Grand but quaint

Let’s continue the journey on my “top 5 favorite Colorado mountain towns”.hummingbirdColorado mountain townsToward the top of my favorites list is Grand Lake, Colorado.  We first discovered this charming little mountain town in the winter of 1997.  We were looking for an affordable place to take the kids on a winter ski vacation.

Now keep in mind, Al and I were bona fide flatlanders at the time with absolutely no interested in schussing down a mountain slope, but since the kids were young and would be growing up in Colorado, we felt it was important to expose them to the popular Colorado sport of snow skiing.  After all, what Coloradoan doesn’t know how to snow ski?  Moi !

Grand Lake Colorado

the town of Grand Lake sits at the shores of Grand Lake, Colorado’s largest and deepest natural lake

The slopes at Granby Ranch (previously known as: Silver Creek or Sol Vista) were highly recommended to us as a great place for beginners, and it turned out to be the perfect venue for the kids to take up the sport of snow skiing.  Al and I would put the children in ski school while he and I lounged around a roaring fire in the ski lodge exercising our arms by lifting mugs of hot chocolate to our lips.

The outside deck offered a perfect vantage point for me to photograph and video tape the kids in ski school.  As Al and I got more comfortable leaving the children in ski school, he and I would venture off (with the instructors knowledge of course) and explore the surrounding area.  Those explorations included lunch and shopping in the town of Grand Lake, about a 30 to 45 minute drive from the ski slopes.

snowmobiling in Colorado

snowmobiling the back country near Grand Lake, CO. Rocky Mtn National Park and the Continental Divide can be seen in the background. The Kamikaze duo of Al and Ashton on the left. The conservatives Logan and me (behind camera) on the right.

When the kids needed a break from the slopes, we’d rent a couple of snowmobiles in Grand Lake and make a day of exploring the back country at 9,000 plus feet in elevation.  Our preferred place for lodging for these winter excursions was at Snow Mountain Ranch, a fifteen minute drive south of the town of Granby.

YMCA of the Rockies

We rent a rustic cabin in the woods for Christmas celebration. Snow Mountain Ranch, Colorado

Over the next ten years, this part of Colorado was where we would spend Christmas and ring in the New Year.  It became our family of four tradition and we had a blast snow skiing, snowmobiling, sledding, tubing, and snowshoeing.  The majority of the time, we would rent a rustic cabin at Snow Mountain Ranch, a great place for family fun – winter or summer.  There’s so many activities available at Snow Mountain Ranch as well as multiple lodging options, including a camping (summer only).

scenic towns in Colorado

Grand Lake is loaded with quaint shops, unique art galleries, and fun restaurants.

The town of Grand Lake is actually more of a summer tourist destination, and you’ll find several shops closed during the winter months.  Although snowmobiling is a very popular sport here, offering some of the best groomed back country trails in Colorado, the ski slopes are pretty far away, thus it’s not considered a ski destination.

Grand Lake, Colorado

Grand Lake is the western gateway into Rocky Mountain National Park

What makes Grand Lake so popular during the summer months is the access into Rocky Mountain National Park.  Grand Lake borders Rocky Mountain National Park on its western edge.  Folks from around the world visit this beautiful part of America.

Grand Lake, Colorado

this photo of Al and Bear was taken in Sept. of 2008 at the lovely park along Grand Lake

The lake itself is also a popular draw for anglers and water enthusiasts.  Personally, I can’t imagine engaging in any activity that would require actually touching the water as the water temperature appears to always be COLD.Grand Lake, Colorado

I remember one time standing on a dock at the water’s edge and feeling a wave of coolness rise and sweep over me.  It felt like I had opened my refrigerator freezer door and was greeted by a rush of cold air.  Yep, that’s some cold water!Rocky MountainsAnother popular draw to the area is the wildlife.  The moose population over the past twenty years has grown substantially in this part of Colorado.  It’s not uncommon for a moose to walk down Grand Lakes’ main street early in the morning and Elk are easily spotted roaming throughout the National Park.Rocky Mountains

PikaThere’s several campgrounds in the area as well as plenty of other lodging options. However, we’ve never personally overnighted in Grand Lake, thus can’t speak from experience.

There’s three different routes to access the town of Grand Lake….

During the summer, a leisurely drive through Rocky Mountain National Park via Trail Ridge Road from the town of Estes Park to the town of Grand Lake is a memorable scenic drive with stunning views accompanied by wildlife sightings.  I highly recommend this drive, but keep in mind, this road is not RV friendly.

The route we often took during our winter excursions:  From Interstate 70, we would head north on Highway 40 through Berthoud Pass heading toward Winter Park.  Although fine for a regular vehicle, there’s no way Al would pull the RV UP this road.  The grade is such that it would put a tremendous strain on the engine not to mention all the switchbacks.ColoradoThe preferred RV route:  From Interstate 70, head north through the town of Silverthorne on Highway 9.  In the town of Kremmling head east on Highway 40 to 34 east.

Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying many visits to this charming mountain town.  You can read about one of my favorite day trips from Estes Park to Grand Lake by clicking here.  And if you’re interested in what others have to say about Grand Lake, you can click here for Lisa’s experience. (Lisa posted some great photos showcasing the area)

Next, I’ll finish up with my next two favorite Colorado mountain towns……

Merrell Women’s Moab Ventilator Hiking Shoe,Beluga/Lilac,8.5 M US
Mediterranean Style Ms. Beach Straw Hat-style2

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Adventure Anniversary

When I looked at the calendar this morning, I realized it’s our 2 year anniversary.  Yep, it was two years ago we sold most of our stuff, minimized, and moved into the RV full-time.  It’s been an adventure to say the least.Colorado State ParksWe’ve explored some amazing places. Camped amongst some unbelievably stunning scenery.  Driven challenging roads.   Made wonderful new friends along the way.  And learned a lot about ourselves.

WordPress photo challenge

Chatfield State Park, Colorado

We’ve survived flat tires, illnesses, mechanical failures, and Mother Natures wrath.

Moab Utah

traveling along the Colorado River in Utah

Do we miss a sticks and bricks home?  Sometimes!

Dillon Reservoir

my home in Frisco, Colorado, camped along the shores of Dillon Reservoir

How long will we continue to live in the RV full-time?  As long as it remains a fun adventure.

WordPress Photo challenge

City of Rocks State Park, New Mexico

Is living in the RV similar to being on a constant vacation?  Yes and no.  Life goes on and sh*t continues to happen.  Bills need to be paid.  Family obligations beckon.

Moab Utah

traveling hwy 128 in Utah north of Moab

But when the stars align, the weather is great, birds are chirping, and wildflowers are blooming….. well, it just doesn’t get much better.

Moab Utah

we enjoy our own personal waterfall (center right) at Ken’s Lake Campground, Moab, Utah

Are we living a dream?  No.  Although it’s been a fantastic journey, there have been days I felt I was living more of a nightmare than a dream.

Quartzite Arizona

boondocking in Quartzite, Arizona

Everyone’s journey is different.  Time can be fleeting.  I still miss my dog immensely.

Glenwood Canyon

Interstate 70 driving along the Colorado River through Glenwood Canyon, Colorado

Knowing what I know now, would I still move into the RV full-time?  In a heartbeat!

WordPress daily prompt

all mine – my home for a week… somewhere in Utah!

It has been a memorable journey with many more places to see and explore.

San Juan River Utah

camped 2,000 feet above the San Juan River at Goosenecks State Park, Utah

At this stage of the game, I wouldn’t trade my 250 square foot home on wheels for a 5,000 square foot stationary home….. well…… maybe if that home sat on 40 acres in the Rocky Mountains with my own private lake, perhaps then I could be coerced 😉

camping in Colorado

camped on a peninsula at Steamboat Lake State Park

Views…. it’s all about the views, and boy, have I seen some views.

Lake Powell

boondocking at the shores of Lake Powell near the Utah – Arizona border

I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying some spectacular backyards……Lake Powell Utahand front yards……. and side yards…..

Monument Valley

Hwy 163 through Monument Valley – Utah & Arizona

I’ve driven some famous, well-known roads that I’d longed to travel.Rocky Mountain National ParkThe journey shall continue.  Let’s see where the road takes us in year three.scenic roadsHappy trails my friends….

This post was written in response to the WordPress Daily Post – photo challenge.  Muse = the RV.  I’m always taking photographs of the RV either meandering down the road or camped in some amazing place.camping in Colorado

The Next Exit 2015: The Most Complete Interstate Hwy Guide

Top 5 Colorado towns continued

We’ve enjoyed our stay at the Chatfield State Park despite Mother Nature’s wrath. Colorado’s front range received a ton of spring rain and now with the runoff from mountain snows melting, the Chatfield Reservoir is at record high levels.  The flooding is so severe that the west side of the park is closed as are all the boat ramps.  To top things off, ALL sewer services within the park have been shut off.  That means, no RV sewer connections, no dump station, no restroom flush toilets, and no showers anywhere in the park.  Restroom buildings have been locked and lovely construction porta-potties placed onsite in lieu.  And I won’t begin to mention the power outages.

Chatfield Reservoir

Site B-74 at Chatfield State Park near Denver, Colorado

If there’s anything this RV life has taught us, it’s to expect the unexpected and learn to roll with the flow and adjust accordingly.  And of course, a good sense of humor always helps.  So although we endured a few inconveniences during our Chatfield State Park visit, we still enjoyed our stay immensely.

ColoradoOne afternoon during one of those power outages, fellow campers were out and about checking with one another…. “Do you have power?”  During such an exchange, we ended up meeting some folks from Illinois.

As former Illinoisans, the conversation flowed freely.  The young couple, camping in a small travel trailer, were on a two-week vacation and wanted to see and experience Colorado’s finest.

Al and I did our best to answer their list of questions.  We offered recommendations on roads to avoid while pulling the trailer, keeping in mind this was their first visit to the Rocky Mountains.  Roads that Al and I are comfortable pulling aren’t necessarily roads we’d recommend for those less seasoned when it comes to mountain driving.

One particular question that had hubby and I torn – “What is your all time favorite, must see, Colorado town?”  (ah, a blog post(s) was born)  Al and I agreed it was a toss-up between Crested Butte and Grand Lake.  Both towns are beautiful in their own right and are very different from one another.  They both share plenty of charm, character, and beautiful scenery.

Crested Butte Colorado

the back country north of Crested Butte, Colorado

Mount Crested Butte, ColoradoWhen we moved to Colorado in the mid-nineties, Crested Butte was the first mountain town our family of four (plus doggie) visited.  I think Crested Butte will always hold a special place in my heart due to the special family moments experienced here.

One memorable trip occurred three years ago when I had a crazy idea to go tent camping at Lake Irwin.  I wanted to take the little truck (Tacoma) and explore some of the 4×4 back country roads north of Crested Butte.  Thus, we left the comforts of the RV behind and packed up the camping gear.

Crested Butte ColoradoLake Irwin is located west of the town of Crested Butte near Kebler Pass and sits at an elevation of 10,000 feet.  Somehow that elevation thing didn’t register properly in my mind when I set up this excursion.

Since this was in the middle of summer, I knew the temperatures would still drop substantially during the night, but I never imagined they would drop below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.  Thank goodness, hubby brought an extra sleeping bag to throw over us.  Even poor Bear was shivering during the night until I covered him with my sweatshirt.

Crested Butte

Exploring the back country north of Crested Butte

Crested Butte ColoradoIt was mid July and the Wildflower Festival was in full swing.  No coincidence there.  The trip was planned with the wildflowers in mind.

Crested Butte relishes the title of “Wildflower Capital of Colorado”.  Although according to locals, the drought conditions of 2012 lead to a dismal display of wildflowers.  No matter who we talked to (merchant, waitress, gas station attendant) everyone apologized for the pure showing of wildflowers and asked us to please come back next year.  Regardless, the countryside was and is stunningly beautiful.  The town of Crested Butte is filled with charm and character.  Mount Crested Butte is a little further up the road and this is where the ski slopes are located.  Even though the 1980’s architecture at Mt. Crested Butte is lacking in style and character when compared to downtown Crested Butte, it’s still worth a stroll around and there’s new updates yearly.

The back country north of Crested Butte is not to be missed, but strolling the town of Crested Butte can also be pleasurable.  Of course, there was a little T-shirt shopping involved during our visit (a habit of mine). Not wanting to leave Bear in the vehicle, Bear shopped with us and was welcome in most stores.

wildflowers in Colorado

back country road north of Crested Butte – Slate River Road

To read more about Crested Butte, visit our 2012 excursion – click here and here.  We revisited again in 2013 and I share a little more info here.  I wonder, with all the moisture Colorado has received this year, if the wildflowers won’t be in abundance and offer a stunning show for this year’s wildflower festival.  Who’s willing to check it out for me?  I’d go, but I already have commitments 😦

Crested Butte Colorado

camped at Chatfield State Park

Camping?  With a tent, truck camper, or small trailer there’s a bunch of options to choose:  from the Blue Mesa Reservoir to Crested Butte to National Forest back country.  With a bigger RV the list quickly dwindles.  With our modest 31 feet, we could fit into a few sites at Lake Irwin providing one such site was available.

There does seem to be wildflowers in Coloradosome free boondocking off-road 730 (Ohio Pass) just south of road 12 (Kebler Pass) which we would consider, but it does require traveling gravel roads to get there.  Washington Gulch Road also has some spots.

When we returned to the area in 2013 with the 5th wheel, we stayed at an RV Park off Highway 50 near the Blue Mesa Reservoir (west of the town of Gunnison).  During that visit, we spent some time checking out more campgrounds.  You can read about those camping options here.

For any first time Crested Butte RV visitor, I would highly recommend staying in a park off Highway 50 and exploring the Crested Butte area WITHOUT the RV first.  We all develop our own level of comfort when it comes to roads and parking conditions.  Al and I find the camping accommodations around Crested Butte to be a little more challenging than we’d like with the RV, but that’s not to say it wouldn’t work for you.

The stunning scenery in this part of Colorado should not be missed.  Crested Butte is definitely at the top of the list when it comes to “must see” places in Colorado….. it’s a favorite.  Up next, we’ll visit Grand Lake.


The Next Exit 2015: The Most Complete Interstate Hwy Guide

Weber 50060001 Q 1000 Liquid Propane Grill

Top 5 favorite Colorado mountain towns.

ColumbineHave you ever looked at a map and been so curious about a road or town that you just had to hop in the car and explore?  Well that seems to happen to me a lot.

First off, I love maps and have had an interest in geography as long as I can remember.  I’m always wondering what’s around the bend.

This summer we find ourselves once again hanging in Colorado.  We’ve done a bunch of serious exploring in this state over the past two summers, but I have a feeling we’ve barely touched the surface of this beautiful slice of America.   Thus, yesterday I pulled out the Colorado atlas again to see what back road might pique my interest.

While scouring the map, I was met with a flood of fond memories.  After all, we did call Colorado home for over twenty years.  Could I pick a favorite mountain town?  BreckenridgeCould I pick a favorite scenic drive?  That would be a resounding, NO!  I do however have some favorites.

When we lived in Colorado Springs, we would bring the kids up to either Summit County or Grand County for winter fun. While the kids were enjoying the slopes, Al and I would stroll shops and go out to lunch in a quaint mountain town.  Charm and character abound.

Summit County includes the towns of Breckenridge, Frisco, Dillon, Keystone, and the village of Copper Mountain, and is located about a two-hours drive from Denver’s International Airport.  So it’s super easy to get to and offers plenty to see and do.

Summit County is a great place to visit any time of year, but March and April are my least favorite due to slushy conditions as the snow melts, but that never stopped our kids from enjoying spring skiing.

Now a days, hubby and I save our visits to the high country for summer.  As a matter of fact, some of these mountain communities have become even more popular during the summer months than they are in the winter.

Keystone

Off Swan Mtn Road, between Breckenridge and Keystone, is a scenic overlook high above Dillon Reservoir. The chipmunks are used to folks bringing sunflower seeds and this little guy crawled on Al’s hand checking to see if he brought any such treats.

At the end of May, Al and I found ourselves once again camped at the shores of Dillon Reservoir which of course included a little shop strolling in Breckenridge.   We always look forward to a treat stop at the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory plus I believe someone purchased a T-shirt (or two) but I’m not telling considering there’s no more room in the RV closet.  I wonder if Al has noticed that I’m encroaching on his half of the closet…. ssshhh!

Colorado museumsAs much as I enjoy Breckenridge and think that it’s a must see, I personally prefer the quaint mountain town of Frisco.  Frisco is much more low-key and less touristy than Breckenridge.  Thus, Frisco is our first stop on my “top 5 favorite Colorado mountain towns”.

Frisco has a population of less than 3,000, sits at over 9,000 feet in elevation, and was incorporated in 1880 during the mining boom.  Today it’s a gateway to four major ski resorts.  Main Street offers plenty of quaint shops, restaurants, and a historic park with museum.Frisco museum Al and I grabbed a couple of Lattes at a local coffee shop and strolled over to the Frisco Historic Park & Museum.  This is a free, self guided museum preserving Frisco’s heritage.  Toward the rear of the park was a delightful sculpture that brought a smile to our faces.

After exploring the grounds, it was time for us to tour some of the buildings at the museum.  Each building offered a little something different and from various decades.red lipstick

Frisco musuemI was particularly entertained by the fashions on display as well as learning the importance of red lipstick during World War II.  Hubby and I aren’t huge museum goers, but we found this historic park to be quite entertaining and worth the stop.

Frisco also offers an Adventure Park as well as a marina on Dillon Reservoir. As many times as we’ve stopped in Frisco, each visit we discover some new shop, restaurant, or hiking trail.  And the scenery ain’t too bad either.

Next up we’ll visit another favorite mountain town……maxine

FYI…. if I’m a little quiet these days, it’s because I’m still under the weather as well as we’ve had some problems with our internet and excessive data usage which we’re trying to figure out where the problem lies.  Grrr….. this isn’t the adventure I signed up for LOL. 

Teva Women’s Kayenta Strappy Sandal, Vega Black, 9 M US
Life is good Men’s Crusher Happy Camper Tee, Teal Blue, X-Large

Mile High Fun

What’s not to love about this time of year?  The birds are chirping, the flowers are blooming, and the wildlife babies are just too darn cute not to photograph.Canadian GeesewildflowersWith Breckenridge and the Continental Divide in the rear view mirror, we pulled into Chatfield State Park (southwest of Denver) for our two-week stay.

The lower elevation met us with warmer temperatures…. aaahhh!  That didn’t mean I was ready to replace those flannels sheets with the cool cotton sheets on the bed just yet, considering the temperatures and rains were still on the fickle side.  The inclement weather even caused some flooding at the state park.

Our first week in the Denver area whizzed by with the aid of friends and family.

Red Rocks

MonaLiza and Steve on the left – Al and me on the right

First up was reconnecting with RV buddies, Mona Liza and Steve from the blog Lowe’s RV Adventures.  Enjoying pizza and beer at Woody’s Pizza in Golden was the perfect place to catch up.  The next day we managed to work off some of those calories with a little hiking and stair climbing at Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater.

Red Rocks

Me gazing out over the Red Rocks Amphitheater.

wildflowers

Mona Liza and I stop to admire the wildflowers

It was a quick visit with ML and Steve since they were ready to embark on their summer tour of the Great Plains States.  They are on a quest to visit all 50 states and after 3 years of full-time travel, they are getting close to completing that quest.

country western concert

Ashton and me at Mile High Stadium for the Luke Bryan Concert.

Country western concertAnd then there’s the real reason behind us spending June and July in the Denver area; our daughter.

Between our travels and her crazy work schedule, it’s been nine months since we last saw her.  I do believe that’s the longest we’ve ever gone and she’s been sorely missed.

As a belated Mother’s Day gift, she surprised me with a girl’s outing that included a Luke Bryan concert.  I’m not much of a concert goer, but I’m up for anything that includes spending time with my daughter.  We had a great time along with 50,000 of our closest friends.  The line up of entertainers for the Kick Up the Dust Tour included; Dustin Lynch, Thomas Rhett, Randy Houser, Florida Georgia Line, and Luke Bryan.

 

Between you and me, I don’t feel a need to attend another concert anytime soon, much preferring time hiking in nature with a lot fewer people.  I did notice I was in the audience minority – less than 10 percent of the concert goers that evening were in the 55+ age group.  Perhaps those of my tender years were attending the U2 concert, who were also playing in town that night or better yet…. in bed in their comfy cocoon by 11:00 p.m. instead of still out on the town partying past one in the morning 😉

I hate to admit it, but this gal is no longer in shape to keep up the pace of a 25 year old.  But I did give it the ole college try.  That said, the past week has had me lying low fighting a cold, recovering from my Mile High fun, and getting caught up on my blog reading.  Oh, and inhaling lots and lots of chicken soup!Canadian Geese

The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Dinnertime: Comfort Classics, Freezer Food, 16-Minute Meals, and Other Delicious Ways to Solve Supper!

Back in the cocoon

When we pulled out of Grand Junction, Colorado, it was another overcast day. I must say, the fickle, inclement weather was getting a little old. Let’s face it, excessive rain can easily put a cramp in any hiking and exploring plans. I am, however, grateful we were not caught in any floods or tornado’s and my heart goes out to those who haven’t been as lucky.

Basalt ColoradoSo looking on the bright side, we moved on to our next destination  making the most of whatever breaks we could get in this crazy weather.

Two hours east of Grand Junction was our first stop.  We stayed on private land about 15 miles south of the town of Glenwood Springs.  This was our third time staying here and it was the perfect venue to hide over the Memorial Day Weekend.  As much as I wanted to revisit the Maroon Bells, the weather had other plans.  Thus, Al and I stuck close to home with the occasional stroll up to the grocery store and back.  It was fun spending a few days living in a residential area.

dry camping

Not a bad view. Perfect place to spend the holiday weekend.

Once the holiday weekend was over, we hit the road for our next stop; Dillon, Colorado.  I’m never fond of driving Vail Pass and more times than not the weather is ugly.  This time was no different.  Around noon on May 26th we experienced a little rain, then a little sleet with a snow flake here and there for a touch of added drama.  Oh, and let’s not forget all the semi-truck traffic and occasional potholes as we summit at 10,662 feet in elevation (3,250m).  This stretch of Interstate 70 is a major east west route through the country and I’m always a bit of a white knuckle driver passenger along this stretch of interstate.Dillon Reservoir

With Vail Pass behind us, we safely navigated to our reserved campsite in the Heaton Bay Campground at the shores of Lake Dillon.  Talk about glorious views in all directions.  We spent some time here last year as well and love the area.camping near Breckenridge

One of the things I didn’t give much thought to when setting up our May schedule was  weather in the high country.  Last year we visited Dillon in June and it wasn’t quite as cold.  When we pulled out of Phoenix, Arizona, on May 7th our travels took us on a continuous slow uphill climb in elevation.  And that meant a temperature change….  a drastic temperature change.  Let’s see, where have we been during the month of May…..

  • Phoenix, Arizona              elevation 1,124 feet  (331m)   day temps 90+
  • Moab, Utah                      elevation 4,025 feet (1,227m)          60’s
  • Grand Junction, CO         elevation 4,593 feet (1,397m)          60’s
  • Glenwood Springs, CO    elevation 5,761 feet (1,756m)          60’s
  • Dillon/Breckenridge CO   elevation 9,115 plus feet (2,777m)   50’s

In early May, we were basking in temperatures in the 90’s (32c) with clear, blue sunny skies in Phoenix.  Even the night-time temps were in the upper 60’s.  I had the bed made with crisp cool cotton sheets topped with our medium to light weight comforter.  Every night we slept with the windows open….. aaahhhh!

And then we moved up to Moab where we were greeted with cool overcast skies and cold nights which required us to add our couch throw on top of the comforter for just a little extra added warmth for sleeping.

Onto Grand Junction where a steady stream of storms rolled through bringing with it rain and cold.  We occasionally woke up during the night due to the cold and would need to flip the furnace on.  Brrr….. and to think, we’d be venturing into even colder territory.  I know, what was I thinking?

Camping near Breckenridge Colorado

That’s us – middle right. Heaton Bay Campground on the Dillon Reservoir … only 20 minutes south of Breckenridge.

With the temperatures getting colder, it was time for me to bring back the “cocoon”.  By that I mean, I brought out the flannel sheets and the second comforter.  If you’ve never tried flannel sheets, I highly recommend giving them a try next winter.  The bed cocoon was ready for some great sleeping.  Keep in mind, when we’re dry camping we really don’t want the furnace running and zapping our batteries. Thus, we set the RV furnace down to about 50 degrees Fahrenheit at night.  We keep it on to assure our belly/pipes keep warm just in case temps unexpectedly drop below freezing.

Breckenridge camping

Frost on the picnic table.

Probably a good thing that we kept the furnace running as we did experience cold enough overnight temperatures that we woke up to a thick layer of frost covering the truck and picnic tables on more than one occasion.

camping near Breckenridge

Toward the end of May, water is let out of the reservoir to allow for snow melt. Each morning we were there, the lake was rapidly receding. All part of water management.

During our stay in Dillon (the last week in May), high’s were in the 55° to 62° range with night-time temps dropping into the thirties.  Even though it was rather cold getting out of bed in the morning, while in bed we were snug as a bug and comfy in our cotton flannel cocoon and slept great.

Lake Dillon

the hiking and biking opportunities around the towns of Dillon, Breckenridge, Keystone and Frisco are endless. Gorgeous country that we find ourselves returning to each year.

Did you know, the average snowfall for the month of May in Dillon is 7.3 inches? (18.5cm)  And to think, Phoenix gets on average 7 inches of rainfall a year.  As beautiful as it is around Dillon and Breckenridge, I’m ready for those crisp cool sheets again.   I think we’ll save future visits to Dillon, Colorado, for the months of July and August.  So lower elevation here we come.  I can’t wait to see all the signs of summer!bumble beeFor those of you interested in camping info…. There are four campgrounds situated around Lake Dillon aka Dillon Reservoir and they are all part of the White River National Forest. Lowry Campground and Loop C in the Heaton Bay Campground offer electric. The rest is dry hiking near Breckenridgecamping only. Prospectors and Lowry Campgrounds are located near Keystone, while Peak One and Heaton Bay are located in Frisco.

Also note, the campgrounds are run by an independent concessionaire and camping fees are actually $21 a night instead of the $19 listed on the Forest Service website – half off with the senior pass. $2 more a night for holiday weekends (info as of May 30, 2015).   I’ll hold my tongue about these private entities and their free rein.

We chose to forgo an electric site because Loop C is near a highway and the Interstate and therefore a fair amount of traffic noise is heard. It’s also the busiest, meaning without a reservation, it’s tough to score an open site in Loop C.  Lowry campground is located high above the lake and is not as picturesque as the other campgrounds and therefore folks find it the least desirable.

Larger RV’s might find it challenging navigating around here (at all four campgrounds), not to say there aren’t sites large enough, it just takes some looking around and a little creative maneuvering.  We barely had enough room to park our truck on site E78.  Our 5th wheel is 31 feet long.

Heaton Bay has paved campsites while the others are gravel.  There are vault toilets and the occasional water spigot scattered throughout the campgrounds.  No showers and no dump station but the scenery is spectacular.  Shopping is close by, location is great, and the outdoor activities are endless.

Heaton Bay Campground

Heaton Bay Campground – Site E78

Pinzon Lightweight Cotton Flannel Sheet Set – Queen, Floral Grey
Coleman Water Carrier (5-Gallon, Blue)


I’d love for you to visit my food blog over at   Dally in the Galley

Catching up

First off, allow me to extend a heart-felt thank you to all of you who commented on my last post.  I appreciate your warm thoughts beyond words and hope Rhonda and family have found some comfort in them as well.  Rhonda wrote a final post sharing Wayne’s last days and a selfless act.  That post can be viewed here for anyone interested.  Thank you again for your care, concern, and friendship.

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With Moab in the rear view mirror, it wasn’t long before we pulled into site #3 at the James M. Robb State Park Campground near Grand Junction, Colorado.  We really enjoy staying here and since we pass through Grand Junction regularly this has become our go to stop for spending a few days while in the area.

Colorado State Parks

Colorado National Monument

Colorado State ParksThe stunning Colorado National Monument acts as a beautiful backdrop to the James M. Robb State Park…. a sight that never gets old.

During our ten-day stay, we had a couple of things to tend to, but most importantly a lot of catching up to do.  You see, my brother and his wife live in Grand Junction, and a year had passed since our last visit.

Fruita Colorado

James M. Robb State Park, Fruita, Colorado

First on the agenda was dinner with brother and sis-in-law, which became a recurring event during our stay.  Yum, is all I have to say as sis-in-law is a great cook.  Unfortunately, due to the combination of my brother’s work schedule and the ever fickle weather, we weren’t able to take any memorable hikes together during this visit.  You can click here to read about one of our epic hikes a couple of years ago.  The thought of that hike still makes me laugh.Colorado National Monument

It’s impossible not to explore the “Monument” and for any first time visitor I would highly recommend the 23 mile Rim Rock Road scenic drive.  The road takes you to the top of the mesa with numerous scenic overlooks giving a visitor a bird’s eye view of some spectacular scenery.

After taking in the scenery from the car, next up is hitting the trails.  One of my all time favorite hikes was one I did with my sister-in-law almost 2 years ago and ever since then, I’ve wanted to share that trail with hubby.hiking in Colorado

So on our first rain free day, Al and I set out around nine in the morning to tackle the Lower Monument Canyon Trail.Colorado National Monument

After a 2 1/2 mile trek, we found ourselves at the base of the stunning 450 foot tall monolith named Independence Monument; our destination.  The post from the hike with my sister-in-law offers a little more info.  If interested, you can click here.

Colorado National Weather

We were down in that canyon at the base of the Independence Monument – rock monolith

Colorado National Monument

Al on the trail ahead of me returning to the trailhead

Colorado National MonumentAfter spending a little time taking in the sight of the beautiful canyon, we retraced our tracks back to the trailhead making for a great 5 mile hike.

Colorado breweryToward the end of our stay, we met Mike and Linda for lunch at the Edgewater Brewery and on our last evening we met Pam and John for a quick bite at Suds Brother’s Brewery.

Let’s see….. we took care of a couple of scheduled appointments, took in the fantastic scenery, got in some exercise, visited with family AND visited a couple of brew pubs with fellow bloggers.

All in all, it was a great visit to western Colorado.  Now it’s time to move on.  I have a feeling there could be a little more social gatherings in our near future.  You never know who we’ll bump into in Denver this summer!Colorado National Monument

Grand Junction Hiking Guide (The Pruett Series)

I recently started a food blog called “Dally in the Galley”
Feel free to stop byclick here

Losses are never easy

cactus flowerWell folks, I had a post all written and ready to go out today sharing the continuation of our travels through Colorado, but I’ve decided to hold that one off for a few days. Today I want to share the joy of forging friendships through the blogosphere.

Over the past three years, I’ve had the honor of developing some wonderful friends through the blogging world.  Some of these friendships have developed into more than internet based relationships, which has been an unexpected pleasure beyond my wildest dreams.  Coffee dates, hiking meet ups, and brew pub get togethers with fellow bloggers have turned into true and hopefully long-lasting relationships.  Due to geography, most blog followers will remain as internet friends, or ‘cyber friends’, and that’s ok too as I treasure those friendships as well.

One blogger I was looking forward to running into one day was Wayne from the Blog Turn when the road does.

DragonflyHe and his wife, Rhonda, went full-time in the RV shortly before Al and I did, and we’ve been following each others blogs ever since.

Our comments flowed freely back and forth along with emails.  Sometimes our emails were lengthy, especially when it came to subjects like best route to take or truck engine issues.  Other times, the emails were short and humorous. Our last communications centered around food and the healing effects of proper nutrition.

Wayne was struggling with a terminal illness and was willing to think outside the box.  Wayne was the impetus for me starting a second blog, a blog centered around healthy eating. He wanted me to share some recipes and ideas with his wife, and thus Dally in the Galley was launched.

The way in which our conversations flowed, one would think we had actually met face to face.  Unfortunately, I won’t have that privilege as Wayne recently lost his battle with Pulmonary Fibrosis.  I still can’t believe how quickly the illness progressed.  Even after a dear friend shared the tale of the loss of her brother due to the same illness, somehow I hoped Wayne’s story would end differently.

squirrelAnd although we never actually met, I still viewed Wayne as a friend…. albeit a cyber friend and the loss saddens me greatly.

The day before his passing, Al and I were hiking near the town of Frisco, Colorado.  The elevation was well over 9,000 feet.  As we climbed in altitude taking in deep breaths, my thoughts wandered and I said to Al, “I hope Wayne is ok”.  While I filled my lungs with air my eyes welled with tears.  I was overcome with a flood of emotions.  I felt a sense of unease, great sadness, and concern for Wayne.

On the other hand, I was thankful the thin air had little impact on Al and me and our ability to hike and breath.  Any huffing and puffing Al and I did was no different from what we experienced in Arizona at a much lower elevation.  I counted my blessings and was grateful for each contraction and expansion of my lungs.  Breathing was something I didn’t take for granted that day.  Thoughts of Wayne were ever-present.

loss of a friendI watched my mother struggle to breathe while loosing her battle to COPD and I knew Wayne too was struggling for each breath.

I was saddened beyond words when a fellow blogger, another cyber friend, sent me a message letting me know Wayne had passed.

I extend my thoughts and prayers to Rhonda and the rest of the family for their loss.  May they find comfort and peace knowing Wayne was well liked by many; those he met in person and those he met online.  We all viewed him as a friend ….. a great loss to the blogging community.

Rest in peace my friend…. my cyber friend….. you will be missed !!!loss of a friend