Welcome to our Adventure!

Al and I are thrilled that you have found your way to our blog. We hope you enjoy reading our journal and viewing our photographs of the natural wonder of our United States of America. Let's hit the road together!
Homer, Alaska

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Blue Mesa and Morrow Point Reservoirs

We've spent the last few days off exploring the area known as the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. The Black Canyon's total length of 48 miles encompasses three distinct different areas: The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Curecanti National Recreation Area, and Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area. Today's blog is about our pontoon boat ride on the Morrow Point Reservoir section. This is a ranger-led excursion led by a National Park Service Ranger, and is a reservation only activity. We picked our date, made reservations, and cut a deal with our bosses: if they would walk the dogs for us while we were away for the day, we'd treat their two girls to the boat ride with us. Deal done, and we were ready to go!

The Morrow Point Reservoir is part of the Curecanti National Recreation Area, and together with its sister reservoirs, Blue Mesa Lake and Crystal Reservoir commands 40 miles of the Gunnison River. Blue Mesa Lake is the largest lake in Colorado (man-made, that is) and is a veritable summer playground for watersports and fishing. This reservoir system was created in 1965, and used primarily for water storage in the Upper Colorado River Basin. The recreation area was also created at the same time. We had a just over two hour drive to arrive at the parking area for the boat tour, some of it along this Blue Mesa Lake. Just west of the town of Gunnison, you drive through the beginning of the canyon, and then the lake comes into view.

Isn't it pretty? I really like looking at the flat top mesas. 

An intriguing geographical feature called the Dillon Pinnacles.

Now we had reservations on the 10AM boat tour, so we needed to leave early in the morning...in fact, we left at 6:30 in the morning. So, you're probably wondering, if its a two hour drive, why did we leave so early?
Well...that was just to get to the parking area. To get to the actual boat dock, there are 232 steps down, down, down to the river, and then a 3/4 mile walk to the boat dock. Yep, its true! And they do warn you about that when you call for reservations :-). Because, you know, if its 232 steps down, after the tour is over....its 232 steps back UP! Well we didn't think about that as we went down :-).

It was a really nice walk along the river

Jenna and Karina and Al as we get close to the boat

Our tour pontoon boat. It holds 42 passengers, is is full for every trip in the summer.

The canyon is very narrow and the walls steep. At its greatest depth, the Black Canyon is 2,722 feet deep; its narrowest point on the rim is about 1,100 feet across and at the river level, 40 feet wide. Other canyons in North America are deeper, but none combines such depth, narrow opening and sheer walls.

Chipeta Falls, named after the Indian wife of Chief Ouray of the Ute Indian tribe.

The Curecanti Needle is a distinct granite rock formation in the canyon. It rises approximately 700 feet from the floor of the canyon, and is one of the prominent landmarks of the Rocky Mountains. Its location remained remote to most humans until 1882 when the arrival of the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad mailines significantly changed this. The ride along the Gunnison River greatly contributed to the railroad's reputation as a scenic railway.

This section of the river became the symbol of the railroad

Our turn-around point. The river continues westward, over Morrow Point Dam and down through the Black Canyon. The controlled rate of water flow on the river now is significantly less than the power it had when it was busy forming the Black Canyon two million years ago :-).

The girls humored me and posed for a picture :-)

The famous view of the Curecanti Needle that graces most publicity brochures for the National Park.

The sheer walls on each side had fascinating views at each turn

I am really sorry, but I have no pictures of us going back UP the stairs...I was too busy huffing and puffing and catching my breath to think about photos :-). It was lunchtime, and we had packed our lunches, but decided to go a little further down the road to the Cimarron Visitor's Center to eat...it seemed a more pleasant idea than sitting at tables by the outhouse at the parking area :-). Plus, the ranger told us there was an exhibit of trains there, and a short walk to view the Morrow Point Dam. Sounded good, so off we went.

Some old train cars

Morrow Point Dam...its pretty big!

We walked down to the river and had a lesson on skipping stones...the girls did pretty good!

The river continues down towards the Black Canyon....and that story will wait for another day! 

At this point it was time to head home and get ready for Thursday Potluck. We have potluck every Thursday, and have been getting a pretty good turnout of campers now that summer is in full swing. We had the whole weekend of work, right through Monday, and then we were off for three days of new exploration...off to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, then to Ouray and a new adventure for us...jeeping some off-road trails..stay tuned, and I guess we did all right, since I am still here to write about it for you :-).

And a special thank you to the girls for spending the day with us! It was fun sharing the tour with you :-).

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Guanella Pass and Georgetown

Another day, another scenic drive! Our destination lay to the northeast of us, the Guanella Pass Scenic Byway. This road was once an old wagon trail used by miners traveling between the towns of Grant and Georgetown. Gold was what lured folks to the earea, but it turned out to be silver that brought the real prosperity to the area.

The start of the road as we turned of Hwy. 285. There is a turn-off at the creek here, and we pulled into it to stretch our legs...it was about an hour and a half ride to the beginning of the byway.

We didn't stay too long here though...signs on the board warned us of two things...bear frequented the area, and a female mountain lion has been seen in the area with two kits, and was "very aggressive"..no, not a good spot to walk around!

Further up the road we saw a boulder-filled waterfall back in the forest, so we pulled over and took a walk in to explore. It wasn't a free-fall waterfall, but a huge boulder-strewn field coming down the mountainside creating an unending series of small waterfalls.

The ground was soft and springy here, and gnarled roots covered the trail as it wound up and back into the forest...much different from our baked dry, scrubby trails near the campground. It was a very peaceful spot to linger awhile. And no mountain lion warnings :-).

Geneva Park, a large mountain meadow composed of glacial soil deposits.

Wildflowers by the side of the road

At the summit, home to ptarmigans, and supposedly, big-horn sheep...nope, didn't see any, only a black rabbit who hopped away to fast to get a picture!

We then started the descent into the historic town of Georgetown, which started life in 1859 as a mining camp. Several original buildings are still standing, as well as the Victorian style homes. In the early 1950s, the first efforts were made to preserve Georgetown's remaining 19th-century buildings as historic resources. The importance of Georgetown's place in history was given national recognition in 1966 by the Department of the Interior. Through the National Park Service, the towns of Georgetown and Silver Plume were recognized as a National Historic Landmark District (NHLD) and protected to help tell the story of the American West.  Historic Georgetown was formed as a private non-profit organization in 1970 to assist in the efforts to preserve and interpret Georgetown's mining past. While federal, state, and local government and local organizations work to restore landmark sites, most of Georgetown's 200 19th-century structures are privately owned, protected, and preserved by local citizens. Today, Georgetown is a study in history, architecture, and historic preservation in addition to being a living 21st-century community. 

Views of the main business district

Isn't this a beautiful building for a post office?

The historic Alpine Hose No. 2 Firehouse, now hosting the fire museum...it looks so much like the Fire Museum back in our home town of Sag Harbor! I was curious as to how the ages relate to each other, maybe some of the folks back in Sag Harbor can clue me in on how old that building is?

The plaque detailing the historical information of the building

Other neat buildings and architectural details in Georgetown

So, we had a nice drive, walks with beautiful views, a good lunch in a pretty little historic town....what's not to love about this nomadic lifestyle?? Until the next adventure, have a great day :-)!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Rodeo Days

When in Rome...or the west, do as the westerners do...go to a rodeo!

This past weekend was the Collegiate Peaks 91st Annual Rodeo and Stampede, and we thought it would be an interesting event to attend on our Sunday afternoon off. First, though, we took the dogs for a walk and run on a ball-playing field we found back in the forest.
Lots of wide-open space for Casey to run, which is what he needs.

Chelsea, not so much room...you throw the ball TO her, and then she tries to bury it...to each their own!

The road leading to the field twists up behind Mount Princeton Hot Springs, an extremely popular visitor attraction in the area. We sell lots of tickets to campers wishing to soak away the day's exertions. These are the upper pools, with a long slide that is very popular.

These are the lower pools. You can also walk down to the creek, and soak in the natural geo-thermal pools as well.

After lunch, we headed to the rodeo grounds. This is Al's first rodeo ever, I had been one WAY back when I was 10 years old and had spent the summer in Kansas City with my aunt and uncle. Not that I remember much of it! This is a much smaller one, here in Buena Vista. It was interesting. We drove in, and received a program that was pretty much all advertising for the local businesses, and made our way to the grandstand. Standard fairgrounds food was here, not extremely tempting, except the funnelcakes, which were on the other side of the arena. We had just missed the "mutton-busting" competition, which looked like kids roping sheep. Oh well. 
Cowboys, and cowgirls, milling around getting ready for the calf roping contest

I have to say, more calfs got away than were roped! 

Next up was a synchronized ride by the girls from the local 4-H organization. 

Co-ed team calf roping was up next..I really liked watching the horses ;-); again, don't feel bad for the calf...most got away!

Bronco-busting was wild. Here he is coming out of the gate.

This cowboy did pretty well...

This one did not!!

Women's barrel racing was next...the beauty and power of the horse is awesome. The horse and rider work as a team to make the tight turns around the barrels.

Last up was bull riding...now these guys are crazy!! These are the slots where the individual bulls and riders start from

Here comes one out of the chute..this was the only cowboy wearing a cowboy hat...the other riders all had helmets on.

Cowboys dressed in red and fluttering tails are in the ring to disttract the bull after he gets rid of the rider

Wow..not a position I would want to be in!!

better run faster around that barrel...that's one unhappy bull!

on the way to the ground...

Oh, what a place to land! Ouch!
(all rodeo pictures can be seen here

Bull-riding was the last event of the afternoon, and we slowly made our way out of the stands as the wind started whipping across the rodeo grounds. You could see lightning bouncing around the 14000 feet peaks, and we hurried back to the campground before the storm hit. The monsoon season is here, which means pretty much every afternoon the clouds roll in, storms pop up, and we MAY get our 100 drops of rain for the day :-). Usually the storms go north or south of the campground. The rodeo was an interesting diversion for a few hours. We're trying to get a well-rounded flavor of the area that we're staying in, and the rodeo is one of those small-town events that the local people are very excited about and enjoy showing to their out-of town visitors. 

We've done some other fun things this past week on our days off, I just have to get the pictures edited and ready to go..Between working and playing, there isn't much time for writing! Stay tuned, though, because we have more interesting things here in our small part of the world!