Friday, July 28, 2017

Back to Colorado

Post by Henry

Continuing our journey North, we spent a month in Colorado in the same RV park as two years ago, about thirty (30) miles from Salida. This allowed us considerable time to spend with our friends, James and Mary, who we 'met' when we were here two years ago. Meeting them here in Colorado was kind of weird considering James and I worked for the same company in the Atlanta area for several years, but didn't really know each other. Now, we've become best of friends and it's like we've known them forever. (See post from July 2015.)

Mary, Henry, James (in front, seated)
Angie & Robert (James and Mary's daughter-in-law and son)

First off, Salida is just a cool little town. It's a lively little place with something going on all the time. There's coffee shops, restaurants, consignment stores, various artsy stores, festivals, a great farmers market, and several tasty breweries. Oh - and the Arkansas River runs through town. And everybody bikes!

Salida Farmers Market

Fun Salida


The kayak festival was happening while we were there again. 

Getting Ready for FIBArk

This was the 69th FIBArk (First in Boating the Arkansas) Whitewater Festival, with world class kayakers, a parade, live music, arts and crafts, and a crazy event called the Hooligan Race. Huh?

KISS in the Parade!

To quote the FIBArk website, the "Hooligan Race is open to anything that floats that's not a boat". Hooligans dress up in costume and the winner is chosen by crowd support. This spectacle of "controlled chaos" is a local tradition that always produces a huge turnout.
They're not kidding, either! The venue was packed with folks on all sides to watch the spectacle of homemade rafts coming through the rapids, some of which fell apart almost immediately, and others that should've collapsed but somehow made it through intact.

Lining the Bank of the Arkansas River
The Hooligan Races

Here Come the Hooligans!

More Hooligans...

Another event was dare devil Hooligans riding their bikes down a ramp and flipping into the raging waters of the Arkansas! This brought lots of cheers from the crowd.

Hooligan Riding/Jumping Bicycle
into Arkansas River

Another Hooligan

We visited a roadside attraction called Bishop Castle. 

Bishop Castle

Hmmmmmm, how to describe Bishop Castle..........Well, this very interesting guy, Jim Bishop, has been building a castle - rock by rock - for over 40 years - by himself - since he was 15 years old! He is kinda eccentric, but I'll have to admit, the castle is quite impressive.

Towering Cathedral Windows

His family business was ornamental iron, and he incorporated a LOT of ornamental iron into the castle design.

Exquisite Ornamental Iron Walkway

You can read more about Bishop Castle here. So, if you ever make it to Colorado, check out this one of a kind attraction. 

We took a trip to see Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. 

Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Usually when you think of Colorado, you imagine looking up at the Rocky Mountains, but here you look down into a magnificent canyon carved by the Gunnison River.

Gunnison River at the Bottom of  Black Canyon of the Gunnison

We checked out a spot not far from where we were staying called Russell Lakes State Wildlife area. It's a pull off on the side of the road overlooking a pond with ducks and other water fowl. We'd been here before, but this time, we discovered there's a trail at the back that wanders back from the road to several other hidden ponds. We were able to see additional birds that we would normally associate more with the Gulf Coast than Colorado.

Look Closely for the Second American Bittern

Loretta and I spent a few days tent camping at Maroon Bells National Recreation area. 

Maroon Bells

I was lucky enough to score a hard-to-get reservation for a campsite just 5 miles down the street from the Bells. Our campsite overlooked East Maroon Creek and the sound of the rushing water made for some great sleeping. During the day though, our eyes were wide open taking in the beauty of the Maroon Bells, which are said to be the most photographed mountains in Colorado. 

The Maroon Bells

Hiking through the Aspens

Looking the Other Way

We did a loop hike there we enjoyed so much, we did it again the next day! 

Crossing Maroon Creek

Hiking along Clear Water and The Bells

The Maroon Bells in view around every bend, crystal clear waters of Maroon Lake and creek plus the wildflowers were spectacular, including the state flower, Colorado Blue Columbine.

Colorado State Flower - Blue Colombine


Our friends from Alabama, Ken and Trish were in Colorado towards the end of June and we caught up with them for a couple of days. We had lunch in the cool little town of Creede, and toured Bachelors Loop through the historic mining district above town. 

Last Chance Mine

A few miles further up the road, we saw the most photographed water falls in Colorado, North Clear Creek Falls.

North Clear Creek Falls

The next day we got in a good hike through another explosion of wildflowers. We'll be catching up with Ken and Trish again later this summer in Montana.

Elephant Head

We ended our stay in Colorado on the 4th of July, Salida style, with a nice little All American Independence Day parade and James and Mary's neighborhood cookout. And we didn't have to go far for the grand finale. We simply set up chairs on the street right in front of their house to watch a most impressive fireworks display over S mountain. WOW!

Fourth of July Fireworks

And BOOM, just like that our stay in Colorado came to a close.

It was a bit sad parting ways with our Salida pals, and we were tempted to stay longer, but instead, we may pass this way again on our journey south in the fall.

Bonus Pic
The Maroon Bells

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

More of New Mexico

Post by Henry and Loretta

Well, Howdy! Long time, no see. We ARE still going and going and going.....

After City of Rocks, we headed to northern New Mexico and spent a few days outside of Las Vegas, New Mexico (NOT Nevada) at Storrie Lake State Park. After City of Rocks, Storrie Lake was a bit of a letdown, but there was plenty to see and do nearby.

We were able to catch up with our friends, Bob and Maureen, who have been fulltime RVing for over seven (7) years now.

Bob and Maureen

They were the first couple we met in Florida when we started our adventure 2 1/2 years ago. They had been staying in the Las Vegas area for several weeks, so they showed us some of the sights.

First, we went 'hot potting'! Say what?

Hot Pottin' at Montezuma
Hot Springs

Hot potting is soaking in natural hot springs. Just outside of town are the Montezuma Hot Springs, which was a great attraction for the 1890's Montezuma Hotel, where people came to rejuvinate their bodies in the hot mineral waters. Rumor has it that Jesse James and Billy the Kid soaked in these springs!

Former Montezuma Hotel

After a good soak, we continued up the road past the hot springs as it made it's way further into the mountains. We ended up at a quiet forest service campground on the Gallinas River. A few trailheads are there that deserve further exploration at a future date.

In the afternoon, we walked around the historic plaza of Old Town Las Vegas.

Las Vegas, NM

Las Vegas, NM

We spent a long day exploring Taos and the surrounding area. The ride there and back was absolutely beautiful with views of tumbling rivers and snow capped peaks.

Raging River going toward Taos

As we walked around town, we worked up a powerful thirst. A visit to the Taos Mesa Brewery took care of that!

Taos Mesa Brewing
Taos, NM

Outdoor Seating with a View

We strolled out onto the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, where far below, we spotted some Bighorn Sheep. Later, we saw more Bighorn Sheep incredibly close off the side of the road.

Rio Grande Gorge Bridge

Big Horn Sheep

Big Horn Sheep
How's this for a Close-up?

Up the road a few more miles, we drove through Earthship. What is Earthship? Click here.

Earthship House 1

Earthship House 2

Earthship House 3

After our stay at Storrie Lake State Park, we moved 100 miles west to Cochiti Lake.

Cochiti Lake 

 This is a Corps of Engineers Lake and Campground that was quite beautiful. We somehow scored what we felt was the best campsite, sitting at the top of the campground with 360 degree views of the lake and surrounding mountains.

Our Cochiti Lake Campsite

Just down the street from Cochiti Lake was a place called Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument. Turns out Kasha-Katuwe is famous for it's cone shaped rock formations, which were the result of the Jemez volcanic eruptions about 7 million years ago. The surreal hike through the slot canyons and past the tent rocks was unlike any place we have ever been before.


Beginning the hike at Kasha-Katuwe

Into the Slots

Tent Rock Formations

View from the Top

We made several trips to Santa Fe from Cochiti Lake. We spent one day with Bob and Maureen again, checking out the cool farmers market and walking around the historic and very busy plaza.

Santa Fe Marketplace

Covered Wagon in Santa Fe

Creative Stairway

We also made a trip to Bandelier National Monument. From Cochiti Lake, the monument is 8 miles as the crow flies, but 70+ miles via roadway.

Bandelier National Monument

New Mexico Style

This is another place like others we've visited that protects the petroglyphs, cliff dwellings, and masonry foundations of the homes of the Ancestral Pueblo people who lived here hundreds of years ago.

Ancient Puebloan Structures

The highlight here for us was a visit to the Alcove House, which required climbing 4 ladders to reach.

Climbing the Ladder

Long House Remains

Altogether, we spent about 6 weeks in New Mexico. Just like so many places we've been in the last 2 1/2 years, it's another we want to return to and spend even more time.  Gee - that list is getting long. Somewhere along the way, we're gonna need to find the fountain of youth!

Beauty in the Desert