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|
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!|
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
We visited a roadside attraction called 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.
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.
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.
The Maroon Bells