Two Cents Tuesday Challenge – Silly

Last week we met up with some folks in the beautiful town of Telluride, Colorado.  This famous ski town located in southwest Colorado is full of charm and character…. graced with stunning scenery, fun eateries, plenty of festivals, and frequented by Hollywood stars.

Telluride Colorado
The town of Telluride. Photo taken from the Gondola

Telluride has a low-key vibe and lack of pretentiousness that has Al and me coming back at every opportunity; not that we’ve had that many opportunities mind you.  As a matter of fact, last week will only make our third visit to this awesome mountain town.  The reason for the visit, even though we don’t really need a reason, was to meet up with fellow bloggers Barb and Maynard.

Elk in Colorado
As we approach the town of Telluride, we see a herd of Elk in the distance.
Elk in Colorado
I zoom in on this female Elk
Smuggler's Brew Pub
The main street in Telluride. Photo taken last summer.

Al and I always get a kick out of meeting folks from the blogosphere.  Sometimes we have a vague idea of what they look like, but many times we don’t….. especially if they don’t write a blog themselves.  Then we not only don’t know what they look like but also don’t know anything about them.   However, they sure have plenty of info on us from this blog.

That said, Maynard and I started communicating via email when he realized our travels would be taking us in similar directions at similar times.  He and I set up a date, time, and place to meet – Smuggler’s Brew Pub in Telluride.

Al and I entered the Pub and I was immediately greeted with a “INGRID” followed by a huge hug.  Ok….. I assumed this must be Maynard LOL. The four of us continued introductions and when we realized the Smuggler’s Brew Pub wouldn’t be ready for the lunch service for a while (can’t always believe what you read on the internet), I stepped up to the plate as tour guide.  This was Maynard and Barb’s first visit to Telluride.

I whisked hubby and my 2 blog followers toward the gondola for a bird’s-eye view of Telluride.  The gondola is viewed as public transportation and is free to the public.  (“Hey, Aspen – you might want to take note”.)  Little did I realize, Barb was none too fond of heights or gondolas.  Oops, perhaps I should’ve asked!  The three of us did manage to poke a little fun at her, and she was a good sport, but when I went to open the window…..she was quick to exuberantly exclaim “NO!”, thinking I was going to open the door.  It’s locked, silly 😉

Telluride Colorado
Me behind Barb….she had no idea what Maynard had gotten her into!

After that little sightseeing tour, it was back to the Smuggler’s Brew Pub where the guys imbibed in a brew called “Debauchery”.  Need I say more?  Drinks and lunch were delicious and we would definitely recommend the place.

Telluride Colorado
Maynard being silly

Following lunch, the tour guide reappeared for a side trip to Bridal Veil Falls.  Since this visit was still early in the season, the one lane gravel road up to the base of the falls was closed.  So a long distance view would need to suffice.  Maynard and I had our cameras out and there were lots of joking and silliness going on.  Turns out, hubby and I were Maynard and Barb’s FIRST blogger meet up.  Ta, da….. virgins no longer!

Bridal Veil Falls Telluride
Maynard and Barb on the left – Al and me on the right – Bridal Veil Falls in the background

Obviously, Al and I are working on our social skills; overcoming our shy, quiet, conservative, and introverted ways…….        I know – SILLY!

Two cents Tuesday Challenge – Silly
Of course – I know it’s Friday and I’m posting a “Tuesday” Challenge.  I’m still within rule #4. Perhaps I’ll post a Friday challenge on a Tuesday.  I do live on ‘RV’ time after all  🙂

Tony Northrup’s DSLR Book: How to Create Stunning Digital Photography

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The Back Road to Telluride

Telluride, Colorado has been on my radar for quite sometime.  Although I’ve called Colorado’s Front Range home for nearly eighteen years, between work and children there never seemed to be enough time to explore Colorado’s Western Slope until now.

Lost Dollar
Last Dollar Road on the way to Telluride, CO

Al and I review the atlas and peruse all the info we picked up at the Ridgway State Park Visitor center.  From Ridgway State Park to the mountain ski town of Telluride should be about an hours drive if we stick to the main roads.  Hmm, we have all day.  What’s the hurry?

TellurideThis southwest part of the state 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 4 wheel drive capabilities.  The roads might be gravel, dirt, rock or any combination of the three.

Last Dollar Road
Last Dollar Road – this road is classified as “easy”

My little red 4 wheel drive Toyota Tacoma should be able to handle most of the roads we researched.  However, Al and I err on the side of caution and pick a couple of “easy” roads to explore this week.  One of which is called the “Last Dollar Road”.  As far as mileage goes, this should be a shorter traveling distance to Telluride than taking the main roads.  However, time wise…..double.  Obviously, I won’t be taking this puppy at 60 miles per hour.

Last Dollar Road
some ruts were a little deep, but no problem for us.

For the most part, it was an easy drive even though we veered to the left at a fork in the road.  The publication informed us a left at the fork would be a little more challenging.  Some of the ruts, mud, and water would definitely present a problem for a vehicle without a high clearance.  For us, it wasn’t a problem and the drive presented some amazing scenery complete with wildflowers.Telluride

Telluride

Telluride

It’s the end of July and the wildflowers are starting to wane, but I’m still thrilled with the tuffs of color here and there.  All the more reason for us to return to this area next July during the peak of wildflower season.Telluride

The drive from Ridgway State Park to Telluride took us about two hours and that included all the stops for photo ops.  Not bad, and it sure was pretty.

TellurideOnce in Telluride, we stop at the visitor center.  Al always likes to ask locals where they enjoy eating.  We find ourselves at a kind of sports bar  housed in an old house off a side street.  It appears to be a favorite among locals.  Lunch was delish!

After lunch we head over to the Gondola station for a free Gondola ride up and over the summit to Mountain Village.  On our walk to the Gondola, we encountered a farmer’s market and quickly took notes as to some potential purchases on our return to the vehicle.  No sense in carrying stuff for the next hour.

GondolaThe Gondola operates year round free of charge and is a common form of transportation for workers, school children, mountain bikers, and hikers….and then of course there’s folks like Al and me – tourists.  Oh, and it’s pooch friendly as well.

The Telluride side of the mountain is pretty darn steep.  The Mountain Village side appears to be more moderate.  That’s where these two young boys are headed.  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.  We saw very few heading down on the Telluride side of the mountain.Telluride

Telluride

With our ‘tourist’ day coming to an end, we pick up some goodies at the farmer’s market and promise each other a return trip to this beautiful mountain town.  We take the highway back to Ridgway State Park and arrive in about an hour.  I’ll admit, even the scenery via the highway was lovely……not quite as beautiful as the Last Dollar Road but lovely just the same.  It’ll be tough to top this awesome day!Telluride

Moving on!

We bid farewell to our daughter and point the RV west.  Shortly after turning onto Interstate 70, we feel the slight climb in elevation starting.  No surprise since we need to go from Denver’s elevation of 5,280 feet (the mile high city) to the Eisenhower Tunnel (the summit) at 11,158 feet.  We have to cross the Continental Divide somehow.

Interstate 70
Interstate 70 west bound

Interstate 70

Colorado

Eisenhower tunnel
Entering the Eisenhower Tunnel

This steady climb accompanied by plenty of turns, proves to be a challenge for some vehicles.  The loaded down semi-trucks, vehicles pulling trailers, and other vehicles not used to the thin air struggle to maintain any speed in excess of 30 miles per hour as they trudge up the mountains in the right hand lane.  I envision a little train engine and hear a voice…..”I think I can, I think I can, I think I can……” as they struggle to cross the Rocky Mountains.

Now the Mario Andretti wanna be’s in the left hand lane are another story.  They’re whizzing up the mountain in excess of 80 mph hugging the turns and enjoying the challenging drive.  It’s best to get out of their way!

Rocky Mountains
Approaching the Eisenhower tunnel

Al and I opt to sit in the center lane (as long as we have three lanes ) driving at a steady speed of 65 mph…..the speed limit…. I believe, through this stretch of interstate anyway.  It’ll pop up to 75 mph down the road a ways.  The F-250 pulls the 5th wheel over Loveland Pass without any trouble.  The Eisenhower Tunnel – Loveland Pass marks the first of two mountain passes we’ll encounter today.  You can click here for more information on the tunnel.  At Vail Pass we’ll encounter another climb and summit.

Eisenhower tunnel
Eisenhower tunnel at Loveland Pass
Eisenhower tunnel
The Eisenhower tunnel

When we exit the tunnel, we are greeted with a gorgeous view and a downhill drive.  There are several ‘runaway truck ramps’ along this stretch of interstate 70.  We take our time going down the mountain and stay in the right hand lane.  Within about 10 to 15 minutes of exiting the tunnel and after the Dillon exit, is a scenic overlook worth a stop.

Rocky Mountains
Interstate 70 continues with a sharp left and down. Runaway truck ramp straight ahead
Lake Dillon
Lake Dillon scenic overlook…..westbound on interstate 70

When we moved from Chicago to Las Vegas, our daughter was a mere 3 years of age.  This view made an indelible impression on that little girl, to the point she would regularly say, “When I a big girl, I move to mountains”.  And move she did.  I don’t see that girl leaving Colorado anytime soon.

Traffic is light today and we don’t encounter any construction delays on our three hour drive to Glenwood Springs.  I enjoy the drive through Glenwood Canyon.  I once again marvel at the construction of this stretch of interstate 70 and savor the beauty of my surroundings.  I’ve written about this stretch of road before, click here.

Glenwood Canyon
Glenwood Canyon – Interstate 70 west bound

Once we get to Glenwood Springs, we head south on Highway 82.  Al found us a private property on line to spend a couple of nights.  But did he get directions? Nope, just google mapped it.  So we drive around some back country roads in search of the property before finally calling the owner.  Gosh, we were close….very close actually.  The address was slightly off making it impossible to find on google maps.  We did pretty good, considering.  Yep, a few pats on the back for both of us and Al gets a special pat for being able to turn the rig around in some rather tight spots.  We drove up the road a ways, then back down, then back up….you get the picture!

Glenwood Springs
Hmm….where is this place we plan to camp for the night?
Glenwood Springs
Going back up the road the way we just came looking for our home for the night
Glenwood Springs
This can’t be the right road! Time to call the home owner. Sure hope we can turn around.

Once we finally find the right spot, we get settled in.   We’re pretty pleased with our little “home” for the next two nights.Colorado

The next day we take the scenic drive down Highway 82 from Glenwood Springs to Aspen.  It’s been twenty-five years since I last visited this area in Colorado.  I wonder, will I be in awe as much as I was all those years ago?……..  Al and I were celebrating our five year wedding anniversary with a trip to Colorado.  We flew from Chicago to Denver and rented a car to take in the sights of Colorado.  The only other time I had seen the Rocky Mountains was on a road trip Al and I took earlier in our relationship.

AspenAspen is a beautiful mountain town.  However, after calling Colorado “home” for the past eighteen years, I’m not wowed.  I guess I’ve been fortunate to see some pretty spectacular scenery.  Aspen is missing the vast, open vistas seen in other places.  The traffic is congested and parking is difficult.  We did enjoy the abundance of outdoor cafes and the beautiful flowers everywhere.

Twenty-five years ago, we took the gondola to the top of the mountain.  As a flatlander, this was a very memorable experience.  At that time in our lives, we didn’t understand Colorado weather and the regular afternoon thunderstorms that roll in.  Lightening is serious business around here and once lightening is spotted, all outdoor activities come to a screeching halt.  Al and I had no sooner purchased a hot dog and drink to enjoy atop of this stunning mountain, when we were asked to leave.  The mountain top was shutting down due to weather.  Really?

AspenThis time around, Al and I are a little lot wiser.  Al and I are on the fence about taking the gondola to the top, but with storm clouds in the distance and a price of $28 per person, we decide to take a pass.  Smart move on our part as the storm starting rolling in thirty minutes later.

Although our time in this area is over, I would definitely like to return and explore the backcountry near Snowmass.  I’ll be doing some research. Any recommendations on the area and the Maroon Bells is welcome.  Next stop, Grand Junction.wildflower