companies that will gladly send you out in a shiny bright red or orange one.    (You have to wash it before you return it !! )  Or, you can go on a guided ride in these open air modern stage coaches....
 Or, you can rent a Razr.....very popular and a bit noisy but with a narrower track, they might not be so intimidating on the shelf roads.  
 Everywhere, there are remnants of the glory days of mining.    Some of the mines have been reopened with the price of gold and silver so high.
 We eventually came down a bit to the historical Silverton.    It is a bit rougher around the edges than Ouray but very busy as the Durango-Silverton steam train comes into town every day.     We have never done it and might think about it before we go.    You buy a roundtrip ticket but can go one of the ways by bus if you choose.    Next year, the All-4-Fun Jeep rally will be based in Silverton and we plan to sign up again.
 Every town, big or small, have gorgeous hanging baskets EVERYWHERE.    They really are amazing and huge.    This one is not big but I liked the colors.
 Another day, we headed out to do Cinnamon Pass, another section of the Alpine Loop.    Outside of Silverton is the old historical town of Animas Fork....the river that begins here eventually flows to Durango.    I remember this old town from many years ago and now they are restoring siding, new roofs and paint.    It is a popular destination as it can be reached by regular car from Silverton.
 The trails look benign from a distance but there are always challenges and moments of "why are we doing this?? " when you look out the side window and all you see is air.... but it is breathtaking and stunning and no adjective can fully describe the privilege of being part of this amazing landscape.
 The Aspen are starting to turn....easily rivaling the colors of New England.
The day ended at Lake's trying hard to look vibrant but mostly it seems like more of the free spirits moved here .     We decided to grab a bite at the place recommended by TripAdvisor....I hope you use that site for's really handy and usually pretty accurate.     Anyhow, we tried out the Packer Cafe and Cannibal Grill.......  you can also google Alfred Packer but basically he was accused of heading into the mtns to seek his fortune in Feb 1800 something despite warnings from Chief Ouray.....he came down a few months later minus his 6 "friends" and having money in his pocket and no signs of starvation or deprivation.    He was in jail in Lake City, spent time in prison before being pardoned and was a doorman at the Denver Post offices .........     Anyhow, the food was good and ........tasted like chicken.....
 So, yesterday, we set out to tackle Imogene Pass.    Starting in Ouray, below in the above picture, we soon came to this narrow passage....I remember not liking this years ago but now it seemed a bit tame.

 We headed up to Yankee Boy Basin, noted for it's Twin Falls ( they used to say the falls were depicted on the Coors labels way back ).   The wildflowers were mostly gone everywhere but this place is noted for it's brilliant color in July.
 We forded a few streams....
 And after a very rough ascent....the trail is rated moderate but I thought it was a bit difficult in spots....We air-down the tires before we start climbing to make the ride more comfortable and to try and avoid slippage on rock and and steep areas.   This is the top of Imogene Pass, at 13,113 ft, the 360 degree views are stunning.
 That line in the middle of the picture that points up to the right, is the Telluride Airport, the highest commercial airport in N America at 9,075 ft located 5 mi from town.  
 Starting down........not as rough as going up but steep and very narrow in spots.  
 This is a partial view of Black Bear Trail, located at the end of Telluride and above Bridal Veil Falls.   It is a dangerous and difficult jeep trail and one person I asked said that two people had been killed on it this year.    It used to be that Jeep rentals wouldn't allow you to go on it.    I'm not even tempted.     The thing about Jeep trails....we enjoy the easy to moderate ....  we don't need to have special equip added to our Jeep and I think the scenery is the same.....the fear factor is the only variable.
And so, we came down into Telluride......these yellow daisies were about the only thing in bloom.    Telluride is a beautiful Victorian town, full of the rich and well appointed.    The historical houses are painted in lovely colors and trims......And if you have an extra million or 5, one of them can be yours.  

We have plans for more trails, we need to explore the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, visit friends and enjoy our nightly campfires......