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.


Bridget Machida said...

Hello, Martha, I really enjoyed reading about your trip. Since we are on the road and not near home for 2 1/5 months, packing this thing was a challenge. I may have everything bought now. I just couldn't think of what I wanted until I was living in this for a few weeks. Like a mat for outside sitting, and a little table. It will be fun comparing notes in a few weeks with you.
Time for me to work on my blog.......

Terri Kulas said...

What a good blog of your adventures in the RV and URAL. Telluride(sp) is a lot less stressful when the Bluegrass Festival is over! I went to the Festival many years ago and was fun and was many years younger too. Dom, really good pictures. Love Terri