On the Road Adventures

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sept 29–Santa Fe


We stopped overnight at Pagosa Springs on the 26th.  After dinner we w69 pagosa spring (480x640)ent downtown to check it out.  What we found is that Pagosa Springs rolls the sidewalks up at 5 pm on the dot and the only things open were some of the spring spas.  They were VERY proud of themselves.  I don’t like sitting in hot water $30 worth, especially since the springs are mineral and stinky.  So we weren’t inclined to hang around. 

This is one of the springs beside a sidewalk.  Looks like a mini-volcano.

The next night we were in Santa Fe and the past two days we have explored the plaza of the old town, checked out some museums, and enjoyed the shops.

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   The Governer’s Palace and old town plaza.  This was built by the Spanish in the mid-1500’s and was the seat of government for the Spanish, Mexicans, the Pueblo Indians during a revolution, the USA, for a period of several months the Confederacy, and then the US again.  In the late 1890’s it was finally replaced by a more modern residence.


One of the must-see sights is the staircase in the Loretta Chapel.  It has no center post to support it and is supposed to be impossible, engineering-wise, and yet here it is. 

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There is art all over the place – there are over 250 galleries, and statues and dynamic sculptures like these whirly-gigs are everywhere.

I thought this was a cool visual with all the arrows and their shadows on the wall.

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The Georgia O’Keefe Museum is in Santa Fe.  It was unfortunately being re-hung for a new show, so there weren’t many pictures to see.  This is Black Mesa that Georgia O’Keefe painted many times during her years in New Mexico




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The Museum of Indian Art and Culture had a musical group and traditional dancers when we stopped there to check it out.  The singers were very modern but the little dancer danced her way across the plaza to their music, an interesting blend of old and new

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Sept 26–Pagosa Springs

It was really windy all night last night, so neither of us slept well, thinking about the road out of Ouray.  We had two choices.  We could go back north and take I-50 east66 Million dollar hwy (640x427) and then go south, which would have made today about 250 miles to get half way to Santa Fe, or we could go directly south from Ouray on what they call the “Million Dollar Highway” (named back when a million dollars was actually a lot of money) that goes straight down to Silverton and Durango to Pagosa Springs, which is a 120 mile day, with about a hundred miles tomorrow to Santa Fe.  No contest, right?  Except that it was really, really windy and there is a significant part of the road that is a sheer drop-off for a thousand feet or more.  But the G-Man has nerves of steel, so we took the short, breath-taking road.  I drove the Little Green Toad for the first 30 miles so poor Cleo wouldn’t have to drag it up those 7% grades at 10,000’.  Here’s a picture of Cleo on the road.  This is NOT the part of the road where that drop-off was on the right hand side of the road.  Even though I was in the little car following, I was keeping both hands on the steering wheel and my full attention on the road!

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The view from the road after Silverton isn’t as colorful as the north end of the road.  The trees there are just beginning to think about putting on their gold coats.  It’s still a pretty view.

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There was one single, solitary patch of color along the downward slope. 

So now we are in Pagosa Springs, contemplating the choice between a steak house and a Mexican restaurant, both recommended by out RV camp host.  Tomorrow is Santa Fe.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Sept 25–Yankee Boy Basin

55 Yankee boy

We headed off on a nice dirt road (that’s one that’s been graded and is wide enough for two cars to pass without one having to pull off in the weeds) that leads up to the Yankee Boy mine basin.  There were some patches of golden aspen, but it seems to be more sheltered and warmer, so there was way too much greenery so I played with camera settings and artsy shots, most of which ended up in the trash.  Have I said how much I love digital cameras?

60 Aspen road    Golden road.  Or maybe a half-golden road.

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Maidenhair fern.  Years ago a friend kept giving me a maidenhair fern plant, which I would promptly kill because it was Loomis and hot.  I finally refused to accept the fate of another plant and have never attempted a fern again.  Obviously, maidenhair ferns are happy at 9,000’ and snuggled among the aspen trunks.

65 Aspen and white trunks

 White trunks and golden leaves blowing in the wind.

There is a large working mine in the heart of the Yankee Boy basin.  As59 road notch we drove by it we saw a cement mixer, several large front loaders, a couple of long office-type trailers and big dump trucks.  This is part of the road leading to that mine.  I really don’t think it’s physically possible for any of those vehicles to have traveled this road, and yet there they are and no other way to get there that we can see!




Here’s a shot of the hot springs, where we are going to go g53 hot springset our final Ouray soaking in another hour or so.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Sept 24–The Yankee Girl

It was still muddy but what the heck.  We have 4 wheel drive!  So we decided to go up the definitely unimproved county road that leads to the Yankee Girl mine.  IMG_0073
This is the town of Ouray from the road above the town heading south.  Unlike some of the mountain towns like Telluride, this is a real community and it’s a nice, comfortable place to hang out and not worry that you don’t have enough Gucci or Prada to be allowed in the city limits.

The yellows were even more intense, especially since there wasn’t a cloud to be seen anywhere to cast a shadow.       IMG_0119 
I am grateful to the person who invented digital cameras.  I took a LOT of photos of aspen leaves, and everyone can be thankful that I high-graded out a lot of those, and then pruned the photos for the blog down even more!  I’m having great fun with leaves!

We slogged our way up to the Yankee Girl mine.  This structure was used to haul the ore up from the shafts below.
What a beautiful place and then the miners had to work in a hole in the ground!


I think this is one of the best shots of the day.


This was the view from up really high!

The snow had melted partially, so the mountain was even more Red, White and Blue today.


Monday, September 23, 2013

Sept 23, 2013 Ouray, CO

We visited Ouray last year during August and fell in love with this little mining town.  It was one of those places where we came in, intending to stay a night or two and ended up staying a week.  Since it was the tail end of summer, just one or two aspen were beginning to change their colors so we wanted to come back here in the fall to see all the golden trees and Ouray put on the colors in style. 

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This is the road into Ouray.  That torrential rain yesterday translated into snow in the mountains surrounding the town.  We weren’t sure there wasn’t going to be snow in the town itself, but the white stuff stayed higher up.



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We got set up at the little RV park right here in town, and then headed up the Million Dollar Highway to check out the mountains, and quickly ran into lots of vibrant color.

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The sky could hardly be a deeper blue!



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This is what the locals call a Red, White and Blue shot – the blue of the sky, white of the fresh snow and the red of the mountain showing through.

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One of the places we visited last summer was the Yankee Girl mine.  The road (red mud) looked a little too sketchy to attempt today, but the shot of the mine structure from across the valley was pretty with the snow and changing trees.  Maybe tomorrow or the next day it will dry out enough to tackle.


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The aspen speak for themselves!

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After we drove back down the mountains, we took ourselves over to the hot springs in town and had a good, hot soaking.  I’ll have to take the camera there tomorrow.  Now we’re all warm and melty and ready for bed!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sept 22, 2013 Montrose, CO

So, where are we now?  We left home on Sept 18 and traveled all the way to Sparks, NV, just about a hundred miles over the mountains.  From there we went on to Ely.  We’ve been through Ely several times but never spent much time there.  Usually we go on to Great Basin National Park, but this time we decided to check out the Ely Northern Nevada Railway.  It was the railway built to carry the gold, silver and copper ore during the peak of the mining in that part of Nevada.

   The main railway is no longer in use except for short steam excursions, but the museum there has saved the depot and the buildings as well as having a large repair/rebuilding facility there.







How does a place like this find the people who know how to work on these monsters?  Looking at them was all well and good, but we had to take a ride, so we bought our tickets for the 4:30 trip.

Since it was still early in the day, we drove out to the Ward Charcoal Ovens State Park.  Every publicity photo of Ely has the ovens in it.  They were built to make charcoal to use in processing the ore for the mines in the mountains nearby.  It takes 35 cords of wood to fill each oven, and a week to burn it down to charcoal.  At 5 acres of wood per oven, it didn’t take long to totally denude the surrounding mountains of the cedar and pinion forest. IMG_0071





The ovens were pretty impressive and still in good repair.  They obviously are used by the cattle to get out of the rain, so watching where we put our feet was important!

We headed back to the train station to catch the steam train.  It went out to the copper mine, now in operation again, and back to Ely.  Cinders and ashes – you can always expect to be washing those out of your hair and clothes when a steam engine is pulling the train!








The next day we drove to Salina, Utah.  We were planning to go on to Green River, but the wind was horrible and even trading off driving duty, we were both tired so we quit at Salina.  The town’s claim to fame is Mom’s CafĂ©, which made an entry in the book, Eat Your Way Across The USA, so we had dinner there, and I have to say it may not be fancy, but it still lives up to its reputation, especially the pie!

Moms cafe (1127x1164)

So today, the 22nd, we were going to stop in Grand Junction, and after a full day of driving in the pouring rain, we got there to find there was not an spot in any RV park to be had.  Seems there was a big wine festival over the weekend and no one wanted to leave today because of the bad weather.  So now we’re in Montrose, 60 miles farther down the road.  The good news is that tomorrow we only have about 30 miles to get to Ouray

Summer with the kids–part III

While we were in Florence we, of course, had to ride on the sand dunes, so we found a place that gave rides on a big dune buggy.  Micah was fascinated with the fact that it used airplane tires.  It was a nice enough ride, but as we were slowly traversing the dunes, a sand rail with a few passengers went whizzing by us and in unison, the kids pointed and proclaimed, “I want to ride on THAT!!”  So we did.  12b

The kids were lucky -

they had on helmets so they got minimal sand in their hair.  I spent the next week washing it out of mine, and over a week later when we delivered them to their mom, she commented on the sand that was still embedded in their ears.  It was worth every grain to have the fun of ripping over those dunes at what seemed to be 70 mph.  It wasn’t a slow traverse in any sense of the word!


Our last stop in Oregon was Gold Beach, where we traded a ride on sand for a jet boat ride on the Rogue River.13a

This was the view out our front window at the RV park where 13bwe stayed.  The jet boat picked us up at the dock of the hotel next door.  The ride was pretty wild, with the guide whipping that jet boat around and getting us all wet.  We were glad it was a warm day!


13c  A mini jet boat.

Our final stop was back down in California at the Redwoods, where Micah and Indy got their ranger badges for filling out the Junior Ranger booklet.  We had fun wandering through the tall trees and exploring the fire-hollowed trees.

14c   14a  

And then the trip was over and we had to deliver them back to the loving arms of their parents, just in time for Indiana to get ready for her first day of 2nd grade.

Summer with the kids: Part II

We took off up I-5 to Oregon.  Our first stop was at the Roseburg Wild Animal Safari, where 4Micah and Indy got to feed a real giraffe.  They had put us all in a big, open truck and we drove along until we got to the place where Mac, the giraffe, had decided to stand in the middle of the road to get his bucket full of yummy romaine leaves.  Mac’s tongue was as long as Micah’s arm!5

Micah and Indy took lots of neat photos of the wild animals, in many cases just roaming around loose, doing their wild animal thing.  The fierce ones were penned up, for their safety if not for ours.


Our next stop was at Lizzie’s to visit with baby Jax, go to the zoo (we haven’t had enough of wild animals!) and to take family photos.

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(Oh, yes, Maggie and Shane flew up to hang out with everyone for a few days.  Maybe they missed their kidlets?)

After Maggie and Shane flew home, we headed over to the coast where we made our way down the coast, starting with Astoria.

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At the Marine Museum in Astoria.                         Romping on the beach.


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Cheese factory, watching the        Riding the Steam train                  Blue Heron Cheese Company brie getting packaged                          from Tillamook to Rock Beach        cheese.  They sampled everything


We stayed at our favorite State Park, Carl Washburne, where we enjoyed the beach until we got blown away and frozen.  That tiny spot near the top of the picture with Micah and Gerry isn’t a dirt spot on the lens; it’s a tiny, tiny kite that Micah had a great time flying.

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