Archives for posts with tag: Colorado

This past week has been a whirlwind of seeing family with whom I really haven’t been able to have a direct connect with since after Ava’s death in 2012. Yes, I have “seen” them but haven’t had “quality” time to spend with them for a myriad of reasons and this visit has been wonderful!

Gosh, I’m so in love with ALL my Chirrens of blood and by adoption! And, now after this trip to Boulder, I have two more! One of whom I met at the Cork Restaurant in Boulder! Hey there, “G”!

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The Cork Restaurant in Boulder, CO.

I guess I should start by saying that although Boulder isn’t a city I’d visit if it weren’t for my loved ones living there because it’s just too busy, too residential, too many bicycles EVERYWHERE, it is very clean and perfect for raising children in a safe environment. It’s just not my cup o’ jo. I like dirt and lots of it.

However, I do love those snow capped mountains once you escape suburbia and a  little town not terribly dissimilar from my own called Nederland, Colorado. It’s tucked in the Rocky mountains. Like my town, Nederland has a very small residential population but have several festivals every year which can bring tens of thousands of visitors. I had a hard time visualizing where all those people would go…or even stay, for that matter…and still do!

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Yup. Small town, Nederland, CO

But for the festivals, I could, for a moment, see myself living in this little town because of the wonderful people I met there! Here’s a shout out to Winston, Chris and all the other people we met while we were there. It’s worth a trip there but check out their  it’s festival schedules first!

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Of course I had to go into the Renaissance Woman store in Nederland, CO. I told the owner all about our Atlanta Little Five Points area and their annual Halloween Parade!

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When my sister and I were traveling the turquoise trail, we ran into a similar shop like this so it was only fitting for her eldest daughter and I to go into Wings of Lace Boutique, Nederland, CO and do some shopping! Hey, Chris!

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Remember what I said about bicycles being EVERYWHERE! Here’s proof! This is Solta Restaurant, Nederland, CO and the young man behind the counter looks like a young man Mark’s twin. Mark was like a son to me and chose to leave us way too soon and has been on my mind a great deal this month.  Both were from Austin and moved to Colorado! I almost fell out! 

After seeing all the mountainous terrain of I-70 West of Boulder, CO to Green River, UT via I-70 from studying Google, I was quite apprehensive if not anxious about driving it. However, my niece’s husband, who is extremely familiar with this highway, talked me down out of the tree with some good info. And I’m so very glad! The trip West was marvelous! My favorite park was driving through the river gorge, but that is always my favorite part of any drive!

See what you think!

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I-70 West – First snow capped view!

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Mountains galore!

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River Gorge driving just shivers me timbers!

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Golden trees everywhere!

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I be comin’ ’round the bend!

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This just doesn’t do it justice but…

Well, this travelin’ woman is just about done in for today so, Happy Trails…until we meet again!

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Eagle Nest, New Mexico is so wonderfully peaceful that I drove out of my way for my R&R. The lake is nestled in the bowl of these wonderful mountains. The town is small and quaint and affords one of the activities I enjoy the most about my travels which is meeting and getting to know locals. And, it was this pristine, magical place that helped me prepare for what came next!
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Mountains surround this valley

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This lake is huge!

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Mountains in the background hugging this lake filled valley.

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Cimarron Canyon State Park was the prelude to Eagle Nest.

Driving from Eagle Nest, New Mexico to Boulder, Colorado just about did this ole Road Warrior Eagle in! The wind all along I-25 was as challenging as Texas but instead of 18-wheelers (of which there was NONE), I was faced with getting behind open cattle trailers with every excrement known to a cowhand flying onto the front of my windshield  coupled with crazy California-type drivers jumping lanes. Add to that 30-40 MPH winds slapping me around all the way up to just outside of Denver. 
 
So, I stayed in the far right lane to avoid as many of the Cali-type drivers as possible opting for the cattle excrement!
And then…the 40 MPH crosswinds came. Just like Texas…cattle trailers and all. I fought the whole scene for hours…and then Denver. There are almost as many aggressive, inconsiderate, rubber-necking drivers in Denver as LA based on population ratios. Their rubber-necking would put Georgia’s to shame. FIVE MILES of traffic was backed up going both north and south because of a truck on the side of the road being loaded onto a wrecker! For real!
I thought that, once past the clog, all would start to flow again especially now that the cattle trailer had exited but I was so wrong. It was start/stop, cut in front of me all the way into, in and past Denver. Silly me, I’d forgotten this type of I-25 insanity from my 2016 trip to Boulder or else I would have found another route. Yup. Will remember this one, won’t I! LOL
However, this ain’t the good part yet. This 30-40 MPH crosswind stuff is what makes me a Road Warrior. It was the turn off toward Bounder onto Highway 157 with 60 MPH wind gusts that broke me down. I was tired before I got there, but like the ole barn mule, I could see the barn and smell the feed in the bucket. My family was close now so I fought onward.
That wind was BRUTAL and unrelenting. I thought it was going to flip the trailer over. I’ve driven about 150,000 miles on the backroads and expressways on these trips since 2008 and this was the first time I experienced the “full” monty of white knuckling, gut wrenching, orifice puckering driving. When I pulled up at my niece’s house, tears ran down my cheeks and my whole body was shaking. None of these Chinook-type winds was predicted on any of the three weather websites I checked right before leaving Eagle Nest.
Understandably, I have no new pictures from this last leg of my episode but I’m still standing, I have my truck, my caravan and reservations for the next legs of this amazing trip. So, I’ll repost my own reminder that I’m running with the big dawgs!
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Running with the Big Dawgs!

YEEHAW!

 

Happy Trails…until we meet again!

We stayed in Tuba City, AZ last night in the Navajo Reservation. Ava and I had stayed there ten years ago on our spiritual quest and boy, has it ever changed since then! Now there’s commerce and restaurants! Don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing between it and the turn off for Four Corners but amazing scenery. Enjoy!

Road to Four Corners

Road from Tuba City to Four Corners has nothing but great scenery!

scenery

near Monument Valley

Near Monument Valley on Hwy 160 East

Monument Valley

This is exactly what Monument Valley looks like! So cool seeing these remaining vestiges of another time.

My BFF, Pat, at Four Corners

My BFF, Pat standing on the Four Corners.

Four Corners

 

THE Four Corners

 

Montana's saying, "Can you BELIEVE this sign? What's wrong with these people? Don't they know who I am?" LOL

Montana was so upset over this sign. She couldn’t believe they would keep her from this most historic site. She’s been allowed everywhere else!

Do you see Montana is breaking her pose? WHY? Because Aunt Patty is walking toward her. It's like Montana is saying, "I forgot Aunt Pat is here too?"

Montana losing her pose because Aunt Patty is walking toward her. It’s like Montana was saying, “Hey, Grandma! I forgot Aunt Patty is here!”

Dusk at the Four Corners

Dusk at the Four Corners

Santa Fe tomorrow!

Happy Trails!

Didn’t have a clue that eastern Colorado was such a cow palace! It resembled the cattle ranches I saw in Texas (yes, with holding pens).

Wide open country

Then comes Nowhere Nebraska which is ALL green and lush.

It’s really interesting how crossing a state line is so obvious because of terrain or rivers. You KNOW you’re in another state because everything looks so different.

There’s a great deal of agricultural areas in Nebraska. I sure hope they’re not all owned by large corporations. I hope there are still some Mom & Pops around.

Beautiful countryside but make sure you get gassed up before entering Nebraska on I-80! There just aren’t that many places for fuel here.

I thought all the long trains went through Nevada and Colorado! Here’s a neat perspective.

Although there’s some dirt on the car window, I still wanted to add this photo because of the river in the background. Just beautiful!

And, as always, it’s Motel 6 when I need a TV fix or drive too long and have gotten too tired to set up the camper. BTW, most campsites don’t have really fast internet service so it takes forever to download photos. I’m kinda’ liking this Motel 6 because it’s a franchise (instead of a chain) and, although it’s pricier, it’s definitely privately run because of the grounds, location (overlooking a river) and it’s internet service. It’s in Grand Island, Nebraska just in case you’re ever up this way!

Boulder is a thriving, active city with more bicycles per square inch than most other American cities. How do I know, you may ask? Montana thinks they’re ALL something to bark about! She’s bicycle challenged and they torment her everywhere here even when it’s pouring down rain!

Boulder’s air is fresh and the atmosphere healthy. The mountains are remarkable backdrops for any drive as they’re in every picture you take. And, speaking of pictures, something happened with my camera and I can’t download any pictures from my last memory card. Don’t know what’s up with that but I’ve loaded a new one and hope all is well again soon as I leave for Canada tomorrow.

Anyway, I do want to give you all a heads up on a great little place to eat in Lyons, CO not to far from Boulder called Smokin’ Dave’s BBQ & Taphouse and their original location in Estes Park. Their menu is in the two inside pages of a clever newspaper called “The Smoke Ring” which gives a little history of the place and of BBQ in general.

As I enjoy trying several different things, I decided to order the “Dave’s Triple” from the Smokin’ Platters. What I didn’t know is that there would be enough food on the plate for ALL of us! I had beef ribs (which I did not share), brisket and pulled pork. We brought home virtually all of the brisket and pork and ate off it for dinner two days!

Look them up if your ever out this way! Their number is 303-823-RIBS. Bon appetit!

Silver does Durango

Leaving Mesa Verde was difficult as we’d had such a wonderful time there and  it’s the longest I’ve camped anywhere so far this year because of inclement  weather, namely strong winds and snow following me all the way to Vegas! We  took Hwy. 160 east toward Durango, Colorado which was only about 50 miles  from Mesa Verde.

Ava and me in Durango Diner

It was there that we discovered the Durango Diner on Main Avenue. Now  THAT’s the way to serve breakfast. I had the best bacon strips I’ve ever had…  ever. The pancake was twelve inches in diameter and the egg cooked just right.  The waitress was wonderful and the whole experience very pleasant and  reasonably priced. Ava and I both fell in love with this little Colorado town.

With bellies full, we headed east for Santa Fe. The countryside was amazingly  gorgeous Colorado style. This is a sample of the views we saw along the way.

on the way to Santa Fe via Hwy 160, 64 and 84

And this one.

mountains, lakes, rolling pastures, cows and horses... oh my!

We didn’t get through setting up camp until after everything was closed in Santa  Fe so we went scouting. We found the two things on the top of my list: Georgia  O’Keefe Museum and the San Miguel church. The bonus was finding a gallery  with has some original photos of Frida Kahlo. What a bonus!

After walking around Old Santa Fe for what seemed a very long time looking for  somewhere to eat that we both wanted, Ava whipped out her IPhone and found  this amazingly authentic Thai restaurant called THAI CAFE at 329 W. San  Francisco St., Santa Fe (www.thaicafesantafenm.com  505-982- 3886). As Ava had traveled to Thailand, she could authenticate the food as  being excellent and traditional. Please visit our new friends Ae and Ann at Thai  Cafe next time you’re in Santa Fe!

Ava, me and Ann (owner of Thai Cafe in Santa Fe, NM)

Not only did Ava and I leave Thai Cafe satisfied with the service, the food and  the atmosphere, we both felt like we’d just made two new friends with Ann and  Ae. A big “Thank you” to them for making our evening so special.

Tomorrow, we go back to Old Town Santa Fe and to Albuquerque to explore it as  well. I was hoping to hit the road hard tomorrow but I have a feeling we’re  going to fall in love with Albuquerque as well.

Happy Trails!

It definitely takes two whole days to see Mesa Verde National Park the right way  especially for the two of us. Ava took three of the more difficult Ranger  guided tours of the Ancestral Puebloan ruins where you hike down the  canyon, across the base of the canyon and up ladders into the ruins. While I, on  the other hand, took the easier tours via Silver (my truck) because  most National Parks are not pet friendly which means Montana would have to  stay in the car or the camper while I hiked. I would only hike short trails if I  could find good shade before it got too hot in the afternoon.  Needless to say,  Montana and I spent a great deal of time in the only areas she was allowed:  campgrounds and parking lots.

While Ava visited was Cliff Palace, Montana and I drove around Cliff Palace Loop and Mesa Top Loop to scout out the other ruins for Ava.

Mesa Verde Cliff Palace Sign - a multi-complex village.

 

Mesa Verde Cliff Palace had several different sections on each side of this main village.

Today, we explored the Chapin Mesa Museum, Cliff Palace Loop (includes the  two Ranger guided tours Ava took today: Cliff  Palace [above] and Balcony House) and  Mesa Top Loop.

The most impressive part of Mesa Top Loop for me was Sun Point View and Sun Temple built around 1250 AD.

Sun Temple sign explaining ruins

Sun Temple community had several "out" structures on each side of this main "village".

 

Sun Temple

window looking into Sun Temple

Navajo Canyon on Mesa Loop

There were so many of these communities in this one area that it was amazing. One right after another. These Ancestral Puebloans (formerly called Anasazi) were the direct ancestors of the cliff dwellers in Canyon de Shelly and Monument Valley south of the Four Corners in Arizona. The last one we looked at was Spruce House.

Spruce House

I have always been interested in the history of indigenous people of the  Americas. A Shaman told Ava and I we had lived as Anasazi in a past life. Who  knows. Maybe that’s why I’ve always been drawn to it. I’ve also been drawn to  European history and South American history and Russian history and so on.

It’s all good. Learning how our ancestors lived helps us be grounded. Go check  out an indigenous people near you.

Happy Trails!

First, let me say that my Federal Taxes paid over the last 46 years has finally  paid off in the form of the $10.00 price tag for a Senior Lifetime National Park  Pass. Although there aren’t that many of them in the east, I’ve used it like crazy  out here. It’s good for everyone in the car. So, when Ava and I were at Zion and  she needed the Shuttle and I didn’t, I asked for a special pass for her for the days  we anticipated staying. As it’s $25.00 every time you go through the National  Parks I’ve been in, I calculated that I’ve already saved a couple hundred bucks  and we ain’t through yet!

The other good news in Mesa Verde is the  campground where we’re staying  three nights. Check out A&A Mesa Verde RV Park-Campground (AAA  approved http://www.mesaverdecamping.com 800-972-6620) which is  strategically located to the Mesa Verde National Park entrance. They have a  pool, putt-putt, washers, dryers, peaceful pastoral atmosphere and no time limit  on showers!

At the Visitors Center, Ava chose to explore anasazi ruins at Wetherill Mesa today. This is the  view from the Parks Kiosk there. Not bad even with the trees destroyed by the  2000 fire. Interesting detail is that the indigenous trees are Pinyon Pine and  Juniper. The Juniper wood just doesn’t biodegrade like one would expect after  such a devastating fire. Interesting.

Snow capped mountains at Wetherill Mesa

This morning we awoke as refreshed as any two people sleeping in a pop-up  camper who didn’t go to sleep until after 1:00 AM could possibly be and drove to  Mesa Verde National Park. We drove up to the Visiter Center and Ava signed up  for the Ranger guided hike up into “Long House” cliff dwelling while Montana  hung out in the car and I took the tram to see several protected dwellings and  overlooks. It was serendipitous when Ava happened to catch the same tram I  was on when she was through with her journey.

So many geologic changes in one view going up to Visitor Center.

These trams make it so easy to see everything you want to without getting worn  out and dehydrated. The wind will dry you out just as fast as the heat.

Tram

What I didn’t know until today is that shuttles and trams are FREE to all paying  visitors to the National Parks. We didn’t stay at Zion long enough for me to find  our but it seems like it shoulda’ woulda’ coulda’ been made more clear. So, here it is folks!

I hiked the easier non-cliff dwelling sites at Wetherill Mesa called Badger  House Community (includes Basket, Pueblo and Row Houses with Kivas) and  rode the tram to see the Cliff Dwelling Overlooks for Long House and Kodak  House. All of these have a Kiva which is a circular in-ground structure used for  ceremonial purposes. There is a larger Kiva at the Ocmulgee Indian Mounds in Macon,  Georgia at the  mounds there right off I-75 which as been reconstructed. You  can actually go inside the Georgia one. It gives you a real sense of the moment-in-time.

Kiva - an in-ground ceremonial structure

The Badger House Community structures were non-cliff dwelling and all very  similar except for the Pueblo Village Row of Rooms.

Pueblo Village - row of rooms

These are rooms - very small rooms approximately 5'x5'!

How the Kiva looks when in use. One in Macon has been reconstructed.

The Kodak Overlook was of Cliff Dwelling inhabitants.

Kodak House Cliff Dwelling - can you tell my vertigo was getting to me?

The other Cliff Dwelling overlook was Long House.

Long House Cliff Dwelling

Tomorrow, we’re exploring Chapin Mesa. Ava will hike Cliff Palace and Balcony House while I take the tram.

Happy Trails!