Colorado, Home Away From Home

Chimney Rock and the Hot Springs

We got out early this morning, at least early for us, and headed to Chimney Rock National Monument. Poor signage led us astray for a few miles but we finally got on the right road and arrived at Chimney Rock Visitor’s Center around 10:00. Unfortunately, though a national monument, the America the Beautiful pass only gave one person ½ off and full price for me for a self-guided tour. $18 seemed a little steep for a self-guided tour.

Turn off of the highway was yet another dirt, graveled road as was the road up to the Entry Gate and Gift Shop Tent. After paying for our admission, we put on our designated blue bracelets and drove the 2 ½ miles up to the trailheads.

About 2000 years ago the Pueblo people began to build villages along the Piedra Rivers, the farthest north of all of the villages. The Chaco people built and lived in the two villages closest to Chimney Rock. They learned to determine when to plant crops and when to begin their festivals by studying the movement of the sun. One of the crops took 78 days of frost-free weather to grow and there typically there were only 80 days. That’s cutting it close!

There are two trails. One, the Mesa Village Trail is a paved walk of about ½ mile loop that leads to a 44-foot excavated Great Kiva as well as an excavated pit house and other structures. No one knows why the Pueblo people left the region or why they burned their homes but pottery remains indicate that some went to Mesa Verda while some went to New Mexico. Interestingly, excavation is not completed as there is hope that future excavations with newer technologies will lead to more accurate information

Yep, that’s the trail!
The second trail, The Great House Trail, is a hike up to the nearest point to the Chimney Rocks. It is not far but it is very strenuous. Oddly enough this was the hike that affected me the most. I struggled to get to the top with several rest stops along the way. It was in the bright sunshine and warm and I think that may be what bothers me the most. I don’t do well in the heat. Jerry seemed to have no problems.

The trail was steep and rocky and at times a narrow path, 200 foot gain in elevation. In fact there was a sign indicating that we were entering a “pinch point” meaning it was the narrowest section of the The Great House Trail and ran along the cliff edges with no rails.

A little bedraggled but we made it!
There are several unexcavated structures at the top. There is also a sign “Made it to the top” and I made sure we got a picture there!

We noticed that that were no aspen trees here and asked about it. The volunteer told us that the area was more arid and that there seemed to be almost a line in Pagosa Springs when the climate changed. The entire landscape resembled a desert area, very unlike the other side of Pagosa Springs.

One of the most interesting features is that every 18 years the moon shines between the two rocks for 3 ½ years and it is supposed to occur again in 2021. I can’t imagine seeing such a beautiful sight. It is the only place in the world that this natural phenomenon happens. It occurs at Stonehenge but Stonehenge was built to accommodate that. Chimney Rock was not built for that. It’s all-natural.

We met a family from Dallas who said they were traveling and homeschooling this year as their district began with virtual school. Having a kindergarten student made their decision easy. It seems that we have often discussed the current educational chaos on this trip. Wonder why?

After lunch, we did something we have never done before and we loved it! We went to a hot springs spa, Overland Hot Springs Spa, and sat in the springs on the roof! The view was an added bonus. I don’t think I have ever felt so relaxed. The odd thing to me was that my arms and my legs were just floating. My body felt weightless and I thought about the astronauts and their weightlessness. What an eerie feeling. When I got out and sat for a while I felt like my body was liquid, no tension, no stress, no worries. My mind was blank. It really was a neat experience. After we left I asked Jerry what his favorite part of Pagosa Springs was and he answered by saying if we were going to be here another day he’d go back to the springs! It was that good. He also said if we had gone the first day we would have gone every day! Surely wish we had one nearby. It was our first experience but I bet it won’t be the last!

After burgers on the grill for dinner, we quickly went to the nearby Walmart for a few items and so ended our trip to Pagosa Springs. Tomorrow we will be going to Alamosa to visit the Great Sand Dune National Park and then Saturday we head to North Carolina.

Colorado, Home Away From Home

Opal Lake Hike

What a fun day! We headed out this morning for Opal Lake and a 2.4-mile hike. Little did we know that it would take us over an hour to get to the trailhead which was only 20+ miles away. We drove about 10 miles and then turned on a dirt road that eventually turned into a single lane graveled road. As we rode along, we suddenly realized we were in an open range area as there were cattle alongside the road. A little further in and we saw guys on horseback and a lot of cows. I have no idea what was going on but I surely would have like to stop and ask!

We continued down the graveled road until we finally reached the trailhead for Opal Lake. Though it was a little cool we both decided to leave our jackets in the car. Armed with my Camelbak water bottle around my waist we took off. It was quite a climb! Immediately we were trying to go uphill over large rocks and roots. Needless to say, we stopped for a rest several times. There weren’t many people on the trail and when we did occasionally meet someone either everyone was masked or they turned their heads. The quietness of the trail was so pervasive for the entire hike. At one point I thought I heard either a chipmunk or a squirrel. Other than that, it was total silence, not even a bird to be heard. There were a couple of streams that we had to cross over and they were a bit challenging. Someone later told me that we were too old to do that. Shame on them! We’ll do it as long as we can!

We finally reached Opal Lake and in itself, the lake was a bit disappointing. It really looked more like a pond but the surrounding landscape was absolutely stunning. Everywhere we looked were bright golden aspens shimmering in the sunlight. What a beauty to behold. Joyce Kilmer wrote “I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree” and she must have been talking about aspens. I have never seen anything to compare with their beauty and their statue. The lovely white trunks with the golden leaves floating down like rain is a sight to behold. We sat around the pond for a while taking pictures and just taking in the lovely landscape. We were finally able to see some mountains that were not shrouded in smoke.

As we were hiking, we met a fellow who suggested that as we left we should go further up the single lane road where it forked for Opal Lake as it was quite beautiful a little higher up and he was right. The road was bumpy for sure but the beauty was worth it. We began to see colors of reds and oranges interspersed in the golds and greens. Think of a big box of Crayola crayons and imagine the many colors. That was our view today. WE again saw pine trees looking like decorated Christmas trees with the golden aspen leaves on their branches.

We had planned to visit the hot springs today but it was 3:00 before we got back to Pagosa Springs so we decided to save that for tomorrow when we could spend more time. We walked around town a bit looking for a Pagosa Springs t-shirt for me and then returned to the coach. What a grand day. We didn’t do much yesterday because Jerry felt so bad but today surely made up for it!

Colorado, Home Away From Home

A Slow Day in Pagosa Springs

We started today off with a visit to the Pagosa Springs Visitor’s Center where we got lots of very good information. Though we couldn’t enter into the building the lady had much of the information on the tables and was able to answer all of our questions.

We began with a walk around the Riverwalk. Along the way we saw people sitting on the rocks with their feet in the waters. One guy was sitting in a little pool where he had stirred up the mud. Guess he was taking a free mud bath. We continued on and saw the geothermal greenhouses that looked like something E.T. might have had. There was also a small community garden but it looked like the drought had killed any hope for vegetables. We walked for just a few more minutes and then as we were not interested in what lay ahead, we turned around.

We then took a walk down Main Street and looked into the shops. Overlook Hot Springs Spa is right there on the street so we went in to see what it was about. A very nice young lady answered all of our questions and we are planning to go before we leave the area.

By this time, we decided to return to the campground and get some lunch. Also, Jerry was fading quickly. A low sugar this morning and late lunch sapped his energy so we took the afternoon off. The altitude is still bothering him a great deal so we are trying to pace ourselves.

He rallied enough to grill some pork chops and I prepared some potato salad, something we have not had since he started his diet. Why has he lost 20 pounds and I have lost 3? Maybe because I have still been eating those delicious potatoes!

Colorado, Home Away From Home

An Afternoon in Telluride

We got out by 9:00 this morning headed to Telluride for the day. For the third time, we traversed the highway to Ridgeway where we took a right through Ridgeway and onto the San Juan Skyway. Oh my word! There was such a perfusion of colors – yellows, golds, limes, reds, rusts – absolutely indescribable. The colorful trees were everywhere and just kept going on. Jerry commented that it was the prettiest drive we’d been on. God’s paintbrush was hard at work. We stopped to take a picture of the landscape but because of the haze, the colors didn’t show up as vividly. We don’t know what the haze is – smoke, fog, mist, smog – no idea but it surely blurred the beautiful landscape. (We later learned that it was smoke.)

Unfortunately, we had to stop for gas in Telluride. Boy, was it expensive! $3.00 – we only got 6 gallons! Then we headed into downtown Telluride. As we neared the center of the town we realized that part of the street was blocked off so tables and chairs for restaurants could be set up outside. There were quite a few people about.

Our goal was a gondola ride from Telluride to Mountain Village. Mountain Village which was incorporated in 1995 officially opened the gondola to the pubic connecting with Telluride in 1996. It was initially built to address the air quality concern and has kept countless cars off of the eight-mile trip between the two towns. It is the first and only free public transportation of its kind in the United States. There was a long line but it moved quickly. Again, everyone was masked and staying 6 feet apart. Only one party was allowed on each gondola so Jerry and I had one to ourselves. Despite my claustrophobia, I was able to ride with no problem. Jerry said it was because it was all glass and I definitely agree plus there was outside airflow coming in. The ride up was as peaceful and pretty as you can imagine and 10,500 feet in the air!

The gondola made two stops. We rode all the way to the bottom, found a bathroom, and then headed back to Mountain Village. Once we got there, we found a table and had our lunch – jerky! It is a nice snack but it is not a meal, at least not for me! We walked around a bit and then got into an even longer line to ride back to the top at Telluride. Suddenly about halfway up the gondola stopped, yes, stopped. I didn’t panic but I did look out to see how far away the ground was! It was a long way down! It lasted about a minute and a half. I have no idea what caused it but I surely was glad when we started up again. The ride up was just as beautiful and Jerry remarked that the pine trees looked as though they were decorated for Christmas with the aspen leaves dotting the limbs.

Once we got back to Telluride we took a seat on a nearby bench and people watched for a few minutes. Then we walked around for a bit. Strangely enough, walking around was more difficult for me than at any other time. Telluride is over 8,000 feet but we’ve been higher and I’ve had no problem. I think I am really getting ready for the flatlands of North Carolina.

On the way back to the campground we again marveled at the beautiful scenery and stopped to get a few pictures.

When we got back to Montrose, we found a gas station that we think we can get into tomorrow to fill up the RV before we leave town on our way to Pagosa Springs. Regrettably, we will be driving some of the same route we took today, turning off just before Telluride. It is very mountainous and curvy so we have decided not to tow the car. Instead, I will be following Jerry. It is a bit daunting to say the least. As we were returning today, we saw an accident that had apparently just occurred right where we will be driving tomorrow. It appeared to be was a one-car accident and possibly they just ran off of the road and overturned. Scary!

Colorado, Home Away From Home

Another Attempt at Ouray

We had talked earlier about going out to breakfast one morning so we decided this was a good morning for that. The campground office had recommended Starvin Arvin so off we went. We were seated in a booth right behind the door so again no close contact with the people who were all masked as they entered. We both had omelets and they were quite good. My plate was huge so I ended up taking about half of it back to the coach.

The NC State vs Pitt game was coming on at noon, 10:00 our time so we went back to the campground so Jerry could watch it on his iPad. Unfortunately, we were under some trees so our Dish could not get a signal. Go Pack!

As soon as the game was over (and a Win) we headed out this time to Ouray. As we got nearer to Ouray the fall colors began to show themselves somewhat but not nearly what we saw in the upper elevation of Grand Lake. We passed by Ridgeway State Park once again deciding that we would just walk the streets of Ouray.

Luckily, we found a parking place right in the main part of the town. We spent about an hour walking the streets of Ouray. We stopped in several shops eventually making two purchases. Jerry had been wanting a patriotic gaiter and when he found one at a decent price he bought two, one for him and one for me. Unfortunately, we found out later that the one he bought for me is too big for my little pea face so he has two! As with hats, I need to shop in the children’s department.

One of the shops we went in was selling jerky. Now I am not a jerky fan at all but they were safely handing out samples so Jerry and I each got one. It was cayenne jerky and it was hot but it was good. We later went back and bought two packages. Guess that’s what we’ll be eating for lunch tomorrow!

We went in and out of several t-shirt shops but I didn’t find anything I wanted so for a change, it was Jerry shopping, not me! Interestingly, it appeared all of the gift shops, t-shirt shops, ice cream shops, and hardware shops were on one side of the street. The other side had breweries and a liquor shop. Guess which one we stayed on!

In one of the shops, I was asked where I was from and when I said North Carolina the clerk responded that her brother was stationed at Fort Bragg in Fayetteville. We talked about the differences in the altitude and she assured me one of the symptoms of altitude change was sleepiness. Good to know since we had almost felt like we were drugged Thursday night!

We left Ouray but decided not to risk the Million Dollar Highway. Jerry said he had been on enough twisty, turning roads and he had already almost lost his brakes so we turned around and headed to Montrose. After a brief stop at a Safeway, we returned to the campground. Later in the evening we finally got up the energy to take a hike around the campground. Just 1 1/3 miles but at least it was something.

Jerry’s Account of the Day: NCSU 30 – PITT 29. I took the morning (Gale: it was 2:30 before we left) off to watch the Pack win a big game-double digit underdogs to the number 24th team in the nation at their home field. Good morning! Actually, it started with a good breakfast at Starvin Arvin’s, then the game. After the game, we headed back to Ouray and wandered through the shops. Bought two gaiters and two packs of jerky. Then a trip to the grocery store and a return to the RV. Not much in terms of a Colorado vacation, but a great day. Go Pack!

Colorado, Home Away From Home

Box Canyon in Ouray

I had some housekeeping duties to take care of this morning most importantly getting reservations for our next stop so it was nearly 10:00 before we left the campground. Our destination was Ridgeway State Park but along the way, we decided to go on further to Ouray instead. Our first stop was the Visitor’s Center and they were very helpful from giving us the correct pronunciation of the town to things to do in Ouray. In addition, they gave us suggestions on how to leave Montrose to go to Pagosa Springs. We definitely do not want to take the Million Dollar Highway with a 40′ RV towing a Jeep!

We quickly decided on Box Canyon Trail and it was so much fun. We found the one-way entrance to the parking lot and then paid our $4 each to enter. Upon entering we were surfeited with chipmunks! I have never seen so many and they were scurrying everywhere. There were two bird feeders hanging from a tree and the birds were eating the birdseed but dropping some on the ground where the chipmunks were taking advantage of it.

Continuing straight we began to hear the sounds of the falls. Down some shallow stairs and we entered into the canyon. We walked along the railed walkway as the sound of the falls intensified to such a roar that we could hardly hear each other speak. We continued on down the stairs and then over some rocks to reach the bottom of the canyon. Signs clearly stating stay out of the water were obvious but three young girls had taken off their shoes and were walking around in the falls which given the rapidly moving water could have been dangerous. The falls are stunning, to say the least. The power behind the moving water is beyond incredible. In fact, the falls could provide the power for most of Ouray!

Climbing those rocks!
We returned to the area by the bird feeders and again watched the busy chipmunks. After a little rest, we tackled the optional trail to the upper bridge, and though a short hike, it was a strenuous one. We had to walk up steep steps then follow a rocky trail sometimes having to climb over the rocks. It wasn’t the first time we’ve done that this week! The view from the bridge at the top was worth it though. We were 8100 feet above sea level when at the top of the trail.

The mouth of the tunnel

Further down the bridge was a tunnel which was a passageway for the water pipeline built over a century ago. I am very claustrophobic but I looked in the tunnel and could see the light at the other end (no pun intended) so off I went bent over like an old woman so I didn’t hit my head. At the end of the tunnel, the trail continued on with the Perimeter Trail but like many others, we turned around and headed back down.

We headed to the car where we planned to eat lunch and plan the rest of the day but … We could not get the car to start and could not lock or unlock the doors. Obviously, the battery in the key fob was dead. We finally got the car started and sat in the parking lot and ate our meager lunch. Then I went back up to the main building to see if there was an auto parts store in Ouray. On my way there a four-wheeler came flying by going the wrong way on a one-way street. The clerk inside came out yelling and waving her hands but to no avail. The four-wheeler was going quite fast and I can only hope no one was venturing down correctly from the other end. There was not a car parts store to be found in Ouray so off we went back to Montrose. We stopped at the first place we saw, O’Reilly, and Jerry replaced the battery so all was good.

We couldn’t decide what to do so we went to the Montrose Visitor’s Center. It was getting late so they suggested that we just ride on Route 9 to Dry Creek Recreational Area to see the fall foliage and pretty colors. She said that it was where a lot of the local people “recreated”. Off we went but apparently the local’s idea of recreating and ours is different. The only thing we saw was a red-tailed hawk flying by. Otherwise, the fall colors were non-existent. I think possibly the area is used for four-wheeling, not something we are interested in. Other than almost backing into a county sheriff as we were turning around nothing exciting happen.

We returned to the campground and spent a relaxing afternoon.

Colorado, Home Away From Home

Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Since we only had 82 miles to go today we again took it slow leaving the campground around 9:30. Two wrong turns and thirty minutes later we finally got on the road to Montrose. Clarion took us right through Grand Junction. Thankfully the traffic wasn’t too very bad. As we left Montrose we immediately began a rise in elevation enough to make me question towing the car. Jerry said we were fine so on we went. When we got to Montrose we had conflicting route directions from the two GPS’s plus Waze so it took some more wrong turns before we finally made it to the campground at 11:40. It wasn’t the most stressful drive we have ever had but it was stressful enough! I think I may have finally figured out one of the main differences between the Clarion and the Garmin. It appears that Garmin tries to avoid going through cities which is fine with me. Clarion took us right down the main street in Montrose also. Wow – as we were going in the Garmin kept flashing “5-ton limit ahead”. I had never seen that before and of course, I questioned how much we weighed.

We finally arrived at Montrose/Black Canyon KOA and checked in. I asked about using my accumulated points and actually got $25 off of our stay. That’s almost a night! We set up quickly and then upon recommendations from the office went to get pizza at a local pizza place. We brought it back to the coach and scoffed it down pretty quickly.

Our destination for the afternoon was the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. It was a quick ride to the South Rim entrance from Montrose and our first stop was the Visitor’s Center. By the way, no one was in the entrance booth so I guess people are on their honor to pay their $25 per car fee to enter. Since we have the America the Beautiful pass we get in all national parks and monuments free. There are some advantages to being older!

Black Canyon
We took the path around the Visitor’s Center to the lookout station for our first look at the Black Canyon and like everyone else that I heard, my first response was “Wow”! It is difficult to describe the canyon which is of course black with walls averaging 2,000 feet deep. Words like majestic, dramatic, awesome, and grand were just some of the adjectives that came to mind looking at an almost indescribable view. The depth of the canyon is amazing and when looking over the side of the railing it caused me to be a bit dizzy. The unique thing about Black Canyon is its vertical landscape. Perhaps that’s why I felt a bit dizzy when I looked down. We walked a bit more on one of the trails and Jerry just stopped and looked at me and asked about the elevation. We were over 8100 feet. That’s why we had difficulty breathing! I’m almost getting ready for the flatlands!

Only groups were admitted into the park store. As we stood in line waiting for admission we all discussed the size of a “group”. Apparently, our group size was two. I speculated that a group most likely was comprised of the people that arrived together thus eliminating the possibility of spreading COVID among strangers. We were only allowed into a small space after entering the shop so no wandering around. All of the park shops we have been in have had some type of regulations but this was the strictest I have seen. The park ranger said each park made their decision as to how to proceed. All in all, it was a very safe procedure.

After a bit of shopping, we headed around the South Rim Road to stop at some of the dazzling overlooks. One of our first stops was at Cross Fissures View, just a 357-yard hike. Um… three football fields. I can do it and I was surprised when Jerry joined me.

The next stop was the Painted Wall View and it was amazing. It did indeed look just like it had been painted and it was, with God’s brush. We could see the horizontal lines of pink pegmatite running through the dark canyon walls. Amazing.

We drove on to the end of the road and then made the loop back toward the Visitor’s Center as there is no exit on that end.

Jerry had bought some chicken breasts so he grilled them and we made a big chef salad for dinner. We were both extremely sleepy (it was really odd and a bit startling) due we think to the high altitude so it was indeed an early night for both of us.

Painted Wall View
Colorado, Home Away From Home

Colorado National Monument

Since we only had 79 miles to go today and couldn’t check into Monument RV until noon we took it slow this morning not leaving the KOA until nearly 10:00. We immediately stopped at the gas station next door and filled up the RV and the car.  I don’t like to tow the car with a full tank of gas but sometimes finding affordable gas in Colorado is a challenge! We pulled out of the station at 10:23 all hooked up, prayed up, and hoping for an easy ride. Traveling from Silt to Fruita we rode along the very pretty though shallow Colorado River. Signs of the dry summer are very obvious everywhere we look. No rainy day – or snow days – has made our trip very enjoyable but it is difficult for Colorado for sure. Although we are no longer in Colorado Springs I am still getting alerts about the poor air quality. It was a beautiful day for traveling and not even the signs stating blustery winds expected, falling rocks, or road construction could dampen the uneventful ride we had today under clear blue skies.

We pulled into Monument RV at 11:46 and by noon we had checked in, gotten to our site, put the jacks down, the slides out and the rugs down. That probably was a record! We ate a quick lunch and headed out for Colorado National Monument.

We entered at the west entrance and took the two-lane road all the way to Grand Junction. There were numerous lookouts along the way and the vista was quite different than what we had seen earlier. Someone in Silt said that we would be surprised when we got to Fruita because it was almost desert-like and they were so right. Gone were the green and gold trees. We stopped at the Visitor’s Center and after getting some advice from the park ranger we headed down the Canyon Rim Trail behind the center. Looking into the canyon and then across the way was awesome, to say the least. I got to scamper on the rocks just a bit but it was hot, much different from our earlier travels so we cut our hiking short for the day. We stopped at several overlooks on the way to Grand Junction and each view was outstanding. It was a lovely way to spend an afternoon but I was glad I had changed our reservations to only one night.

We rode into Grand Junction and located a Walmart where we did a bit of grocery shopping and then headed back to the campground. I sat outside and read for a while and then we took a walk around the park before dinner. It is always interesting to us to walk around and look at the different RV’s. There are always a lot of fifth wheels and tagalongs with a few Class A’s. It definitely is a full park with very close together sites. In fact, I don’t think our neighbor could put out his awning without hitting us. I bet they’ll be glad when we leave in the morning!

Jerry’s Account: The 80-mile drive to Fruita, CO. was quick and uneventful, just like we like them. A quick setup and quicker lunch and we were off to Colorado National Monument. It was quite a drastic change from our other stops on this trip. High canyon walls, unique rock formations, and lots of red rocks. Unfortunately, our hiking was cut short because my blood sugar dropped. I should have realized when it was 76 this morning I might have a problem. Fortunately for me, I have a wonderful, caring wife who looks after me like a mother hen. She had a bag of M&Ms in her pack. What would I ever do without her? This is the second time this trip that I have had this problem. We stopped by Walmart and loaded up on M&Ms on our way back to the campground. I like my sugar to be low but we are going to try to avoid another episode

Colorado, Home Away From Home

Rifle Falls State Park

Well, today certainly turned out differently than what we had planned.  Jerry had an 8:00 appointment at the tire shop this morning to get the rear tires looked at.  They found a broken seal on one and a nail in the other, the one that he had repeatedly been putting air in.  Isn’t it wonderful how God provides?  We needed a tire shop and there was one right across the street from the campground.  Thank you Lord.

As soon as he returned we headed to Aspen not realizing that we had to have reservations to go to Maroon Bells.  Of course, we didn’t have reservations so we didn’t get to do that but we did get to see the town of Aspen and Glenwood Springs as well.  We noticed as we rode along that portions of the mountains (which we later learned were called flattops) were sparsely forested while others were denser.  We wondered if previous fires could have caused this.  In lower elevations, we saw the first sign of red, almost scarlet in the trees.  That was so beautiful among the various shades of gold.  Another thing we noticed were frequent signs saying “Be prepared.  Winterize now”. Obviously, we are not in North Carolina!

When we returned to Silt we went by the alpaca farm again so I could exchange something I had bought yesterday. After that, we returned to the campground for lunch

One way to do it!
We had decided earlier to go to Rifle Falls State Park this afternoon so off we went dressed for the cold weather in Aspen.  It was not cold in Rifle!  We got to the park and saw that there was no attendant plus all of the pamphlets were in Spanish!  Oh no – where to go.  Of course, we took the long, difficult probably not recommended trail but it was so much fun.  We followed an actual narrow trail, walked over a rickety swinging bridge *thankfully short) and then actually scrambled up rocks on our hands and knees!  It was tough but so enjoyable.  We finally found the falls and they were just as pretty as expected.  We talked with one lady there and asked her what the name of the mountains surrounding us were. She looked a mite puzzled and said they were flattops. Oh well, they are surely mountains to us!

As we left we passed the beautiful reservoir so we stopped to take a peek. A park ranger walked over to the car to see if we had any questions and boy did we? The water in the reservoir is very low right now as surrounding ranchers have been using it but that will end in October. Of course, the drought is also causing low water. We did see some boats on the water and the ranger said there were fish there as well.

Rifle Falls
Though not as we planned it was a great day. We got to spend time together in the car chatting and then a wonderful hike.

Jerry’ Account: First things first this morning. Two rear tires on the Jeep were leaking air so I took the car to a tire shop located next to the campground. One was leaking around the rim and the other had a nail in it. Never quite figured out how that happens but it does. After getting them fixed we headed to Aspen. A total bust! We did not know you had to have reservations to hike the trails, no reservations-no hiking. So since we could not hike we returned to the Alpaca farm where Gale returned the hat she bought yesterday. Change of heart or mind, no sure which! Instead, she left with a headband and socks. After lunch, we headed to the Rifle Falls State Park. The $9.00 entry fee was well spent. We thoroughly enjoyed the hike where at times we were on all fours climbing up the rocky trail. It was so steep in a few places I had to sling my camera over my back to keep it from dragging on the rocks. We finally made it to the Falls, which were impressive. On the way back to the campground we stopped to take some pictures of the reservoir. A friendly park ranger came by and answered all of our questions about the Park, reservoir, and surrounding areas. Not exactly the day my “cute” wife had planned, but it turned out great.

Colorado, Home Away From Home

Sopris Alpaca Farm in Silt

Rather than having plans set in stone most people refer to RV plans as set in jello meaning, they can change quickly.  Ours surely did today.  We had planned to go to Glenwood Canyon and hike one or two trails only to find out due to the earlier fires the trails were closed.  Back up and punt!

I went back to the campground office looking for suggestions and the two she gave me were Sorpris Alpaca Farm and Rifle State Park.  We decided to go to the farm first.

There is a sign indicating where to turn to go to the farm but we breezed right by it. After turning around we saw a high school where there were two people checking the few cars that drove out (possibly students going to lunch).  We pulled in the driveway and a lady who turned out to be the principal came over.  We asked her where the farm was – ah, right next door where the sign was and then we all began to talk about the current status of education during COVID-19.  Jerry explained that he was a retired principal and I was a retired technology facilitator.  Her district is the only district in Colorado that has face to face school at this time and they are full.  She said they keep getting transfers from other districts who want to attend school in person.  There is no doubt that in person school offers a better education than remote learning via a computer.  As a technology facilitator and a definite proponent of computer/technology I still realize the drawbacks with remote learning.  When I went to graduate school in Network Administration it was all virtual and quite frankly it worked very well.  However, we were adults and the class was small.  I also drove three hours one day to meet with a fellow student who was very advanced and could give me some very necessary help.  We didn’t have zoom either but everything worked quite well but as I said we were adults and very disciplined. 

We enjoyed discussing the current situation with the principal for a few minutes and then headed over to Sorpris Alpacas.  What a fun outing.  A baby had been born about an hour before we arrived.  The mother and baby were in a separate pen and we watched as the baby staggered on weak legs trying her best to stand as she looked for her mother’s milk.  The mother stood very still occasionally turning just a bit while the baby slowly encircled her.

Not what we had planned to do but it was a great morning.  While I was in the gift shop some ladies came in talking about a restaurant in Sith called Main Mine.  Jerry and I had earlier decided that we would eat out today so we headed for the restaurant.  Fortunately, it was later in the lunch hour and there were only three other people there and we were well separated.  In fact, two of them left after we were seated so we pretty much had the dining room to ourselves.  We decided to get burgers, medium well on a branded bun.  When the waitress brought them they looked delicious and I must say the French fries that I got were absolutely delicious. We put out burgers together with the lettuce, tomato, pickles, and onion and I cut mine in half.  Um….  Then I took a bite.  Oops – it was definitely not medium-well.  About that time our very nice waitress came by to check on us and immediately said “that is not medium well”.  It was that obvious.  She took both of our plates and came back in a few minutes with new burgers that were delicious.  By this time I had eaten so many French fries that I wasn’t as hungry so I ended up taking half of my burger home in a to-go box.

By the time we finished lunch they had closed the restaurant and we decided it was too late to go to Rifle to the state park so we returned to the campground and spent the afternoon recovering from a couple of hard weeks.  Jerry went by the tire shop and got an 8:00 am appointment for tomorrow to find out what was going on with our tires.

Jerry’s Account: Still experiencing problems with the tire so I am getting it checked tomorrow morning at 8:00. Most of the places we were going to today have been closed due to recent fires, so we ended up at an alpaca farm. It was a great learning experience and we had a wonderful time. Gale bought a hat and then we did something unusual for us. We went out for lunch. I had a burger for the first time in over three months. Then back to the RV for the night.