Saturday, September 30, 2006

Cortez

Never ready to leave Ridgway, but it always happens anyway. We meant to visit Ouray while we were there, but didn’t get to it. A scenic drive to Owl Creek Pass didn’t happen. Black Canyon of the Gunnison is only a few miles away, but didn’t make it there either. The scenic loop around through Gateway, Uravan, and Naturita didn’t happen. Didn’t even go to the overlook at the Visitor Center. Couldn’t get past the birding, hiking, and flyfishing. Time to move on.

Ridgway to Cortez. One-hundred thirty miles of jaw dropping indescribably beautiful scenery. Fall color at its finest. Green and gold punctuated by red/purple oak brush against snow covered peaks, with a blue sky backdrop. Through Placerville and Sawpit. Colorado Highway 145 past Telluride, over Lizard Head Pass, and the long cruise downhill past streamside narrowleaf cottonwoods and oak brush. Through Rico, Stoner, and Dolores, to Cortez.

When we roll in to Ridgway State Park, it’s like coming home; hugs all around. When we roll in to the Koa in Cortez, it’s like coming home; hugs all around, dinner with the crew, it’s so good to be here.

Tomorrow, a drive through Mesa Verde.


Saturday

Hey Brother Tom,


Can you guess where we are?




Thursday, September 28, 2006

Along the way

Sometimes ravens just soar.




Birds

Did I show you our great bird feeder? Picked it up from our friends at Wild Birds Unlimited in Denver. It is heavy, so it is stable, and it is in pieces so it disassembles and travels in a bin in the basement of the motorhome.


It's just right.



Along the way

Sometimes ravens just soar.



Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Ridgway

There is no picture I can take to capture the scope of the scenery that surrounds us, it is so vast. The new moon has set, but I can't take a picture of the milky way stretching from horizon to horizon. I can take a picture of the deer wandering through the campground, but you can't see the fawns hurrying to catch up with Mom. You can't hear the kingfisher rattle its way downriver, the scrub jay and steller's jay in a calling battle, or see the water still dripping from the fish in the talons of the osprey. You can't see the face of the chipmunk swelled to twice its normal size with the seeds from our feeder that were meant for the birds.

I can take a snapshot, but you have to multiply its impact by a hundred.



Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Monday, September 25, 2006

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Ridgway

We have osprey here

Ridgway

Sunday. Warmer still. We're in the sixties.


Snow? There's no snow here.


Saturday, September 23, 2006

Ridgway

Today, it got brighter.



Orvis hot springs

Snow falling mist rising, can't see more than a few feet. Stew in the pool until it’s too hot to stay, lie on the bench in the cool open air with a thousand tiny pinpoints of snowflakes landing until they start to accumulate, back in the pool again. Cycle indefinitely.

It’s good to be here.


Friday, September 22, 2006

Ridgway

Tonight at ten o’clock, fall officially arrives. Three months from now will be the first day of winter. This was the view out our window this morning.


Monarch pass

This is the view out the windshield at the top of monarch pass yesterday. Can you see the darker part at the bottom? That's the road.





Thursday, September 21, 2006

Thursday

Highway 50 through Nevada, represented as the “Loneliest Highway in America”? We drove the Colorado version of it today. Highway 50 from Canon City all the way to Montrose, following the Arkansas River watershed to Salida, then up and over Monarch pass in the fog and snow, motorcycles pulled over, a car off the road, through Gunnison, past Blue Mesa Reservoir, lunch at the overlook, and on to fuel up in Montrose. A strange mix of fall and winter.

We last filled up in Longmont, drove all the way west across the mountains to Glenwood, spent a week, dove diagonally across the mountains again to Canon City, spent another week, then back west across the mountains. One tank, six hundred miles.

From Montrose to Ridgway State Park. Got the last spot overlooking the river. The weather is cold and blustery. Up to a couple feet of snow up high. We’ll hunker down for a few days till the weather gets warmer. Another birdy spot. In just a few hours we’ve seen flickers, nuthatches, bluebirds, warblers, pewees, pipits, bushtits, jays, chickadees, robins, kingfishers, swallows, and a lincoln’s sparrow.

Good to be here.


Africa

I listened to that waterhole site in Africa for a couple hours last night before it got dawn there. Lots of crickets and the occasional grunt or shuffle. Interesting that it went offline not long after I sent the link out. Maybe we overwhelmed it.


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Africa

Well into evening here, a new day dawns in Botswana....


http://www9.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/wildcamafrica/



(Thanks to a tip from daughter Becky, we can watch and listen).



Canon city

Wow! Friday came early this week. Finished the job up today. We could stay around for a couple more days, but we’re in a weather window. Should be fairly clear tomorrow, rain/snow in the high country by Friday, and we need to go over Monarch Pass. Road trip! Manana, Ridgway State Park. We’ll set up shop there for a job in Montrose next week.


Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Bridge

On our way over Tennessee Pass, we cross this really cool bridge. The problem with it is that the road approaches so Judy can see it coming, and she has some trouble with her acrophobia.


This last trip across, we distracted her by having her take a picture, and she concentrated on that, rather than how scary it is to go across the bridge.



I have no idea what we're going to do for the next trip across.



Monday, September 18, 2006

Canon city

What a great birdy place! In the field, on the fence, on the feeder. Mountain and western bluebirds, scrub jays, a hummingbird, ladder backed woodpecker, hairy woodpecker, flicker, kinglet, yellow rumps, chipping sparrows, and over by the Royal Gorge we saw an olive sided flycatcher and hundreds of white throated swifts.


Canon city

By the way, there is a spanish accent over the "n" in Canon City, making the pronounciation "Canyon" City. Like "pinon", in pinon pine, accent over the "n".



Yellowstone

While we were in Yellowstone, we came across one of those dreaded coffin buses. Tour buses that not only take tourists around during the day, but house them at night as well; front half for the day, rear for the night. The right rear side pops out, has some canvas for walls, a stairway to a platform, and provides access to the sleeping slots. The tourists in them tend to be Japanese, but we've talked to some Germans traveling in one before too.


A clever use of existing technology, but they look pretty tight to me. They look worse than that to my claustrophobe wife.




Sunday, September 17, 2006

Canon city

Today's view.



Football

Offense? We don't need no stinking offense.


Still, no touchdowns scored against the Broncos.



They must be destined for the superbowl.




Canon city

And western bluebirds too.



Saturday, September 16, 2006

Football

Texas won big. Our Colorado Buffs didn't look very good losing to Arizona.


But tomorrow..... the Broncos take on their next victim.... the Kansas City Chiefs. Kansas City lost their starting quarterback last week, the Denver defense has been awesome, so there's no way Kansas City will be able to score any points. Here's hoping the Broncos offense shows up this week and it doesn't end up a zero zero tie.




Guillemot

We saw a pigeon guillemot while we were in Oregon; a new bird for us. It wasn't this exact pigeon guillemot, this one is in the aviary in Newport, but this is what it looked like.



Canon city

Time to leave Glenwood. The job is done. Blustery weather. Rain all morning. Snow in the high country. Not far to go. Made a leisurely start. Had lunch at the rest stop at the top of Vail Pass. Admired the scenery and watched it snow. Rolled on down the other side, hung a right on Colorado Highway 9 at Frisco, up through Breckenridge, over Hoosier Pass, down through Alma and Fairplay. Colorado Highway 9 almost all the way to Canon City. We have a new favorite Colorado highway. Diagonally across South Park, through rolling hills and ponderosa pine. Not a spectacular canyon highway, but remote grassy hills spotted with trees and flowers. Finally, over one last hump, and a long downhill to Highway 50, one of our favorite highways, but no driving on Highway 50 today. The Royal View RV Park is right there at the intersection. We’re still about ten miles from town, where next week’s job is, but we’re happy to be out here among the bluebirds. Hundred of bluebirds. Mountain bluebirds.


Friday, September 15, 2006

Trains

Our place here, up on the hill, is just far enough from the tracks that the trains passing through the canyon in the night are charming. From down on the river, though, it is a different story. It’s nice down there. Campsites backed right up to the rushing river. You leave your bedroom window open at night so you can sleep to the sound of the water. Then you get the trains. Ten trains a night. Freight trains. Coal trains, a hundred cars long, fully loaded, two engines in the front, three in the middle, two in the back, grinding their way up the canyon, the scream of metal-to-metal, steel wheels on steel tracks, straining around the sharp turns.

From up here, in the distance, it is a charming sound.


Birds

Chickadees! Black-capped chickadees. On the feeder. Finally.

On our last day here.


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Sports weekend

It was a huge sports weekend. Dual residents of Colorado and Texas, we have so many teams to root for. Saturday, we put out our CU flag and watched our unranked Buffs get beat by CSU. We put out our Texas flag and watched our #1 Longhorns get beat by Ohio. We cheered Henin-Hardenne on in the US Open Women’s Finals, while she lost to Sharapova. Sunday Morning, we got up and left St Vrain State Park at 7am, so we would be in Glenwood in time for the Bronco game. We put out the Bronco flag. We cheered on our Broncos as they humiliated the Rams. The Rams had chance after chance after chance, but they could never score a touchdown on the Broncos. In fact, just to show them how good the defense really is, the Broncos gave them the ball an extra four times. The Rams did score six field goals and more points than the Broncos did, but who really cares about that.

After the Bronco game, we watched our Cowboys get beat by Jacksonville. In the US Open Men’s Final, we cheered for Roddick while he got beat by Federer.

Lucky for us we have the Broncos. It could have been a dismal sports weekend if the Broncos defense hadn’t stepped up like they did. I mean, how often is this team going to get beat if no-one can score a touchdown on them? Go Broncos! I think they’re going to the SuperBowl.


Puffin

And he's a good looking tufted puffin, wouldn't you say?



Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Birds

It’s not very birdy here this trip. Last time we were here we had birds on the feeder the first day. We have magpies, ravens, and robins in the neighborhood, but not a chickadee, hummer, nuthatch, or finch in sight. No kingbirds either. It's too quiet.

We need a new bird. Haven’t seen a new one since August.


Birds

Just because we didn’t see a puffin in Oregon doesn’t mean we didn’t see a puffin in Oregon. We didn’t see any wild puffins. We did get a close encounter with some seabirds at the Oregon Aquarium in Newport.

Tufted Puffin.


Monday, September 11, 2006

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Glenwood

Denver to Glenwood. A four-humper. Two uphills, two downhills, to get to Idaho Springs. A big hump over the continental divide. One more over Vail Pass. A long roll-out from there, through Glenwood Canyon, to Glenwood Springs. Back to No Name. We’ll be here a week.

Early September, the beginnings of fall color, a cool cloudy day in the high country, fresh snow on the higher ridges. Sunday morning. No traffic. An easy drive. An afternoon thundershower. The air is fresh. It’s good to be here.


Saturday, September 9, 2006

Things not to do in a motorhome

Here is a $1,000 mistake not to make. You think the alignment might be a little off, but it’s no big deal. Then you notice a little cupping on the right front tire, but you’re headed for Bend in a few weeks, and they’ll probably just take care of it for you under warranty. But by the time you get to Bend, the tire is worse so that after they’ve aligned it, it still doesn’t feel right, but you got the coach back last thing on a Friday afternoon and it was time to leave, you couldn’t even talk to them again until Monday, so you head off to Montana. By then you realize that something more needs to be done, so you schedule an appointment the next week in Colorado to check the alignment, but by the time you get there, the right front tire is completely shot. Worn out tires are a problem, but do you replace just one front tire? I don’t think so!

Alignments on big motorhomes are expensive: $250. The price for trying to avoid paying for the alignment: Two $500 tires, plus we still had to pay for the alignment.

Just in case that ever happens to you, now you know what to do. Just do it.

At least we get to drive away with our smooth, straight, nice riding motorhome back. Problem resolved.


St vrain state park

I think, at last report, we were in Chatfield State Park. A nice family get together there on Monday. Our kids and kids. Cousin Jennifer with her kids and kids. Kids everywhere. About two dozen of us altogether. Nice mild weather.

Then a thirty mile commute to Conifer. A long commute, but it's that good one up Deer Creek Canyon, past Tiny Town and Windy Point, through Aspen Park, and into Conifer. A busy time getting the job done in a four-day week, but done it is.

We relocated the motorhome out to the north of Denver after work on Thursday. Spent the night in the parking lot at a truck repair shop in Frederick for a quick fix-up. Judy spent Friday, while they worked on the coach, with Becky. Together, after work, we picked up the coach and headed to St Vrain State Park outside Longmont for a couple nights. A rest-up day at the State Park next to a pond. Lots of tennis and college football on the tube, accompanied by occasional thunderstorms in the afternoon. Tomorrow, we’re off for Glenwood Springs. Go Broncos.

Monday, September 4, 2006

Along the way

Frontier sculpture, fashioned entirely out of barbed wire.

Montana

Our site at Grizzly in West Yellowstone.



Sunday, September 3, 2006

Along the way

A turn of the century, steam powered, belt driven, ten horsepower sawmill in operation. It took as many guys in red suspenders as horsepower to run that thing.


Moving on

Saturday. An easy drive from Riverton, past Hell’s Half Acre, through Casper, to Wheatland for a visit with Bill and Marge. Sunday, Wyoming to Colorado, Erie, Becky Brian and the kids, and Chatfield State Park. The park is completely full today, this last big weekend of the summer. Good thing Judy got us reservations.

Oregon

One more picture of the Oregon coast.



Saturday, September 2, 2006

Friday

Travel day. Through the park again, but this time in the motorhome. Drive by and sometimes stop to admire rivers, geysers, bison, elk, deer, osprey, eagles, nutcrackers, juncos, ravens. Judy wanted to see a bull moose, but we didn’t. South out of Yellowsone Park, and in the north entrance to Tetons. Still watching for moose in all the willow fields. Outside the parks, we got a mom and a calf. Judy says a mom and a calf equals one bull.

Owls.

Got an unusual bird. Great Horned Owl. Not unusual because it was a great horned owl, but unusual because it was standing on the top of a power pole in the middle of the day. Couldn’t stop to examine him, we just blew past in the motorhome. But then a really unusual thing happened. A few miles later we passed another owl, just like the first one. We talked about turning the rig around to go check that one out, but didn’t. Really, what are the chances, two great horned owls would be behaving like that within a few miles of each other?

But then again, this is Wyoming. What else are they going to stand on for a good look around? Well, I guess there were a few trees along that river. And if you see a bird like an owl, it’s not at all unusual to see its mate within the next few miles.

At any rate, so began the debate between Judy and me about whether those were real owls or stunt owls. Guess we’ll never know unless we drive back to see if they are still there with their feet glued to the pole or they’re gone.

Stopped for the night in Riverton.