I don’t know about you, but I love flowers. They bring a smile to my face, and have a way of brightening up my day.
I used to enjoy gardening when we lived in a sticks and bricks home, but living a nomadic life isn’t conducive to gardening. So to fulfill my passion for flowers, I enjoy visiting public gardens of all kinds as well as seek out fields of wildflowers in nature wherever I can.
Wandering Wednesday Photo inspiration
For this weeks photo inspiration, prompt, challenge, theme (still haven’t decided what to call this 🤣) …. let’s share images of flowers.
Wandering Wednesday ….
Next weeks photo theme is – Patriotic and the following Wednesday will be – Food. Start searching through your archives or get out there and shoot. Let’s share and connect!
“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page” – Saint Augustine
I love this quote, but I’ll admit, the first time I read it I don’t believe it resonated with me then as much as it does now. Five years of traveling full-time in a RV has opened my eyes to all kinds of new experiences and landscapes.
I’ve always enjoyed travel which is probably why I pursued a career as a Flight Attendant when I was younger. But gallivanting around the country can be tiresome and sometimes a break from travel is exactly what the soul needs.
With that said, Al and I are doing a little ‘homesteading’ this summer in Prescott, Arizona. We’ve settled into an RV Park for the next several months while we focus on a little rejuvenation …. for us and our aging equipment!
Oh, that doesn’t mean we’ll be sitting in a couple of rocking chairs watching the world go by. No, not us! Hmm …. now that I think about it, does sitting outside with a cocktail in hand while watching the sunset count? Or how about binge watching Downton Abbey or House of Cards? Okay, maybe a little rocking chair time is part of the rejuvenation plan 😏 Yeah, a little down time and settling into a neighborhood is just what the doctor ordered. But anyone who knows me, knows I can’t sit still for too long.
Exploring the local life
So it’s time to explore some of the local sights and take in a little history. When I was younger, I rarely embraced history or historical sites. I’ve always enjoyed geography and studying maps, but the interest in history didn’t kick in until we started RVing full-time. Travel has a way of opening one’s mind!
First off, did you know Prescott was at one time the Capital City of Arizona? Yep, from 1864 to 1867 Prescott was the capital until 1867 when it then moved to Tucson but returned back to Prescott in 1877. Finally, the State Capital moved from Prescott to Phoenix in 1889 where it has remained.
Courthouse Square in Prescott, Arizona. Interesting timeline stamped into concrete
Historical information stamped into the concrete
Downtown Prescott, Arizona
Courthouse Square Prescott Arizona
Historical Palace Saloon
Our son and daughter join us for lunch at the Palace Saloon
Prescott’s downtown historical area is known as Whisky Row which up until 1956 was a notorious red-light district. In 1900, a great fire destroyed almost all of the buildings along Whiskey Row. Legend has it that the patrons of the various bars simply took their drinks across the street to the Courthouse square and watched the buildings burn, but the patrons of the Palace Restaurant and Saloon removed the entire bar and hauled it to the square as the fire approached. The solid wood bar was later re-installed after the gutted brick structure was rebuilt. That bar remains in use today.
The Palace Restaurant and Saloon was originally built in 1877, and was rebuilt after the 1900 fire. It is now the oldest continuous business in the entire state of Arizona. Past Patrons include the Earp Brothers and Doc Holliday and well-known movies have been filmed here.
Sharlot Hall Museum
I have fun using the term “homesteading” when Al and I park the RV for an extended period of time, but when I think of the pioneers homesteading after crossing the country in covered wagons, I’m reminded how cushy my life is in comparison.
Being a woman entrepreneur in the early 1900’s was no small feat. I’m always awed and inspired by strong women in history. Sharlot Hall was a poet, author, historian, activist and ranch woman whose passion to the preserve the Territorial Governor’s Mansion led to the making of this museum.
I happen to visit the museum on June 11, 2018, as the museum was celebrating its 90th anniversary. The grounds are lovely and each historical building I stepped into had a Docent dressed historically correct, and each Docent was eager to share their historical knowledge on their area of the museum.
Some of the on-site buildings ….
Governor’s Mansion – built on site in 1864, this log structure housed the first territorial governor, John Goodwin. In 1928, Sharlot Hall opened the log-building as a museum.
Across from the Governor’s Mansion is the Victorian Fremont House. Built in 1875, it was home to the fifth territorial governor of Arizona, John Charles Fremont.
The Bashford House was built in 1877 by merchant William Coles Bashford and is a beautifully restored Victorian style home.
The Ranch House was built in the 1930’s to represent early ranch homes of the area. It’s a little one room log structure. The Docent shared an interesting tale of the stove costing around $100 but the shipping cost was around $1500. That was a lot of money over a hundred years ago … hey, it’s still a lot of money today. Guess they didn’t have Amazon Prime free shipping back then 😆
Fort Misery is the oldest log building associated with the Arizona Territory. Built in 1863, here you’ll find the local attorney. Interesting that they would put the words misery and attorney together!
The School House building is a replica of the first public schoolhouse in the Arizona Territory which was built in Prescott in 1867. Each child’s chalk board reminded me of today’s iPad.
The Blacksmith Shop and Transportation Building were also interesting.
For a couple of hours, it was fun stepping back in time and imaging what life was like over 100 years ago. The Sharlot Hall Museum was a worthwhile stop that I was glad I took the time to visit.
Prescott is located in North Central Arizona and sits at an elevation of about 5,400 feet. The town has received numerous designations.
Prescott was designated “Arizona’s Christmas City” by Arizona Governor Rose Mofford in 1989.
2000: Downtown Historic Preservation District (which includes “Whiskey Row”) —one of 12 such National Register Historic Districts within the City.
2004: A “Preserve American Community” in 2004 by First Lady Laura Bush.
2006: One of a “Dozen Distinctive Destinations” by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
With temperatures heating up and an abundance of sunshine gracing the skies, it’s time to hit the water. I love hanging around a picturesque lake or soft sandy ocean beach. I’m not the greatest swimmer, but I do enjoy and embrace all kinds of boating. You’ll even see me jump at the chance to float down a meandering river on an inner tube … throw in some tiny rapids, and the ten year old within me will emerge complete with giggles and screams.
Oh yeah, I never tire of the sight of a beautiful body of water!
Considering nearly 40% of the United States population live in coastal counties, counties directly on the shoreline, I’d say I’m not alone in my passion for water.
For this weeks photo inspiration … theme … challenge (whatever we want to call it) I’ve chosen WATER. Let’s share some favorite water images.
From my archives
Digging through my archives I came across a couple of old photos that brought back fond memories ….
We loved our canoe trips to northern Minnesota …. especially to Gunflint Lake which is located north of the town of Grand Marais and Lake Superior. I wish the quality of this photograph was better. If you look close, our 2 year old daughter is sitting between my legs while our 4 year old son sits in the center of the canoe. The white blob behind our son is our first Brittany Spaniel dog, Dallas … great dog who loved these adventures.
We started these camping / canoeing vacations to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area years before we had children. Once the children arrived, they added another element and joy to our adventures and never stopped us from embarking on these excursions.
Share and connect …
Feel free to join in – comment and share your “water” photos!
Upcoming prompts to keep in mind …
Next Wednesday – Flowers
the following Wednesday – Patriotic (think fireworks, picnic, flags, etc)
Some places we visit will always hold a special place in our hearts and Crested Butte, Colorado is one of those places. We moved to Colorado in the mid nineties when our children were young, and the first Colorado mountain town we visited was Crested Butte.
This former flatlander from Illinois was awe-struck with the majestic snow-covered mountains surrounding Crested Butte. Our family of four was immediately smitten, and subsequent visits to this lovely Colorado mountain town ensued over the years.
Although our first visit to Crested Butte was during the winter, Crested Butte is every bit as much fun during the summer as it is in winter. The town may be known for its awesome skiing and winter fun, but summers offer a whole slew of other activities. As a matter of fact, Crested Butte is considered the birth place of mountain biking. Although, I’m sure there are plenty of folks that might disagree with this statement. There’s an ongoing debate about where mountain biking originated 😏
This quaint little mountain town is also considered the Wildflower Capital of Colorado and home to the Wildflower Festival held each July when the mountain meadows are covered in blooms. Once Al and I became empty nesters, we skipped the winter excursions to the mountains and focused on embracing those summer get aways.
A memorable trip
July 2012 – It’s three o’clock in the morning and the dog is shaking and can’t seem to get comfortable. He’s laying in the tent on a blanket near my side of the air mattress and he is clearly cold. I grab my hoody and cover him, and he falls back to sleep. I’m glad one of us can fall asleep so quickly.
After tossing and turning for a bit, I decide to step outside for a moment. I reluctantly throw off the two layers of sleeping bags and scurry to the foot of the air mattress to put on my shoes. No need to throw on clothes, since I’m already fully clothed in sweatpants and sweatshirt. It’s cold at three in the morning camped at 10,000 feet in elevation …. as in 36 degrees Fahrenheit cold and this being mid July 😯
I’m not sure whose idea the tent camping excursion was considering we had a new 5th wheel sitting on the side of our house. Okay, it was my idea! We were such newbies at the time with the RV that we weren’t comfortable pulling it to the Lake Irwin Campground near Kebler Pass. Plus, there were only a couple of first come first serve campsites that we felt we would comfortably fit into.
I quietly unzip the tent and crawl out. I’m immediately awestruck with the most incredible vision while my face is assaulted with a blast of cold air. The stars and crescent moon are so vivid and bright that I have no trouble seeing around the campsite. I stand there taking in the incredible beauty surrounding me before I’m reminded as to why I’m standing outside the tent at three in the morning …. and shivering.
Hmm, I contemplate the walk to the restroom down the road. This is serious bear and mountain lion country. Since I have no inclination of being some animal’s midnight snack, I quickly take care of business at the edge of our campsite. I continued to linger outside admiring the sky before the cold has me crawling back into a nice warm bed.
After what felt like only thirty minutes of sleep, I’m woken by a very restless Brittany Spaniel. It’s only 5:30 in the morning and I’ve decided to rename my sweet little Bear…..”damn dog”. (ya know, I love my Brittany Spaniel and wouldn’t trade him for the world, but he wants a walk at fricken 5:30 in the morning in the fricken cold while it’s still dark outside). Al remains sound asleep …. grrrr!
Damn dog and I go for a stroll, not venturing too far from our campsite. I’m the only two-legged creature out and about. Did I already mention we’re camped in bear and mountain lion country? I’m on alert! “Hurry up, damn dog”. Finally with his “business” complete, we return to the warmth of sleeping bags and try to catch a few more winks of sleep.
By seven o’clock, the sun is rising and I hear other campers in the distance. Al awakes and informs me how great he slept (damn husband). In a not so pleasant voice, sleep deprived wife tells damn husband and damn dog, “We’re going into town for breakfast. I need a cup of strong black coffee”.
We drive aimlessly around Crested Butte looking for a place for breakfast. Eventually, Al has me pull to the side of the road and stop. He jumps out of the truck and walks over to a pretty blonde lady watering flowers.
He and blonde lady chuckle in a flirtatious engaging way (do I really care? NO … need coffee). When Al hops back in the truck, he proceeds to tell me to drive up Elk Street three blocks. “Blonde lady says McGills serves a great breakfast”. It was indeed a good breakfast, BUT the coffee was amazing and just what I needed.
A full tummy and two cups of coffee later, we’re back to “dear husband” and “adorable Bear”. I love my boys! Al and I discuss exploratory options for the day, but first I need a little retail therapy.
We enter a T-shirt shop. Al and Bear head over to the counter where Al strikes up a conversation with the young man behind the counter. We love the fact that this town is so dog friendly that Bear is able to go with us everywhere exceptinside restaurants.
We’re the only ones in the store and during the course of idol chit-chat with the shop clerk, he notes we drive a Toyota Tacoma. He drives a Toyota 4-Runner, sister to the Tacoma lol, and immediately recommends a backcountry scenic loop drive that we must experience.
We’re given a complimentary map along with a few pointers and warnings from this knowledgable local. Two t-shirts later, we hit the road heading into the backcountry … ready to explore.
A scenic drive
We head up Slate River Road, just north of the town of Crested Butte. As expected, the pavement ends quickly. We pass some beautiful homes early in the journey. As we start to climb in elevation and the road starts to narrow, we see campers , ATVer’s as well as local wildlife.
A little further into the remote landscape, I finally start seeing some wildflowers. Up to this point I wondered, “Wildflower capital of Colorado”? Say what? The drought conditions severely affected the display of wildflowers during the summer of ’12. Even though the wildflowers weren’t impressive, the scenery was spectacular.
I usually drive during these exploratory excursions to maintain marital bliss, but more importantly to control photo-op stops. Yeah, I can go a little overboard with the photo-op stopping which can get a tad annoying for a non photographer 🤗 Besides, Al says he likes being chauffeured around by a pretty lady. Awe, ain’t that sweet!
We continue up Slate River Road. It’s narrow but in good condition. This one-lane road is meant for two-way traffic which is why we like driving the Tacoma in lieu of the F-250 while exploring mountainous backcountry.
We pass the turn for Washington Gulch Road and continue toward Schofield Pass. The road gets narrower and more precarious. I can’t imagine two vehicles fitting on this road.
As we come around a blind switch back, we encounter a truck loaded with people heading toward us. The pickup truck is colored lime green and set up kind of like an open air safari vehicle with bench seating in the rear. “Oh dear! We are going to need to pass each other!”
I need to back up and get us as close to the side of the mountain as possible (thank goodness, I have the inside). The other truck and I both pull in our outside mirrors and we slowly pass each other within inches. He’s the one on the outside edge and I can see his tourist passengers are wide-eyed and a tad nervous. One slip, and down the mountain they roll. Once we successfully passed each other, the driver waves and comments, “Thanks, we got’er”, and the passengers started clapping. Since this is Wildflower Festival week, there are all kinds of additional tours, vehicle traffic and activities planned throughout the week.
We’re on the other side of Mt. Baldy now and we stop for a much-needed break. The scenery is breathtaking. Al checks his phone and is shocked. “It works!” No cell reception at the Lake Irwin campground, but it works up here.
This stretch of road is tame and easily navigated. Wish it had all been like this.
After a few photo-ops near Schofield Pass, we retrace that ledge of a road back to the Washington Gulch turn, all the while I pray I won’t have to pass anyone. That would put me on the outside edge … yikes! Fortunately my prayers are answered, and we don’t meet another vehicle for quite some time.
Washington Gulch Road does present its own challenges with a small creek crossing, but nothing the little truck can’t handle. We also noticed a few RV’s boondocking off Washington Gulch Road.
(We were such RV newbies at that time, that we couldn’t imagine pulling our brand new RV to any of the boondocking locations we saw. Now? Piece of cake and we wouldn’t give it a second thought. But then again, our RV ain’t so new anymore … as evidenced by the dings and scratches and as one person recently referred to us …. we’re “seasoned” RVers 😏)
What a great Day!
We had such a fabulous time exploring this stunningly beautiful landscape that I would highly recommend this excursion to anyone with a high clearance vehicle. However, please check at the local visitor center in the town of Crested Butte for up to date road conditions, and do note, there are some areas where the road is literally cut into the side of a mountain causing severe drop-offs. Thus, I don’t recommend it for anyone with a fear of heights.
For a more tame backcountry excursion, we enjoyed driving Route 12 from Crested Butte to the tiny town of Paonia. Paonia is a small community with wineries, lavender and agricultural fields. No four-wheel drive needed when we took this drive in July of 2012. Please verify and double-check road conditions before embarking on this remote stretch of road over Kebler Pass.
Quaking Aspen at Kebler Pass
As Al and I continued to explore Colorado’s backcountry near Crested Butte, we take in the sights and sounds of the stunning terrain. We travel from open mountain meadows, through scented pine forests, and pass through densely populated aspen groves.
The unique sound of quaking Aspen Leaves lures us in. The sound has us wondering if there’s a gentle waterfall in the distance or is it merely the fluttering of aspen leaves?
This particular grove or colony of aspen trees along Kebler Pass is derived from a single seedling and spread by means of root suckers. New stems in a colony may grow as far away as 130 feet from the parent tree. It’s kind of like there’s one mommy tree and all the rest of the aspen trees are children. Fascinating!
An individual tree can live 40-150 years above ground, but the root system of the colony can live for hundreds of years. Legend has it, the aspen tree can drive off evil spirits. An aspen stake was believed to be one of the few weapons suitable to kill a vampire🧛♂️
Colorado is synonymous with this famous white-barked tree, adorning golden leaves in the fall. Colorado gold comes in many forms. Beautiful golden leaves dotting the landscape and the peaceful sound of quaking leaves are just a couple more reasons to love Colorado!
For Coffee Lovers
After three days and four nights of tent camping near picturesque Crested Butte, it was time for us to break camp and head home, BUT first, we needed (or rather I needed) to have breakfast one more time at McGill’s to drink up some more of that yummy coffee.
Al is not normally a coffee drinker and when he does drink coffee he sticks with one of those designer concoctions like a macchiato or mocha, but after trying my cup of black coffee, he ordered a cup for himself 😲
While the waitress was refilling our coffee mugs, we mentioned how good the coffee was. She was quick to share the name and location of the local coffee roasters and the blend McGill’s uses.
With that said, we couldn’t possibly leave town without a visit to this coffee roaster. Camp 4 Coffee is a locally owned Crested Butte business and has a cute little shop just down the road from McGill’s.
There was no way I was leaving town without a bag or two of Camp 4 Coffee. I purchased a couple of pounds of the Sledgehammer roast and a pound of the Blue Mesa blend which is the blend McGill’s serves.
Can you believe, after thirty plus years of marriage, I turned Al into a coffee drinker thanks to Camp 4 Coffee. He still prefers those designer coffee concoctions, but when I splurge and buy a special roast, he’ll join me in drinking his coffee black. Wonders never cease!
Yep, Crested Butte, Colorado remains one of our favorite mountain towns and holds special memories for our family!
Can you believe I shot over 4,800 photographs during our five week stay camped near the Arizona – Utah border? That’s almost 1,000 photos a week. Yikes! Thank goodness digital photography is free, but then again, if I were paying for film I assure you that shutter wouldn’t have clicked nearly that often.
I’ll admit, I am bad at culling and deleting photographs which does present a problem for my poor laptop. So as the hard-drive on my computer fills up, I transfer the files to a couple of external drives which frees up the laptop … much to my computer’s delight.
During the past week, I’ve been hard at work performing this task of photo file transfer, and while at it, I started reviewing some photographs from years past. Oh what fond memories, and I realized I need a reason to sift through these photos more often.
Question of the day
So the big question of the day is what should I do with all these photographs? What do YOU do with all your photographs? Since I live in a RV, space is obviously an issue. Therefore, I rarely print out any of my photographs, but I do like to share them. Although I have shared a great number of photographss here on the blog, there are still bunches of photographs that haven’t been shared, and photos I’ve even forgotten about. Hmm! The wheels in my head started turning ….
Through the Lens
Looking at life and landscapes through the lens of my camera has made me more observant. I see and notice things more acutely. My camera and this blog have given me added purpose … reason to explore, reason to photograph, reason to visit new places, reason to connect with YOU.
With that in mind, I’ve decided to make Wednesday’s my day to post photos with a theme in mind … kind of like the photo challenges and prompts we’ve been exposed to via blogging on WordPress. I’ll come up with an inspiration and share photos from either my archives or go in search with camera in hand – a purpose. I’m hoping you’ll join in and share your own photos pertaining to the weeks inspirational subject.
Let’s share and connect… join me in sharing photographs every Wednesday. Feel free to link back to this site, and/or leave a comment, but be sure your Gravatar is linked correctly so we can easily pop over and visit your site!
If you don’t write a blog, that’s okay, I’d still love for you to join in the Wandering Wednesday photo inspiration and hopefully leave a comment. Perhaps the inspiration will give you purpose to pick up your camera or smart phone for a little shutter clicking or maybe it’ll serve as the impetus to go through your own collection of photographs.
For my first photo inspiration, let’s post a photograph (s) of an animal / wildlife. This could be a simple photograph of a cute little bunny rabbit in your backyard, or your favorite pet, or that of a wild animal seen in nature or at a zoo. More than anything else, I hope the photograph is an image that’s special to you … an image that provokes emotion, or a fond memory, or the making of the image challenges you in some way.
We’ve been camped in a RV Park in Prescott, Arizona for the past six weeks and I’ve barely touched my camera. Far cry from my shutter clicking in April, huh! RV Parks are usually not my preferred method of accommodation. I’d much rather be in a national park, national forest or state park surrounded by nature, but sometimes life dictates otherwise …. and those full hook-ups are awfully nice…. oh yeah, love the hook-ups!
Even though a RV Park is not normally at the top of my list, I’m extremely happy with my summer ‘home’. I’m beyond pleased with my RV site as well as my view here in Prescott Valley, Arizona. There’s a fenced open field just across the road from my RV site where cattle and antelope graze.
Taken with Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 106mm (35mm equivalent 590mm)
I was ecstatic to capture a couple of images of this sweet pregnant gal grazing. Antelope (proper name is pronghorn) are usually skittish and capturing a closeup image can be challenging, but with my zoom lens and a very slight crop, I think this photograph of her turned out well. Check out those eyelashes!
The day after these photos were taken, I didn’t see her again. I’m sure she delivered her little one by now and is staying hidden. But trust me, I’m forever on the lookout.
Wandering Wednesday’s Photo Inspiration
I’ve put together a list of upcoming photo inspirations (or should I call them themes, challenges, prompts 🤔) for the next few Wednesday’s. I hope you’ll join me by sharing your photos.
Ever get that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach that says life has been so good lately that something bad is bound to happen? Just how bad, I never know, but my gut is usually right.
April 2018 – We had a fabulous month hanging out at Lake Powell. As a matter of fact, it was one of our more enjoyable stays anywhere, which was totally unexpected. Although we’ve visited Page, Arizona, on several occasions in the past and always enjoyed our visits, we didn’t have any high expectations for this excursion.
Over the years, I’ve noticed when I am super excited about a certain trip, my expectations are rarely met. Yet, when I have low expectations, I’m usually pleasantly surprised and sometimes whelmed beyond my wildest dreams. And such was the case this past April.
Oh, don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t what I’d call a perfect trip, which we all know doesn’t exist, but it was still awesome. We’re still trying to rid ourselves of all the sand we accumulated during those sand storms while camping on a beach. Even a month and several vacuumings later, we’re still discovering sand in various nooks and crannies. Ah, but it was so worth it!
On the one hand, we were very sad to pack up and leave, but on the on the other hand, we were ready for a change of scenery as well as moving closer to our children.
It was the end of April and a beautiful sunny Sunday morning. After dumping our tanks, we were rolling down the two lane highway by 8:00 a.m. Al took the lead in the F-250 pulling the 5th wheel while I followed behind in the Toyota Tacoma. With my Tom Petty CD playing, I settled into the drive while admiring the view. That contentment didn’t last long as I was startled by the sound of a loud boom followed by debris flying in the air.
Only thirty minutes into our drive, a tire on the RV blew. (This post contains affiliate links). Fortunately, I was following far enough behind the RV that I wasn’t hit by any flying debris. I quickly radioed Al to inform him of the blown tire, which he seemed aware of but was glad for the confirmation. We quickly found a safe spot to pull over and began to get to work.
Sure we have roadside assistance, but it was a Sunday morning and who knew how long the wait might be for help to arrive. Plus Al and I were on some sort of roll. During the past month, we’d spent a fair amount of time exploring some remote back country on some rutted dirt/gravel roads. In so doing, the bed of the Tacoma was loaded with emergency provisions. In other words, we prepared ourselves for a flat tire, breaking down, or getting stuck in any number of ways. We do our best to be self-sufficient.
This is the second time our Viair Portable Compressor has come in handy. We normally keep it stored in the belly of the RV, but because of all the off roading we had done during the previous few weeks in the Tacoma, the air compressor, hydraulic jack and lug wrench were all in my backseat and easily retrieved.
I’m not sure why we maintained our jovial spirits, but we did. Five years ago when we first started this journey, I would’ve been near tears and concerned when confronted with this mishap. Today? I view it as a mere inconvenience that had me recalculating the schedule of the day. And when you think about it, a flat tire is so much easier to deal with than engine trouble!
Less than two hours later the spare was installed and we were on the road again heading south on highway 89 in northern Arizona. We had about a three hour drive in front of us, but we had planned to break up that drive by pulling over somewhere for lunch …. which was all prepared and waiting for us in the RV refrigerator. Traveling with your home in tow is the best and the only way I like to travel these days.
The rest of the day was uneventful and smooth sailing, thank goodness. When we pulled into our planned boondocking location near Cottonwood, Arizona, we snagged a nice slice of land to call home for a couple of nights.
Two days later, we hit the road again and an hour later we pulled into our summer ‘home’ (with the spare still on the RV). Fortunately, our one hour drive went without incidence.
I had concerns that I wasn’t going to like my RV site since the RV Park wouldn’t confirm which site they intended to assign us when I called a few days earlier to confirm our reservation. Turns out, they did assign us the site that I requested. This was one time I was glad my gut was wrong. I’m super pleased they were able to accommodate my request.
Yep, this’ll work nicely for the next few months while we tend to some maintenance on our equipment as well as some dental issues. Oh and did I mention my son (who lives in Phoenix) is getting married this August? The wedding planning is in full swing and I love being only an hour away so I can join in on any preparations or festivities. Should be a fun summer!
Products we used during the day of our travel. Note – affiliate links
Stopping in at a local visitor center is the perfect way I like to start exploring a new area. The first time Al and I camped at Ridgway State Park was the first time we experienced this part of western Colorado, and I couldn’t wait to dive in and explore.
Last Dollar Road – back way to Telluride, CO
And by diving in and exploring, that meant taking the roads less traveled. One of the activities that is super popular around the town of Ouray, Colorado, is 4×4 back country travel. If you don’t have your own 4×4, there are several businesses eager to rent you a Jeep, ATV, or UTV or you can sign up for a guided tour. Free maps are available noting these back roads with a designation from easy to difficult.
This is another reminiscing post about our travels to western Colorado. Although, I will truly miss a Colorado excursion this summer, new adventures await here in Arizona.
Roads less traveled
It was July 2013 …. Al and I review the atlas and peruse all the information we picked up at the Ridgway State Park visitor center. From the state park to the mountain ski town of Telluride should be about a one hour drive if we stay on the main roads. Al and I talk about it, and contemplate our route. “Hmm, we have all day. What’s the hurry?” one of us asks.
This southwest part of Colorado was a buzz of mining activity in the 1800’s. Even Telluride’s logo is that of a miner’s pick. This mining activity created a multitude of back roads throughout the picturesque San Juan Mountains.
Today these back roads are available for Jeeps and OHV (off highway vehicles).
Some of these back roads are assessable by regular automobiles, but most require high clearance, and others demand four-wheel drive capabilities. The roads might be gravel, dirt, rock or any combination of the three.
Last Dollar Road – this road is classified as “easy”
The back way to Telluride
My little red four-wheel drive Toyota Tacoma should be able to handle most of the roads we were interested in and researched. Al and I err on the side of caution and pick a couple of “easy” roads to explore …. one of which is called the “Last Dollar Road”. As far as mileage goes, this is a shorter traveling distance to Telluride than taking the main roads. However, time wise it would be double. Obviously, we won’t be driving this road at 60 miles per hour.
some ruts were a little deep, but no problem for us.
For the most part, it was an easy drive even though there were some mud puddles from the storms the day before. The visitor center publication was informative, spot on, and we were glad to have read it before hand. Some of the ruts, mud, and water would definitely present a problem for a vehicle without a high clearance. We encountered no problems, and the drive presented some amazing scenery complete with wildflowers.
It was the end of July and the wildflowers were starting to wane, but I was still thrilled with the tufts of color here and there.
The drive from Ridgway State Park to Telluride took us about two hours and that included all the photo-op stops. I didn’t think that was too bad considering the slow speed that the road necessitated. It was a beautiful drive that I would do again in a heartbeat. Plus it wasn’t too challenging of a drive and was relatively easy to navigate.
I might venture to say, mid July and mid September would be the two most perfect months to explore these back roads. Wildflowers in mid July are at their peak and fall colors mid to end of September are at their peak.
Once in Telluride, we stopped at the visitor center in town to gather up some local information. Al always likes to ask locals for lunch recommendations.
We found ourselves at a kind of sports bar housed in an old house off a side street. It appears to be a favorite with locals. Lunch was good, but nothing special, and I’m not sure I’d return, especially with so many other restaurants to try.
After lunch we headed over to the gondola station for a ride up and over the summit to Mountain Village. The folks at the visitor center highly recommended this. Pretty cool that the ride is free considering other mountain towns in Colorado charge upwards of $25 per person for their gondolas. The Gondola here in Telluride operates year round free of charge and is a common form of public transportation for workers, school children, mountain bikers, hikers, and of course, tourists. Oh, and it’s pooch friendly too.
On the way to the gondola, we encountered a farmer’s market and quickly took notes as to some potential purchases we should make before heading home. A grocery list quickly formed in my head!
Once we arrived at the gondola, we noticed all the mountain bikers and hikers. The Telluride side of the mountain is pretty steep while the Mountain Village side appears to be more moderate. That’s where these two young mountain bikers were heading. They’ll disembark at the summit and ride their bikes back down toward the town of Mountain Village. We also saw quite a few hikers doing this as well. There appeared to be very few hiking or biking down on the Telluride side of the mountain. Too steep perhaps!
With our ‘tourist’ day coming to an end, we picked up some goodies at the local farmers market held on Friday mornings during the summer months, and promised each other future visits to this beautiful mountain town would be a must.
For our return drive to the RV, we took the highway back to Ridgway State Park and arrived about an hour later. I’ll admit, even the scenery via the highway was lovely, although not quite as beautiful or adventurous as taking the Last Dollar Road but lovely just the same.
It was a great day exploring amongst some breathtaking scenery and we couldn’t wait to tackle another back country road.
Another back country road
From our campsite at Ridgway State Park, I had an unobstructed view of unique rock formations known as Courthouse Mountain and Chimney Rock. My curiosity was piqued and I once again scoured the maps and information that I’d picked up at the visitor center. The map indicates there’s a back country road labeled as easy that will take me closer to this mountain range.
We catch County Road 10 just a couple of minutes south of our camp at Ridgway State Park and head east toward Chimney Rock. The road is wide and gravel and no four-wheel drive is necessary. We pass some of the most beautiful ranches with unbelievable views.
Somewhere along this stretch is the field where they filmed John Wayne taking on the bad guys in the movie “True Grit”…. reins in teeth and guns a-blazing.
We continue our trek up and over Owl Creek Pass toward Silver Jack Reservoir. Although the road is gravel, it’s in great shape and easy to negotiate. This is the perfect drive for anyone who has a problem with altitude because it doesn’t go much above 10,000 feet in elevation and there aren’t any sheer drop offs for those with a fear of heights.
It’s a great excursion easing oneself into the remote countryside. However, the views aren’t nearly as spectacular as the other mountain passes. Much of this road meanders through forested land.
Silver Jack Reservoir and Campground is about a 21 mile drive from Highway 550 and not the preferred route for RV’s. The easier route to take for campers would be from the town of Cimarron off Highway 50.
The Silver Jack Campground sits in a forest of Aspen and Pine trees in the Uncompahgre National Forest. Some of the sites are large enough to accommodate our 31′ Fifth Wheel, but there’s no internet service. We couldn’t even get one bar on our phones 😦 We didn’t find the reservoir to be easily accessible, finding only one road leading down to the water’s edge. There were, however, numerous hiking trails.
This was another great driving excursion offering us some beautiful scenery and solitude.
Still on my list
Our time in the area was over before we knew it, and I still had a few more back country excursions on my list. Unfortunately, those roads will have to wait for another time…. there’s Imogene Pass and Engineer Pass, but the Yankee Boy Basin Road remained at the top of my list. It’s classified as moderate and four-wheel drive is highly recommended. We shouldn’t have any trouble driving Yankee Boy Basin with the Tacoma, but it would be a more challenging drive than Owl Creek Pass or Last Dollar Road.
Mid July, when wildflowers are blooming, would be the perfect time to visit and do a little high country hiking at the end of this out and back road – that is, if I think I can handle the high altitude.
For those of us looking for an “extreme” Colorado adventure, check out this video of Black Bear Pass. This is the one pass vehicle rental companies will not allow you to drive with their equipment. If you do not have your own Jeep/UTV or you don’t feel experienced enough to negotiate this treacherous pass, but are still interested in experiencing this adrenal filled excursion, there are tours available in the town of Ouray – something that’s on my bucket list.
Black Bear Pass is a one way single lane road starting from just outside of the town of Ouray and traversing up and over the mountain into the town of Telluride. The road is only open starting sometime in July and closing sometime in September. Because there have been fatalities, (ya know – folks rolling off the side of the mountain) there are talks of closing off access to this high country pass. So knowing that, would you be interested in such an excursion? I’m game, if you are!
Another glorious day, the air as delicious to the lungs as nectar to the tongue – John Muir