COLORADO-THE STATE WE CAN'T LEAVE!
We have been in Colorado since the middle of June and it seems like we will never be able to leave this beautiful state. Since my last post we have not had any major disasters but, since it is us, a little weirdness always travels along.
After leaving the Black Canyon of the Gunnison area we traveled 1 1/2 hours southwest to Ridgway State Park. We love state parks, but since their reservation system has been privatized, the parks are bordering on being rip-offs, especially in Colorado and Nevada where additional fees drive up prices. However, Ridgway State Park, due to its location, is really special.
First, on our way to Ridgway, we received our annual rock-through-the-motor-home's-windshield incident. Since, this our second experience with our windshield target, the stress was non-existent. Second, after setting up camp and relaxing in my camp chair, a friendly, local chipmunk decided to jump into my lap. After making eye contact and contemplating our predicaments we both jumped 3' in the air and off into the sagebrush scurried my furry friend.
We used Ridgway as a home base to tour everywhere in the Uncompahgre Mountains. This spectacular mountain range is the home of the Million Dollar Highway, Ouray, Silverton, Telluride, etc. Our tour of the area started on the Million Dollar Highway which sent us over the Coalbank and Red Mountain Passes with the town of Silverton in-between. Red Mountain Pass was truly spectacular as Red Mountain really is red and stands in stark contrast to the other steely, gray granite peaks of the Uncompahgre's.
Silverton was an interesting western mountain town which primarily owes its existence to the Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. When the train is in town, it is like a cruise ship arriving at a port-of-call and the town floods with tourists. Once the train leaves there is nobody left except for a few tourists, like us, and several lonely merchants.
It was Silverton that provided our weirdness. When we first entered town we opted to pass through and head up into the mountains. The travel was beautiful, through sweeping mountain valleys, pristine streams, waterfalls, and massive mountains. It was on our return to Silverton that we noticed a bright orange mountain creek flowing down the middle of a beautiful mountain valley. When we arrived at Silverton the orange creek was flowing through town and heading south to Durango. It turned out that the United States Environment Protection Agency was running tests on a highly contaminated holding pond from a former mining operation in the area. The EPA's efforts resulted in a dam bursting and releasing over 3 million gallons of highly toxic crap. This was national news for several days. I wonder if the EPA is planning on fining itself--hummm.
We also made the trip to Telluride. Of all the ski towns we visited, Telluride seemed to have the prettiest location and, like Crested Butte, appeared to be a Mecca for mountain bikers. Telluride also had Aspen-like prices so we kept our wallets out of sight. The best thing for us was that Telluride actually had something for free! It was the gondola ride from downtown over a mountain ridge to a very up-scale resort which was full of mountain bikers using the ski slopes to hone their skills. The views coming into town on the gondola were spectacular.
After spending well over a week in the area, we finally said our good-byes and headed to Fruita, Colorado to visit the Colorado National Monument. Touring the national monument involved traveling on the park road to the top of a mesa and along the edge of a beautiful canyon. The park drive was only 23 miles long, but it had so many scenic viewpoints and hikes that our tour took all day. Once again, we were not disappointed by another great national monument.
Believe it or not, we are now actually planning on exiting Colorado and heading into Moab, Utah.
|Since Colorado has legalized recreational marijuna|
it makes sense that there is a town named Stoner.
|My flower-girl in a mountain meadow full of daisies.|
|I like the pattern created by this Yucca plant on the Colorado high desert.|
|Red Mountain Pass|
|Red Mountain doesn't look so red here, but it still looks pretty.|
|Red Mountain from a different angle shows its true color.|
|The toxic spill heading through Silverton.|
|Lizard Head Pass above Telluride.|
|Colorado National Monument|