Time for a Break

As the looming snow-capped mountains come into view, I feel a sense of excitement.  It feels good to be back on the road, especially after the past few weeks.  Weeks of cleaning and preparing the house for sale has gotten old real quick.  I need a break.  I need to get away.  It’s Friday, May 17th the weekend before Memorial Weekend; the official kick off to summer fun in Colorado.  A perfect time to hit the road.

Colorado

Highway 50 west of Canon City meanders along the Arkansas River

I leave Al and Bear behind and hop in my little red Toyota Tacoma bound for Grand Junction, Colorado.  Within a mere thirty minutes from home, the road begins to twist and turn as Highway 50 meanders along the Arkansas River.  This particular stretch of Highway 50 can be stressful when there is a considerable amount of traffic.  This morning I practically have the road to myself and thus drive at a relaxing pace allowing myself to take in the scenery.

Arkansas River

Arkansas River east of Salida, Colorado; known for white water rafting

The Arkansas River between the towns of Canon City and Salida, Colorado, is a popular tourist destination for white water rafting.  The rafting season hasn’t begun just yet, therefore no rubber rafts in sight, but that will change in the next week or so as the snow melts in the high country making for some fast moving water.  Canon City and Salida both offer plenty of rafting outfitters to accommodate the various levels of adventure seekers.

Salida Colorado

The Continental Divide looms in the distance

As I get closer to the town of Salida, I sense a rise in elevation.  Perhaps seeing the Continental Divide in the distance is a reminder of the change in elevation necessary to cross the Rocky Mountains.  My journey started in Pueblo West at an elevation of 4,900 feet and I have been gradually climbing as I approach the town of Salida at 7,000 feet.

Just west of Salida, the road climbs more aggressively toward Monarch Pass and the Continental Divide. Monarch Pass sits at an elevation of 11,312 feet and is the high point of Highway 50.  I’ve been on the road a couple of hours now and could use a break ….. photo-op.  There is still plenty of snow but it’s a sunny, warm 60 degrees at 11,312 feet.

Monarch Pass

My little red truck and I stop for a break at Monarch Pass 11,312 feet in elevation

What goes up, must come down.  Once on the other side of Monarch Pass, it’s all down hill, as evidenced by the “runaway truck ramp”.  I often wonder how the driver of a semi-truck feels racing down a twisty, curvy mountain road with brakes not functioning.  It’s not as if a guard rail, when there is a guard rail, would stop a semi from tumbling over the edge.  That kind of excitement, I assure you, I do not need to experience first hand.

Continental Divide

surrounded by beautiful scenery

Continental Divide

I’ve crossed the Continental Divide; it’s all down hill from here

I’ll stick with my little truck.  I coast down the western slope of the Rocky Mountains with the help of my brakes here and there.  Traffic is light.  I’m really enjoying the drive.  I stop for lunch in Gunnison before stopping at the Blue Mesa Reservoir.  I can’t believe how low the water level is at Blue Mesa Reservoir.  The past few years of drought have taken a toll on Colorado’s reservoirs.  However, it should fill considerably as the snow melts in the high country…..I hope.

Blue Mesa Reservoir

Highway 50 crosses Blue Mesa Reservoir

Blue Mesa Reservoir

Blue Mesa Reservoir; the water level is low due to drought

Rocky Mountains

Blue Mesa Reservoir

Montrose Colorado

A perfect day; Highway 50 east of Montrose, Colorado

I continue on the journey enjoying a perfect day…..oops….spoke too soon.  I come to a screeching halt about fifteen minutes east of the town of Montrose.  Construction!  Did you know Colorado only has two seasons?  Winter and construction.  I knew this day was too perfect.  Oh well, with no place to go we all shut off our engines and enjoy the perfect weather and scenery.

Rocky Mountains

Construction has us stopped east of Montrose

Rocky Mountains

My view to the left as traffic is halted for construction

With plenty of time to day dream, I glance out the rolled down window and wonder about the folks living on this ranch in the above photo.  They are probably cattle ranchers.  Pretty common in this area of Colorado….cattle country.  Could I live here?  Would I want to live here?  Probably not….. most likely not.  The winters are long and hard in this neck of the woods.  Come on, it’s the end of May and there’s still snow on the ground.  You should see this part of Colorado in the winter…..beautifully white in all directions covered deep in snow AND it’s cold….the air and the snow 😉

Highway 50

After thirty minutes of sitting, we’re finally moving again

Colorado

Highway 50 just east of Montrose, Colorado

After thirty minutes of waiting, traffic finally starts to move and it is once again smooth sailing the rest of the way.  6 1/2 hours and 383 miles later I pull into my brothers driveway in Grand Junction…..right behind his new travel trailer.

Colorado

Brother’s new travel trailer

My brother and his wife camped in Moab the previous weekend.  Knowing I was coming for a visit, brother postponed stowing the trailer so I could see his new toy.  We spend the evening swapping RV stories over cocktails and catching up with life in general.  Tomorrow we’ll visit The Monument.

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40 thoughts on “Time for a Break

    • Used to love visiting Crested Butte or Winter Park in the winter, but these days it’s no snow Arizona. Happy hiking 🙂

  1. Very nice! I remember going through Monarch Pass as a kid on a family trip. Beautiful country. Once place we have not been yet with our RV, but definitely looking forward to it.

    • You’ll definitely need to head west. Between Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico the scenery is stunning and the RVing options endless. This is RV country at it’s finest……so ‘come on down’.

    • It’s the only way to travel, especially out west. We get to explore some amazing places and take our home with us…..sleep in my bed, with my sheets, and cook with my nice cookware. Most of the lodging options near National Parks are well….let’s just say a nice RV is preferable. It’s tons of fun exploring this country!

    • Not sure who Ruth is but glad your enjoying the program. Change is in the air and I should be on the road a lot more in July….stay tuned 🙂

      • Ingrid…not Ruth…Ingrid … sorry it’s a sign I’m getting old they tell me… can’t get my own name right sometimes… lol

        • I thought you might have gotten the name wrong. I’ve been known to answer to Bridget or Gretchen, but Ruth is a first…..lol

  2. Wow, what a beautiful drive. I admire you, I cannot drive in mountains. I get vertigo or something and the last time I tried, the mountains on either side of me “converged” and I slowly coasted to a halt. My husband was yelling you can’t park on the highway. He managed to pry my hands off the wheel and eased us over to the shoulder, where he booted me out of the driver’s seat. I love to look at your images, but I’m terrified of driving on roads like this (or ones with tall overpasses or ones that pass really large structures! I have a lot of phobias!)
    Besides the construction stop, sounds like you had a beautiful trip to your brother’s!

    • As a former flatlander myself from Illinois, it took me awhile to get used to Mountain driving. It’s not for everyone. From time to time I’m known to get a little uncomfortable as well especially exploring some back roads, but that doesn’t stop me. The drive home was not as fun as the drive there. I’ll share that in a few days. Hope all is well in OK…….tough times for so many…..

  3. Beautiful photos! Love the snow covered mts. I never tire of seeing them. We leave UT Monday and head to Durango for a week then off to Estes Park. Enjoy your vacation at your brother’s!!

    • I don’t think I’ll ever tire of these views myself. I look forward to following your travels through Colorado and can’t wait to see which route you pick. We’ll be staying at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds (Golden) at the end of June through the 4th of July weekend. We hope to get in some hiking and visit with daughter in the Denver area.

    • Thank you. I appreciate the comment. Colorado is definitely a beautiful state but I’m also impressed by Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico. I could spend years exploring these four states, but I do long to head to the Pacific NW as well….Ah, it is a long list and growing….lol.

  4. We knew someone living in Montrose and my husband would mix it up and call it Rosemont… always ready with a quip, he explained that it depended on which end you entered from… 😀

  5. Great photos! We’ll be traveling from Montrose to Salida in a few weeks so it was a great preview of what we have to look forward to. Except for the road construction of course 🙂

    • It’s a pretty drive and I hope you don’t get held up by the construction. I look forward to seeing what great boondock spot you discover next. You seem to find some great spots like that Mountain Meadow….what a hidden gem. Safe travels!

  6. Great pics and sounds like a great drive. Colorado has been a favorite place for me since a vacation with grandparents when I was a kid. Since then I have been back for many more. Can’t wait to get back there for a visit. Thanks for the great road trip.

    • I love Colorado in the summer. I used to enjoy the winters as well, but now find Arizona winters more appealing. With our house on the market our RV adventures will need to be close to the house until it sells, but we have so much available within a two hour drive….lucky us 🙂

  7. What a lovely drive! We will be driving Hwy 50 later this summer. It will be interesting to see how different it looks from your current pics.

    McPhee Reservoir by Dolores is very, very low right now. I figured it was due to drought.

    • Water levels seem to be down all over the state. However the Pueblo Reservoir is at a pretty good level. When you’re in Salida/Buena Vista you might want to try some rafting or ziplining. If you read some of my posts from last July and August I write about Crested Butte and Steamboat. Welcome to “Colorful Colorado”. Shoot me an email if you have any questions 🙂

  8. Great and scenic drive…Last time we were in Colorado we went to the ski area of Steamboat Springs ..It was Spring at least 20 years ago, and there were a few hot air balloons around…beautiful part of the USA…We loved it out West and did quite a few trips to Montana in the summer months…Spent some time around Flathead Lake…If you’ve never been there, it’s a must see…..I totally understand your “thrill of the road”…I long for that.

    • My header photo was taken last year while camped at Steamboat Lake. We too love it out west and no offense, but we never look forward to our return trips back to Illinois (love seeing family though). Ah, so many places to explore and so little time. You’ll need to come out to Colorado for a Rocky Mountain fix 🙂

        • Hmm…..corn and tomatoes yum! My dad plants a huge garden each year and I try to plan my trips to visit in early August when his garden is bursting. I do find Illinois pretty when the corn fields are tall and green and there’s a huge red barn in the distance.

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