On the Road Adventures

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

11 Sept

Hi, honey, we’re home!

Or maybe to be more precise, we are at the home without wheels.  There are so many things to do when we switch houses:  Turn on the circuit breakers to fire the house up again (and don’t we love those $17 electric bills during the summer!)  Fix the faucet to the ice breaker which started squirting arterially just moments before we left, so we can turn the water back on to the house.  Close the refrigerator up and turn it back on to start chilling; make dozens of trips back and forth, up and down stairs, carrying all the stuff back into the current abode.  Check the irrigation system to find out why things in some spots are brown.  Do laundry, loads of laundry.  So much to do.

So, what did we accomplish on the afternoon of our arrival home?  Talked to the neighbors for an hour, flipped all the switches and turned the fridge back on, and then we checked off the next most important thing: we went to Loomis Chinese for a late lunch, early dinner.  What?  The first thing on your list isn’t a trip to the local Chinese restaurant?  Then obviously you don’t have one as good as Loomis Chinese.  We ate at a Chinese place in Gunnison a month ago, and thought it might be okay because all the locals were eating there, but then we decided that they just didn’t know any better. After that Gerry moved the DVR and satellite system back into the house and started the process of trying to figure out why the damn thing doesn’t work.  Every time we switch it from house to Cleo or back again, we go through this. 

 So, here we are at noon on the second day home and the water is on, the faucet is fixed, the breakfast foods have migrated into the house and the first load of laundry is washing.  There are many trips ahead of me, but it’s break time.  And the lunch meat and fixings are out in Cleo.  Guess we’ll take our luncheon out there.


Friday, September 7, 2012

Sept 7 - Salt Lake City and points west

Indy, we’re staying at Pony Express RV Park – you remember it.  We rolled in yesterday and got just about the last spot.  We’ll go to some point in Nevada tomorrow, meet up with friends for dinner in Reno the day after and we should be home on Sunday afternoon.  But as a couple we know who are full-timers like to say, the schedule of a true RVer is chiseled firmly in jello.  Even being here at this time is a jello event.  Thanks to this gimpy ankle, there are a lot of trails we might still be hiking along, especially now that we’re at an altitude that doesn’t leave us gasping.  Next trip.

Sept 5 - Dinosaurs

701 Steg (640x480)

Here we are at the Dinosaur National Monument in northeastern Utah.  We were going to come here with Indy last summer, but the park was remodeling the Quarry Visitor Center, so we couldn’t see the dinosaurs.  So we stopped here this time.

702 Quarry wall (640x480)

This wall is just a short segment of a mountain of dinosaur bones all jumbled together.  They have taken out more than 200 complete or nearly complete skeletons and there are thousands more still here.

704 jumble (640x480)

Here are thigh bones of herbivores, ribs and spines and claws of carnivores, big dinos, baby dinos, all piled together in a stewpot of bones.

703 Camarasaurus (640x480)

705 camarasaurus (640x480)

The skull above and the complete skeleton here belong to a young herbivore called Camarasarus.  At first I thought that name was a joke:  the dinosaur you take pictures of with your camera, but no, it’s really the name of the species of dinosaur most frequently found there.

The next most frequent was Allosaurus, who came down to the lake or river to munch on the Camarasauri.

706 allosaurus (640x480)

I thought the rock formations outside the gallery were pretty spectacular.  There are a lot of them that looked to me like a dragon taking a nap.

707 dragon (640x480)

Sept 4 -- On the road again

We left Ouray this morning.  I was a little sad – I really like that little town.  We’ll be back here again some time.

The goal for today was Vernal, Utah, 200 miles up the road.  We made it to Grand Junction, 90 miles up the road, and decided that since we had never seen the Colorado National Monument, we should stop there.  The road winds up and up and up to the top of the mesa, and I tell you, the road to Silverton would be a cakewalk c700 camp (640x480)ompared to that one!  Especially the tunnels hewn out of red sandstone; at 16’ high (in the center) they were tall enough but still breathtaking to go through them. 

We picked out a campsite in the campground behind the Visitor Center, and then drove along the road at the top of the mesa.  Lots of red sandstone.  We’ve seen so much of the geology of the Colorado Plateau on this trip that even Gerry can tell the difference between Kayenta and Morrison formations.  At least this week he can.  I suspect this is information that he won’t worry too much about retaining.

697 Monuments (640x480)

The good thing is that most of the sight seeing could be done with only short walks.  As we were driving along, I saw something scamper across a flat section of the cliff in front of us, so we stopped and created a Big Horn Sheep jam while I took pictures.  The sky is so blue, they look like a bad photoshop job!


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696 big horns (640x443)

           698 coke ovens (640x480)

Now we’ve seen it and we have the pin for our collection.  This was the 12th time we used our Senior Access card to the National Parks on this trip.  We’ve gotten our $10.00 worth!

Sept 2 Rodeo!

“Put on your big girl pants and ride!”

The little town of R1(640x423)idgeway just down the road had a Labor Day rodeo, so we went to see the fun.  This was not a big, glitzy rodeo.  There was a grandstand that accommodated maybe 500 people, which was a significant percentage of the local population.

We liked the cowgirl casual style of shorts and boots.  Everyone seemed to know everyone else, and while some of the contestants came from other towns in search of points against their standings in the rodeo circuit, there were local riders too.  The horses were hanging out in the parking lot, just waiting for their jobs to start.



This little girl3(427x640) sitting next to us had the cutest little Aussie puppy, and everyone who walked by stopped to pet her, from little kids to grizzled old cowboys. 

First the county’s rodeo queen and her court were introduced.  They were all middle schoolers.  Apparently by the time the girls get to high school they have better things to do, such as barrel riding or calf roping.  The queen and her princesses had a mentor who was obviously very important to them, and who taught them one of the most important lessons for rodeoing and for life: “Put on your big girl pants and ride!”  Almost all of them used that sentence somewhere in their biographies, and by the time the announcer got through the whole roster, he was having a hard time keeping the laugh out of his voice when he’d get to that bit of wisdom, unanimously embraced by the girls. 


The girls might go for the sparkle and glitter of the crowns, but they fit over the hats, and their sashes were leather, not satin.  Future cowgirls in training.

The local high school quartet sang the Star Spangl6(640x409)ed Banner, and the crowd sang along while the flag was galloped around the arena.  There’s something very touching about a grandstand full of people singing that song.  It may be done with more love than style but it gets to me every time.


And then the rodeo began.  F6(557x640)irst came the bare back bronc riders.  The score:  horses 4, cowboys 1.  You could practically see the horses snickering as one after another they dumped their riders in the dirt and trotted off to the gate, their work done for the day.

The steer wrestlers didn’t do much better.  This team got a score, but a lot of them were unlucky enough to draw steers who’d been to one rodeo too many, and who knew if they kept running they were going to get thrown down, so they put on the brakes right out of the chutes, leaving the steer wrestler empty handed at best, face first in the dust with the steer standing behind them at the most embarrassing.

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        678 wrestling2 (640x486)

678 wrestling3 (640x468)  

The next event was one I’d never seen before:  steer packing.  Teams of 4 cowboys had to catch a steer, load it with two packs and a couple of buckets and a wash tub and get it across the finish line with all its packs on it.  This team didn’t win.

679 steer packing (640x427)        679 steer packing1 (640x514)

679 steer packing2 (640x366)  The steer was not amused.

680 calf1 (640x237)

     The calf roping was a little more successful than some of the other events, but there were still some calves that managed to avoid getting roped.  This rodeo stuff can be really hard!



680 calf2 (640x398)      680 calf3 (640x269)          

                      682 stick horse race (640x392)

The littlest cowpokes got to do their part in the rodeo with a stick horse race for 5 year-olds and younger.  This part of rodeo isn’t hard, and unlike the grown-ups, everyone came away with a prize.

683 team roping (640x392)

Team roping had only partial success.  It’s hard to get that rope around both back feet.

The barrel riders were exciting.  Some of the just skimmed those barrels and if they were lucky, the barrels just rattled but stayed upright. 

684 barrel2 (640x465)    684 barrel3 (640x427)

Next was another new ev686 pickup (640x421)ent to me – rider pick-up.  The idea is that you have a stranded person, a-foot in the middle of the stampede or in a flash flood.  You can use your own imagination to set the dire straits that poor unhorsed person is in.  And here comes their partner to swoop in and scoop them up and gallop to safety.  This team did pretty well.  Others, not so much.  The passengers slammed into the side of the horse, leapt on with such verve that they went right over the horse into the dirt, ended up dangling sideways across the back of the saddle, or were grabbed with a yank that made the whole stands groan with sympathy for the dislocated joints of elbow and shoulder.  The horses exhibited great tolerance, not kicking, stomping, or otherwise abusing the inept passengers as they fell under their feet or sprawled across their rumps.  There was much laughter!  But this second team stole the whole crowd’s hearts:

Remember shorts and boots?  She brings her little girl out and puts her on top of the barrel.

687 baby pickup (613x640)

                                   687 baby pickup2 (438x640)     

She signals her daddy to come and rescue her.  Dad gallops up and brings his horse to a stop, snatched up his little girl and heads back to the finish line, determination in every line of Dad’s face, delight on the little girl’s.

  687 baby pickup3 (640x573)     687 baby pickup4 (640x597)

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And after her moment in the arena, she rides Daddy’s horse back to the trailer while he walks alongside.

689 saddle bronc (640x583)

The saddle broncs were the next main event, and the score was horses 4, riders 1.  This rider managed to stay on the horse until the buzzer sounded.  Most of the riders reminded me of a song that a friend of ours wrote about cowboys:

“He’s never been first in the big rodeo, and on most of his rides he got throwed.”

And last but not least came the the bull riders.  I was glad to see that the bull riders now wear protective vests and helmets with face guards.  When a man is strapping himself to 1,500 pounds of pissed off, he needs all the protection he can get.  It’s hard enough to stick on those monsters as they do their pirouettes and jetes and airs above the ground.

690 bull (640x555) 

691 bull (640x406)

692 bull (640x381)

It was a most excellent rodeo.

Sept 1 -- Silverton and the Yankee Girl

We took a down day yesterday.  I skidded down the path as we were coming back into town and tweaked my ankle, so I spent the day with it up on a pillow and wrapped in cold packs.  Can’t waste time havin645 whats that (640x415)g a sore ankle!  It was still a little tender today so we drove to Silverton over the Million Dollar Highway.  Us and a gazillion motorcyclists.  It is a great road for motorcycles.  As we were driving along, I was looking at the far side of the canyon and I had Gerry stop at a little turn-out to take a closer look at, what? a house?  with laundry on the line?  way the hellandgone up the mountain with no road or even sign of a track?  There was a sign on the side of the house that said “Antiques, 9-5:30.”  I don’t think so.  I suspect a joke played by the guys one of the local girls characterized as “crazy hippie climber dudes.” 

646 somehow I doubt it (640x427)

We checked out the town of Silverton, and ate our picnic lunch while we watched the train from Durango get itself repositioned.  Off on the side of the hill, we could see what looked like walkers and runners.  Tough guys, running at 9,000’.  There was a big tent they were running to, so we checked it out and turned out it was a 5-day event with them running from Telluride to Silverton, a hundred miles.  Horrifying.  We went back to looking at the train.

651 steamer (640x427)

655 Silverton street (640x425)  Silverton, with a bunch of bikers stopping for lunch.663 CO31 (640x480)

As we headed back toward Ouray, we saw a dirt road leading off the highway with a sign that announced it was Colorado Road #31.  The mountains here are threaded with numbered Colorado roadways that in some cases are little more than mountain goat tracks.  This one looked good in comparison, so we ventured off the beaten (or paved, if you will) track to see where this lead.

658 Natl belle mine (640x427)

We came out at the National Belle mine, where we met some HOV riders picking through the mine tailings, looking for crystals.  We followed them for a little while when they moved on, but the road soon became HOV friendly but not Little Green Toad friendly, so we turned around.

665 Yankee Girl (640x427)

Back on the highway, we came to the overlook of the tall mine structure I’d taken photos of when we came this way from Cortez, last month.  As we looked at it, here came 3 HOV’s rolling along in front of the buildings!  It was our friends from the National Belle.  So when we saw the other end of CO 31 down the road a bit, we took it and drove right up the base of the Yankee Girl Mine.  It was a deep shaft mine and the building was the elevator structure, still standing after 130 years, but with a substantial grating over the mine shaft that echoed below my feet.

666 Yankee Girl (640x427)

  Those old miners didn’t have nerves of steel – t667 cage (427x640)hey had no nerves at all, to ride a little cage down into that pit every day!

More people came up while we were taking pictures.  They were locals showing some out-of-town guests around and they told us about the mine, and the still active Idarado Mine across the valley.  That mine goes all the way through the mountain and out on the other side near Telluride.  One winter there was an avalanche on the highway and the Silverton boys’ basketball team couldn’t get to Telluride for their game, so the mine operators took the team through the Idarado mine and out the other side to Telluride so they wouldn’t have to forfeit the game, which they won.  Guess when you live in these mountains, a little thing like an avalanche isn’t a good reason to call a basketball game!

668 Fall color (458x640)      669 Red Mt (640x427)

Golden leaves and red mountains – this is a very colorful place!

670 hot pool (640x427)

Back in Ouray, we stopped to take a picture of the hot pools.  There are lap pools at 80, a warm pool at 97, and a 105 degree hot pool. 

This little guy was munching on the grass in the front yard of one of the houses just off the main street.

671 lawn deer (640x464)