Our journey continues

October 7, 2007 to November 29. 2007*

Covering our travels through Utah and Colorado

Oct 6, 2007 OK RV Park, Moab, UT

Got into Moab and instantly loved it. It definitely is a tourist destination because any outdoor activity you want to do is here - ATV/trail bike/bicycle/4 wheel trails everywhere, plus the Colorado River with all kinds of raft/jet boat/kayak trips, plus any kind of tour you want and, of course, Arches and Canyonlands National Parks are here. This weekend they had a big bicycle race so there were bicycles everywhere and being a holiday weekend this place was really crowded and all the RV parks were full. We had a reservation, but she over booked so we had a spot with electricity only, but we got it free so wasn’t too upset. The next morning we moved into a regular spot. Since we are only going to be here a couple of days, we decided we had better get some sight seeing in the rest of the day and we found a nighttime tour.

Oct 6, 2007 Canyonlands by Night Tour, Moab, UT

The Canyonlands by Night Tour began with a cowboy style dutch oven dinner (which was outstanding) and then onto a riverboat for a trip down the Colorado River featuring a star filled sky (the Milky Way was very visible and all the major constellations looked so close you could reach up and touch them) and a humorous guide sharing his own experiences along with Indian legends, geology and history as the rock walls come alive with powerful lights and a recorded running narration of the canyon’s history (the lights came from a truck that ran along the river). The river is very shallow (knee deep) and very muddy and rocks are always falling in so only flat bottom boats, canoes and kayaks can safely navigate it. What was also amazing is that the Tamarisk Bush (introduced into Calif. from Asia in an attempt to control erosion) has spread the entire length of the Colorado River and drinks from 50 to 500 gal. of water from the Colorado (1/3) daily and crowds out native plants and wildlife as it is very invasive. They have introduced a beetle from Eurasia that is supposed to eradicate it within 3 years, but the question is where the betel will go next. The river is very muddy and the only fish are bottom fish (carp, etc). The trip was totally awesome even though it was chilly, but I dressed for it so had no problem and all the bald headed men wanted my hat.

Oct 7, 2007 Arches National Park, Moab, UT

After moving into our new spot we took off for Arches National Park. The canyons and arch formations are so awesome that they are indescribable and every turn brings a different formation. Words cannot even come close to describing the beauty. Being a holiday weekend it was pretty crowded so I can’t fathom what summer would be like, plus a lot of bicyclists. When we got back we went to lunch at the Moab Brewery which is the largest restaurant and, of course, has its own brews and was excellent. In hind site Utah has really changed in that even in Salt Lake City, liquor is served everywhere. When I lived in Ogden you could only have liquor at a private club to which you had to bring your own bottle and they sold the mix

Oct 7, 2007 Kane Springs Canyon, Moab, UT

Since we were short of time here we decided to get in another trip which was to some petroglyphs. The trip took us down a beautiful red rock canyon called Kane Springs Canyon. Our destination was called the Birthing Rock which was about 5 miles up the canyon. The road wasn’t the best and there wasn’t any sign for it so we went way passed it, but found it on the way back. The figures are on a large boulder that features figures and designs from the Formative to the historic Ute period. The most fascinating was “birthing scene” which depicts the feet first presentation of the baby (which was very visible), various animal forms, human figures, etc. The figures were so vivid I was totally fascinated. This canyon is full of tent or dry camping areas and we ran across some structures built into the hill that tent or open camping would accommodate. I have never seen anything like it and if I were into sleeping on the ground I would have loved to stay there. There were a lot of people camped out around the area. Anyway, this was one long day

Oct 8, 2007 Hole 'N The Rock, Moab, UT

We only have today left and Canyonlands National Park is huge and takes a very long day and there are other sites we want to see, so we are going to put off Canyonlands until another trip. Our first stop was “Hole n’The Rock” a 5,000 sq. ft. home carved out of a huge rock. Inside are 14 rooms arranged around a huge pillar and a fireplace with a 65 ft chimney drilled through solid sandstone and a bathtub built to the rock. The first two rooms were originally a restaurant and the kitchen - the french frier was carved out of rock and piped in propane to heat the oil. The restaurant is now gift shop, but the kitchen is the same. The rest of the house is very open, beautiful and is a constant 66-72 deg temp. I loved its openess and beauty. Albert worked on it for 12 yrs. until he died and Gladys went on the finish it. He was also an artist and painted the famous “Sermon on the Mount” and did a sculpture of FDR on the face of the rock above his home. The outside grounds feature extensive landscaping, carvings, sculptures and has a pen of ostriches, one being very old and is the largest one I have ever seen. This site is maintained as a monument to Gladys and Albert. This is a “must see” for anyone.

Oct 8, 2007 Colorado River & Castle Valley

We then took the scenic drive along the CO River which starts out through a canyon and then opens out into a beautiful valley, than back into a canyon. Castle Valley is so gorgeous we fell in love with it, but 5 acre lots (the min. acreage you can buy) starts at $250,000. We stopped at Red Cliffs Lodge for lunch, which also features a winery and wine tasting room, Southwestern style cabins (starting at $200 a night), riding stables, a movie museum, etc., etc. It is a beautiful place and brings out the fact that over 120 movies and TV commercials, etc. have been filmed in this area, including Thelma & Louise, parts of Forrest Gump, City Slickers II, Back to the Future III, Indiana Jones, Mission Impossible I, etc. It is totally amazing and, of course, I had to buy the book and now need to get videos of some of these movies to pick out the area they were filmed.


Oct 8, 2007 Lasal Mountain Loop Road, Moab, UT

From there we took a detour up the La Sal Mountains Loop Road, which was supposed to be a 40 mile loop, but there was a bridge out so we were only able to go half way, but we were still able to get to the top of the mountains ending at Warner Lake at about 9,000 ft. The scenery is undescribable and the views across the valley were beyond belief. The Aspens were turning (higher up they had already turned) and the colors were beautiful, plus the red cliffs and formations were beyond amazing. We also ran into snow so were in our element. Since we could only go half way we had to turn around and then completed our tour along the CO River until we got to the historic Dewey suspension bridge and then turned around to home. As you can probably tell we love this area and would probably consider living here, but the summers are too hot and property too high. If we end up anywhere within reach we will probably spend a lot of time here. Tomorrow we are off to Montrose, CO.

Oct 9, 2007 Dallas Divide, CO

On the trip from Moab, UT the highway went over a pass called Dallas Divide. There was some snow but the views were beautiful. The pass is 8970 in elevation. We passed through some small towns on the way. We stopped for lunch in one of the towns, Naturita. Most of the restaurants were closed but we finally found one open. The food was good and the price right. After Naturita, we went through Placerville, over Dallas Divide and then Ridgeway and finally into Montrose. Other than Dallas Divide the scenery was pretty but not spectacular.

Oct 9, 2007 Country Village RV Resort, Montrose, CO

Arrived at Country Village RV Resort, Inc., which is fairly nice park on the outskirts of Montrose. The terrain is fairly arid and a lot of crop and cattle ranches. Montrose is a fair sized town and would be really nice if it wasn’t still in a desert valley. The surrounding hills are barren. We just chilled the rest of the day.

Oct 10, 2007 Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Montrose, CO

We took a drive to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park that is about 24 mi from us. You couldn’t fathom a canyon of this size and dimension in this kind of surroundings. The Gunnison River has cut a 50 mi. 1750 ft chasm in the hills where, at times, are only separated by only 40 ft. At these points you cannot see to the bottom and is almost black, whence its name. The river drops and average of 95' per mile through this canyon. There were several viewpoints and each a different view, all of which were awesome. Some I could actually walk, but the rest was the usual - me stay in the car and Bob take the hike, but I could still see some of the canyon from the car, although this time I didn’t have any food and I was getting hungry.

Oct 10, 2007 Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park (East Portal), Montrose, CO

We than ran back to town for lunch and then went back to take the East Portal Road down to the river. We dropped 3,000 ft in 5 miles at a 16% grade that included a lot of switchbacks, but it was worth it. We got to follow the river as far as the Gunnison Dam. This is really an impressive canyon, considering it is in the middle of arid country. Back home we just crashed and burned, but before we got there I got to stop at KFC and got chicken wings! Happiness is..

Oct 12, 2007 Enroute to Cortez, CO

What a trip. After we got to Ouray, which was a cute historic town that even had an Elk’s Lodge, we started into the San Juan Mountains. The first one was narrow, switchback curves and right on the edge of the mountain through tunnels and a snow shed to the height of 11,100'. I do not like being on the edge when I can’t see the bottom, The second mtn. wasn’t much better, but only 10,125' and the third one 10,640. The scenery was beautiful, but I had enough of chugging up steep grades with hairpin turns.

Oct 12, 2007 Sundance RV Park, Cortez, CO

We finally got to Cortez which is at the edge of Mesa Verde country. The park (Sundance RV Park) is quite nice and we met one of the owner’s tonight. We will be at the office at 8am in the morning for our indoctrination on what and how we are supposed to do. We will be working 2 days a week from 8 to 8. We have been so busy I haven’t been able to get started on this le tter. The night we got in one ofthe partners came over and talked to us for awhile. He just finished a 1 ½yr stint in a hospital for a bone marrow transplant, but is doing good for now. Anyway, he is a kick and we get along very well. We met the other owner a couple of days later and he is also seems to a good boss. The park is pretty basic, but has 50 amp power and their claim for fame is the clean facilities and the monthly residents have to keep their spaces unclutered. This is mostly an adult park as there is nothing for kids to do, but there is a park right across the street with a swimming pool, etc. This park has more favorable comments than any other park we have been in because of the cleanliness. The weather here has been very good, 60s and 70s during the day and 20 at night, but sunny. The next morning we had to report to the office at 7:45 am for training. Bob has to escort all rigs coming in to their spaces, clean the laundry room and restrooms, and other odds and ends like rake up leaves. I have to man the office and do all the check-ins, answer all questions and clean it at night. The main thing is the computer program, which is confusing for me and I only had 2 days to learn it, but thankfully Bob picked it up on his own so he has been able to bail me out of my mistakes. There is another newbie (Linda) and she was so nervous I didn’t think we was going to make it, but is doing much better now and she and I get along really good. The 3rd couple have been camp hosts here before so she is used to it, but she is a little condescending so I don’t know if I am going to really like her. We work 2 days on and 4 days off, but those 2 days can be very long. Our first day rigs were coming in one after another and even though we were supposed to close at 5 we weren’t able to get out of there until after 9 and even after we close we have to watch for rigs coming in to greet them and give them the code to the showers, so it was a 14 hour day. Further into the winter we are slow so the hours will get less. So far, we like it, but getting up at 6 is not one of my favorites. On our days off we have been trying to get all our ducks in a row getting the paper, doctors, etc. Yesterday we got into a chiropractor and I think he is going the be the best one so far. He has many degrees and is well noted in his field. He talked to us and discussed our X-rays and is going to give us some options of action. There isn’t much he can do for me, but he hopes he can relieve some of the pressure so I will be able to walk better. He thinks he will be able to help Bob so we are hopeful. I have a dental appt. on the 31st and am still working on getting doctor appts. We are also thinking of trading the jeep in on a pickup since the jeep has a lot of miles on it and a pickup would give us more room for bikes, etc. I also got a new “do” with a perm and it really looks good. Today we washed the rig (well, Bob mostly) and he also had to break down and buy some shoes and new slacks and he got our Halloween decorations up so he was a very tired person. We still have a few things to get settled in, but hopefully our next 4 days off we can start doing some sightseeing. Cortez is a fairly nice town and the people are friendly, l lots of restaurants and brews and from we have seen so far we like it. The only place we have been to dinner is an Indian casino a few miles out of town. The food wasn’t that good, but Bob won $55 on Texas Tea so the evening turned out okay. On the nights we worked we ate whatever was in the frig and just crashed. Another problem is that I am not in very good condition (ok - no condition at all) and the altitude here is 6.000+ so I can’t go very far without dying (many times over). Finally, we are starting to get used to it, but I still huff and puff when I get to the office. The days are starting to run together, but on the 26th we decided to we get to our touring agenda.

Oct 26, 2007 Mesa Verde National Park, Cortez, CO

Touring Mesa Verde is an all day excursion. The museum/visitor’s center is 20 miles from the main road and there had been a huge fire in 2000 that devastated a huge portion of the park so the drive up was a view of nothing but burned sticks on the hills. It was so sad looking but the closer we got to the center we got into green unburned areas. The one positive thing is that no ruins were damaged and it actually uncovered over 2000 more ruins. There was a hamburger/taco place near the center so we stopped and had lunch. I had a taco salad and Bob had a Navaho Taco and both were excellent. On the sidewalk outside the café were a husband (Hopi) and wife (Navaho) that were doing their own pottery that was absolutely beautiful. Traditionally, the Hope and Navaho are enemies and one of their plates caught my attention, which was called the “Peace Plate” that depicted both special, we had to have it. We talked to them for awhile and made friends so will be seeing more of them. They both follow their traditional ways so have a lot to learn from them and he wants Bob to help him set up a web site. We would have liked to buy a few more items but they were a little expensive. We then got to the museum and directly behind is th e Spruce Tree House which is the 3rd largest cliff dwelling constructed between AD1200 and 1276 by the Anasazi that contains 114 rooms and 8 kivas (ceremonial chambers) built into a natural cave measuring 216' wide and 89' depth and thought to have housed about 100 people. This is a self-guided tour that is 100 ft down a windy path, which would have been no problem for me, but it is also 100 ft straight back up so I only went part way down, but Bob did the whole trip. I had a great view of the dwelling though so I only missed the up close look. All the major dwellings are in excellent condition, which is totally amazing. Cliff Palace is the largest of the dwellings nestled in a huge alcove containing 150 rooms and 23 kivas housing around 100 people. This is the best preserved with little preservation having been done. This in a l hr ranger-guided tour that involves climbing five 8-10ft ladders on a 100 ft vertical climb. You can also see it very clearly from the viewpoint so we saw no need to kill ourselves. There are other guided tours, but are closed for the winter but, as you read further, I don’t think we missed anything. When we left the museum we took the 6 mile Mesa Top Loop Drive that reveals the full range of architecture from the earliest pit houses to the latest cliff dwellings all within close walking distance of the road (I walked to all of them and was so proud of myself). Most of the stops were of pit houses that date from 550 to 600 AD, which are shallow pits dug into the ground, covered with pole and mud roof and walls with entrances through the roofs. Other stops give views of other ruins across the canyon. I will just put the names with the pictures. One that was really different was the Fire Temple & New Fire House. These were probably not a place where people lived, but with its large plaza or open courtyards may have been a “stage” for ceremonial dances, attended by people from all over the mesa. There may have been some waterworks as an artificial reservoir was built above a spring. The Sun Temple is a fascinating structure with a D shaped floor plan and every stone in the thousand feet of finely masoned walls were carefully pecked on the surface withgeometric designs inscribed on the face of some. Neither household goods nor roof beams were found, indicating the structure of nearly 30 rooms was probably never finished. The existence of a natural rock basin in the SW corner led to speculation that it served as a “solar marker: and that people from the surrounding cliff dwellings attended ceremonies here. The last pueblo we visited was an ancient farming community (900 to 1300 AD) that was the most densely populated. Nearly 50 villages have been identified within a ½ sq. mi. radius. It was quite impressive, but we didn’t walk to all the different villages. By this time our legs were giving out. On the way back a mangy coyote stopped along the road just long enough for us to take his picture. We stopped in town for dinner at the Main Street Brewery which is supposed to be one of the best, but found the food fairly bland. I had a huge piece of prime rib, but brought it home so I could season it. Also, being a brewery the beer was inexpensive, but the wine was $5.00 a glass! It was one long day, but well worth it. All the sites we saw were on the Chapin Mesa. There are many more on the Wetherill Mesa, which is closed for the winter, that would take another whole day.

Oct 27, 2007 Back to work

Back to work and then on our next day off I went to the dentist and got the bad news. With all my crowns I need to keep on top of them and I haven’ t been in a couple of years so now I pay the piper and have a lot of gum line cavities so the first two months of our free rent is going to the dentist, but it is less expensive than I thought it would be. End of the month so will close this entry. Bob is bummed because his camera quit andone of our computers had to go to the shop (he really hates Microsoft) so will fill you in on the rest next month. Back to work and then on our next day off I went to the dentist and got the bad news. With all my crowns I need to keep on top of them and I haven’ t been in a couple of years so now I pay the piper and have a lot of gum line cavities so the first two months of our free rent is going to the dentist, but it is less expensive than I thought it would be. End of the month so will close this entry. Bob is bummed because his camera quit andone of our computers had to go to the shop (he really hates Microsoft) so will fill you in on the rest next month.

Nov 1 - 8, 2007 Life in Cortez

Our weather continues to hold - high 60's sunny during the day and high 20's at night. Since the park continues to be full we had to order more heat tape for the water facets and hope that we don’t have a freeze before it comes in. Our camera gave up and the Wal-Mart here didn’t have one so we had to go to Farmington, NM (little over an hour), which is the closest large town. The drive down was interesting, especially around Shiprock where there are a lot of different rock formations. Farmington is just another overgrown city, but their Wal-Mart did have one camera left so the trip wasn’t wasted. While there we looked at small trucks but didn’t find anything we liked. Finished up at the dentist and did all 8 teeth in one appt. Even though most of the fillings were just pin holes at the gum line it still came to over $800 so there went another couple of our free months rent.

Nov 11, 2007 Hovenweep National Monument, Cortez, CO

We took a drive to see the Navajo ruins at Hovenweep on the Cajon Mesa that consisted of 5 villages all within walking distance of each other. The trail around the sites was a couple of miles long, but there was an overlook just a ½ mile from the visitor’s center and I could see most of the ruins from there. The towers were built mainly on the mesa and the rest of the village were built downward towards the valley. Their masonry expertise was outstanding which is why the ruins are still standing. The pictures will tell all. The road getting there went along the Canyon of the Ancients, but you aren’t allowed to get off the road so wasn’t able to see much. We took a different road home which was mostly arid ranch country and saw a lot of stone houses that are in ruins. We stopped at the Ute casino for a late lunch and I won $36.00 so was a cheap night.

Nov 19, 2007 Going to Telluride, CO

We got up and headed for Telluride, CO, a historic mining town and now a major ski resort and upscale community. On the way we went through the little mountain town of Rico, CO. The road followed the Dolores River and finally goes over Lizard Head Pass, before dropping down into Telluride. A really picturesque drive. There still isn't too much snow. It's been a very dry fall so far.

Nov 19, 2007 Telluride, CO

Finally, something exciting to write about – We took a drive to Telluride (a ski resort), but we have been having such nice weather there is no snow yet so wasn't as crowded as normal. The land originally belonged to he Utes, but when gold was discovered they were booted out. The name of the town was originally Columbia, but there was another town in Calif. by he same name so the post office designated it Telluride probably derived from “tellurium” a nonmetallic element which, ironically, is not found around here. During the mining heyday there were around 5,000 people, but after the depression and $16,200,000 in gold & silver had been extracted the population dropped to 200. In the 1970's the town was resurrected as a ski resort which is thriving and very expensive. All the structures are still from the mining days – tall, skinny and right on top of one another. They all have been restored and now is a very picturesque town.

Nov 19, 2007 Gondola between Telluride & Mountain Village, CO

The town has also installed a free gondola that takes you to the top of the mountain where you can get out to take pictures and then continue on down the other side to Mountain Village where there are restaurants and shops (mainly sport types). You can then continue on to Village Plaza, which has the town hall and a few other service type buildings. The gondolas were very nice and the views were spectacular, but, as I mentioned, housing is very expensive. The town is mainly made up of young people so I don't know how they can afford it. My biggest problem was the altitude (8750') and by the time I got to the gondola I was really huffing and puffing. The trip to and from Telluride was spectacular in itself with beautiful ranches along the Dolores River.

Nov 19, 2007 Pandora Mill, Telluride, CO

After getting back from the gondola ride, we drove around town, looking at all of the old homes which have been restored. A lot of these homes are in the one million plus price range although some of the cheaper ones are only in the 400,000 to 1,000,000 range. Don't think I want to live there. Plus the altitude is high enough to keep you short of breath all the time. We then headed up the valley to the Old Pandora Mill. It was a major part of the mining operation during the hey day of Telluride.

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