Our first adventure started with our arrival in Ouray. We had spent the day exploring the north rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, and as we drove to Ouray, it started to rain and a fierce thunderstorm rolled over us. We had rented a jeep from Farabee's Jeeps at the Riverside Inn, and they allow you to pick it up the night before so you can get an early start to your day the next morning. This seemed like a good idea to me, as rains usually arrive mid-afternoon, and they also have a firm "return by 5:00 PM policy" that you don't want to miss! So we picked up the jeep and had our lesson on driving it, and off we went to find our cabin we had reserved. It looked really nice online, and we were looking forward to getting settled in for the night.
Our glitch occurred upon finding our cabin. First I had a difficult time finding a place to park the truck, and upon finding that, I went to check in. The office was closed for the moment, but she had told me the cabin would be unlocked and to just go inside. That would be fine, except when I went around to the cabin, I saw through the window that there was already somebody inside, relaxing on the bed. Hmmm...ok, now what? I headed back for the office, and to make a long story short, they had written down my date of arrival incorrectly, and thought I was coming in the next day. She was extremely apologetic, and did make a few calls and found us another pet-friendly room nearby...whew, at least I had a place to lay my head :-)! The Ouray Victorian Inn was very nice, and I have to say the bathroom was awesome! I will say, having unlimited hot water in a shower that you can turn around in without hitting your elbows is a thing to be treasured :-). We had dinner at the historic Western Hotel that was very good, although the background music playing (80's disco) was a little odd ;-). Then it was into bed as we planned on heading out early for our adventure...we had a route suggested to us by the jeep company of driving down a portion of the "Million Dollar Highway" to a turn-off for Ophir Pass, go into Telluride, and then off-road again over Imogene Pass back to Ouray. The route should take us most of the day, taking into account time for lunch and pictures. And I have to say she was spot-on with the time guide! Onto the pictures....
The beautiful red-tinged mountains
The start of our off-road ride over Ophir Pass. The Ophir Pass has the reputation of being one of the easiest high mountain passes in the San Juan Mountains...a good way to start for us jeeping novices!!
The beautiful forested Middle Mineral Creek area
At the summit...11,789 feet. Great view to the west!
The kids ready to move on!
The trail...getting a little more intense! hang on and don't look down!
Driving through an awesome aspen forest as we approach the town of Ophir
I love this sign!
On to Telluride...a nice looking town that seemed very oriented towards the outdoorsy type of folks. We stopped here for a restroom break, and to pick up a sandwich to take on the next trail with us. We were SO happy when we checked out Clark's Market and saw that their deli department made sandwiches and had Boarshead cold cuts! SCORE!! There's nothing better than thin sliced Boarshead boiled ham, and believe me, we both enjoyed our sandwiches very much :-).
Sandwiches in hand, we headed out of town towards Imogene Pass. Buzzed right past the turnoff, and ended up at the entrance to Black Bear Pass, which is NOT a drive we were looking for...that one is one of the most difficult jeeping roads there are, and the rental company actually had us sign a form that we WOULD NOT take their jeep on...no worries there! Turned around, re-oriented ourselves, and found the turn-off.
Far off view of Bridal Veil Falls. I love the house at the top, it reminds me of Carl's house in the Disney movie "Up" :-).
Imogene Pass is the second highest driveable pass in Colorado. It was also very scenic, although a careful eye was kept on the road, which, as you see, is very rocky, narrow, and a long drop off the side :-).
Ruins at the Tomboy Mining Ghost Town. The town closed in 1927 when the mine ran out. 900 folks lived here at one time!
Leaving Tomboy behind and headed to the summit....
How would you like to deliver mail to this spot??
At the top of the world...13,180 feet...awesome!
Going down was just as exciting as going up :-). What made the trip down even more interesting was a jeep that had broken down on the way up, and no-one was able to pass at the spot he was in. Eventually, with some pushing help from Al, they got it rolling backwards down the road to a spot wide enough to allow others to pass. I wouldn't want that tow truck bill!
Found a waterfall when we stopped to walk around at one point
Finally, back to Ouray. We had some time before the jeep needed to be returned, so it seemed like a good time to stop for some ice cream :-).
Dinner was at the True Grit Cafe, devoted to that American legend, John Wayne. It was very good, but way more food on the plate than we could eat! We both had chicken fried steak with country gravy and mashed potatoes, I think we could have shared a plate :-).
I was told by several people that no trip to Ouray was complete without a stop at Mouse's Chocolates, so who was I to say different. Some chocolate truffles and scrap cookies seemed just the way to wind up our day, wouldn't you say? Scrap cookies are their own creation...it's a sugar cookie dough, and then they throw in any scraps of chocolate and candies they have leftover from the day's baking...so the cookie is always different...but always good :-). Good thing Ouray isn't close to Chalk Creek!
So, that was our adventure in Ouray, our first time jeeping in the back country, and we had a great time. We will most definitely be returning to that area in the future. But stay tuned, we have more fun to show you as soon as I get pictures ready, and we've begun a foray into a new type of adventure...we've started geocaching...all kinds of new fun to be had... :-).