Wednesday, September 28, 2016

A Gorgeous Drive to Durango!

It was 37 degrees when we got up so it was a bit chilly.  We were hooked-up and on our way to Durango by 8:15.  Ken was a little anxious regarding the steep drive we would have today through Wolf Creek Pass on Hwy. 160.  Ken had thought we would go around that area and drive an additional hour but after talking to fellow campers and CG owners he decided it was going to be a good challenge for Waldo and him. 

We were so thankful we took this route because the drive was absolutely gorgeous.  We drove through the Rio Grande and San Juan National Forests! Again, the aspen trees are at their peak and breathtaking.  Ken did not use the tow haul mode when going through Wolf Creek Pass but worked at using the gears of Waldo and did a great job. He felt like he learned a lot on this drive. We had to drive 9 miles down the mountain with a 7% grade.  I was impressed at how well the drive went.  I will prepare you for all the scenic photos but I was the photographer today from inside Waldo as we were driving and couldn't help myself.  I just loved the aspens and the mountainside. The colors are fabulous and much better "in person" than in a picture!  These photos are going up the mountain -

The aspens were so colorful on this drive!

What can I say????

Wow, it took some work to construct this tunnel!

At the top!!!!  10,857 feet

 Now we are starting our trip down the steep mountain -

Rather curvy!!

Some hairpin turns!

Just in case your brakes fail and you can't stop!

 We arrived at Alpine Rose CG at 1:00 and what a great location.  We are about 6 miles outside of Historic Durango and 65 miles from Ouray, which we plan to drive to tomorrow!  

This is the scene right near the entrance to the CG!

This is the scenery near the CG!

The red rocks in the background are
what we see from Waldo and our
picnic table.  Not bad, huh??//

The hosts at the CG greeted us and escorted us to our site.  They told us to get set-up and check-in at the office whenever we are ready!  Wow!!  The view from Waldo and our picnic table are magnificent.  We enjoyed eating our lunch outside because it was 74 degrees.  I did some major cleaning inside while Ken washed the windshield and the front of Waldo - we had taken on lots of bugs!

After checking in we went into Durango to the Visitors Center and to a local grocery store - we were out of lettuce and that is a major problem!  Back to Waldo to make dinner and have a relaxing evening.  Ken did some planning for our drive tomorrow while I downloaded photos and did the blog. 

I did talk to Lori Paparo from back home.  She and her husband, Eddie, are on a trip out west also and plan to be home in about a week or so.  I also talked to my sister and she and John are leaving this evening for a month long trip south. Also spoke to Noela and they are working to get their 5th wheel and truck repaired. My mother has a bad cold and some sort of virus that is keeping her confined to her room at Masonic Homes.  Hopefully she will start to feel better soon.

 It has been a busy but fantastic day.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

A Trip into Alamosa, CO!

Ken had a very short night for he was up at 4 AM and never did go back to sleep.  He enjoyed his quiet time, but a little more sleep would have been good!

Our new friends, Mick and Viv, were leaving for Durango this morning, so we went over when they were just about ready to depart to say our good-byes.  We all agreed that we will have to keep in touch!  Ken and I appreciate their adventuresome spirits and their positive outlook on life.  They are an inspiration!

This is Mick and Viv from York, PA

This is their camper.  Under the silver tent is their kitchen and
then the blue tent provides shelter and room for chairs.  The
sleeping part offers air and heat.  Works well for them!

Packed up and ready to head to Durango!

They had told us about a car drive they took yesterday that sounded very interesting, so we decided that would be our plan for today!  We left the CG and headed to Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge about 45 minutes down the road. On the route we traveled we saw nothing but field after field of hay being cut and baled and lots of large irrigation systems.  We saw only 1 field with cattle and 1 of sheep, so I am not sure what they do with all that hay but it must be a profitable business in this area.

We saw stacks of hay like this everywhere on our travels

The old and the new!

This is how they load them in the fields!  The bales are
thrown from the front onto the truck!

The reason we drove to the refuge was to see the migrating sandhill cranes. This is their longest stop on their migration journey and we literally saw hundreds of them.  It was amazing!

A Sandhill Crane!

Don't they look graceful when in flight???

Coming in for a landing!

We saw all the sandhill cranes along the road.  Then we drove through the refuge and spotted a snake and these small ducks.

Not one of my favorite critters!

These ducks were so small!

From there we went to downtown Alamosa to have lunch.  We ate at the San Luis Valley Brewing Company and had the special of the day - chicken fajitas and their red roasted potatoes.  The meal was delicious.  Then we decided to ride bike on the dirt trail that left from the library and followed the Rio Grande. Really wasn't very scenic but we did get to ride about 6 1/2 miles and our bikes were glad they got to go for a ride.

Love rule #2 - dogs and pot bellied pigs must be leashed!
Also, we didn't see any mountain lions while riding!

This is the Rio Grande.  Not too large!

Love the mountains in the background!
We returned to the CG around 4 and while Ken took a short nap I did some reading.  Then it was time to get ready for tomorrow's departure.  I decided to do some laundry while Ken got organized outside. I spent time downloading photos and working on the blog.

Ken took his last pictures from the CG of the sun setting on the dunes and then the sunset.

We had such gorgeous views from our CG!

Also amazing sunsets!

Tomorrow we are on the road - destination, Durango!

Monday, September 26, 2016

A Day in Great Sand Dunes National Park!

Okay, I learned something about myself last evening that I am not sure I am thrilled about!  I can climb Angel's Landing, ride a burro into Mexico, go down 1,000 feet into a mine shaft, but I don't feel very comfortable driving to a desolate road, getting out in the pitch dark and looking at the stars.  It is an area where there are black bears and snakes and that makes me "anxious".  I must tell you, the stars were positively amazing - I never saw so many at one time or any as brilliant and the Milky Way went on forever!  But, I still felt uneasy!  I think I have to work on that!!!!

We took our time getting ready this morning because it was only 31 degrees when we awoke and decided we will wait until it warms up a bit to begin our hiking day.  Ken did get some early morning photos from our CG.

Loved the way the sun came up on the Dunes!

Another photo just a little later in the morning!

We drove into the Park and went to the area where most people begin their hike up the Dunes.  There are no paths or trails, you just forge your own.  Hiking in the thick sand and increasing elevation makes it a rather challenging feat, but it was beautiful and so unusual. 

1st we go down to the stream and then start
hiking up the Dunes!

Here we go!

I wonder which way we should go????

Okay, I see the top but how do we get there???

Just keep looking forward! 
Wow, I think we better go around this one!

People were sand boarding down the Dunes!

How do these flowers survive in the sand?????

Ken decided to go to the very top so he could get a view of the other side of the dunes.  After climbing about 7/8 of the hike, I chose to wait for him and enjoy just sitting with my toes in the sand.  

That's me sitting on the Dune and Ken taking the photo
from the very top!

He made it!!!!

Looking down on the other side of the Dunes

Ken is on his way back to me!

I am enjoying the rest and gorgeous view!

The hike down was much easier, but you still had to decide which way to go.  It can get rather interesting.  

Now it is time for the hike back down.  Where is the trail????

Wow, it looks like a lot of sand!

Looking back up as we were heading down!

All those little "ants" are people!

Looking back up again when we are almost at the bottom!
These huge dunes - North America's tallest - are about 11% of the 330 square mile deposit of sand.  We climbed 699 feet of elevation to get to the top. (8,700 ft above sea level)   Breathing was a rather "huffy" at times.  

After about 2 1/2 hours we were back to the car and ready for lunch.  We returned to Waldo and enjoyed eating outside.

This is the office, camp store, and restaurant at the CG!

Ken decided we should probably look for another trail to hike, so we headed back to the Park and looked for the trailhead for the Sand Pit.  Well, there was very little signage but being the navigator that he is, Ken discovered that we had to take a dirt road  that was extremely bumpy and stony for about 2 1/2 miles before coming to a parking area.  Before we reached that parking area,  I kept "whining" that maybe we should turn around.  Ken kept saying that it is probably just around the corner.  Oh, sure!!!  The hike was supposed to be about 1 mile round trip, but we started at the wrong parking area and it was about 2 miles.  So much for a short walk this afternoon.  It did take us down to the Medano Crrk and the bottom of the Dunes.  More elevation on the return to the car.

I know if you go down at the beginning of the hike you have to
 go up on the return,  Oh well, here we go!

Hiking to the bottom of the Dunes!

We arrived at the creek!

A nice view of the Dunes!

More pretty flowers along the way!

We arrived at the CG around 4 and both of us were rather tired.  It was a strenuous day.  Felt revived after showers.  A neighboring camper knocked at our door to tell us we had great taste in motorhomes.  He has the exact same model!  So we went over to their RV to chat.  Very nice visit with Gerry and his wife, Karen.

After dinner, the campers from York, PA, Mick and Vivian, came to Waldo to play Mexican Train.  We had a delightful evening together.  I certainly hope we keep in touch.  They are great people!

Another day to celebrate life!