Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Rocky Mountain National Park

We arrived with reservations for 3 nights at the Park, set up camp including the generator so we could keep the batteries charged up. Dick's CPAP machine takes about 6% of the battery and then using the lights, water pump and refrigerator we need to charge them up in the morning.

We headed up and over the mountain and as usual took the narrow dirt road to the top at over 14,000 feet. Here is looking back down the valley, and we are only half way up the side.
What incredible views! We did find that we were a little light-headed when we arrived at the Visitor Center.

For some strange reason the park is full of what they call wild animals. We pulled over to watch a moose in the stream (of course he wouldn't turn around, so Dick got another "butt shot"). Just before we got there a bicyclist was watching the Moose as he came around the corner and just rode his bike off the road into a tree. All turned out well after the aid car came.

This scraggly guy kept watching us as he walked (or ran) away.

The elk herds came down into our part of the park every day and we lost count at about 80. One evening some walked right up to some people. Kind of scary. And you should see the cars blocking the road, just stopped to take pictures!

This is one of the two bucks that are feeding together.

Just before sunset with the haze of the evening hanging over the mountains.

Took another ride one day and found this campground. It is a rather nice Forest Service campground on a creek with lots of trails around. We talked about going there, maybe as hosts, but unfortunately there is no cell service. Guess it is not for us.

We are now in Wyoming for the first time after spending 3 days in the little town of Walden Colorado where Dick's great grandfather homesteaded. We came away with lots of family details dating back to 1882 and again met several very helpful friendly folks. Walked the 1882 homestead and that was kind of cool. Their museum is great.

To be continued...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Three for the price of one...

Our two weeks is about up here in Monument Colorado. The park where we are staying is very nice with lots of trees and fills up on the weekend with lots of kids so it keep us thinking about our grand kids that we miss.

We have spent a lot of time seeing the area and at the same time doing some family research, mostly Dick's side of the family but still looking for details on Jackie's grandfather who was born in Boulder Colorado before they registered births. Without a birth certificate or listing we can't find his parents details. We met a wonderful lady in Castle Rock (yes, Castle Rock, CO) at the historical library who, as an archivist, was a terrific help to us regarding Dick's family. We even went back a second time and she helped us find even more. Thank you, Johanna.

We have had several days with afternoon thunder storms so do most of our site-seeting before the rain starts. We have been to over 14,000' high and to 1,000' underground in a couple of days. One day we went on a tour of a gold mine and they took us down 1,000' to the main drift saw a lot of equipment both old and newer, still working. Newer being early 1900s. The tour was great but the pictures are not, so have not posted pictures of this trip. Did see some gold in the rock that they plan to take out another day.

1) The trip to 14,110' was via a Cog Rail Road that took us to the very top of Pikes Peak. We could have driven up but they wanted $12.00 per person to drive your own vehicle to the top. We thought it would be a lot more fun taking the train. When we got to the top the temperature was 42 deg. but with the wind chill it was right around freezing.

We finally reached the top in this train with a maximum grade of 25%. It looked like straight up but looked worse when going down. Glad the brake system works.

A little hazy but you could see 5 States from the top.

Again a view looking off in another direction. Notice that what looks like a third rail down the center of the track is just the Cog strip used for pulling us up and taking us down. Also notice that we are above the tree line and the top of this mountain is all rock.

Just a little proof that we did it. No running at this elevation and glad we brought sweaters with us.

2) This day trip was at a more normal elevation. As normal as you get here in Colorado. Between the freeway and the base of the mountains is the Air Force Academy with a nice visitors center and self guided tours of the property. Hiking a trail we got a look at the student lodging, class area and the chapel. The chapel can be seen from all over town; it's quite a landmark.

The chapel is built primarily of aluminum and stained glass and is a beautiful structure with room for several denominations using it at the same time.

This view just shouted Black and White so why not?

There are several areas around the academy where they have historical airplanes mounted on raised platforms but nothing bigger than this B-52. Wow, what a monster.

3) Back underground but not far, just under the edge of the cliff is the Manitou Cliff Dwellings and Museum. They have done a great job bringing it back to a condition where you could wander through the buildings. This is about half the width of the Dwelling with the other half extending off the the left.

I think the handrails were added later.

You can see that they had several floors just like what we have now. Very interesting and glad we took the time to see it.

There is so much to see in this area, we are sure we will be back again. And in spite of the thunderstorms, the weather has been great.
We are off to the Rocky Mountain National Park so not sure if we will have Internet or telephone.

To be continued...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Hanging out and having fun in Colorado

We have been staying at Blue Mesa Ranch Resort, a Western Horizon resort in Gunnison Colorado. Fancy name for a large RV park. Every Saturday those that want can set up and sell products they have made or purchased for resale.

We set up a table like many others and tried to sell some of Dick's jewelry and polished stones. The first item that he sold was his first wire wrapped project that he made. The next Saturday he sold a pair of earrings. Not the best place to sell higher cost jewelry. We did have fun and while sitting there he made some more pieces to sell and Jackie made some cards (not ready to sell them yet).

Another day we packed up and headed to town for a river rafting trip down the Gunnison river. Kind of mild but it was a great day until it started to rain. It cooled down fast and we got a little wet but had a great time.

Found some more places where the wild flowers came out in bloom and just had to stop and get some shots of them. This was just a small garden at the RV park but with carefully adjusted shot he was able to not get the road or fence in the picture.

Back doing family research Dick found that his Great Great Grandmother was buried in a very small mountain town in 1883. On the trip up the mountain we found a beautiful reservoir. This is in the Taylor Park area near the town of Tin Cup or Tincup.

The cemetery at Tin Cup is several knolls, each for different groups (Protestant, Catholic, Jewish). The only information we had was that she was buried in the Protestant cemetery, the grave was in the second row near the middle and at one time it had picket fence and a wood grave marker that are now gone.
You have to cross the bridge to get to the cemetery.

The trees have grown up throughout the area and it was very difficult to determine what the rows are. Based on what little information we had this was the grave site we picked to be hers. We put flowers on the grave and departed in the rain.

Hope we got the right one, but will never know for sure.
A few miles away, the family settled in an area called Union Park on 20 acres in the middle of this valley and extending into the forest on the right.

This building was there about the time that the gold mining was going strong in the area and is still used as a cow camp.
Hope to go back another time now that we know the exact location of the Texas Placer mine and see if there is any indication of a home where she died.

Another day another trip up into the mountains. This time it was to an historical RR tunnel at the end of a road. The road to Alpine tunnel is the old narrow gauge track bed that gains several thousand feet up the side of the mountain.
This is a view down the valley at only about half way to the top.

The rock retaining wall was put in around 1880 and still holds the road in place. That clear strip on the right is the same road.

Not sure what is around the corner but glad no one was there when we went around the bend. Notice it is straight down with room for only one vehicle.

On the way up there is a restored water tank. One of several but the only one that has been restored.

Half way up the mountain some of the track still stand, but this is a siding where a town once stood. If there was not a sign here one would have no idea of what was here over 100 years ago.

Finally at the top the remains of several buildings and the restored station and one other building. While there we found two people working on restoring the large stone building on the left.
The tunnel is still there but a rock slide has closed it off at both ends. It was only in use from 1881-1910. Must have cost thousands of dollars to build the tunnel and the RR to only be in service for that short time.
Did we mention that it took us 1 1/2 hours to travel the 10 miles to the tunnel?

On the way back home we ran across the Indian in the side of the hill.

Looks like he is looking over a ranch and the valley.

Stay tuned for more of our travels.

To be continued...

Sunday, August 1, 2010

First stop in Colorado

Lets see if we can figure out what all these pictures are; it's been awhile since we visited these areas of Colorado. In our last posting we told you we are in a hole as far as Verizon is concerned so yesterday we took a ride to a little town up in the mountains and found a good hot spot so we were finally to able get the pictures uploaded. Sorry about the delay.

After setting up in Fruita Colorado at a very nice but over-priced State Park we checked out town and the local visitors center for information on the area and all of Colorado. We ended up spending 4 nights here but it was still over 100 every day so up to the mountains we went where it was a little cooler.

Just up the road from us is the Colorado National Monument (more red rocks). It was impressive, but after all we've seen in UT & AZ, not the best. There is a loop road, about 35 miles that goes up to the top, across and down the other side into Grand Junction.

We did stop at the visitors center, saw the movie about the Monument, checked out the campground, stopped at all the lookouts and walked some of the trails.

Not sure how far it is to the bottom but it's too far for us old timers to try and get there (and back!).

Looking North down to the town of Fruita, if you look closely, just on the other side of the river, you can see our rig at the State Park. Let us know when you find it.

Just another shot of Monument showing how close it really is to town. Kind of a hazy day so not
the best shots Dick has taken. Looking across the valley is the Grand Mesa National Forest, and yes, we have some pictures of that. Keep looking.

We started at about 4500' of elevation and kept climbing and climbing to over 11500', and what a view from the top. When we took this picture looking at China in the distance we still had not arrived at the top!

The temperature went from 100+ to the low 60s and everywhere you looked were mountain lakes. That funny strap on Dick's back is his camera strap. Notice that this is the first time in months that we have had to put on jackets. Glad we had them stowed in the truck for just this situation.

We still had shorts, but think that's about all we wear. Jackie and C C enjoying the view of more lakes.

On the hike to the viewpoint Dick had to stop and shoot some of the wildflowers. So very delicate with the purple lines in the petals.

Hard to see in this shot but the mountain meadows were full of various colors of wildflowers.

A little closer look.

Not sure how this picture got out of sequence but this is Jackie seeing how close she can get to the edge back at Colorado National Monument. (Notice, she's not very close--not nearly the daredevil Dick is.)

Rather than take the paved road back down from the National Forest we found an old one lane gravel switchback road that took us to the bottom that you can see off in the distance. Now we know why they call this "Lands End Road". We do this a lot, sure glad we have a 4WD truck with good brakes as this was about a 7000' decent. Then when we were almost down we came across a winery, so of course we had to stop and rest and check out the product. It was very good and we ended up buying a couple of bottles. (This is for Marie and Pat -- they'll understand.)

We are still at Blue Mesa RV Ranch in Gunnison so I guess this area will be our next post, so..

to be continued...