Friday, August 29, 2008

Blue Mesa Reservoir to Lower Beaver CG

(Jan) We spend three busy days at Elk Creek Campground on the Blue Mesa Reservoir. We loved being able to walk on the paved roads through the CG and put quite a few miles on our sneakers! On Wednesday we took a boat tour up the upper Black Gunnison canyon. It began by walking down 238 stairs along a cascading stream and a half mile hike along the Gunnison River on an old rail bed to the dock. What an awesome experience getting to be at water level surrounded by the granite walls on either side. Until the 50’s there was a narrow gauge railroad that ran along side the river quite a ways into the canyon. ‘The Needle’ that you see pictured was the symbol for the Denver-Rio Grande Railway. The railway passed the dock is now under the waters of the reservoir that we traveled on. When we got on the boat the captain's depth finder read 12 feet; at our turn around point it was 90+. After the fascinating tour we began our trek back up to the parking lot. Remember those 238 stairs? This time we had to climb up and it took a little longer than going down. But we survived and met Freda, who happened to be staying at our CG and got to stop by and visit with her in the evening.
On the way back to our CG from the boat tour we noticed some brilliant colors reflecting in the sky. Our pictures did not portray what we were seeing but here is a link about circumhorizon arcs We watched it change and blighten and change hue for over 20 minutes. I'm so glad we got to see one

On Thursday we had a fun visit from Dave and Marie, fellow Boomers, who happened to be staying just three miles from us! We enjoyed an early Happy Hour talking and laughing about past adventures. Later that afternoon we loaded up and headed up the canyon to Lake City. We found a wonderful place to stop for the night on the shore of Lake San Cristobal. We toured Lake City that evening and the following morning drove quite away along the route to Cinnamon Pass. Along with the fantastic views we saw some beautiful (very pricey) mountain homes and properties.

Our next stop after driving over Slumgulion (11,361 elevation) and Spring Creek (10,901) Passes was the North Clear Creek Falls. It’s amazing in that you are driving through a fairly flat high meadow and suddenly the river falls into a gorge.

We arrived at Lower Beaver CG, N 37 36.905 W 106 40.592 - 8,540 elevation, near South Fork at Happy Hour and were welcomed in by Boomer friends Jim and Bobbie. We just had a great time visitng, campfires and cooking and sharing meals. Jim fixed a delicious rack of ribs and we also got to enjoy his famous biscuits and gravy. A couple of mornings Chuck and I made scrambled eggs, fruit and toast. On Sunday we drove up to Creede. We wandered through the shops on Main Street, took a dramatic drive climbing the steep canyons to see the remains of the Humphrey mill and shaft house and then visited the Creede Museum. They had pictures there of Jim’s grandfather’s transportation company of mule teams which delivered ore and goods in and out of the area. After that it was time for pizza at a great tavern on Main Street followed by some wonderful fudge for desert.

Chuck and Jim went trout fishing each day morning and evening at the reservoir further up the canyon fromour CG. They were quite successful and we enjoyed several meals of trout plus saving up for a future fish fry. Bobbie and I made pumpkin pie and chocolate ├ęclair dessert as well as several different salads to go with the meals and also, started walking daily and got on a Golf (the card game) kick. Thursday morning, Jim and Bobbie headed down to Alamosa to get ready for a car show. Chuck and I have decided to stay here at Lower Beaver and enjoy the mountains and South Creek for a few more days.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Silverton to Gunnison

(Jan)We stayed at Mineral Creek for five days. It was a beautiful place; great for walking, hiking, relaxing, 4-wheel driving up the canyons and some tough geocaching.

Friday night offered an unexpected treat. It was the first night of the Twenty-Seventh Annual Great Western Rocky Mountain Brass Band Festival. Chuck and I both love band music so we thought we would give it a try. What we were treated to was nearly 50 incredible musicians from across the United States who come together each year to present this concert. Most are Music Professors or teachers with a few doctor, lawyers and trades people thrown in. They were dressed in period clothing; union and confederate uniforms, barkeep vests and string ties, tailed coats and trousers. Their selections, beautifully performed, ranged from Sousa to Wagner; Miller to Cohan. Some of our favorites were In the Mood, Grandfather’s Clock, Over There and of course, anything by Sousa. The performance ended with a thrilling rendition of Star and Stripes Forever. We enjoyed it so much that we went back Sunday noon. It was a shorter program with a few different selections but every bit as good. It ended, again, with the crowd on its feet clapping along to a fortissimo, very exuberant Stars and Stripes Forever. The music is still ringing in our ears and we’ve been humming the tunes ever since.

On Saturday we decided to drive up to Ouray on the ‘million dollar highway.’ It certainly lives up to its name with the majestic mountain views and breathtaking twist and turns and steep drop offs along the highway. We enjoyed stopping to read the story boards about the mining towns and operations that thrived there. We rolled down into Ouray and strolled through the downtown area and then hiked up to the falls at the edge of town.

On Sunday we headed east of Silverton. Again, reading the story board along the way, we learned a lot about the mining history of the area. It was another wonderful drive up along a mountain stream to the ghost town of Eureka. The road from their eventually connects to Cinnamon Pass and Lake City. We arrived back in Silverton for the noon band concert.

Too much frost on the windshield and 32 degrees on Monday morning prompted us to move on to a warmer place. So up over Red Mountain Pass we went.........

On to Gunnison (Chuck)

We were not sure where we would end up in this area, but we knew it would be West of Gunnison, Colorado. We consider ourselves fair boondockers and enjoy it. Our camp site cost per day for August has been $1.88. With this in mind, I had a list of possible spots to stay in this area. The best prospect was from Days End. This is the entry:

CO, GUNNISON: SKP 18813 Dean & Pat Hammett. W of Gunnison 19 mi on US-50 to Red creek cg sign (across from Blue Mesa Restaurant). Turn right on gravel road for 1 mi. Nice grassy/treed area on left, room for 5-6 big rigs. NPS land on stream. No facilities. Don't go further up gravel road due to difficulty turning around. Jan/Feb 94 SKP N/L.

Ok, it was my fault. I should not have gone down a gravel road with information that was 14 years old. Many of the entries in Bob Ed”s “Days End” are older than that, however I just haven’t been caught like this before. The road was actually a good gravel road. I stopped after a while and walked forward to peer around the corner. Then full of confidence, I blundered into it. The site was only one mile in from the highway, how bad could it be?? The sites where there was “room for 5-6 big rigs” was down off a slope and next to the road. Beavers had raised the water table in the meadow area so that this was not going to work.
Well ……. If I can drive into it I can back out of it. I backed our fiver uphill, and around the curves to the highway. It was one of those things that we don’t want to do too many times, but, if you are going to find the most beautiful boondock spots in the world to stay at, this will happen to you at some time in your life. Believe me it is not terminal.
A couple miles down the road was Gunnison, CO, Curecanti National Rec. Area, Elk Creek CG on Blue Mesa Reservoir (N 38 28.141 W107 10.448) 7560’ elevation. It is a very nice campground and only $12.00 per day. We may stay here four or five days. Today we drove to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park today and it is one of the most awesome places that we have been. The geology and rock formations of the park are wonderful. It may be one of the most underrated places that we have had the pleasure of visiting. We spent most of the day going from one viewing point to the next.

Two years ago we met an Escapee couple in the Black Hills of South Dakota. One of the things that they said that impressed me was that each place they had been, they thought was so remarkable. It seemed that in this lifestyle that each place that they visited was even more beautiful than the one that they were at yesterday. It really is one of life’s blessings that we have the ability to experience the wonders of this great country of ours.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


After a very relaxing morning at Haviland Lake we once more loaded up the rig and ventured over Coal Banks Pass, elevation 10,640, and Molas Divide, elevation 10,910 on our way to Silverton. What a breath taking drive with incredible views which ever way you looked. We stopped at Molas to ‘smell the flowers’ and look at the 14,000 foot peaks surrounding us.

Two years ago Chuck and I and my sister Linda and her husband Richard had arrived in town on the Durango to Silverton Narrow Gauge train. We re-visited several spots that we had gone to then. This time we ate lunch at Natalia’s. The sign aside of Chuck reads, “Natalia’s is home to one of the oldest Bordellos in town built in 1883. Sorry, that service is no longer provided…but the food it great!” It was. One of the things we enjoyed on our visit was the colorful ‘painted ladies’ all around town. These were a few of the favorites.

Later in the afternoon we drove up the very steep road on the south side of the mountain facing Silverton and watched the train pull out on it’s return trip to Durango. What a panoramic site from up there!
Chuck had been reading on line about boondocking along the south mineral creek north of town and that it where we are now calling home, N37 49.280 W107 43.194. The hummingbird feeder is up and active, the 'lawn' is rolled out, we been out walking and have met our neighbors Bob and Sybil. Last night it got down to 39 degrees so this morning it was a tad chilly but the days are just glorious!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

It's a small world

(Jan) Monday afternoon after we had settled into site #3 at Haviland Lake, we had a visitor who had noticed our Iowa license plates. To make a long story short, Colin’s wife Dorothy grew up on a farm 2 miles from our farm. Also, for many years in the ‘90’s we rented hay ground from her father Vyrl and knew him quite well. We met their 2 daughters and Dorothy explained that they could see our place from Grampa’s place across the valley. They have lived in New Mexico for the past 25 years. What a neat surprise!

We’ve enjoyed this wonderful slice of mountain camping; the wind whistling in the pines and the view of the lake. We’ve been outside most of the time. Chuck has been carving a new walking stick. We’ve been walking, playing cards and even built a cairn. Life is good!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Park Creek - Pagosa

(Jan) We found a great place to boondock in the Rio Grande N.F. along Park Creek/Summitville Rd. Nestled in a small grove of trees with the stream gurgling close by, we enjoyed watching marmots graze in our back yard and hummingbirds flock to our feeder. A drive up into the mountains and a visit to the ghost town of Summitville was our first order of business. Walking among the 10 or so remaining houses (& outhouses), it was fun to imagine what life must have been like in the 1870’s when it was a bustling mining town at 11,800 ft elevation. Today it is the site of a massive environmental clean-up. We followed the road for nearly 19 miles through beautiful upland meadows filled with flowers surrounded by mountain peeks near Elwood Pass and surprised a deer or two. We had wanted to visit the ghost town of Platoro but the road deteriorated into a jeep trail and had to turn around. The next day we drove over Wolf Creek Pass and took many of the forest road off of the highway and explored more of the wonderful mountain scenery. On both afternoons we took long walks along the stream and beaver ponds. What an idyllic place, except for having no cell or internet service, it was just about perfect.

Saturday morning we packed up the rig, drove over Wolf Creek pass and drove over to Pagosa Springs with a stop to see Treasure Falls. We found a unique boondocking site near the highway at an abandoned lot complete with cell and internet service. It wasn’t very pretty but it was a great location. We headed downtown to walk along the San Juan River, watch the people swimming and tubing and also, visited the shops on Main Street. We attended Mass (and 3 baptisms) that evening at a charming mission style church one block off of Main Street. The next morning after breakfast we decided to get out and walk. We started at the Visitors Center, wandered through a residential area, crossed the river on the east side of town and stopped for a relaxing break at a restaurant terrace along the river. We walked back along the river and hotel spa and springs area and logged 3.8 miles.

This morning after getting fuel, dumping tanks and taking on water we headed on over to Durango. We couldn’t find what we were looking for there in a camping spot so we continued on Hwy. 550 toward Silverton. We found a scenic place in the woods at Haviland Lake State Park overlooking the lake. It’s gorgeous here!

A very important side note; our youngest grandson, Isaac Charles Moore, celebrated his first birthday last Saturday. Got to ‘talk’ to him on the phone! He, his sister and parents Josh and Sarah came to visit in July and we enjoyed every minute of our time together.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Colorado Boomerang Parts II & III

(Jan) As the Colorado Boomerang came to a close, several Boomers moved the party to a new location. We joined them at Trout Creek Pass for Happy Hour on Saturday and Sunday and then moved our rig up to the forested site from Monday through Thursday. Trout Creek is in the San Isabel National Forest north east of Buena Vista, N F N38 54.548 W105 59.045 - 9,484 ft. We enjoyed lots of visiting and laughter, great dinners and campfires together. In the Chorus lines above are Marie, Terri, Bobbie, Jan, Edie and Nancy; Chuck G., Dave, Lee, Jim, Chuck and Rich. One evening Chuck spotted a mother bear and her cub ambling along near our campsite. There are 3 colorings of black bears; she was cinnamon and her cub was black. On Wednesday Chuck and I ran errands in Buena Vista and then drove up the old mining town of St. Elmo, year round population 4, where the town’s buildings are preserved rather than restored. The town, built around 1878, once had a population of 2,000. On the way down we spent time dappling our toes in a lovely cascading mountain stream.

Last Thursday, 5 rigs caravanned to De Weese Reservoir northeast of Westcliffe, N38 12.400 W105 26.760 - 7,775 ft. We were again surrounded by the beautiful Rocky Mountains with a view of the reservoir, colorful sunsets and on several occasions, a double rainbow. It was a great place for walking, listening to the coyotes, watching lots of birds and of course, more food, companionship and campfires. On Saturday Lee and Edie, Chuck and I went geocaching in and around the Westcliffe area. We found all 5 caches and had a great time. On Monday we invited Jim and Bobbie to visit Mission:Wolf in the mountains above Gardner with us. It is home to 25 abandoned or abused wolves and wolf crosses. We went on an amazing tour of the grounds and wolf enclosures and were treated to an astounding song of wolf howls as one howl was answered by a chorus from all of the others. We were then allowed to enter 2 of the enclosures after being taught about wolf behavior. Here is our very adventurous friend Bobbie going face to muzzle with a very curious 4 year old named Magpie. We made it back to the reservoir for Happy Hour at 4 and then the group went to Poag Mahone’s in Westcliffe for supper.

After tearful good byes, this morning Chuck and I are on our way west. We are at Del Norte city park tonight N37 40.991 W106 21.210 – 7,028 ft. We already miss all of our new best friends but are looking forward to seeing Pagosa Springs, Silverton and Ouray again.
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