Monday, September 18, 2017

Santa Fe

After we spent a few days relaxing at the NRA Whittington Center campground, we moved on to Santa Fe. Usually, we go a little further and stay in Albuquerque but since we had been there on our trip east in April, we decided to spend some time in Santa Fe. We have been there a number of times over the years. It is such an attractive town. No visit there is complete without lunch at the La Fonda Hotel on the Santa Fe Square. The food is always good and the portions are huge. John had the shredded beef enchiladas and I had chili rellenos. Both meals came with beans, salsa, pico de gallo and posole.



We walked along Canyon Road with its many art galleries. Not surprisingly, we weren't tempted to buy anything. Both the price tags--often $4,000 to $6,000--and the fact most items were contemporary art which we don't like, made it easy to resist making any purchases. In fact, we are at a stage in life that shopping--except for food or electronics--doesn't hold much interest for us.

We do enjoy the buildings and atmosphere of Santa Fe. That was one of the things that attracted us about our home in Arizona. Here are a number of photos of the doors in the old buildings on Canyon Road.






It's not just the doorways we like to look at. Windows are also interesting.





Although Santa Fe is a neat town, we decided our interests have changed. It is a destination for those who want to shop or go to the opera or eat Mexican food. We still like the food, but don't eat out often. And the shopping doesn't appeal any more. We will not be staying there again anytime soon.

We then headed to Gallup.

Monday, September 11, 2017

On Our Way South

We have headed south into New Mexico. On the way we drove over two mountain passes, Monarch and Raton. After having our truck repaired at the Chevy dealer in Gunnison, we drove over 11,312 ft Monarch pass. We are grateful for our diesel truck which handles the grade just fine. Here is the summit of the pass.


The scenery is wonderful.




Last year we when we left Colorado we drove the Million Dollar Highway from Ouray to Durango. We were nearly 2 weeks earlier this year an on a different pass and this is about the only fall color we saw.


Compare that to what we saw last year.

Near the top of Monarch we saw some mining activity. Some internet searching showing they are mining for gray limestone, used as flux in the iron ore smelting in Pueblo at what used to be called CF&I.


We spent some time in Canon City after our drive over Monarch, visiting John's sister who is in a nursing home there. Then we drove to Raton, New Mexico, where we are spending a few days at the NRA Whittington Center campground. Our trip took us over Raton Pass, only 7834 ft high. On this pass we saw some interesting warning signs:



Across the country we've seen a lot of crossing warnings about deer, tractors and horses and even Amish horse and buggies. But bear and elk crossing signs are unusual.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Smoke as We Travel East

After two weeks at Ridgway State Park, we headed east. First stop was in Gunnison to have some work done on our truck at the Chevy dealer. The trip took us past Blue Mesa Reservoir which stretches 20 miles along US Hwy 50. It is usually a beautiful drive but there is so much smoke from the forest fires in Oregon and Montana we could hardly see the water at times.




There was also road construction along the route, of course. It is summer, isn't it? Look at the long line of vehicles ahead of us.


There were some pretty rock formations along the road, as well.


At the KOA in Gunnison we saw some cute decorations and chain-saw carvings.



I love poppies like this.


And then there was the pet donkey. He and John quickly made friends.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Visiting Ouray

After going to Telluride, I said we would not visit Ouray on a Saturday. So, what did we do? Last Saturday we drove to the mining town of Ouray. But this time we got an earlier start. After walking the streets, appreciating the Victorian architecture and having lunch, we drove out of town just as the streets were beginning to fill up. In fact, we were so early most of the restaurants hadn't opened for lunch when we were ready to eat. We had to wait for the Timberline Deli to open before we could order our sandwiches. The early bird may have to wait for the worm but it beats the crowds.

The drive to Ouray could be just as beautiful as that to Telluride if it weren't for the haze caused by forest fires in Oregon and Montana.


We happen to enjoy old carriages, especially when they were once a funeral home hearse. This really beautifully restored one was parked in a garden along the main street.



Ouray was once a prosperous town and many ornate buildings were constructed.  These first two photos show the Elks Club.  Sorry, no RV campground at this one.  But the stained glass windows are great.





The surrounding mountains are a good backdrop to these structures.


We rarely buy anything when we go shopping in gift shops. But I do get inspired when I see wonderful turned vases and bowls.



It was a good way to spend a Saturday (of Labor Day Weekend, no less) morning.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Return to the Black Canyon

Twenty years ago we bought our first 5th wheel trailer. The dealer gave us a voucher for a free stay at Blue Mesa Ranch for a shake-down cruise. John's sister Kendal, husband John and their grandson Brian were camping nearby that August and we all took a boat tour through the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Monument. It was a beautiful tour. In 1999 the area became a national park and we needed to come back and visit this park (and get our NPS book stamped). This time we viewed the stunning Gunnison River Gorge from the south rim.



The gorge was named the Black Canyon because it is so deep and so narrow the sun rarely reaches the canyon floor.  See how dark the canyon is in these photos.




You can see the Gunnison River in this photo.  The video at the Visitor Center reported that the river lowers the bottom of the canyon one inch in 100 years--1 hair-breadth a year.  Think how long it to the water to cut these impressive cliffs and pinnacles.



When we came to the first viewpoint, we saw this young couple cooking breakfast. I commented they found a great place to prepare the meal. The man replied, "Breakfast with a view."


For many years farmers in the Montrose area looking with longing at the water in the Gunnison River, hoping to find a way to bring it to their valley to water the fields. In 1901 two men floated 33 miles through the canyon on a rubber mattress and reported a diversion tunnel was feasible. Construction on the 5.8 mile tunnel began in 1905 and was dedicated in 1909. Just look at the lush fields in the Montrose valley today.


After our great visit to the Black Canyon, friends contacted us on Facebook, saying they, too, were camped at Ridgway State Park. Dick and Nina, who we first met in Grand County where John served his first churches as priest, came to our site for wine and snacks. It was good to see them.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Born Too Early



We were born too early for this town.  Or decades too late.  Last week we drove to Telluride, a mining town turned tourist destination not too far from Ridgway State Park.  The town today hosts skiiers, avid mountain bikers and young families.  And dogs, lots to dogs.  We were there on a Saturday and walking down the sidewalk could be hazardous, dodging young children, bikes and dogs.  We thought it would be better to visit during the week, rather than on the weekend before Labor Day.

We were born long after the heyday of silver mining in Telluride.  Mining began here in 1880 and since then 350 miles of tunnels have been dug through the mountains, enough to reach from San Francisco to Los Angeles.  Billions of dollars of silver, gold, copper, lead and zinc have been taken from these mountains and mining continues today.

The drive to Telluride provides spectacular views of the Colorado Rockies.  This is one of the reasons we came to Colorado every summer.




Many of the old buildings in town have been restored and repurposed.  This is the New Sheridan Hotel, now housing a restaurant.  I have a phone app called History Here and as we approached Telluride, I received a text telling me the New Sheridan Hotel was 5 miles away.  At first I thought it meant a new hotel, but no.


This is the San Miguel County Courthouse.  Very impressive.


Hanging baskets are seen in most mountain tourist towns.  These are especially lush.



Telluride is nestled in a narrow mountain valley and the ski area provides a backdrop on one side of town.  Talk about ski in and ski out from your hotel.


We often see a left turn lane in the center of a two-way road.  But in this town, flower containers black the end of each block’s yellow-striped center lane.  In the next block you can see one of those signs that read “your speed is…..”  These lanes also allow 10-minute parking by permit only.  I imagine shop owners get those permits so they can bring in merchandise.  UPS and FedEx may also use them.  Much better than double-parking for deliveries.


There is another cute mountain town nearby, Ouray.  If we go there it will be mid-week, not Saturday or Sunday.