Friday, June 30, 2017

Day 56 - Rock Springs, WY

We left Craig just before checkout time with a full fresh water tank and everything else emptied. I had set Rock Springs, WY, as a modest goal. Under 200 miles. We needed groceries so we headed for the Walmart Supercenter on the west side of town. The AllStays app lists it as RV friendly and says that the current policy is one night only. We'll see how it goes.

I had spent a lot of time in this town back in the late '70s at my previous job working in the field. In fact, if you look at the second picture,  the hotel we stayed at all the time is right around where the Holiday Inn is. In fact, I used the laundromat in the parking lot and picked up some cotton shirts at the western shop next door. Back then, besides a Church's Chicken fast food place, that was about all there was around here. The four lane I-80 was still under construction and there used to be the best steak place in the country a few miles west of here. It isn't there any more. Now it's a large housing development and strip malls. Times change…

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Day 55 - Craig, CO

No pictures today as it was just a "travel day". Our next reservation is for Glacier National Park in Montana in five days. It's about 1100 miles which means about 200 miles per day. Whether that's what actually happens remains to be seen. Today, we made it to a KOA in Craig, CO, which is near the Wyoming border. A KOA was about all that we could find as there really isn't much in this area. At least it seems to have decent Internet.

The drive was not uneventful. North of Leadville, an elk ran across the road. I braked and swerved around it but it then cut back and reversed directions. The front bumper just grazed it but it was run over by the trailer tires which killed it. After pulling off the highway, several people had stopped and we pulled it off the highway. No obvious damage to us except a broken bottle, the dining table top came off the base and one of the pantry supports.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Day 54 - Mueller State Park, CO

This morning we got a slightly earlier start and headed east from Mueller State Park to Pike's Peak. I didn't take any photos of the trip up to the summit so the first picture is of the cog railroad cars at the summit. This one was blasting its horn announcing to the passengers that if they wanted a trip down the mountain they better get back on board.

There is a large viewpoint with great views of the Colorado mountains in several directions. What was missing, at least as far as I could tell, were descriptive information signs telling you what you are looking at.

For the benefit of the train passengers, there is this non-official looking sign to pose by between the train and the gift shop. We did pose by it but I don't have any of those pictures. I've only been on a higher mountain once before. Mt. Whitney in California is about 400' higher. And that was back around 1980 on a hiking trip.

Here is the rest of the crew waiting for the cog railroad cars to take off down the hill. Shortly after this, we went into the gift shop in search of the Pike's Peak famous doughnuts. I'm not sure why/how they are famous. Just plain cake with no frosting or other adornments. We picked up a half dozen along with some other snacks enjoying not only Pike's Peak but also the wonderful company.

About 3 miles from the summit, there is a large dirt parking lot. Last October when we tried to make it to the summit, this was a far as we could go. Today was kind of hazy so no real long shots. In fact, my camera was having difficulty focusing. Infinity should be easy.

We made numerous stops on the way down for pictures. And there should be some video available some time as Martha filled up her phone with video. Bridget took a lot of GoPro video but I wasn't going to try and do any editing until we have some real Internet. Here at the state park, AT&T sort of works (4G) and Verizon has a couple of bars of LTE. Neither is very fast.

Another stop was this rock pile. If you look carefully, you can spot some people near the right side of the photo. You can see that these are some pretty large rocks.

Anyway, a huge thank you to Dom and Martha for meeting us at the campground and bringing the other side car rig. It was a lot of fun not only to be riding again but to spend time with you. 

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Day 53 - Mueller State Park, CO

A slight change of plans from yesterday's post. We headed Cañon City with the Google map estimate of 55 miles. After about 50 miles, we came to a sign that said it was 59 more miles. We kind of missed a turn. But it's a ride. It doesn't really matter. It felt great to be riding again. Today, I was on Fiona, Dom's BMW powered Ural rig. The additional 10 hp really makes a difference especially when climbing hills, headwinds and carrying a passenger. This photo was taken at a visitor's center along the way.

Before reaching Cañon City, we detoured up to Royal Gorge to take a look at the bridge and all of the development since the fire swept through. There is now a lot of development. After Royal Gorge, we stopped for lunch at a diner, visited the prison museum and then onto Skyline Drive.

Skyline Drive is a one way road along top of a ridge with drop offs in both directions just west of Cañon City. The pano was taken at a stop along the ridge top. This pic used without permission from Martha... (But it was posted on Facebook)

Tomorrow, Pike's Peak.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Day 52 - Mueller State Park, CO

This morning we left the RV park in South Fork, CO, and headed northeast to Meuller State Park on the western slope of Pike's Peak. The campground is at 9780' elevation. This evening, we got our first rain on the trip and it included thunder and lightning. An RV a couple of spots away was hit and it blew out a couple of the clearance lights on the roof and took out the ECU as well. We all learned that Good Sam's Roadside Assistance doesn't cover "acts of God" and refused their towing request. When we left them, they were on the phone with their insurance company.

We have met up with Dom and Martha of Redleg's Rides who are camped right across the street from the rig that got hit with lighting. They generously brought up both Urals so we could all go riding the next couple of days. The plan for tomorrow is up Pike's Peak if the weather is good. Further plans have not been made. For a more pictures, please visit

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Day 51- South Fork, CO

We left Mesa Verde National Park around 10:30am or so headed east through Durango, CO. I had looked into the Durango-Silverton narrow gauge train ride but it was a bit on the pricy side. Maybe some other time. We continued on to a small town called South Fork, CO, for no other reason than a campground listed on Passport America. For a single night stay it was 50% off their advertised rate or $16 including tax. A pretty good deal for full hookups. Plus, the Internet is better here than we've had in quite a while. And it's at 8160' elevation. More comfortable temperatures.

The trailer right turn signal fuse was blown again this morning and I believe I found the intermittent short. Green is the wire for the right turn signal and you can see bare copper showing through where it was rubbing the license plate. A little electrical tape will fix that problem.

As we were headed this way, we were puzzling why the GPS was saying two more hours for seventy miles. At this time we were pretty much cruising at or near the speed limit of 65 mph. Then we came to an eight mile grade up and back down Wolf Creek Pass (10,856 feet or 3,308 m). With a trailer, coming down isn't that much faster than going up. In case you don't remember, there was a well known C.W. McCall song from 1975 that made the pass famous more well known than it was before. I remember hearing it on the radio.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Day 50 - Mesa Verde National Park, CO

Today was spent on the road system within Mesa Verde National Park. BTW, this is national park/monument number seven so we are definitely getting use of the annual pass. Each one would have been $15 to $30 for the entrance fee. This is Spruce House located behind the museum. It is closed permanently to people due to structural problems in arch. In other words, it can fall at any time.

In yesterday's blog I mentioned that shelters were built just about anywhere there was room. This is house with all the windows was really hard for me to pick out on the opposite cliff. Below is the actual view of the cliff. It took someone else pointing it out as I was looking far below where it actually was located.

The next stop was Square Tower House. This one was a real surprise to me as there is very little mention of this house. The most obvious feature is the four story tower. This one was sheltered pretty well as it was built at the end of a small valley. The displays mention that the houses were built in the alcoves not for security but for protection from the weather. It would be easy to close off the small doorways against inclement weather. Low sun angles in the winter would penetrate all the way to the back of the alcoves and the overhang would provide shade during the summer when the sun is higher in the sky.

After exploring for most of the day, we headed into town for groceries and fuel. 

Friday, June 23, 2017

Day 49 - Mesa Verde National Park, CO

Today was another short driving day from Moab, UT, to Mesa Verde National Park in southwest Colorado. For the first time we are actually camped inside of the park boundaries. I think the only difference is that we don't have to go through an entrance gate in the morning to tour the park. After the very hot temperatures for the last couple of weeks, the mid-80s here at the campground feels very refreshing. The campground is at 7800'. When I had checked online for tour reservations, the website indicated that everything was sold out. But when I stopped at the tour desk, he asked how many. He said that he can always fit in one more person.

So I went on the Cliff Palace tour. Cliff Palace is the iconic site when someone talks about the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde. The tour was listed as "strenuous" which is why Bridget opted not to go. I think the only thing strenuous was the exit route where you needed to ascend about 100' via steep stone steps and wooden ladders. The first picture shows the overall cliff dwellings at this site. The second photo shows the detail of some of the rooms right next to the ceiling of the alcove.

Some of the walls near the front of the alcove were restored by the ranchers who found the dwellings. In this photo, you can see the reddish patina of the original plaster. This is not the reconstructed section. There was a large sandstone block under this section that the park service thought needed to be reinforced. They developed a plan to put in a steel beam and when they excavated under the block, they discovered three support walls built under the block. Apparently, the original builders thought that it needed to be supported as well. The support walls were estimated to be built around 1200 AD.

There are 21 of these pits structures at this site. Logs were placed on each of the block wall "posts" (I don't remember the actual term) then more logs are placed on those until you get a log dome over the pit. This was then plastered. The entrance was through the hole in the center via a ladder. A fire pit is off center in the middle of the floor. After all, you don't want to burn your ladder.

This is the only view we got on the tour of the inside of one of the structures. This is looking up through where the floor would have been to the second floor. You can see more of the red tinted plaster.
It was very hard to take a picture of the steps in and out of the site. The steps were basically carved into a vertical crack in the rock and were about two feet wide. At the top of the steps were three ladders each about fifteen feet long. The elevation of Cliff Palace is around 7000' and I was feeling the lack of oxygen after the climb.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Day 48 - Moab, UT

We got a little earlier start today since we had a 45 minute drive north to Canyonlands National Park. The first stop was the visitors center for the passport stamp and sticker and to watch the movie. I must admit that I really enjoy watching the movies. This photo was taken right across the street from the visitors center and you may notice the smoke. It's from the Brian Head fire that I had mentioned when we were in Cedar Breaks. The fire has grown quite a bit.

Our first stop was Upheaval Dome. This is an area where they say that a large salt dome was pushing up the area followed by a collapse. It was a moderate hike to the first lookout (pictured here) and there was a second lookout that required some scrambling to get there. We didn't make it to the second lookout as it was really feeling hot. By the time we got back to the truck it was already 94°F. For some parts of the trail the cairns were the only way to know where to go.

On our way to the second overlook, we stopped at a turnout as there was another great view. BTW, we spent our time at the most accessible section of the park, Island in the Sky, with paved roads on top of a Mesa. Every direction we looked there were great views.

The second long stop was Grand View Point Overlook. You can see the White Rim Road in the picture running along the rim. The park service literature states that traversing this road takes three to four days in a short wheelbase, high clearance, 4WD. They warn not to take an AWD vehicle and mention that the towing cost is over $2000. Today there was an additional warning about the Green River flooding a section of road 20" deep.

All of the trees in this area of the park look as gnarled as this. The NPS uses stacks of them to make small fences and barriers. We stumbled into a ranger talk here and she mentioned that there was a push in the early 1960s to put in a dam and flood this area. It didn't progress very far. The argument was that the only one using the area were a handful of hikers. If it was flooded, the number of users of the resulting lake would be much higher.

We thought about following Dom's suggestion of driving down Shafer Trail a bit but by the time we were heading out of the park, we were both pretty warm and tired. Next time...

The two panos were taken at the two overlooks. The first was Upheaval Dome and the second was Grand View Point.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Day 47 - Moab, UT

We knew that today was going to be another hot one. But we didn't get to the entrance of Arches National Park until 8:30am. There were a number of other people around but it wasn't overly crowded. Nothing like Yosemite or Zion. We went to the Double Arch/Windows parking lot and it was pretty full plus a couple of tour buses. It was a short walk to the Double Arch and it was worth seeing the size of the arch up close. Seeing pictures doesn't do it justice.

For scale, here is Bridget under the first arch. I think the last time I was here at the Double Arch it was around 1980 or so. A lifetime for some but it doesn't feel like it was that long ago. I had visited a couple of times when we were doing field work and a couple of times on my own. There were a number of cyclists on the road that had me feeling a little nostalgic.

This is Turret Arch located across the road from Double Arch and next to the North Window and the South Window. In the foreground is a couple walking with tripod, video camera and a large DSLR. They arrived riding 2-up on a KTM adventure bike. That seems like a lot of camera gear to be carrying around on a bike. Of all of the arches we saw today, this was my favorite.

Just a short distance from Turret Arch is the South Window. This one was pretty crowded with a large tour bus group all walking together. I'm not sure if keeping together is required or they just prefer traveling in a pack. And all seemed obsessed with taking selfies with their phones trying to get the Arch in the background.

One last stop before the visitors center was Park Avenue. Named, I believe, for the tall, sky scraper-ish sandstone cliffs lining the short valley. There is a primitive trail through valley ending at another turnout down the hill. "Primitive" translates to "not paved" as are most of the popular trails in the park.

The balancing rock was at the top of the western wall along Park Avenue. Oddly, the camera I was using (Bridget's Canon SX30 IS) flashed face recognized in the viewfinder with three green rectangles. I guess it thought the shapes looked like people.

The first panorama was taken from the Garden of Eden viewpoint. I was never able to figure out the origin of the name. But it was getting pretty warm by this point so I didn't wander around too much. The last panorama was done with the iPhone camera looking up at the arch.

BTW, the wifi here and at the last campground is abysmal. Essentially unusable.


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Day 46 - Moab, UT

The weather app says that it is 106°F today in Moab. Maybe it was the wrong direction to head at this time of year. But, that's where we're at right now. Today was a longish driving day when compared to the last couple at 280 miles. Plus, I had an audio conference this afternoon so I needed a good cell signal. There was a large gap in AT&T coverage along I-70 until Green River, UT. This is the view from our campsite a few miles south of Moab, UT.

We are planning on going into Arches National Park and possibly Canyonlands National Park but probably only during the mornings. Too hot to do much during the afternoon. I've never been to Canyonlands before so that's going to be new. I'm not even sure what there is to see.

One last iPhone picture of the hills across the highway around sunset. Nice colors. It's still 94°F at 8:54pm. Ugh...

Monday, June 19, 2017

Day 45 - Bryce Canyon National Park, UT

Three guesses what the activity of the day was... We went on a half day trail ride through Red Canyon which is just outside the gate of Zion National Park. There were 17 people in the group plus a couple of leaders. We chose this trip as it was advertised "no experience required". We were driven from the lobby of Ruby's Inn to the start of the trail ride in Red Canyon. They give us general directions on how to control the horse but I think they all run on cruise control anyway.

I was put on Geronimo who did not like to be tailgated so he had to be at the back. He was never in a hurry and rarely felt a need to hurry up and wait so there was always a bit of space in front of me. A couple of times, one of the guides pulled up behind me and you can tell that this horse was annoyed and wanted to kick whomever was back there.

The scenery was beautiful with tons of red rocks, hoodoos, trees and dust. The trip as a 3½ hour loop and, at least for me, that was long enough. They need gel pads for the saddles... I wasn't sure how any of the pictures would turn out due to the jostling from the horse. (See video)

We got back just before lunch and the salad bar at the hotel sounded pretty good. But that turned into the lunch buffet for only $2 more...

Right now, between the trail ride and lunch, I just feeling like lying around for the afternoon. This is about the halfway point on our road trip.