Thu, Sept 29, 2016
Carol and I are staying in Grand Junction at the confluence of the Gunnison and Colorado Rivers. The city sits in the Grand Valley and the Grand Mesa is to the east. See a pattern here?
Wiki says the Grand Mesa is the world’s largest flat mountain and I’m not one to argue. Pictures I’ve seen are beautiful so I thought I’d head up there to see what it’s all about.
Today was a wet one so no blue skies for me. Here’s what it looked like on the way up.
The route is a dirt road with one switchback after another. This wouldn’t be a problem were it not for the constant washboard. Better check my fillings…
About half way up, I got a glimpse of some aspens and my perspective really changed. And then around the corner and boom! The side of the mountain lit up in various shades of yellow and red. Really spectacular. These photos don’t do it justice.
Wed, Sept 28, 2016
Last night was a cool one with crystal clear skies and a bright Milky Way. So I thought I’d take a stab at it.
I’m using a Nikon D800 camera and Nikon 14-24 zoom lens. This picture was shot at 14mm, ISO 1600 and exposed for 30 secs. I use Adobe Lightroom to process my shots and I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not very good at it.
Here’s the shot straight out of the camera. Not much there, eh?
And here’s the shot after processing. It’s a bit cartoonish but was fun doing it (the bright spot in the lower right was a neighboring town).
Tue, Sept 27, 2016
Carol and I visited the local historical museum today and it was a hoot. Starting with the volunteer guide who has been around as long as, well, let’s just say a long time.
Silt has done a great job of collecting artifacts and they moved half a dozen old homes from the range onto their site to make a small village. It was pretty cool.
One of the buildings was a saloon that had a copy of the famous picture of The Wild Bunch, Butch Cassidy’s outlaw group.
One of the members was a local kid that went by the name of Kid Curry. The locals are really proud of him.
He and friends robbed a train in the neighboring town of Parachute and they rode east toward Silt for their escape. But it was not to be as they were caught by the posse and Kid Curry was shot. Not wanting to be taken prisoner, he fatally shot himself in the head. Or so the story goes.
Tue, Sept 27, 2016
I always thought of KOA as campgrounds only but they’ve been expanding their business.
While this site is new and only has a single cabin, we’ve seen many more on our trip. Very appealing on those rainy days when you don’t want to deal with a tent. This one sleeps six, has a kitchen and full bath and costs $119.
We’ve seen smaller, cheaper cabins that don’t have kitchens and I find more appealing as they retain more of a camping feel. Simply set-up your grill on the front porch and have at it.
Tue, Sept 27, 2016
Carol and I are camped on the banks of the Colorado River near the town of Silt, CO. Care to guess how it got its name?
Not terribly photogenic but not bad either.
Mon, Sept 26, 2016
If there’s a more beautiful freeway, I haven’t seen it.
Today was an great day as Carol and I drove I-70 up the front range and over the top through the Eisenhower tunnel (11,300 ft). The scenery was awesome and I wanted pictures of the drive so Carol ended up doing all of the shooting, windshield glare be damned.
The Cayenne pulled like a champ so no issues there. Now that lane closure just before the tunnel, well that’s another story. But what’s an extra hour sitting in traffic when you’ve got all day?
The beauty quotient really ramped up on the down side as we drove past Frisco and the Dillon reservoir. It was stunning with all the aspens but I can’t say that name without feeling like I’m insulting The City.
Further down we passed Copper Mountain, Vail and finally through the Glenwood Canyon. The former are well know for their beauty but Glenwood was a surprise for me, a very good one. It was carved by the Colorado river which is just outside our back door 🙂
We’re now settled in to our campsite waiting for the debate. Thank you Dish TV!
Frisco and the Dillon Reservoir.
Aspens along the road and yet more road construction 😦
Even the hillside shrubbery was beautiful – this is just outside of Glenwood Springs.
Sunday, Sept 25, 2016
After relaxing in camp a few hours, Carol and I decided to drive down to Idaho Springs for some groceries at the local Safeway. But boy did we take a wrong turn.
To reach Central City from Denver, you drive up Hwy 119 about an hour to the Black Hawk exit and then it’s only a couple of miles. And that’s the problem. The businessmen in Black Hawk weren’t about to let all those gamblers drive by so they built new casinos. They now have 18 vs 6 in Central City and do about seven times the revenue.
In an effort to compete, Central City completed a four-lane, 8 mile Parkway down to I-70 that bypasses Black Hawk. Carol and planned to use it to reach Safeway. Out of our KOA campground, there’s a sign that points to I-70 and down we went not knowing that we weren’t on the Parkway.
It all started pleasant enough but the blacktop turned to a dirt road and I’m thinking ‘this is a parkway?’. Carol was driving, sweaty palms and all, and I told her to keep going but it was pretty rough and one of the signs said ‘12% grade, not maintained in winter’.
I took over driving and we made it to the Safeway. While Carol was shopping, I checked the maps and sure enough, the dirt road was there and so was the Parkway. So who was the prankster who put up the I-70 sign that pointed to the dirt road?
In the Safeway, Carol asked the clerk about the dirt road and learned that the locals call it the ‘Oh My God’ road.
Here’s a pic I took out the windshield when Carol was driving and before we hit the ‘oh my god’ section.
Sunday, Sept 25, 2016
Carol and I explored Central City, CO this afternoon looking for a bite to eat and perhaps an adult beverage.
Central City boomed back in 1859 when a gold vein was discovered and the rush was on. New veins were mined and the population exploded to 10,000 but, like all boom towns, it’s only a matter of time. The population today is 663 and casinos are the only thing keeping it alive.
We had lunch at the Dostal Alley Brewpub (and casino 🙂 ) and took a table by some growing hops. According to the waitress, a brewer named Jacob Mack came to town in the 19th century and planted hops. They grow all over town and the city comes together each summer to pick them and Dostal does the honors to brew the mild ale beer. Not sure how much of this is true but it makes a great story. And the beer is actually pretty good.
The town has done a great job of preserving the 19th century architecture and the aspens aren’t too bad either.
On our way out, we went into the local grocery store looking for bananas but there were none to be had. Then into their liquor section for drinkable wine. Again, no luck but lots of whiskey. Out of curiosity, we walked into the dispensary section and there were dozens of choices. Oh my, how the times have changed 🙂
Sunday, Sept 25, 2016
The sunrise cooperated and gave a nice magenta hue to the valley to our northwest.
Sat, Sept 24, 2016
Carol and I departed Fort Collins this morning and drove down to Golden for lunch with a former colleague. Then it was up, up, up to Central City where our campsite is at 8,885 ft. A quick 1-2-3 up a flight of stairs is all you need to know that you are in thin air.
If that wasn’t enough, our Cayenne was wheezing a bit through town as it was very steep with stop signs. Once the combined 12,500 lbs is under way, all is good but that initial start can be tough. Note to self: upgrade to that Turbo that you’ve always wanted 🙂
We are camped on a knoll with clear views of the surrounding hills and this place is spectacular! The aspens have started to turn and should reach their peak in the next week or so. Luckily for us, we don’t leave Colorado until next Fri and fingers crossed we see them at their peak. Here’s the view to the northwest.
Here’s the mountain to our south and I’m hoping that it’s aspens are glowing with the morning sun. We’ll know first thing in the morning.