Sunday, July 31, 2016

Last Dollar Road/Telluride, CO (7/18/2016)

Only six weeks after my last trip over Last Dollar Road, I was back with my visitors to see how much it had changed.  Obviously, there was much less snow in light of the many 90+ temperature days the region has experienced this summer.  While cooler in the mountains, the temps have been above normal everywhere around here.  Another change, and one I was looking forward to, was the type of wildflowers in bloom.

It was an overcast, even stormy looking day, but somehow we managed to avoid any significant rain.  We never saw more than a brief, light shower, but it was clear that surrounding areas were getting much more.

Approaching Telluride, we encountered a flock of sheep being maneuvered expertly by a pair of sheep dogs.  I wondered if this was the same flock I saw being moved six weeks ago.  It wasn't that close to where I saw them earlier, but it was the only sheep we saw.

We also came across a group of young girls wearing wings, possibly practicing for some play.  The women in charge seemed to be a little amused that we saw them in that situation.

In Telluride just in time for lunch, we parked near this Victorian church that I admired.

The place we chose for lunch had hummingbird feeders, allowing me to grab a couple shots.  Unfortunately, service there was so bad we left and found a better place.  Given Telluride prices, no one should accept poor service.

Strolling around town, we enjoyed a variety of flowers, including various colors of columbine.

Of course, we drove farther into the canyon to view famous Bridal Veil Falls and Abrams Falls.

A quick drive up the mountains to Mountain Village gave us great views of the San Miguel Mountains.  We also took the opportunity to visit an "open house" for a home listed at $1.75 million, one of the more affordable homes in that community.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Palisade & Colorado National Monument (7/17/2016)

After watching the British Open to a disappointing finish, my guests and I decided it might be appropriate to take a drive through Colorado's wine country.  The town of Palisade is the heart of wine country here, and also has an enormous fruit industry, including peaches, apricots, apples, etc. After joining the Wine & Fruit Trail, we made a couple quick stops for buying fruit and doing a little wine tasting, leaving with a few bottles of Laughing Cat Reisling,.  The mesas surrounding this area are quite spectacular.

Next, since we were so close, we headed over to Colorado National Monument to wrap up the day.  As always, the rock formations are the stars of the show, but the many canyons that make up the monument are very scenic themselves.  At the Visitor Center, we watched a movie about the origins of the monument and saw a statue of John Otto, a man who lived in the area for many years and advocated to have the place designated as a National Park.  That never happened, but it did gain National Monument status.

One of these days, I plan to explore some of the surrounding areas, such as MacInnis Canyons and Rattlesnake Canyon, which has the most sandstone arches outside of Arches National Park.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Black Canyon & Owl Creek Pass (7/15/2016)

Starting around June 24, I became heavily involved in the process of moving into my new home.  First, I encountered problems with the movers who were supposed to be moving my storage unit boxes from Florida to Montrose.  The bottom line was I took them off the job and, since it was too late to arrange another moving company, I decided I had to do it myself.  I flew to Tampa on June 25, rented a truck and , with great help from my son Randy, got the truck loaded early on June 26 and immediately headed west.  Three days of hard driving and I was in Montrose, 2100 miles from my old home.  My closing was scheduled for June 30 and went off without a hitch.  That's when the real fun began.

Right after the closing, I began to unload the truck at my new digs.  I had good help for a couple days and managed to get everything unloaded, and much of it put away.  Over the next few days, multiple furniture deliveries kept me busy, along with moving boxes from the garage into the house.  Of course, I had to make numerous shopping trips for necessities, and a few just for home decor items.  After a couple weeks, I was ready for my first visitors, BIL Charlie and SIL JoAnne.  Honestly, I was also ready for a break and a chance to have some fun.

The first day trip took us to Black Canyon of the Gunnison and a drive down that very steep road to East Portal.  Right by the Gunnison River, we could see the entrance to the tunnel that goes nearly six miles through the mountains to provide irrigation water to the entire valley, and has for more than 100 years.  At that point, the river is very calm and smooth.

On the way back to the rim, we had good views of the canyon and even saw a mule deer.

Here is the Painted Wall, although I still don't understand why it's called that.  Also shown is the crack that glows like fire on certain occasions when the sunrise hits it just right.  I hope some day to witness that.

After a picnic lunch and visit to a quaint gift shop, we took a back road through the rolling hills and eventually made it to Silver Jack Reservoir.

From there, we made our way up to Owl Creek Pass, admiring the rock formations and wildflowers along the way.

At the summit, some 10,114 feet above sea level, we stopped for a while by the stream that produced some nice little waterfalls.

Shortly after, we came to the famous Deb's Meadow, named for Debbie Reynolds who played a scene here in making How The West Was Won.  The meadow was also the location for the great gun battle in the original True Grit movie, featuring John Wayne as Rooster Cogburn and Robert Duval and his three henchmen.  You'll notice that Chimney Rock overlooks the meadow, just as it did in the movie.  The meadow also has some lovely wildflowers.  While there, we met a family from North Carolina who were on a mission to find all the locations used in True Grit, so we told them where to find Mattie's Rock, near the summit.

As we drove down to the town of Ridgway, we had a great view of Cimarron Ridge, followed by a closer view of Chimney Rock and Courthouse Mountain with storm clouds building behind them.