Wednesday, September 28, 2011

San Felipe

(Jan) For the five days between Eagle Nest State Park and the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta we have called the San Felipe 003Hollywood Casino CG home. We are boondocking here east of the casino and in front of the Hollywood Hills Speedway. The weather has been marvelous; highs in the 80’s and night time temps in the 60’s. It’s given us time to go to Camping World to purchase a water softener, new step treads and a TV antenna booster. Time also to wash the MH and truck.

On Sunday we made a trip up to Santa Fe. We attended mass at the Cathedral Basillica of St Francis and later met our friends Bruce and Dee who were on their way south. Together we went to see the Loretto Chapel Staircase and then roamed around old town Santa Fe. There are many wonderful art galleries there as well as interesting shops and a plaza with native peoples displaying amazing crafts and jewelry. One of our favorite shops was a store entirely dedicated to selling oils and vinegars. We sampled several. What a delightful place.

Staircase[1] Building of the Loretto Chapel was started in 1873 and finished in 1878. The staircase to the choir loft was built in 6 months by an unknown carpenter with only wood, wooden pegs and glue; it has two 360 degree turns and no visible means of support. The hand rails were added later at the request by the Sisters of Loretto. http://www.lorettochapel.com/staircase.html Miraculous staircase[1]

001Our friends Frank and Diane Gruelle are traveling through this area and we were able to go and visit them yesterday. We traveled down to old town Albuquerque and had dinner at the Frontier Restaurant which is right across the street from the University of New Mexico campus. It’s an interesting place with great burgers, New Mexican food and breakfast all day. Our burritos, enchiladas with homemade tortillas and sweet rolls (which the restaurant is famous for) were delicious! What a great evening we had with good friends.

Tomorrow it’s on to the Balloon Fiesta Park in Albuquerque to join our Boomer group and attend the 2011 Balloon Fiesta. Our group will have our rigs parked on the parameter of the balloon landing field.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Maxwell Land Grant & the Colfax County War

Lucien B. Maxwell's Grave, Fort Sumner, New Mexico006(Jan) This morning Chuck found the following site http://www.legendsofamerica.com/nm-maxwell.html on the web. For those of you interested in history, it’s a fascinating read about an area we’re definitely going to re-visit.

Elizabethtown_Street_Scene_NewMexicoWanderings.jpg (308x217 -- 60645 bytes)Astec Mill, Cimarron, New Mexico, 1936

Friday, September 23, 2011

Eagle Nest & Cimarron, New Mexico

003(Jan) Eagle Nest State Park, elevation 8200 feet, lies in a high mountain valley surrounded by mountains north east of Taos and west of Cimarron.002 The lake and park are beautiful with sunny 70 degree days and cool 40 degree nights. We took a side trip there on our way south to do a little hiking with fellow Boomers Art and Connie. On Thursday we drove north west of Eagle Nest and hiked along Clear 007Creek in Cimarron Canyon State Park. Our 3 mile hike took us up hill, over plank bridges and scrambling over rocks near the stream to a pretty waterfall where we stopped to have lunch and visit. In the evening we set up the Pegs and Jokers board and enjoyed several games. After three very close rounds the girls were ahead 2-1. It was a good stop with fun friends.

Today was travels day. Going east to Cimarron and then south took us on a route we had not traveled before. We stopped in Cimarron which is rich in history to read all of their story boards.

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‘New’ Cimarron has placed large blow-ups of their town’s famous residents along the road as well as boards that told their stories and their part in the area’s history. Cimarron was also a stopping place for military, trade wagons and and pioneers traveling the Santa Fe trail. We went into ‘Old’ Cimarron, just to the south, to see some of the historic buildings and where the Santa Fe trail came through the town. Click on any picture to enlarge so you can read the text.

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Tonight we are boondocking at a Casino north of Albuquerque.  We will probably stay here until it is time for us to go to the Balloon Fiesta next week.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Central Colorado

(Jan)  As often happens, we plan to stop at a certain spot for a day or two and end up staying longer. That’s what 001happened at both Clear Creek Reservoir, 6 nights, and Salida BLM along the Arkansas River, 3 nights. Bruce and Dee joined us for the last nights at Clear Creek and two nights at Salida. Becky and Lonnie also joined us for a night at each.

On Friday Bruce & Dee and Chuck & I drove up the Lost Canyon Road  or FR398 above Granite.  It was a scenic, winding gravel road through aspen and pine Mountain vista (800x600)[1]forests that followed a pretty mountain stream for part of the way and past an abandoned miners cabin at 11,500 feet elevation and an old gold mining operation. As we climbed up to near the top, onto the tundra at 12,500 feet elevation, we were in the middle of a mountain snow squall. Time to head back!

We were delighted to be in the forest in the fall as the aspens are beginning to change color. We’re told that fall is a bit late this year and we’re hoping to see their golden colors in the next week or so. Did you know that aspens actually grow from one root system and the largest stand of genetically identical aspens encompasses about 106 acres?

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Aspens above and to the right…..
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…….and tiny little alpine flowers that were growing next to the miners cabin.
003moore news

002 (2)Saturday was a cool, windy day but that didn’t stop Bruce & Dee, Lonnie & Becky and Chuck & I from getting out and playing Bocce Ball. There was definitely no smooth grass to play on and plenty of rocks and pebbles so it made for an interesting couple of games. Guys 2, Girls 0 but a fun time for all.

Our spot here along the Arkansas River on BLM land is just south of Salida. It’s been real handy for making a Wal-mart supply run and a trip to the laundromat. It’s also just a 45 mile trip down along the beautiful Arkansas river valley and up over the hills to our friend’s place in Westcliffe. We met Dave & Marie in 2008 at the Mosquito Rang and were very happy to see them again. Bruce & Dee and Chuck & I drove over to see them on Monday. We met in downtown Westcliffe and roamed the shops for awhile and then relaxed and visited over lunch. (sorry, no picture this time)

Tomorrow we’ll end our stay here along the Arkansas river and head south to Eagles Nest State Park in New Mexico. We decided to skip Great Sand Dunes NP this year and save that visit for another time.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Colorado Trail

(Chuck)  The Colorado Trail is a 483 mile long trail that travels from Denver to Durango. Most of the trail is above 10,000 feet and the highest point is 13,344 feet elevation. It was completed in 1987 and requires the efforts of many volunteers.015

We are fortunate to be living within a few hundred feet of the trail as it traverses this valley. In 2008 we traveled a small portion of the trail as it wound up into the forest on the South moraine in this valley. This year we decided to follow the trail up the North moraine. On this side of the valley there are very few trees and we were rewarded with a wonderful views of Clear Creek Reservoir and its upper valley. Our up and back trip was only 4.25 miles in length however it included a 916 foot elevation gain. It was a great outing and when we gained the summit of the north moraine we were greeted with a brisk breeze and a noticeable change in temperature.

 

005Looking east down the valley towards Clear Creek Reservoir where we’re staying 013

007Looking west up the valley toward the ghost towns of Vicksburg & Winfield

There was a thunderstorm moving up the Arkansas River Valley and it was threatening to include our little piece of Heaven. We knew it was time to return to the valley floor. Going down was much easier and it took far less time than the ascent. We arrived safe and dry at home but we were very tired. The rest of our late afternoon involved a nice hot shower and plenty of relaxing. Tomorrow we may drive up this valley or drive to the top of the mountain above Granite.

020The rain is pouring down to the east of us on the way back. We were home about 45 minutes before it started to rain on the Motor Home.

022a gnarled Juniper tree trunk

The Colorado Trail

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From our MH you can see the trail running diagonally up the moraine. Click the picture to enlarge.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Rocky Mountain NP & a visit to John & Julie’s

P1040288(Jan) Rocky Mountain National Park has been a favorite of ours for years. Our first trip here was as newlyweds. Since then we’ve visited several times as a family with the boys and six years ago Chuck & I returned. It’s still a magical place where you can cross the alpine tundra at the top of the mountains at 12,000+ feet or enjoy elk grazing in the mountain meadows. Our first two nights were spent in Loveland where we were joined one evening by Mick and Ann and then luckily we found a place for the next three nights at Moraine Park CG.  001

(Chuck) We took a chance last week when we reserved a National Park campsite that was listed as a 40 foot site. It turned out to be a good fit. The second day was cloudy and wet and we were planning to drive up Fall River Road and down Trail Ridge Road with Bruce and Dee who had stayed in Estes Park in their RoadTrek. We needed one more day for the sun to shine and I found a site near us which was available for the next night and booked it. Bruce and I measured it closely and found that we could overhang the back of the rig and we put our 43 foot rig into a 35 foot National Park spot. 036

Our tour of Fall River Road, Trail Ridge Road and Bear Lake was a success and we were treated with a great close up view of the Elk in their first week of the rut. That evening we were near a stream watching a large group of females who were under the watchful eye of a large bull.P1040223 We stood near the road as they crossed the stream only twenty feet in front of us. The bull followed at the rear of the group and he crossed very close to us, Dee who was near the front stepped back and we all knew that it could have been dangerous, however he proceeded on to his females and we all looked at each other and breathed a sigh of relief. It happened so fast and it was a breathtaking sight. Days and evenings in the campground were accompanied with the bugling of the male elk in the rut.

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Chuck & Jan at Chasm Falls, Bruce & Dee treating us to Burgers & Fries at Penelope’s and Bruce, Dee & Chuck in downtown Estes Park.

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(Jan) On Friday morning we headed south to John and Julie’s home where we034 were welcomed with open arms & Boomer hugs. John and Julie & granddaughter Taylor live west of Denver at 9500 ft elevation in a beautiful home they built by themselves; yes, framed, wired, plumbed, etc. Bruce and Dee were visiting, also, and we had a wonderful time; eating some amazing meals prepared by John & Julie, talking technology, 011listening to an Andre Bocelli concert in John’s home theatre, playing pinball and working on Sudoku puzzles together.

On Saturday, as J&J had other commitments, we and Bruce & Dee headed down the Virginia Canyon Road, also listed on the map as the ‘O My God Road’ to Idaho Springs. The mostly gravel road lived up to it’s name with it’s steep winding route past former gold and silver mines and spectacular views. We toured the town, looked at all of the ornate houses perched on the mountain side, browsed the Main Street shops and wandered through their delightful Visitors Center/ Museum that told of the area’s early mining history.

001003Sunday the six of us headed to Boulder and had a very delicious breakfast at a local roadhouse high up in the mountains. In Boulder we headed to Pearl Street, an area several blocks long with shops and restaurants open only to pedestrian traffic. We sure had a fun time browsing and shopping at kitchen stores, art stores, a chocolate shop with Cherry/Jalapeno chocolate and watching the street musicians and buskers. A drive through the University of Colorado, past the Coors Brewery and back up the scenic Mountain canyon road took us back to John & Julie’s house. John fired up the wood burning earth oven when we got back and their neighbors Bob and Marsha arrived with sour dough pizza dough for us to make individual wood fired pizzas. Julie had all of the toppings ready, Dee and I furnished salads and we had another culinary feast! The evening was spent visiting but all too soon it was time to say good night! 

012Chuck’s pizza – sauce, onions, pepperoni, mozzarella, peppers and fresh tomatoes 015 016Desert pizza w/chocolate chips

(Chuck) We left John and Julie’s this morning and proceeded to a place that I have wanted to return for several years. In 2008 we attended a Colorado Boomerang that has forever been referred to as the Mosquito Rang. That year our group was assaulted by a billion mosquitoes at Clear Creek Reservoir which is North of Buena Vista, Colorado. It is a beautiful setting in the mountains and it just did not seem fair that we could not be outside our rigs in this valley. Ever since then I have wanted to return to this place to prove that it could be done. We arrived this afternoon and there was a minor concern about internet access, however I raised our Wilson antenna on our large fiberglass pole and we have very good data access now. Good internet access has become a necessity on our lives. We will be here several days as long as the weather holds. Cool nights and 70’s in the day make this another wonderful place for us to make our home. When we leave here we will stop in Salida, then Great Sand Dunes NP, and on down into New Mexico for the Balloon Fiesta.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Leaving the Quiet of the Big Horn Mountains

(Jan) It was a fabulous week high up in a quiet, pretty meadow in the Big Horn Mountains. We liked boondocking again and especially enjoyed the cool temps, opening windows with no A/C running and being able to eat outside in the sunshine. We did catch up on lots of household & bookwork tasks, along with watching some of the movies we had recorded on our DVR; Avatar, You Again, Mama Mia, Absolute Power, The Tourist, Up and Double Jeopardy. It was a great time for reading, too; King of Torts by John Grisham, The Choice by Nicholas Sparks and I, Alex Cross by James Patterson. 025

The weather, which started out as hot on the day we arrived, took us through two rain days and was decidedly cool on the day we left. In fact the last two nights got down to 33 and 29 degrees. Quite a difference from the hot sultry weather of our summer in the Midwest. 

004One of our favorite parts of this lifestyle is meeting wonderful new people along the way. Thursday evening a couple form Wisconsin pulled into our area and we had a great time getting to know fellow Escapees Jeff and Kay. A campfire and visiting at their rig and ours was topped off by going to a breakfast buffet in Buffalo this morning before Chuck and I headed south. We’ll look forward to seeing these ‘new best friends’ again down the road.

Tonight we are in Loveland, Colorado. We had intended to stop in Casper, WY to see the National Trails Interpretive Museum but it is closed until Tuesday. We’ll save that for another time. Our plan is to spend time in Rocky Mountain National Park this week where we have reservations at Moraine Park CG for Tuesday and Wednesday. It’s been quite awhile since we’ve been to RMNP so we’re really looking forward to it.

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A Clear sunny day followed by rain……….

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         dramatic clouds and a rainbow!

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room reservation in London