Sunday, August 31, 2008

August 16 - We leave Durango for the slide southward towards home. We flew through Pagosa Springs, through Chama, NM, and on to our campsite just south of Angel Fire, NM. That was a whole other adventure in itself. Probably because it was a long, windy drive, and it rained cats and dogs on the way. Therefore, no pictures. We did go into Taos and visited Kit Carson's home. We went from there to just outside Santa Fe, where we explored and shopped some more. From there, we stopped at Darrell's cousin Dick and wife Marcia's in Albuquerque for a few days of visiting. From Albuquerque, we headed for the White Mountains, and Show-Low, where we stayed at a really nice campground there called Fool Hollow. It was a nice way to return to the desert heat.
Now we're back at the ranch, laundry done, and ready to go again!

One last visit to the Durango-Silverton narrow gauge rr. Here at its home base in Durango, it has a museum, with lots of artifacts and photos from way back when.

These ruins date back to 1100-1300 a.d.

Hovenweep is located along the edge of a canyon.

We ended our trip with a visit to Hovenweep, which is a national park, actually located right over the border in Utah. The whole four corners area is populated with ancient pueblo ruins, some of which are unreachable by the average person, or on private property.

Ruins at Painted Hand Pueblo. These places were in the middle of absolutely nowhere. Good thing we had the GPS.

We discovered that near our campground in Southwestern Colorado, there are many pueblo ruins. We spent a day exploring Canyon of the Ancients. Here is a giant kiva at Lowry Pueblo Ruins.
August 13 - After travelling the Million Dollar Highway, we decided it would not be a pleasant experience pulling the 5th wheel on it. We opted to go from Ridgway, past Telluride, and down to Cortez on our way to Mancos State Park, which is about 25 miles west of Durango. This road is called the San Juan skyway. It is one of the nicest roads we've taken in Colorado. Unfortunately, no pictures here.

Darrell caught the backside of this mystery bird. After consulting with our birding friends, we think it's a Western Tanager.

For many of the hikes we wanted to do around Ouray, most of the trailheads were reachable only by 4WD. Ouray is the jeep capital of the world, and is known as "Little Switzerland". We settled for the Portland Trail, which was just south of the town, and took us to an overlook. Along the way, we enjoyed the aspen.

The colors and scenery on this drive are outstanding. We highly recommend the drive if you are in the "neighborhood" and can stand the narrow road and steep dropoffs.

Another headframe on the way back to Ouray.

We reach Silverton, another mining town that has survived, and is now supported by tourism. It's the destination for the Durango-Silverton narrow gauge railroad.

Old mine operation.

On our day trip to Silverton, along the Million Dollar Highway, there are literally tons of old abandoned mining operations. The highway got its name when, after being built with old mine tailings still rich with gold ore, the mining industry developed new ways of gold hindsight, they could have gotten a million dollars worth of gold from the highway base.

As we drive south out of town on the Million Dollar Highway, we look down on the town.

More sights on our walking tour of the town.

Ouray is nestled in the mountains, and many of its buildings have been restored by efforts of town residents.

Here are the locations where the 7 "Geese" resided. Add Ridgway to that list.

We stopped in the town of Ridgway, just outside of Ouray. Had dinner at the True Grit Cafe, as recommended by a fellow hiker. It was ok. Just down the street was a train museum that we had to visit. The Galloping Goose was part bus, part rail car which was used in the late 1800's to commute between mining towns, both for people and supplies. There were 7 of them.

August 9 - Woodland Park to Ouray

Heading into Ouray, storm clouds frame the mountain peaks. We are heading to our new campsite in Ridgway State Park.

We hike to the Crags, a popular destination in the area....the view at the top was well worth the effort.

The Cog Train to the top of Pike's Peak. This is about as good as our view was a thrilling ride, though, all the way to the top, 14,000+feet.

August 6 - We break camp at Leadville, and head to Woodland Park, camping at Mueller State Park.

We came here specifically to visit an old retirement dream that that we had at one time about 15 years ago. The plan was to build a log home and retire here. As you can see, it's really isolated, and is still on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere. We are so glad we sold the lot before building anything, and moved on to different plans. No regrets, whatsoever....but it was fun at the time.

On one of our many trips back and forth between camp and Leadville, I spotted this Osprey nest out of the corner of my many times we'd been past this spot, but it took 3 days for me to catch this one!

The Greenbacked Cutthroat Trout is being restored to local lakes like this one.

We hiked up to Timberline Lake, just "up" from Turquoise Lake. (I always like to complain about elevation gain).

These guys get along just fine...we counted 7 on the feeder at one time.

This pretty Rufous hummingbird has elected himself king of the feeder. . . .he spent a lot of energy chasing all the other hummers away from his little kingdom.

Across the lake, this is the view from our can see Leadville from here.

If you look at about the center of the picture, the white spot is our trailer, located in the May Queen campground on Turquoise Lake.

Local residents embrace the history of the town by wearing costumes of the boom days.

One of the several old buildings in Leadville...the city sits at 10,000 plus feet, and hasn't changed much in the last 100 years.

The end of a donkey/human marathon for Boom Days.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Sunday, August 3

Today we pulled up stakes and headed for Leadville. We climbed over Loveland Pass at 12,000 feet, and drove throught the famous Eisenhower Tunnel. Compared to 17 years ago, with a minimally powered Ford Bronco, we sailed up the mountain this time with our "animal" diesel truck. The downhill was a 7% grade, which in trucking terms, is pretty darn steep. We got in line with the other big trucks, switched on the exhaust brake, and sailed back down the hill.
We landed in Leadville exactly 17 years to the day later; we arrived for Boom Days in Leadville. Lots of activities; beer drinking, donkey marathon, and more beer drinking. Our campsite, the May Queen, was located on the north end of nearby Turquoise Lake, right on the lake. At night, you could look across the lake and see the lights of Leadville 6 miles away.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Emerald Lake

They stock the lakes with cutthroat trout.

Dream Lake

Lots of little streams along the way.

Saturday, July 26

Took a short hike to Emerald Lake...on the way were two other lakes. This one is Nymph.

Down in the valley a river winds its way through a meadow.

A stop along the way gives us a view of snow still left on the Rockies.

As we were leaving the center, a herd of elk that had come up for some heat relief were grazing in the tundra. This guy was 5 feet from our window. How could I resist?

12,005 feet. . . it was cold and windy.

At Alpine Visitor Center, you can hike up to the highest point in the park.