Thursday, June 15, 2017

Summer of Fun: Chapter 2

Again, Again...just like the Teletubbies would chant, I too found myself wanting to return to the mountains and explore more of Colorado with my hubby, his side car and our RV.

So, while the family calendar remained pretty wide open, and the wise, albeit cliche, phrase of    "If not now, when" racing through my mind we headed back out to the high country for a 2nd camping adventure in as many weeks.    

It had been several years since I'd traveled the Million Dollar Highway, 
July 2009, the last time I visited this area
and never had I made the ride in the side car, as during our last family trip to this area, Hubby brought Brigitta to explore the area, no room for monkeys on this motorcycle.
Alpine Loop, July 2009
With this as the goal destination and purpose of the trip (not that you really need a reason to take a road trip),  we started to look for a place that had what we needed in terms of RV accommodations.

We settled on Ridgway State Park, just south of Montrose and a reasonable ride into the areas of Ouray and Silverton.

We thought that given the proximity to the town of Ridgway, Hubby would have the cell phone signal and speed that he needed to work "wherever there is WiFi"...but that proved not to be the case.   

So, from my perspective, it was a perfect adventure:   Some beautiful scenery, a couple great side car excursions and down time for reading and binging on Netflix.

 Hubby's trip was a bit more stressful as he scrambled to find the signal he needed to put out some work-related fires.  I think in the end, it was a good trip for  him as well, although we came home with a list of options to consider in order to make these work-on-the-road adventures less stressful for him in terms of connectivity with "the office".  

Day-by-Day Details:
We left the house on  Saturday around  noon, with about 5 hours on the road, we found ourselves camping at a national forest campground called Elk Creek which is part of the Curecanti National Recreation area, more commonly just referred to as Blue Mesa.

Just outside of Gunnison, this area was beautiful and despite arriving on a Saturday night without reservations, the campground itself was only about half full.   I'd have to say that this offered perhaps the most traditional camping (vs. glamping) experience we've had thus far:   The smell of campfires filled the night air, and the bugs seemed to take this as their cue to call it a day and while plentiful, we did not sustain too many bug bites (added to the shopping list:  bug spray!).

We broke camp rather early (that summer sun serves as a great natural alarm clock) and found ourselves at the entrance of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park before the main crowds of the day.  

Here we unloaded the URAL and took a spin around the park.   The views were spectacular and there is a plethora of trails to explore.   I'd love to return to this area, exploring the north rim of the canyon and perhaps taking the boat tour through the canyon itself.   But alas, not this trip...

We arrived at Ridgway State Park shortly after 12noon, with the day's RV travel limited to only a couple hours.   Ah, I like less time spent on the road.    After setting up camp, we took the URAL again out for a Sunday drive, this time along the stretch of Highway 550 that is commonly referred to as the Million Dollar Highway.

Historians are not sure why it is called this:  was it the cost of construction, estimated to cost 1 million dollars per mile? Or perhaps the remarks made by a fearful traveler who claimed after making the treacherous trip that "even if he was paid a million dollars that he'd never make the drive again" or is a reference to the silver and gold mines in the area, that the dirt used to build the road was so rich in ore it was "worth a million dollars".

As the side car monkey, I'm going with my own explanation:   There were million dollar views at every twist and turn along the road.   Traffic was moderate going up to Molas Pass but by the time we headed back, many of the other tourists and travelers had headed home for the day.

Monday would be my princess day:   Hanging at the campsite with a short trip into the town of Ridgway while Hubby worked.

  I scored a couple great thrift shop finds but overall felt like the town was pretty deserted.

That could be related to the massive re-vitalization project they were undergoing, adding side walks and repaving roads, I wondered how many merchants opted to take the summer off, while their town was undergoing major renovations.   I will say that Ridgway's little grocery store has the cutest bathroom I've ever used.
I kid you not, this was a mural painted across the entire bathroom..The boys' bathroom was equally cute, I'd show you a picture, but that'd be creepy to admit I went in there to compare the decorating efforts.
Oh what the heck, yes, I took a picture there too!
Yes, that's a mural, not printed pictures!  
Ok, enough with the potty talk, back to the Road Trip recap....

Tuesday I asked that Hubby take me to Telluride as I was curious to see this town that is similar in celebrity status as Aspen.
 I was also eager to see another one of Colorado's landmark views, Bridal Veils Falls.
My impression was only ho-hum, most likely influenced by my worry for hubby, who spent most of the afternoon trouble shooting a work issue, under the shade of a tree and the crowd level was more than I was in the mood for, with the Telluride Blue Grass festival slated to start 2 days later.    I'm glad I visited, but not so sure I'll feel a need to return anytime soon.   Return to Ouray, yes!  Ridgway and Telluride?  Yeah, not so much.... 

 On the trip back to camp, we stopped for a couple photo-shots.

 I thought I'd seen that view before, and yep, soon after we passed the entrance to the ranch,  with the sign that announced it was the Double  RL ranch, home to designer Ralph Lauren.   Shaded from direct public view, I did spot from the side car the famed tee-pees he has on his property.  
Photo credit:   Google Images
I suspect had we tried to take our own pictures, the local authorities would have cited us for trespassing.    
This is as close as we got to Ralph's place, photo credit:  Hubby
Final thoughts
All in all, it was a good trip.    The RV-towing the URAL seems to be the right mix to get me to agree to longer adventures.   We still need to work out the connectivity issue for Hubby.    For it is his salary that allows us to afford these extras and toys, so WiFi-cell phone coverage is a MUST.   

The state park was nice and given I didn't make a reservation until just 5 days before our departure, I was happy they had a site with pull through-full hook ups for $30/night.   This state park has 2 sections, separated by a couple miles.  In hindsight, I wished we had been able to secure a spot in the closer campground, Dutch Charlie campground instead of the Pa-Co-Chu-Puk (Ute Indian for Cow Creek).   I suspect cell signal would have been stronger and that section is an easier walk to the reservoir.   But hey, you take what you can get when you are late to the RSVP list.   

We seem to have enough trips under our belt now that the RV is stocked properly with cooking and sleeping stuff.   I managed to come pretty close to bringing in just the right amount of food this time.  It helped tremendously that we had left overs  here at the house that I brought along for meals on the road.   The kitchen in the RV is small enough that reheating and quick meals are the least stressful option for me.    This trip I picked up some DVDs from the library and in the evenings, we enjoyed movies.   
Until next time...see you on the road.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Summer of Fun: Chapter 1

This past weekend we took Uma (the RV) out for the first summer (or nearly summer) adventure.   I'd finished up work for the school year, and we had a stretch of a couple days on the calendar with nothing planned so off we went.

Our destination was Buena Vista, CO.   It's a small town at the base of the Collegiate Peaks and probably the place that should be credited with giving me the idea of buying an RV.   You see last summer I stayed in BV when friends were visiting.   We paid an exorbitant amount for one room in a Super 8 hotel.   OK, in their defense, it was high season and supply and demand factors in, but it was soon after that night's stay that the idea of owning an RV started to solidify in my head.   With an RV, we could enjoy freedom and flexibility with lower costs.

HAHA:   Lower costs,'ll be years of RV adventures before one can claim that as a truth...but just the same, we now own an RV and so off we go...

With it being a rather quick decision, we didn't spend a lot of time researching where to park for our trip.  Consulting a web app Allstays, we decided on Arkansas River RV Resort, a small campground just north of BV that offered full hook ups for a reasonable price ($31/night, full hook up)

The campground itself was well maintained although older.   Staff working was very pleasant and welcoming and our assigned camp site had natural shade and was pretty level.   It was a "back in" site but Hubby managed it just fine.
  The property was located pretty close to the highway, so at various times during our stay we experienced some distracting road noise.   As for amenities nothing to boast about:   We never were able to connect with the camp's WiFi and the shower house was clear across the campground so I opted to skip it in favor of using our shower within the RV.

Besides, we weren't there to hang out in the campground, we were there to explore this region and use this place as home base.

On Sunday, we took a trip over Independence Pass into Aspen.   I've been on this road several times before but in a side car?  Never...and Oh My, what an experience it was.

 Perfect riding conditions:   Clear blue skies, crispness to the air but not bitter cold (even at the summit).  Our trip up was early enough that traffic was minimal.   As we approached the summit, there were carloads of people unloading ski equipment, several vehicles that suggested it was actually a training day for the Aspen Alpine Rescue team.   We continued on towards Aspen.

 After you pass the summit, heading into town, there are several spots that reminded me of the roads in Ireland:   Narrow passage, nearly wide enough for one vehicle...again, the limited traffic was a blessing and Hubby handles these spots with determination and caution that left me with no worries on our part.

 We met up with a family friend, B for a brunch and coffee chat and soon headed out towards Maroon Bells.

 Can you believe I've lived in CO for 20 years, and never driven up to the Bells?  I think because during my previous visits, it was "in season" and the only way authorized up was to take the shuttle and ride with others.  Luckily, we arrived early season and drivers were allowed up to one of the nearby parking lots and then with a short walk, you could be in one of Colorado's most photographed places, the base of Maroon Bells.

With the snow capped peaks, I didn't really pick up on the maroon color, but if you look over your shoulder, there you can easily see how this area got its name;  both color and shape clearly match the name given.

After that, it was time to head back to the camp.   We made As we returned and settled in, thoughts of going out to photograph the sunset were dashed as the rain turned to hail, we were glad to know we'd gotten "home" before the weather turned ugly.

Monday was to have been another day of possible sight seeing but work kept Hubby busy most of the day.  

So, I did what I do best....I curled up with a good book and just chilled out.

Tuesday we headed back home, taking a slightly different route home with that seemed a little faster and ensured we had cell phone coverage the entire trip home since Hubby was technically working and needed to stay in touch with work things.

 All in all it was a lovely get away.   BV is a good place to base a short trip out of, but next time I think we can either try boondocking or look for a campground that is further away from the road.
 Apparently, this early in June, you need not worry about reserving a spot, plenty of areas to park an RV for a couple nights' stay.   Being new to the RV-glamping way of travel, these are the little things one learn's in the process I suppose.

I best wrap this up and post it, as fingers' crossed we will head out again real soon and explore more of this beautiful state we call home...

Until then...see you on the road!

Friday, June 02, 2017

Right Now: May 2017

I'm listening to:   The morning news, sipping my coffee and getting ready to head out  on my last substitute nurse assignment for this school year.    Did not know today is National Donut Day, too late, just enjoyed home made banana bread for breakfast (or as Hubby challenged me "Cake for Breakfast?")...see listening to the news can bring us interesting information not just doom-gloom-and with our current political climate, frustration and annoyance.

I'm loving:   That summer is upon us.   The boys are both working about 4-5 days a week at the local grocery stores
and we have a few small RV adventures planned.   But nothing epic like the last 2 summers and in many ways I'm just  as excited about this slower-less structured time off than I was for the big trips.   Balance, it is a good thing.  

This past month was filled with family time ..
On the road...
or here in town with "Parent Prom"
(Hello, nobody said the parents can't drink on prom night, right)

We had a crazy good time...
The family farm in Fremont, longer owned by any of my relatives, 
but it is indeed the place where my family's story begins...

At my uncle's memorial, I was most touched to see so many of my uncle's old high school football pals join us for his celebration of life.   To have moved away from this small town soon after high school, never to return to the community and growing up in an era where cell phones-texting-email were unheard of, it takes a real commitment to stay in touch though miles may separate you all.
  My hope for  my family is that my boys will also enjoy this lifetime of friendships...and something tells me they are off to a good start in that regard...
This young man, an extremely talented viola player  is off to college in the Pacific NW.   I smile when I see him and Thing 2, for it was about 17 years ago when my dear friend Judy said "You just have to meet  Jacqui, she has a little baby about the same age as Thing 2 (of course this included Judy's trademark clapping of hands and jumping for joy at the thought of match making friendships) forward to now, these boys have not only been chair partners for  the past 2 years in orchestra they are great friends just as Judy predicted!
And yeah, Jacqui and I hit it off too...that Judy sure was an expert on match making!

I'm needing:   to make this a short update, clock is ticking and I best head out to work.   But first here are a few more odds and ends pictures of the fun we had this month...
 Ok, not sure I'd really call this fun, getting stuck on my scooter when the hail started to pour down from the skies.   But, it does make for a fun picture and a good reminder that the helmet serves many good uses...not just from a head injury while riding, but also protected me from a head injury while waiting  for the hail to ease up...

 Celebrating my new job...Oh who are we you can probably tell...we'll get together and celebrate pretty much everything and anything...

 My new to me car, a 2014 Honda CRV that I believe Thing 1 has named Akiko...I'll need to double check the spelling, but it references the sparkling bright look to  her and reflect her Japanese heritage.

I'm feeling a little bit nervous as not only is it my last day as a sub RN, it is my last day working with this school district.  My new job is one district north of where I work, where the challenges will be different but I'm hopeful that different will be good.   And if not, I need to remind myself that life is a journey, one we don't always know where we are headed but if we make level headed, thoughtful decisions we won't be too far off course.  Speaking of where we are headed...if I don't hit publish...I'm gonna be until next time...Make it a good one!