Wednesday, September 30, 2015

What views!

Today we left Rifle Colorado for the five hour ride to Ridgefield Utah on Interstate 70.  The first 50 or so miles we had driven on our way to Breckenridge so I drove and was very relaxed.  Past Grand Junction Mark took over and the fun began.   This is a reasonably isolated (as in no services for 106 miles) stretch of road, but the vistas were unbelievable.  Huge formations, some red, some more Malta like as in lack of color, some huge rocks, many looking like castles.  It was a magical ride and I loved it!

Here are a few of the photos I managed to capture from a moving car window.






The diversity of the landscape on this one trip astounds!  We have a few more miles of undriven route 70 tomorrow before joining up with the familiar 15 and the scariest pass we encountered on day two of this trip.  For sure Mark will be driving this time and I will still be grateful to be past it.  One last night in Las Vegas and on Friday we hope to be home mid afternoon missing the Friday night commute!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Breckenridge Sunsets and onto Estes Park

We experienced some great sunsets in Breckenridge and exquisite weather.  One of our Breckenridge days was devoted to a trip to Leadville and a scenic railway which took us high up a mountain with stellar views of the changing aspens.  Wow, we could not have timed it more perfectly.  The trees were in there full bright yellow sparkling glory.  This girl who is fearful of sheer drops and high mountain rides is somehow much more comfortable when there are train tracks involved.




This is purportedly a really tight curve which has been grand fathered into this rail system but would not be allowed.  Folks on each end of the train were able to wave to one another!


Here are fellow caravaners Jane and MaryBeth enjoying our stop.



Here is one of our last nights in Breckenridge and a magical sunset.


This is a line of airstreams traveling from Breckenridge to Estes Park on the Peak to Peak.  We were the fourth.  Caravaning, at least in this caravan is an accidental occurrence.  We are given a window of time to arrive at the new destination and each rig is on their own to get there.  When going between two points approximately 3 hours apart it is inevitable that you will get a few airstream stacked up on the route.


Estes Park was wonderful with lots of Elk sightings a visit with Bead Artist Wendy Ellsworth, a farewell lunch and one last happy hour.  This was the shot of our last Spruce Lake RV Park.


This morning we prepared early and got on our way with a stop in Boulder to have coffee with the lovely and talented Kinga Nichols, an accomplished bead artist.  Her space is artistic and creative in every corner.  It was a fun visit.  We stopped short of our original daily goal of Grand Junction and tucked up in a new RV park right off the 70.  Traffic noise is an issue, the the surroundings are serene.

I will be writing a blog post on what we learned in this our first caravan and longest travel to date.  We look forward to more and my comfort zone is slowly being stretched......

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Breckenridge

We've done a lot here and I hardly have photos to show for it.  We arrived Monday and pulled into the beautiful  Tiger Run RV park.  The sites are long and the property has a river running through it, lots of aspens and darling little log cabins scattered throughout.  It's a multi-use park with people buying ownership of either a space or a cabin and it's very nicely maintained.

Vail is close relatively speaking, and as I'd never been we took a drive.  It was pretty and we enjoyed a nice lunch at Sweet Basil.  From there we stopped at the Main Street of Frisco where I discovered a very good bead store which is sadly going out of business.  After 14 years the owner is retiring so I am hoping it is a happy time and not for economic reasons.  I did help them with their goal of selling all of their inventory.

We woke up to a glorious sunshiney day although morning temps were in the high 30's so definitely a chill in the air.  By the time we were ready to go out it was in the mid 60's, perfect for exploring.




The Aspens are prevalent and iconic.  We were told they only started changing color to their brilliant yellow last week and will likely be done next week so we arrived with perfect timing.   These in downtown Breckenridge are painted blue to raise awareness of deforestation.  They are striking.


This is the one of the many charming views in downtown Breckenridge.  It seems flowers are everywhere.



Thanks to our very well traveled hosts and co-hosts each stop comes with a list of possible places to explore.  This view was from the top of the Carter steps.  The trail head begins at Carter park which is a few streets off the Main Street and is full of cute historic homes.


Shopping tips.....Olive Fusion was a wonderful shop full of teas, olive oils, spices and flavored sugars.  The sugars ranged from ginger sugar, cardamon sugar, cherry sugar, lavender sugar and many more.  They would be a fun addition to Christmas cookies, sprinkled on popcorn, in your cup of tea or in my case, on my mornings French Toast!  The other store I really enjoyed was Slopeside Cowboy which had a huge selection of fancy cowboy boots (I didn't succumb to the temptation to own a pair of sparkly aqua cowboy boots) and some really eclectic clothing.

Today we're off to a railroad ride through the Aspens starting in Leadville, I'll take the camera!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Party's over

Not really, but it was strange to wake up yesterday morning to an entire empty row of RV sites where the night before 26 rigs had been.

After my Canyon Rim ride to see the Colorado Monument I had to make a difficult decision.  Would I travel to the next site which reportedly had some difficult roads or would I choose safe and drive highway 70 to arrive in Breckenridge two days early and meet backup with the caravan there.

I chose Breckenridge but I still have mixed feelings.  The photos of the next destination were breathtaking and there would be dry camping backed directly up to a reservoir.  A beautiful spot for sure.  A catered dinner over looking the resevoir with the camaraderie of being with other air streamers.....choosing to miss it was hard.

I have a tattoo which says 'Life begins at the edge of your comfort zone' and I try to live that way, so I felt a little disappointed in myself.  But then, the edge is relative.  I knew when I signed up I would be challenged and I'm glad I'm here and while terrified I am glad I experienced the monoliths of the  Colorado Monument from above and enjoyed a wonderful meal and a spectacular setting.  I just chose not to challenge myself two days in a row.  I'm ok with that.

The ride to Breckenridge was also full of stunning scenery.  Also wonder of wonders I decided to try knitting while riding.  I get car sick...a 20 second glance at a map can render me nauseous for a long time.  Beading is definitely out, but while in Grand Junction I came across a great yarn store and bought a soft alpaca yarn and cast on a mindless cowl.  The key is I can knit without looking so I was able to knit 3 or 4 inches of cowl on yesterdays trip and still see the scenery and best yet, not get car sick.

Photos begin in Grand Junction and go on to include some of yesterdays scenery on highway 70 between Grand Junction and Breckenridge which is mostly due East across the state.


Downtown Grand Junction has an art series, with a different sculpture on each street corner.  They were fun to explore and here i give you two of my favorite.  San Diego used to have a similar program called Urban Trees along the waterfront but they haven't done it for a few years now and I miss it.




I especially loved this whimsical steam punky rocket ship (?)



So I stated in the fist Rocky Mountain caravan blog that I was aiming for a pair of earrings completed at each stop and after a couple of disappointing design attempts I was falling short of the goal.  I decided to try to step it up again and I now have three pair.




This pair can almost be counted as two since a simple flip on the earlier and the can be worn on the reverse side.  These are all in the 'fancy' vein as they are being designed for a series called 'Going Formal' which I will teach on a cruise ship.  



Finally as promised scenery from yesterdays ride.  



The color of the aspens is so vibrant.  Having grown up in Massachusetts I miss fall foliage season but the views here promise to provide a visual treat.


 The Tiger Run RV resort between Frisco and Breckenridge is beautiful.  Large large cement lots bounded by trees for privacy and lots of places to walk to.  Today we are going to explore Vail as I've never been, and tomorrow we'll try for being a bit more athletic and outdoorsy.  Tomorrow night we look forward to the rest of the caravan arriving.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Colorado Monument

The ride from Dinosaur to Grand Junction was a bit over 130 miles and took around 3 hours.  We did traverse one rather high and somewhat scary mountain pass but I'm getting a little more used to them and taking them slow and steady I seem to survive.


I love this shot of the caravan leaders airstream in front of us.  The scenery was breathtaking.


It's interesting to me that it is so substantially different than anything I am used to.

It rained all night in Flaming Gorge before we left, but cleared up for our drive.  Left in it's wake was this dramatic sky.


We settled into the new campground in Grand Junction Colorado which is in an industrial area, much different from our serene surroundings in Flaming Gorge.  The main attraction was a tour to the Colorado Monument.  I totally understand the appeal, but for someone who is terrified of windy mountain roads with sheer drop offs, the ride to experience the monoliths was not comfortable.  I do realize it's me, 47 other people on the bus had no issues at all....me I clung to Mark with my eyes closed barely breathing.  But when we stopped and got out, the scenery was magnificent.

This was a view across the canyon at sunset.  The haze is caused by the California wildfires.  Once we got back on the bus, as the sun continued to set, there is a definite purple color to these canyon views...I however was unable to look.


Perhaps this shot gives you a sense of the scale we are talking about....we were riding around on the top of this canyon, on a huge bus!


From the visitors center (where I got my National Park Passport stamped!)  was a view of this Mesa where we were treated to a catered dinner complete with white table cloths and excellent food.



Here is a fun shadow portrait of some of the caravaners taking photos of the view.


Today we're off to the Wine Festival in Palisades!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The road to Dinosaur Mountain

Flaming Gorge was a rainy two days.  The ride there was reasonably tame and the campground hosts greeted us beautifully.  We hunkered down and enjoyed the rain with outings to a nearby resort who put together a temporary shelter for our great chili cook off.  We were beautifully hosted at the Flaming Gorge pine forest rv park.

As usual I had some trepidation about the ride to the next destination, knowing we had ten switchbacks to negotiate.  The beauty of being in a caravan is that we followed three other airstreams and were followed by one as well.  We also use CB's to communicate enroute.  The good news is it was easily negotiated at a very slow speed and I wasn't even scared.

It was one of the shorter distances between two venues at 66 miles and an hour and twenty minutes.  The new campground is wonderful.  Dry camping, but often that is where the best views and sites are I am learning.

I opted to take the afternoon off of the group activity of seeing dinosaur bones and cook a nice meal, take a walk and knit.  It worked really well for me.

Here are some of the views that I took during the drive.  The skies here have been so dramatic.



During one of the TEN S curves on the way down the mountain we came along this river.



I especially like it when there are guardrails!


Two photos of what look like red painted rocks.  Very pretty stuff.


Tomorrow we are off to Grand Junction, about a three hour drive and a three day stay which is always nice.  We'll have two free days, one of which we are using to attend a local wine festival.

This trip has been exhilarating!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Last day in Jackson

We had a group breakfast at Dorman, chuckwagon style which I am guessing means outdoors.  Fortunately I had my down jacket in the car and thoroughly enjoyed a Wyoming french toast breakfast, two eggs over easy and crisp bacon!  A great start to the day.

A little further up the road we traveled to Jenny Lake and opted for the Hidden Falls trail.  This could be accomplished by a 5 mile round trip hike or......a shuttle boat and a 2 mile road trip.  We chose the shuttle boat which was very scenic.  I did however where my 'cute' hiking boots!

these were both from the boat ride




and this was the top of the hike with the hidden falls


We also stopped at the Teton Pass visitor center where I was able to obtain my senior national park pass.  These are available at the age of 62 and grant you the ability to enter all national parks for free!  A nice perk for being 62.



Sunday, September 13, 2015

Jackson Wyoming

We arrived midday in Jackson and got settled into our rv park home for the next four days.  Unlike Madison where we had much distance between campsites, here we are all in a row, or several rows actually, which makes a good photo op.  We're also at the foot of a mountain covered in pines which makes a nice backdrop.

Just a few of the 26 rigs we are traveling with!




Getting ready for our 'float' down the snake river.  We had a choice of white water rapids or the gentler, drier float and we picked the float.  Having once been dumped on a white water raft I have no desire to repeat the experience.



Here was the second of the two boats.  The scenery was spectacular.  The weather was perfect, and lunch at the end was delicious!


This is Nick who was our guide.  He did both white water and floats down the snake river in the summer and is a ski instructor in the winter.  In between seasons he visits his older brother in Venice Beach California.  I'd say he's living the good life.



and in between adventures I'm still managing some beading time.  My goal is a pair of earrings in each venue, we shall see.  These were accomplished on my 'trailer day' in Madison.   


Today we're off to downtown Jackson to explore!


Friday, September 11, 2015

Madison Wyoming in Yellowstone

I left you after Fillmore where we stayed in a nice park that was mainly for off road vehicles and every RV had 1 or 3 and the park was filled with 6 year olds driving these ATV's.  But despite that we parked next to another couple who we enjoyed spending time with, lots of similarities!

Day three had us driving through Utah and spending the night in Pocatello.  The 'campground' was lets just say rustic with 12 spots, but we did pull up along side a river and with only 3 other RV's it was a quiet night.  The temperatures were heading downward but we stayed nice and warm in cozy in our airstream.

Day four is where the excitement was due to start as we finally joined up with the caravan.  We had a leisurely drive through pretty country and entered Yellowstone through the West gate, traveling 11 more miles to Madison campground.

This was our first venture into dry camping and we did fairly well, watching our water tanks, and charging our battery as needed.  We were not expecting internet and cell service to be virtually non existent but it was a fine thing.  The natural beauty was awe inspiring and we spent the day meeting up with 52 other caravaners.

Everyone made us feel incredibly welcome and were happy to share knowledge and make us feel comfortable as first time caravaners.  Many have done more than ten caravans and several of the group also lead caravans.

On day two of Madison we drove to Mammoth to listen to Jim Halfpenny speak on the carnivores of Yellowstone.  Wolves were his particular speciality and I was surprised to learn that the lifespan of a wolf who makes it past 6 months is still only about 4 years.

He also talked about one of the great animals that are impossible to miss.  Often they come right up to the road and you must proceed cautiously.  This group was on our way out of the park.  I liked the geyser backdrop.







We followed up Mammoth with a visit to Old Faithful as I might have been embarrassed to have been in the park and had to say I hadn't seen it.  I must say it was spectacular.  I have a 2 minute video but no still.  It was definitely worth seeing.

I took advantage of a 'trailer day' as I'm informed the lingo is.  I skipped a planned outing that Mark went on, and I sat in the trees, gentle breeze surrounding me, peacefully quiet and very pretty and I beaded all day.  What a treat!  this was the result of my 'trailer day'






This is our official caravan photo!   This group does things right with a notebook which contains a photo of each couple along with a myriad of information about each days activities.


We'll be in Jackson now for 4 days and start out with a group dinner this evening at a nearby restaurant.  Tomorrow is a float trip which sounds refreshing (it's hot here....the day started at 29 degrees and is now 78)  Then we'll be free to explore and it looks the like kind of town I'd like exploring in.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Day Two of the Rocky Mountain Adventure

And an update....read below first if you haven't already....We pulled into the Utah KOA and our Rv neighbors said 'hey were you in Las Vegas last night at the Oasis?  Well yes we were...so obviously we had traversed the same route so I had to ask...'what did you think of that pass with the roadwork?' This well seasoned RV'er pulling a trailer said ' that was some scary passage' So I felt both vindicated and calibrated.....this was indeed maybe some of the scariest stuff we will face.  Turns out our neighbors were from near San Diego and had a lot of similarities.


We left the Las Vegas Oasis park at 7:15 a.m. for what we thought was going to be shorter drive but according to the gps lady we would arrive at 1:09 p.m. very close to yesterdays time.  We puzzled about that and set off and mid way through the trip discovered that the analog clock said 11:15 while the digital watch said 12:15.....time change, our first and we totally forgot about it.

The morning cloud formations were beautiful, which is great because the beauty is a counter balance for my fear......and today was scary for me.  You may have gathered from previous posts, I'm the chicken in the family, the scaredy cat, the fretter.......I can rationally tell myself all is well, and I am happy I'm  out here challenging my fears, but yep, I'm a little tad anxious. So....first the beautiful scenery.




I drove for a couple of hours yesterday and today I announced I'd take a turn.  All was well, nice wide 2 lane roads, some gentle curves and smallish grades no sweat and then.....Well I need to preface it with I have had a recurring nightmare since I was young.  I take a wrong turn while lost and end up on a scary windy high road to nowhere.  I'm sure there are plenty of dream interpretations for this, and they are probably very revealing, but I've not had the dream for quite a while which I interpret as having arrived at being mostly comfortable in my own skin.  So I'm driving along and it's clear there are some mountains and it's always a bit hard to tell, are we hugging the foothills or going through, is there a canyon we don't see yet....no, it was a pass and there I was on it.  No problem, I can do this, people do all the time right?  Then it gets a bit curvier and a bit steep and then there is roadwork!  It is one lane wide, it's high, it's curvy and there is a jersey barrier on both sides.  It's my nightmare and I'm driving.  There is nowhere to pull over of course and there is nothing to be done except to avoid the full on panic attack I thought was approaching.  I asked Mark to just talk to me calmly, tell me we were fine, it was ok to go slow......well we made it of course.  It was about 2 miles of sheer panic and once I had two lanes again I thought, heck I can do this, THIS is easy.  Which is about the only upside of the experience.  This is day two, I suspect we'll have more uncomfortable (for me) moments, but I'm betting the good experiences will far outweigh them.

I relinquished the wheel soon after and sat back to relax and take a couple of more photos.


We're staying in Fillmore which apparently used to be the capital of Utah.  Hard to tell it now.  But it's the type of campground I like....gravel with lawn and trees between RV's.  I look forward to the desert sky tonight and the cooler temps.  It's currently 82 but that's substantially down from yesterdays 99.  We're enjoying a breeze and an afternoon off.  I'm about to decide whether to bead or knit and if it's knitting which shawl will I knit?