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.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Moving South

After our 4-day stay in Silt, we moved south to Ridgway State Park south of Montrose. I made this reservation months ago, knowing we needed to plan ahead for the Labor Day weekend. We will be here through that holiday. We have been surprised at how many Airstream trailers we see, now that we own one ourselves. Since we arrived at Ridgway there have been 2, 3 or 4 other Airstreams in the park. These units are iconic and people hold on to them for years and years. They are also popular trailers for people who are into trailer restoration. When we arrived we were parked next to this very old Airstream. It looks like some modifications over the years and the rear stabilizer is something we had never seen before.

Our nephew Blake and his wife Julie live in Montrose and we went to their house for dinner Wednesday. We had a great visit.

The view from their back yard is amazing.

They have a great garden with flowers, fruit and vegetables.

There is a bald eagle nest on Blake and Julie's property and one of the eagles--probably a juvenile--is seen often. We spotted it while we were there and John caught a picture of it.

Time with family is why we come to Colorado each summer.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Can't Believe We Had Never Been Here

Before leaving Silt, we visited Rifle Falls State Park, located about 25 miles from our campground. What a great find! We are amazed we had never tried to go there before. There are 3 waterfalls in the rushing waters of East Rifle Creek. Technically, there is one fall that splits into 3 as it comes over the limestone cliff.

We were able to hike up close to the falls.

And even go behind them.

The falling water has also carved out caves in the cliff.

And it washed away part of this hillside but this tree is tenaciously hanging on.

I saw this tree as we were walking in the area. I think all those nodules on the trunks may be burls. If so, I would have loved to bring one back to Arizona and turn it into a bowl.

The trail led up above the falls and this was our view beyond the waterfalls.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Eclipse Viewing Near Rifle

We went hiking in Rifle Falls State Park today during the time of the solar eclipse. In this part of the state we were told there would be a 90% total eclipse. It was cooler during that time and it looked like dusk. The shadows were as dark as normal but the sun didn't feel as hot when were out in it. What made me most aware of the change in the light was the color of my transitions eyeglass lenses. This is the color the turn in full sun.

This is how dark they were 8 minutes before the 90% eclipse seen here in Rifle.

You can see the contrast of sunlight and shadow I photographed right at the greatest eclipse here.

At first I thought this was just an interesting pattern from the narrow-leaf cottonwood trees. After seeing other people's photos, I think it shows the moon covering the sun.

During the hike we came on a young woman with eclipse glasses and she let us look through them.

Looking through her glasses, we could see just a narrow crescent sun peeking out around the sun 10 minutes before the greatest dark of the eclipse. At almost the same time, this is my iPhone photo of the sun. (I knew not to look directly at the sun. I read taking a photo of the eclipse would let you see it. It didn't.)

Our son Eric had several pairs of eclipse glasses and offered to try to get them to us. But since we were leaving Denver in a couple of days and were busy, we said no, we'd just pay attention to the dark that came with the eclipse. We didn't realize what a really big deal this solar event (lunar event?) was. But our experience was interesting and we did get one glimpse of what we could see through those glasses. Really amazing!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Colorado at it's Best

We were both born and raised in Colorado and have lived in various parts of the state for most of our lives. This summer we left our winter home in Arizona and drove to the East Coast and back. But nowhere have we seen mountains like the Colorado Rockies. After spending 6 weeks in the Denver metro area, Friday we turned our truck and trailer west on I-70, headed for the Western Slope. We rarely drive over 200 miles a day so a stop was planned for Silt--about 190 miles from Cherry Creek State Park. We will stay here for 4 nights so when we check in to Ridgeway State Park we can stay till Labor Day. The trip took us from an elevation of just over 5,000 ft. to the Eisenhower Tunnel at 11,013 ft. and over 11,000 foot Vail Pass. The scenery on the way was great.

See what I mean about it being the best of Colorado? Eisenhower Tunnel was completed in 1973, providing a safer and quicker route over (or under) the Continental Divide. It is impressive.

Coming out the other side, we passed by condos in Dillon, more great mountain views and Dillon Reservoir. This year the water is fairly high in the reservoir.


I had never seen a sign like this. I think it indicates there is a runaway truck ramp coming up so the driver shouldn't try to exit onto nearby Loveland Pass. I'm not sure.

The scenery just kept getting better. First we saw some red rock formations.

Then we headed into Glenwood Canyon. This canyon has stunning rock walls. The highway here was constructed so as little of the rock was removed as possible. The only way to really appreciate the efforts they took is to ride the Amtrak train on the other side of the Colorado River or walk or bike on the trail along the highway. We were pulling our Airstream so I can only use words to describe the road. In places the lanes in one direction are built above those going the other way. That way they didn't have to widen the roadway from the old two-way route along the river.

When I was a child my family came to Glenwood Springs for our annual week-long vacation every August. We have come here with friends--both by car and by train--and brought our 2 sons here. We really aren't into swimming pools today so we will skip some very expensive time in the huge hot springs pool. But the entrance fee is worth it if you have children or have not been there before.

Friday, August 18, 2017

We spent two weeks at Cherry Creek State Park in Aurora in the southeast corner of the Denver metro area. We have been there many times before and it is a good place to relax and just be. The park is in the middle of the city but there is lots of open space. Mainly it was a time to see family and friends. The first Sunday we went to Eric and Liz's home for brunch. Liz and Kylie put together a nice menu for us. Grandson John showed it to us before it was time to eat. We had a good visit and took advantage of the time because Eric and Liz were back to work preparing for the first day of school on Friday. Liz is a teacher coach and Eric is a middle school science teacher.

One day we drove to Longmont to visit friends Larry and Betty. We had attended their 50th anniversary party in July but it was good to have time with just them so we could really talk. We brought a bucket of Kentucky Friend Chicken to share instead of going out to a restaurant.

The next day we drove to Canon City to visit John's sister Kendal who is in a nursing home receiving therapy following a stroke. Here she is with her husband John.

Then we went out to lunch with him and Tim, John and Kendal's younger brother.

We had an issue with our trailer while staying at Cherry Creek. The overflow vent on the fresh water tank began leaking. That shouldn't happen when a hose is not filling the tank in the opening behind this door. You can see the slow but constant drip from the tank in the second photo.

After asking on the Airstream internet forum for advice, we found it was a check valve stuck open. We followed the instructions and got it unstuck. It was pulling water from the city water connection, something it isn't supposed to do. But it is now working properly.

I love the skies over Colorado. Here are some of the cloudscapes I saw.

Now we are off to the Western Slope of Colorado.