Road Trip in Colorado, Chasing Color, August-September 2012
|A window in Tom's universe.
This is more than a website of photos, it is a place to
share photos, adventures, stories, opinions, and
information. I hope you enjoy the time you spend here.
August-September-October 2012.. It is that time of year again, time to go to
Colorado and Chase the Colors!!!!!! If you like such things, this is for you.. As I
travel along, I share road reports with my readers.. You can view the reports and
the photos in the links below.. I hope you will take time to read the stories and viw
the photos.. If you have any comments, my address is firstname.lastname@example.org
2012-09-18, Touring Colorado National Monument
Written in Telluride, Colorado, 2012-09-20
Time for another road report, and this time we will spend the whole day in one beautiful area, the Colorado National
Monument, just outside of Grand Junction, Colorado. As it turns out, this is my second visit to the monument. The
first was many years ago, when I was by here in my old white Chevy van.. At the time, I was not doing photos, or
sharing things on the internet, so there are only mental memories of that visit, but this time, it is documented..
For this day in the park, I was up, showered and shaved, again, early! Ate breakfast, left the campground, and then
stopped at Subway and ate breakfast again.. What I really wanted was coffee, but ordered a breakfast to get the
coffee.. Turns out, the coffee was old and cold, and I ended up drinking cold tea instead! Don't go to Subway for
coffee past 0800!~
Once back on the road, my GPS took me to the east entrance of the park, where I paid my ten dollar entrance fee,
and I was in.. Guess I should have studied the map closer, as I got off to a really slow start, looking and doing
photos, not thinking about how far I had to go this day.. I learned later that the drive is approximately 23 miles, but
has a fair number of places to stop and view the monument, which, is really a canyon, by any description that would
closely fit the minds view of such a thing!
I suppose I had stopped at two or three pullouts, and was deeply involved in my photo stuff when I heard someone
ask how it was going! It was a mans voice, and it sounded rather official, if there really is such a sound.. It would
seem the towel over my head might have gotten some attention. Have you ever seen the old time photo guys hiding
under a black cloth while doing their photos? Well, I do not have a black cloth, though I need one.. I learned last
year that with these new digital cameras, you cannot tell if you are doing well on the photos by looking at the
monitor in the sun.. Monitor just does not work. So, last year, at Arches NP, I started using a dark colored towel to
cover my head and my monitor to view the images.. Worked great.. So, this time I am doing it again!
From under the cloth, I answer the question with “I'm doing great”, and I uncovered my head and camera.. The man
turned out to be a park ranger, named Frank.. Pleasant looking fellow, but was thinning on top and I suggested he
needed to be wearing his park hat! It was hot and sunny out.. He smiled.. I asked if he was chasing bad guys. He
replied that he was just checking the park, etc.. Looking for trash, etc.. About the time he said that, I looked over
the handrail, and there on one of the rocks below was a used condom. I informed him that there was in fact trash in
the park, and it was right there, and it was a used condom.. He went over and checked! Great, he said, and you
found it! I did.. He says now he has to get his “gear” and clean it up! We chatted for a bit there and on the way
back to the automobiles. Turns out, this is a great place for lovers! From this location, they can see the lights of
town below and the stars above, or something like that.. At any rate, finding party items seems to be common at
this location.. The park gates never close, but the money takers leave at 5 PM, or there abouts. After that, you get
in free!! Also, we talked about the sign near this point.. It would seem there have been a fair number of suicides
here, and also a fair number of attempted suicides. They drive off the edge in their cars!~ I suggested the
government should just build them a ramp!!!
Back at the cars, Frank, started getting out his has-mat gear, and I drove off to the next view point. Several view
points later, Frank caught up with me and and we had a great chat about the park, park life, where our families
came from, etc.. He was curious as to where in Missouri I came from, as he was from Missouri as well, but as it
turns out, he came from the Kansas City area. After we chatted a bit further, we exchanged social cards, etc..
Turns out, Frank has written and published a book on crime in the Kansas City area. It is still in print and is available
via Amazon and other sources.. If you want to check it out, his name is Frank R. Hayde. His book is titled, “The
Mafia and the Machine”. If you want a signed copy, contact Frank at: email@example.com. I think this would
be a great read.
While we were chatting, Frank got a call about a man hitchhiking in the park. Might have car issues or something..
So, Frank was off to take care of business... The rest of the tour was just good fun, looking and taking memory
photos, and meeting interesting people, to whom I gave cards and invited them to check out my site, etc.. Nearing
the end of the tour, I met a really neat lady named Gabriela from Romania. She actually now lives and works in
Chicago, but she too was out on the road, by herself, doing a long trip of the west.. I think she was to be gone four
weeks or so.. She was nearing the end of her trip.. I met her because she ask me to use her camera to take her
photo with the canyon. I did, and I offered to take her photo with my camera and share with her later.. She liked
that, and so I did... She liked the images and will send me instructions on where to send the files.
After Gabriela, it was just a short trip on to the end of the park visit, then it was time for me to head south and find
camping for the evening.. Got out of the park at 4:30 PM, if I remember correctly!
Was a great day in a great park.. Everyone in America should go to all their national parks. The parks are just
awesome, and we should do whatever we have to do to protect them!!! Once gone, always gone! I hope you will
enjoy the images from this visit to Colorado National Monument. Use the link below to see the memory photos.
2012-09-12~17, Chasing Color in Colorado
Written in Telluride, Colorado, 2012-09-20
This is little report is going to be short, but the memory file will take awhile to view. As always, you might want to
save some of these for a time when you are not rushed..
In the last road report I shared, I had spent the better part of a week on the trail in the Weminuche Wilderness.
Once back, it was time to go chase color for awhile.. As it turns out, I found some, but not as much as there would
be later.. On the 12th of the month, I left the trailhead near Rio Grand Reservoir and headed out to find whatever I
could find.. Only problem was, rain, as least some showers. I chose to head towards Gunnison where I could clean
up, resupply, and plan the next stage of my trip.
I did not manage to make it all the way to Gunnison the first day, but did the second, and stayed at the Tall Texan
Campground where I have stayed before. In Gunnison, I cleaned up, did laundry, did some computer work, then
headed towards Crested Butte, via Ohio Pass, Erwin Lake, etc. And, I ended up in an awesome BLM campground
named Oh-Be-Joyful.. It was free and was in a perfect location! In fact, I stayed there two nights, in the same site.
While in the area, I drove a lot of the backroads, as far as my little car could go.. I gotta get a truck!!!
On the day I chose to leave Crested Butte, there was a Mother Earth Festival or something going on, so I stopped
and took a few photos, which you will see... Was interesting, whatever it was!~
I crossed over Kebler Pass, and found camping on the other side of the pass. The next morning, I headed for the
Grand Mesa area, and on into Grand Junction, where I stayed at the KOA campground, got cleaned up and caught
up on more computer work!
In the photos with this little note, you will get a glimpse of what the colors have been doing during this time.. The
better color is still to come~~ Check the link for color up to this point!
2012-09-06 through 11, Backpack trip in the Weminuchie Wilderness.
Written in Telluride, Colorado, September 20, 2012, at the public library!!!
Here is another road report for ya.. As with all my road reports, they are just here for your entertainment, should
you wish to be entertained! I have friends who have been to the places I am going, and to them the reports are
reminders. For others, it is sort of arm-chair traveling. For others, it is inspiration to get out of the chair and get
going!!! Then, there are my photo buddies who see the images from a whole different perspective.. They are
looking more at the composition, color, light, etc, than anything else.. So, hopefully there is something here for
everyone.. Actually, in this report, I will be sharing my last backpack trip. Backpacking is something a lot of people
do, but in my social circle, the numbers are few!! So, hopefully, for those people, they can get a glimpse of what it
would be like if they were to ever do it.. I think most of them are worried sick about the bears and mountain lions,
etc... Maybe even the booooogger man, or whatever.. And, then, there is a whole list of other fears that have been
mentioned to me when I talk about this sport.. Truth is, it is fairly simple to do, the trails are fairly simple, there are
lots of able bodied people out there with you. And, if that is not enough, most of the people I meet are super
educated people, and able to handle most any situation.. On this trip, you will see examples of the people I meet!!!
So, lets get started!
If you will recall, a few days ago I went to a trailhead that I had planned to use for this trip, but I was not comfy with
the location, so I moved.. The new trailhead I chose also goes up into the Weminuche Wilderness, but starts near
the Rio Grande Reservoir. This trailhead is one that I used many years ago. Actually, it is a trailhead my friend Bob,
that you met earlier, used when he took me and some friends on a trip, way back when we were learning this
sport.. I had not been back since, though I had been back to some of the same areas up in the high country.. In
case you are wondering, the high area can be accessed from many different directions, and on many different
trails.. Many of us who do this sort of thing just mix and match our trails till we get the number of days or miles we
want for a particular trip. This time I have chosen a combination that will provide six to seven days of travel. I have
enough food for eight or more days in case I get stuck!!
Now it is day one of the adventure, and I am preparing to get on the trail.. I have packed my pack earlier, at least I
have selected the items I want to take.. There is one item that is in question, and that is my water filter. I have an
old one, and I have a new one.. I also have iodine solution for killing bad things in the water, should I need to do
this.. As I was packing my bag this morning, I packed both the new and old water filters, since I did not know how
long the old filter would last. To be honest, it was already past the date when I should have replaced it, but!!! Then,
at the last minute, I found the iodine solution that had been hiding in my stuff somewhere! So, I chose to take out the
new filter, and replace it with the iodine solution! Remember that!
So, I have my pack on and I off to the trailhead, where I meet Lisa, a forest service person who tells me there is
apt to be some trail damage to deal with.. The forest service budget has been cut so much, there is no money to
maintain the trails anymore. It would seem all our extra money is going overseas instead of taking care of things at
home. .. I cross the creek that you will see in the photos and I am on my way. Tis a nice hike! But, then reality
catches up to me. I leave the car at about 11:00 AM, and arrive at Black Lake just as it is getting dark. I drop my
pack, grab my filter, and rush to find water.. Not easy to do at this lake, which is a swap more than a lake, but I did
get some water, however, this turned out to be the last day of life for my water filter.. It died!!!! On my first day of
packing, the filter dies!So, now I have to switch to the iodine! No problem.. Just another way of getting the job done!
But, I fix dinner, take some ibuprofen, and head for bed! The first day on the trail about killed me! I had to get to
Black Lake as there was no other stopping places!!! But, after this, the trail will be easier with more camping places.
Day 2, I am up, fed, packed and on the trail. Was not long before I met my first two backpackers. They were
headed back to the car. They had been out for five days so far, and were having fun. While visiting, I learn that
Dave has been here many times, but for his new wife, Carolyn, this is her first pack trip. Turns out it is a good one
and she is ready to come back for more when time permits! I learn that Dave is an engineer for NASA in Huston,
Texas. Carolyn is an HR person in a private company.
Once the visiting is done, we all on our way again!
I had hoped to make it to West Ute Lake for camping this night, but as I approached this area, I met a couple who
had just come from that area and said camping at the lake was poor, and offered advice on where to find camping
for the evening.. I took the advice and found a great place not far from water..
Day 3, starts with some nasty weather, and as I move on to West Ute Lake, the nasty stuff catches up to me,
causing me to have to shuck off the clothes I had on and add some thermal stuff.. Then, I was back on the trail
again, this time headed to Middle Ute Lake or Twin Lakes. Turns out, I was about a mile from Twin Lakes when I
found shelter under some trees, and decided to make home there for the night.. Was a good choice!
Day 4, I am up fairly early, do my meal and break camp, then not more that one fourth mile from camp, I meet a
really neat guy named Paul, with his dog CD, for Continental Divide! In chatting with Paul, I learn that he is a PHD
soil expert, who is now retired, and spends the better part of his time backpacking in the mountains in this area. His
pack he has had since 1972, and figures it has over 40 thousand miles on it by now. He has taken it to many part of
the world, to include the ALPS, which I want to do soon! Paul has wanted to volunteer to do trail work, but got the
cold shoulder from the Pagosa Springs government office! That sucks! So, I suggested he contact the lady I met,
Lisa, I think she could help.. He will contact her... We shake hands and head in opposite directions. Paul comes
here so much from Arizona, that he bought a place in Pagosa Springs..!! His wife stays there, and will pick him up a
trailhead in a few days! He is the only other person I have met in ages that carries a SPOT.
I arrive at Twin Lakes in time for lunch, and while there, Eric arrives, he is hiking the Continental Divide trail. As it
turns out, he is a retired IT person for the DOT in Texas... Now, he can devote his time to walking the trails of the
mountains! And, he is a lightweight backpacker.. Something I avoid, I want to bring all my toys!!!!!!!!! In fact, I carry
filters that do not work, and I pick up rocks for my friend Nancy. I guess she studies them or something! But, I carry
them for miles, from all over the country!!!
My goal for the day is to reach Ute Lake, a lake I have been to twice before. The first time was in 1996, with
friends Bob Gestel and Steve Finch. This time I returned to the same spot, and I used the same map to get there..
In fact, while we were there, we had a map signing. Their signatures are there to prove we were here! But, as I
was approaching the lake, I saw another man with a map, checking out the lake.. When I get to him and start
chatting, I learn that his name is Roger, he lives in the state and just retired two months ago from Oracle, as an IT
person. He also had a side business of tutoring math. Now, he is just hiking! But, he has done two super hikes, one
of which is still on my list, the John Meir trail in California. The other one he did is of no interest to me, he hiked the
full length of the Grand Canyon, in the canyon, much of it was without a trail... Both trips took approximately a
I camped at Ute Lake for the night.. Had it all to myself!!!!!! Was awesome! And, it was such a sunny afternoon, I
got to do some sunbathing!!!!!!! Neat!
Day 5, and it is a nice day.. I get away from camp about 0930, but I have to climb a fairly high hill to get to the high
meadows.. Once there, the views were awesome! Words will not do the trick, but the photos will help!!! Check
them out... If ever there was one place to be buried, I found it on this trail, it overlooks both Ute Lake and the
surrounding valley, just awesome! Had lunch in this area, then hurried on.. At one point, I finally got to head downhill,
but is was not long until I came to the hardest part of trail, at least in terms of the fear factor.. One hill I had to go
down was made of rocks that were the size and shape of little beads, and walking on them was near impossible.. I
almost had to crawl down the hill.. On flat ground, no problem, but on the side of a hill, this was trouble looking or a
place to happen. If a person slipped here, with a pack on, they would end up in the canyon below!! Not a good idea!
I managed to get down, but took forever, or so it seemed...
Once back on solid ground, I could get back to moving and I did.. And just before dark, I arrived back near the
original trail where I had been days before.. In this area, there were a lot of elk hunters with camps set up... Saw
them in the evenings and early mornings. And, luck was with me again today. I found a bridge to use to cross the
bigger creek, near my camp-to-be. Then, across this bridge, was a super campsite, just made for me, and a super
good one for my last night of this trip!
Day 6, I am up and ready to go early, and so were the hunters, the packers came by about the time I was getting
up! Once on the trail, it was all downhill for most of the way, and I made pretty good time.. However, rain kept
coming and going.. Caused me to put on and take off, my rain gear several times! Not hard to do, but a bit of a
pain! And, at one point, around 1:30 in the afternoon, a pack train passed me up. The two packers were bringing
out an elk that a hunter had killed earlier.. The meat was wrapped up, but the huge rack was strapped to a mule
and was the sole load the mule was carrying... As it turns out, the packers made it to the valley, then at 3:30 PM,
one of them brought the empty mules back by me as they returned to their hunting camp...
At about 5 PM, I think it was, I arrived back at camp!! Had a great trip, but was glad to get back.. I should have
been in better shape before going, but there was no time to do so. This means I had to get in shape on the trail..
And, I think I do need to learn to pack lighter, but how can I do that when I want to take all my stuff.. Most of the
people on the trail have itty bitty cameras, if any at all. I was carrying the BIG camera, and a BIG lens, and all the
support gear.. No, maybe I will never go light, just cannot leave my stuff behind.. Will just go slower!!!!!!!
OH, and to celebrate, if you know me, I always have Doritos in the car to celebrate my safe return. This time, no
Doritos!!!!!!!! This was a first, but I did have a great victory dinner.. Check the photos to find out what it was... I
spent the night at the trailhead, again, then got back on the road the next morning, in between rain showers! The
next road report will share the rainy weather after the pack trip.. I hope you have fun viewing the memory photos
from this pack trip.. The link is below!
2012-08-23, thru 2012-09-05, Road report for early part of Colorado
Written in Telluride, Colorado, 2012-09-19
All stories start somewhere. Many start with once upon a time, and I think that is about how I should start this one..
Actually, there are several stories in this one.. I just have to figure out a way to blend them all together, and share
them as one... So, let me try! Hope you can follow them all...
In a short, this trip actually started many years ago, but was updated about this time last year!!! Hold that thought!!!!!!!
Last year, while I was in Colorado chasing color and the like, I stopped off at a campground outside of Silverton.
Early the first morning I was there, a big tall, Paul Bunyon type fellow strolled over to my site and said “Coffee is
ready at my place, come on over”!!! So, I did.. If that is not exactly what he said, its pretty close and does capture
the flavor of the moment.. Maybe next time I tell the story, I'll change what he said again! I can do that, it is my story!
I went over to his site, and there I met his wife.. Turns out they were both super people and it was a natural to
become friends with them. The big tall guy, Terry, is a retired electronics wizard PHD type, who helped develop and
improve pace-makers for the heart. His wife, Tammy, is a retired OBGYN surgeon. In her real life, she is an expert
sewing person!! More on that later! But, I met these two fine people, visited with them for several days, then as we
parted company and headed on down the road, we exchange phone numbers and the like! It worked.. We used the
numbers to stay in touch, and this fall I was invited to return to the campground in Silverton for a reunion!! I accepted,
and plans were set in motion!!! On August 22, I left my home in STL, and headed west. On the 24th, I arrived in the
campground where I had met these two people, who live near St. Paul, Minnesota. Sure enough, right there in the
same spot they had last year, there their new trailer sit!! My old site was open, so I pulled in, shut the car off and
headed over to said HI to my ole buddies.. It was as if our last meeting had been only days before.. I grabbed a chair
and returned to talking points that had been shelved earlier! Perfect!
Before I get too much further along, an update or two. From my road trip in Michigan, you might remember I was
unsure about the naming of the Ford plant in Detroit area. One of my readers sent the answer.. The plant, the Rouge,
was named after the river it is built on!!! And, in that same story, I mentioned I was not sure about who paid for our
admission to the plant and museum.. My friend Judy, who handled all this, reported that it was the charity that she
works for, who footed the bill for our admission.. I am not sure of the details, but via the work she and Bev does, we
were all able to get in without paying an admission fee!!!
Now back to the story.. When we were together the last time, Terry took a liking to the bigger and better camera I
was using.. So, he started wanting one really bad.. I use a Nikon, but I think the company sucks!!! So, I advised him
to go with Canon, and he did.. This year he showed up with a brand new Canon and lens. And, he is using them! And,
he is loving them.. In the photos, you will see him practicing his skills on some humming birds that were coming to a
feeder Tammy put out! He is getting pretty good with it!!!!!!! And, he loves it.. Going Canon was the right choice!!!!!!!!
As for my camera, I will be taking it to Europe soon, and I hear thieves try hard to steal them, even if they are Nikons!
So, I started the process of sewing a steel cable to the strap on mine.. I had it about half finished when I arrived in
the campground.. I expected to try to finish it while I was on the road... Well, as luck would have it, Tammy found out
what I was trying to do, and stepped in to finish it for me.. What would have taken me all day to do, she did in 30
minutes, and the work is absolutely profession quality! Super work!! So, now the camera is finished...
For the days we were together, we had coffee and conversation in the morning, in their new trailer. We did our own
thing during the day, then we would meet back at the trailer that evening! They offered to feed me at every meal, but
I vowed to eat light on this trip, to lose some pounds before the next trip, so I had to control the meal thing! I ate
breakfast at my place and dinner at their trailer.. Turns out, Terry is an awesome cook.. I think Tammy is as well, but
for this trip, Tammy got to relax and let Chef Terry do the work.. Everything he cooked was just awesome.. I was
watching him do it, and I am still not sure what his secrets are, but they work!!!!!! We ate well.. The one chicken he
cooked, cannot be beat in the best of restaurants.. Was just awesome! You will see some of this in the photos..
There is one thing I could leave out and nobody would know, but here is how life really is.. When traveling, I use the
public library to do what I am doing now. And, in Silverton, I did just that, but the library is closed on Sunday and
Monday, two days I needed to get stuff done! So, I go to the coffee shop one day and do my work.. The other day, I
go to the visitor center, sit in my car and power my laptop with the car energy.. One problem is, this time I worked
tooooo long without running the engine to charge the battery! And, yep, dead car battery! Had to call AAA.. Thought
there would be someone in town that could help! NO.. They had to have someone from Ouray come jump the car.
Took and hour to get to me, and only five seconds to do the jump!!! I will have to be more careful in the future!! I need
an extra battery installed in the car.. I am looking to build a travel truck, with extra batteries, etc, to power all my
The day came when we had to say goodbye, as they had to get back home, but about the time they were to leave, I
got an email from Bob, the man who started me in backpacking 26 years ago. He and his wife were at a time share
in Pagosa Springs. They learned that I as in Colorado, and invited me to come by for a visit. I did. From Silverton, I
drove to Pagosa, met up with Bob and his wife, Jeanne. We visited, went out to dinner, etc. The next day, Bob and I
drove to Williams Creek Trailhead and did a bit of hiking.. Was good.. He had gotten out of the hiking business and
had gained some weight! Now he tells me he wants to go backpacking again! This means he has to lose the weight
and get in shape!!!!!! If all goes well, we will be on the trail next year!
I spent the following day with Bob and Jeanne, and this time we go to the Springs for some hours of relaxing in the
mineral pools! I don't know if it healed me of anything, but I felt good when we left! That evening, we ate out again,
and then next morning, I was back on the road. They left the following day to head back to their home!. Was great
From the visit with Bob and Jeanne, I headed towards South Fork, and camped in the area. I also did a day hike,
etc.. Then headed on towards Creede. Once in Creede, a town I have been to often, I prepared all my gear for a
backpack trip, and headed to the trailhead.. But, I arrived late in the day, and got some bad feelings about leaving my
car at this location for an extended amount of time.. I should think about it.. I camped at the trailhead for the night,
and the next morning, I headed back to Creede. I would have to find a better place.. I did some tourist stuff in
Creede. I ate at the awesome Firehouse Restaurant, drove the Bachelor Loop, got a real shower at a lodge, went to
the mining museum, and also got to see the firehouse in a cave!
When I went to the museum, I paid my 6 dollars to take a tour of the mining museum. Was a neat tour.. It is self
guided.. But, I met GUNK, who is a retired miner and helper at the museum. He was just the best to talk to, and talk
we did, for a long time.. Given my interest, he offered to unlock the underground firehouse and let me see it.. I
jumped at the offer.. And, so off we went! Was awesome.. While we were in there, two more visitors showed up.. I
visited with them a bit later as they had a Tacoma pickup which I am very much interested in.. They love theirs!!! I am
getting closer to having one!! Just gotta be able to get what I want!
With all the visiting and touring finished in Creede, I head for the Rio Grande Reservoir , where I will leave my car at
one of the trailheads and head up into the mountains for about a week.. That trip and the story will be the next thing
I think the photos are finished loading, so let me finish them up, get them listed here and get to work on the pack trip..
Hope you enjoy seeing the country and some of the friends I have made along the way! As usual, use the link below
to view my memory photos.
2012-09-19~23, Colorado Road Report, Fall Colors Update
Written 2012-09-24, in Leadville, Colorado
Time for a little update on my Road Reports.. Some of my coffee shop readers seem to think I have driven off into
a canyon, as I have not shared any stories or photos in several days. To be honest, I been going crazy chasing the
colors! WOW, there are some neat neat colors this year!! And, for the most part the weather has been perfect. The
first poor weather arrived yesterday, when I went to the Maroon Bells for the day. Now, I am in the laundry in
Leadville, Colorado. As I look out the window in front of me, I can see the snow covered mountains!! It snowed last
night and this morning, here in the high country.. We will get back to that later.. Lets get caught up on the other
stuff, then end up back here!
As I recall, the last set of images and stories I shared with you was from the Colorado National Monument, in the
Grand Junction area. That was great fun. From there, I headed south and ended up camping in the national forest,
south of Grand Junction. The next morning, the 19th, I intended to continue south on the dirt road that I camped on,
but it soon became boring, and I turned back to HWY 141, I think it was, and drove the paved highway on to
Norwood, where I stopped at the forest service office, chatted with the people there, and picked up some more
maps! They told me that the dirt road I was on this morning had some neat places on it, but I would have had to
drive about 20 miles to get to it.. Will put that on my bucket list for later!
I ended up in Telluride, Colorado, where I headed to the library to catch up on computer stuff.. Then, I went to my
favorite camping site above the town. It is actually the highest point one can go on the Last Dollar Road, before 4x4
is required.. It is an awesome place to camp!! The view is just the best!
The next morning, the 20th, I head back into town, where I started my computer work in the coffee shop I like
there. I think it is called the Steaming Pot. Great place! The library opens at 10 AM, so around noon, I move to
library to finish up my computer work! Both days I stayed until after 6 PM!!! Good thing I knew where to camp, as it
get dark early these days! And, today luck was with me again. When I got to my camping area, I got the best spot,
as I was the only one there!!!!!!!!! There is one part of the hill that is just the best with the best view of the sunsets
each day!!!!!!!!! I got, it was all mine! And with a few adult beverages, I watched the sunset till it was all gone!
The following morning, the 21st, it was time to move on, and I had planned to go south, but I got a call from my
friend Nancy, who has another friend out here chasing colors as well. Her other friend was just in the Kebler Pass
area and reported the colors were looking great!. The last time I was there, there was still a lot of green! So, I
change my plans and head for the Kebler Pass area. Don't remember what time I arrived, but the colors were
starting to look great, as reported... Not sure what my camping plans for the night were, but I made it to a place
known as Horse Park, and the light on the mountains above the park were just perfect, so I joined all the other
photographers to get my shots of the mountain range! Was an awesome sight.. The aspens were not prime yet, but
Luck came to me again.. I stayed at the viewing area until it started getting dark, and as luck would have it, nobody
had claimed the one premo camping site, right there at the viewing area, so I took it, it was all mine!!!!!!! If memory
serves me well, there was three of us photo types that stayed there and chatted till after dark. Was great fun.. One
of the guys packed up and left to go find a campsite at another area that he knew of, but one stayed at the viewing
area and slept in his jeep!
On the 22st, I woke up to more great sunshine, and the promise of another great day. Last night, a young couple
arrived and reported they had just come from the Maroon Bells and that the leaves were just perfect. This means I
have to go there, fast! So, I head towards McClure Pass, the direction I would take to get to the bells.. But, it was
not long until I ran out of aspens, got bored, and decided to go to the bells via Crested Butte, Cottonwood Pass,
etc.. On the way back to Crested Butte, I had the chance to do a side trip back to Ohio Pass.. WOW, some great
color was happening there! Good thing I went!
Also, the young couple I just mentioned, said that McClure Pass was still green, so!!
In Crested Butte, I stopped at my favorite coffee shop there, Rumors, where I got my usual mug of coffee, checked
my email, and visited with the hired help. In this case, it was Jeff. Working here has been his summer job, but he
plans to stay and work the winter!!! I also learned that he too does some photo work. And, before I left, he showed
me some of his images, on his website! From what I saw, the young man is on his way.. He had some GREAT
images on his site.. You might want to check it out if you have time. It is www.photographizingbyjefe.com... Also,
Jeff tells me that the colors are just awesome in Washington Gulch, just a ways out of town.. I was there the other
day and the colors were great then, and I go back to check them again, but, this time I find that some of the best
stuff is already gone!! Still some good things, but the best was gone... So, I set the GPS for Cottonwood Pass and
take off.. Seemed like a good idea, but was not. There was no color on the road until I was just a few miles from
Buena Vista, and they were doing some major rework of the road. Had to drive on very bad dirt road for miles!!!!!!!!
Was glad to get off this road..
In Buena Vista, I stopped at Subway, ate, and moved to the local gas station, fed the car, and headed for Twin
Lakes, where I knew there was some camping areas on forest service land. When I arrived at Twin Lakes, the
lighting is not the best, due to SMOKE! It would seem there are some big fires north of here and the smoke is
blowing this way. It was too thick for good photos, but I took a few anyway, and, I found a new place to camp that
was way better than where I had camped before. This time I was positioned where I could overlook the lake!!!!!
Yesterday, the 23rd, I wake up to very cloudy weather!!! OOPS, this is not going to be good for viewing the bells,
but, I have to get there before the leaves fall.. I jumped in the car, and headed to Aspen, taking photos as I went..
For those who do not know, the park service makes it mandatory to ride a bus to the bells now. However, if you are
camping near the bells, get on the road before 0900 or after 1700, you can avoid the bus.. For me, and most other
visitors to the bells, the bus is the way we get there. We park our cars at Highland Center, pay 6 dollars for the bus
fare, climb on a bus and go. About 9 miles later, I am at the bells.. Always awesome, but this time I felt a bit let
down. First of all the sky is heavy with clouds, which cuts the light to a very low level. Second, lots of the leaves
have already turned black or have fallen off.. In fact while I was there, the leaves would just rain down on you when
the wind blew.. Looked neat, but was fast bringing an end to the fall color show! Generally, the 21st is the prime
day to be there each year.. This time I was two days late!! The third thing that was a let down was the water in the
lake. The water in the lake is beautiful, and famous, Maroon Lake, has all but dried up, due to the lack of rain. Many
parts of the country are feeling the pain of a lack of rain, and Colorado is on the list. Lots of the mountain lakes I
went to were nearly dry!..
Even with all the low points mentioned above, the area still retained much of its beauty, and I tried to capture as
much of it as I could, avoiding the lack of water, trees missing their leaves, etc.. But, I as usual I met some fun
people to chat with.. This time if was a couple from central Texas. They too were on a road trip, just checking out
the mountains! Was great visiting with them! And, while I am here, I should mention that I have talked to Terry and
Tammy, who I came out here to meet. They are currently in Yellowstone NP, soaking up the views! ..
At around 3 PM, I headed back to the bus station, caught my ride back to the Highlands Center, got my car and
headed back to Twin Lakes to camp for the night. As it turns out, I got better photos on the way back than I did on
the way over! So it was a good drive! And, back at the Twin Lakes area, I had even more great luck!! I got the best
spot in the area to camp. There is one high point that everyone seems to want, and today it was mine! I camped
above both lakes with a view of the little village below. Was really neat! I have some photos of the place and will
This morning, the 24th, I planned to head north up highway 24, then back down 94, looking for color, after which I
would head south towards Gunnison, and the southern part of the state, to catch the last of the colors before
heading home. And, I have an invite from friends in Lake City to come by and visit on my way though, before I head
home.. Will work that visit in as soon as I know my plans better! So, Mary and Bob, you will be hearing from me
soon!!! But, this morning, when I opened my tent, I looked across the valley and saw SNOW!!! It snowed while I
was sleeping!! Looked great.. I jump out of the tent, grabbed the camera and shot a few photos! In the next 45
minutes or so, I did the breakfast thing and packed my tent. Then, just as I was driving off, rain!! It started to rain!! I
just barely missed getting wet!!!!!!! And, it rained all the way into Leadville.. I had planned to do a few things at the
library, and get back on the road, but with the rain, that turned to snow here, I changed my plans. I ended up
coming to the laundry mat to get a shower and do some laundry.. That was at at 0900, I am still here, and it is now
My luck almost ran out here. For the showers here, the lady tells me that you buy tokens from the machine. Five
one dollar tokens will give you a fifteen minute shower. OK, I am okay with that.. So, I go to the car, get my stuff,
come in, buy the 5 dollars in tokens, get ready to shower, set my watch set for 15 minutes, and put my money in
the box. The water starts, but takes a minute to get hot. I jump in and shower as fast as I can, which includes
shaving for me.. I shave in the shower! And, I am watching the timer on my watch.. I will make sure I have the last
five minutes to rinse!! At 9.5 minutes, I am just starting to rinse my hair, then my body! BONG, at 10 minutes, the
shower stops.. Maybe I made it!!! I could have used another 30 seconds, but it was not to be had.. The shower had
been 10 minutes, not 15 as told!!!! I am not happy! However, I think I have gotten the job done. When I get back to
the laundry room, I tell the lady.. She only works here and is not sure about these things, but puts a note on the
doors telling everyone else that the shower is only 10 minutes! And, I find I still have soap under my arms! GREAT..
I soaked part of my towel in water and finished my arm pits the old fashioned way! That is life on the road! This is
the first shower machine I have seen in ages.. Most have gone by the wayside!
After the close call with the shower thing, it is still snowing. I decide to do laundry. The nice lady here helps me, and
we get that going, and, I learn that there is wifi here!!! And, it is goooood!!!! So, she gives me the secret code for it,
and I get to work on doing what I am doing! Updating my road reports.. While writing this note, the mountains in
front of me have turned white with snow, and look great. I have done all the photo updates and now have them
ready to share.. The time is now 2:35 PM.. Time to get this note out, then get me on the road.. I think I am still
headed towards Vail, etc, but will ask how the snow is up that way before I go.. Might have to change plans again!
Stay tuned to see what I do!! I can say, the mountains are looking great with the snow on them, with the blue skies
that are coming in now! Might be a great day for photos! And, stay tuned. There is more to come, but this road trip
is getting close to its end!
Ok, time to get the links on here so you can check them out if you have time!
First set... 19-21 September, Grand Junction to Horse Park
Second set.... 22 September, Horse Park to Twin Lakes
Third set... 23 September, Day Trip to Maroon Bells
2012-10-07, Road Trip in Colorado, The Last Report
To those of you who have found the time to follow my Road Trip in Colorado, and send feedback to me as you
reviewed my reports, THANKS for the feedback, and THANKS for following along with me. Doing the Road Trips is
fun, but they are even more fun when I know there are friends and family back home who are taking some time to
check in and see what I am up to. Most have reported enjoying the stories and the photos. In fact many of the
readers have forwarded the messages on to their friends, etc.. Perfect!! The stories and the photos are shared for
the sole purpose of entertainment, and, hopefully encouragement to people to get out of their homes to go see the
country around them. There is beauty and friendly people almost everywhere you go.
It was on this day, one week ago that I finally made it back to my home base from the Road Trip in Colorado,
however, it has taken a week to dig through the photos, etc, and prepare a few of the better ones for sharing. The
trip was just awesome, and it was hard not to share ALL of the images with you. Hopefully I have reduced the files
to just the better images. As is many times the case, I do share several versions of the same subject. Might be
boring to some, but these images are mostly there for other photographers to view and think about the best way to
present a subject. If you are up to it, you too can spend some extra time and see which image you think is better,
and why!!! If after that review, you have comments, I would love to hear from ya! Its all part of the fun!!!
Speaking of fun, most, if not all of you know that I transmit my location when I travel, via my SPOT. Several people
in the group find it entertaining to follow me this way, and for the most part they know more about where I am, and
where I have been than I do!!! One of those people is my friend Nancy who has been monitoring my every move
since I got the transmitter in late 2008, after a close call while backpacking in Colorado. If she notices anything
wrong with what I am doing or should be doing, or not doing, she starts checking in with me to make sure I am OK.
Day or night, I can be sure she is watching over me, like an angel. The other friend who is right there with me as
well, is my friend Nick, he is my research specialist!!! He follows me as closely as does Nancy, but since he is
retired, Nancy is not, he views all my photos, finds interesting things in them, like airplanes, cars, festivals, etc,
does the research on these, then sends a report to me on what I have found! I think this started when I headed for
Alaska in 2010. I was sharing photos of unique planes, etc. Nick would get the number from the plane, then send a
report to me! Really added to the experience of the trip and increased the fun by bunches!! Never have been able
to stump him. He has a remarkable way of finding whatever he is looking for. Guess he has secret methods of
some kind.. And, Nick has always been there to greet me when I reach a milestone on these road trips.. When I
arrived at the end point of my criss-cross of American in 2010, at the most northeast point of the United States, my
cell phone rang, it was Nick calling to congratulate me on completing my goal!!! Actually, he waited a few minutes
after I arrived, and had gotten my memory shots, then he called... That was in 2010, but there have been other
times he has done the same, and true to his style, when the Road Trip in Colorado was only minutes away from
being completed, Nick called to welcome me back. Better yet, he jumped in his car, drove to my place and
welcomed me home, before I got in the house!!!
After the big trip in 2010, I was invited to lunch with Nick and his wife Mary. Following the lunch, I took my car to
their place and invited them to test drive the famous road car. Each did the polite thing and took it for a short spin,
just so they could brag that they had driven the famous car! They also got their photo taken with it!!! Now we jump
ahead to my return from Colorado. In 2010, Nick and Mary did not get to see the car as soon as it arrived back
from the big trip, it had already been cleaned and serviced before they saw it. So, this time, Nick wanted to see the
car and the driver as SOON as they arrived back from the adventure. To do that, he followed me on my SPOT as I
neared home base, then raced over to welcome me home and to see the car and the driver just the way it was! Did
he ever!! I am surprised he would be able to stand to look at the car, because all his autos are kept in Show Room
condition, this one had been lived in for over six weeks, and the driver, me, was not in much better shape. With a
push on to see and photograph as much as I could before the colors were gone and the fact that I had to get back,
I had not been showering, etc, and I was living in my clothes! Actually I cannot remember the last shower, or
change of clothes I had. I think it was in Lake City, at Bob and Mary's home. At any rate, Nick arrived in a flash,
welcomed me home, and then got the grand tour of the car, and some info on how one can live in a Honda Accord
for six weeks! The grand tour means he also got to sit in it and get the feel and the smell of being a road
photographer!!! I invited him to take it for a drive so he could really get the feel of it.. However, he would not
accept. Just sitting in it seemed to be enough for him.. Too bad I did not record the moment with a camera! The car
was bulging at the seams with maps, cameras, computer stuff, to include the GPS and SPOT, dirty clothes, paper
towels, backpacks, boxes, tent, water bottles, sleeping bags, etc, etc... I think Nick was afraid to drive the car for
fear that something in the car would tumble over on him and end life as he knew it!! The passenger seat was so full
of stuff that it was pouring over into the drivers seat.. This included the power inverters, etc, that were providing
power to the computer, camera, GPS, etc.. Yep, it was a mess... But, if anyone ever asks, Nick can brag that he
was behind the wheel of this lived in Honda! It has been a lot of places, and some places it has gone, a car should
not go, but!!! Yes, it has been scratched a couple of times, but it is still has many more great trips left in it!
I think I have already stated that this trip was one of the best. The colors this year were just awesome. I almost ran
myself and the car into the ground, trying to be everywhere at once to see it all.. But, of course I could not.. That
said, there is next year! Hopefully I be back there ready to do it all again when the colors return in 2013...
As for this trip, I just checked the last road report I sent out, and it was September 24, 2012. It was prepared and
sent out from the laundry mat in Leadville, Colorado, where I spent most of the day. Had planned to go to the
library, but the library was not open when I arrived in town. I went to the laundry, took a shower, did some laundry,
and learning that they had wifi, I did my computer work there instead of at the library!!! Now, the deal is, I had
planned to leave the laundry, drive up towards Vail and look for color, but it had been snowing out, and the day was
a big gloomy, and as I drove north towards Vail, it looked rather boring, so I turned around and headed back south.
I reviewed my map several times, and decided to give up doing color hunting in the north, rather I would go back
south.. And going south meant I would be, or could be going through Lake City, where my friends Bob and Mary
Stigall live. And, they had invited me to come by and visit when my trip brought me that way. So, I called Bob, told
him I was headed south and asked if I could be a guest at his home the following evening, the 25th. he said
absolutely, come on down, and so I now have a plan, I am headed to Lake City. Will plan to arrive there tomorrow
This evening, I need a place to stay, and I know where a great one is. It is just north of Buena Vista, at a BLM
campground on the upper end of Clear Creek Reservoir. I head there and arrive with a lot of daylight left, so I
prepare a birthday card for a friend, then prepare dinner!! Big deal, I open a can!! And of course I have to sit up my
tent, etc... All that done, I can get to bed early, and then I will be ready for the cross-country drive to Lake City in
To view the memory photos from this day, use the following link:
Now it is 2012-09-25, and I am up early.. Must have gotten rather cold last night, as I have ice inside my tent, and
there is ice on the car!!! But, no matter, the sun is coming up and things will warm up soon! I eat my high protein
breakfast, canned chicken covered in hot sauce, and a can of pineapple! Yes, there is also coffee and tea with this
great meal!!! Once breakfast is complete, the tent is packed away, my teeth are cleaned, I am ready to leave, and
leave I do.. I am on the road! But, I do not get that far! I have some business to take care of. It is that time of the
month!! I am have some bills to pay, and I do it with my computer! This means I have to find a wifi place. When I
stopped for gas this morning, I asked about the wifi in town, and I am told that the coffee house in town has great
coffee and great wifi. With that info, I am gone.. Small town, but still it was not easy to find the coffee shop, but I
did. And, I got my coffee and I got my bills paid.. Did not take long, but had to be done! Now, I can get back on the
road! And I do! And, if you are ever in Buena Vista, and you want coffee and wifi, check this place out.. It is called
the ROASTERY!!! It gets my vote!
I had hoped to be in Lake City by noon, but the bill paying, and the driving distance ate up more time than I would
have guessed.. I did not make it by noon. At 1:00 PM, I called Bob from Gunnison and told him I was gonna be
late.. He says it is not a problem, come on down. I get gas again and get back on the road! About 1.5 hours later, I
am finally arriving in the Lake City area.. I have just driven though a huge rain on the way here, but now, it is almost
a sunny day! That makes a person wanna move fast, but I learn fast to be careful. After stopping outside of town,
to get a few memory shots, I head on into town, and damn near run over a deer who is just taking his sweet time
walking across the road! I rush to take the memory photo(s), thinking it will run away. I best hurry.. WRONG!! This
thing is sure it owns the road! Not only does it not run, it pretty much stops in the road, just to show me who is
boss! It finally walks off the road and I continue on. WOW, that was different! Later, I would learn that this deer and
all of its friends, actually do own the town. They are everywhere! They go where they want, when they want, and
nobody even pays any attention to them, they are just part of the big city life here!
When I arrive at Bob and Mary's home, Mary comes to the door using her walker to move around. Even though she
has told me several times what her health challenge is, I cannot remember, but it is slowly taking away her ability to
control the movements of her body. The condition is not rare, but close. And, if I understand her correctly, doctors
do not know what causes it, nor do that know how to treat it! Very little is known about it. Hopefully help will come
her way soon. Doctors are making an effort to find the cause and a solution. They actually think it is something that
starts as an bacterial infection of some kind, or close to it.. Supposedly, people who have this, got it as the result of
surgery. This opens the door to all kinds of possibilities!!! Even though it is challenging for Mary to come open the
door for me, she does, gives me a big hug and welcomes me in.. As it turns out, Bob had rushed off to get a haircut
before I arrived, but got stuck at the beauty shop, but was only a few minutes late returning.. Was great to see
both of them again. I had hoped we could do lunch and dinner together, but I missed lunch, so we made plans for
me to take the two of them to a local eating place for dinner! If you have never been in Lake City, you might be
challenged to picture it in your mind, but think of an old western town from your favorite cowboy movie, and you are
almost there.. There is not a lot of eating places to choose from, but the ones that are there are pretty good.
At around 5 PM, Mary said it was time to go to dinner, and off we went! The place we went to was actually the
same place we had eaten the last time I was here! It is called the Restless Spirits Saloon!! I am still in wonder as to
why these old buildings have ceilings so high!! It felt like the ceiling in this place was 100 feet above us.. Of course
that was not the case, but it would be hard to toss a baseball high enough to hit the ceiling! No matter, we were
greeted at the door by a beautiful brunette wearing a baseball type cap! She was just about the most friendly
person I had met on the trip! Of course she knew Bob and Mary well, but I had to visit with her to learn a bit about
her.. Turns out she and I had a lot in common. Both had a big interest in photography, and we were both members
of the Choctaw Tribe! Needless to say, we used this lady, named Meta, to take our memory photos, etc.. She also
served as our waitress for the evening.. Had a great meal and great fun with Meta. Speaking of Meta, seems
everyone in these small towns have to have several skills to survive! For Meta, she is a massage therapist, with an
office less than a block away. She is also an artist, and a graphic artist. I forget all the other stuff she does, but,
she is starting a healing center here in this area. Seems she has an endless amount of energy!! OH, and she helped
us select our dessert!! It was a cheesecake, and not only was it awesome to look at, it was yummy to eat!! Good
Back home, we spent the evening visiting, talking mostly about photography, which is an interest that Bob and I
share. I am a fast shooting, on the run, type of picture taker, Bob on the other hand puts a lot more effort into his
work, and produces photos that are described as fine art. Each time I visit with this family, I learn something new.
Mary is a creative expert, and was a college professor for years. Bob has lived a blessed life. At one time he was a
pilot for the military, later he was involved in military mapping. As a retired person, he has followed in the footsteps
of Ansel Adams, and other great photographers, taking and selling fine art photographs. For those who know of
Ansel Adams, Bob has taken training that put him into the darkroom where Ansel Adams did his famous work!
To view the memory photos for this day, use the following link:
2012-09-26.. Leaving Lake City..
Bob is a get up early kind of guy, and true to style, he was up and checking the news on the TV when I arrived
downstairs, after another nice hot bath!! I probably was not all that dirty, since I had just had a shower a couple
days ago, in Leadville, but the shower was there, and I was not sure when I would see my next one!! So, I used up
a lot of hot water!! But, still I was downstairs fairly early, and before long Mary joined us. This lead to a pot of
coffee and more fun conversation, but this time we do it while eating breakfast. I sneaked out to the car, got my
canned chicken and hot sauce, and pineapple.. This is part of my lose weight fast program. More protein and less
carbs! Got to lose a bunch of pounds to do my next adventure! I was impressed to see Bob and Mary eat healthy!
They do take good care of themselves! They are good for another 100,000 miles or so!
After breakfast and some breakfast photos, Bob and I moved up to his office area. I guess you could call it an
office, but whatever it is, even if you called it a junk room, it is the epicenter of his current photo work. This is where
he prepares his photos for the market.. Seems a bit of a mess when you first walk in, but shortly after he starts the
tour, you quickly understand his system, and everything seems to fall into place for your mind. By the time I left, it
looked perfect! For my memory files, I shot a lot of images in his office space, and before I left, I gave him a disc
with all the images on it! With digital, you can do that! Makes it fun to share, and share fast!
Bob and I had some great fun in his office, going over the work he was doing there, but as I watched my watch, I
knew I had to get on down the road, so we had to start saying goodbye, and get me back in the car and on the
road, which we finally did! I did not have a set place to go, but I was racing against the clock to catch as much color
as I could before it started falling.. Which turned out to be an issue soon after I left here.. Before leaving, I ask Bob
for suggestions on where to go next, and he strongly suggested I head for an little place called Dunton, on the map.
This is north of Cortez and south of Rico, but back up in the mountains.. This would be my target! I said goodbye to
Bob and Mary, and got on the road. I headed for South Fork, via Creede and the other little places along the way..
Good thing I had been this way earlier, as in most areas I am going through, the colors have already fallen from the
trees, leaving only the gray limbs...
In South Fork, I had to make a choice, did I go south towards Chama, or did I go on west past Durango and up to
the area that Bob had suggested. In the end, I chose to go west, then circle back to Chama later! WOW, was this
ever a great choice.. But, with this came surprises.. In the areas where I had been, the leaves were falling and the
color was fast becoming a thing of the past, but when I arrived at the Wolf Creek Pass overlook area, I found
aspens that were still summer green!!! I expected there to be valleys of gold, and from the famous viewing area, I
hoped to get great photos of a huge area covered with gold. Wrong. Not one single gold leaf!!!!! Damn the luck..
But, no matter, gotta move on. This will be an awesome place, soon! But, for me, zero. I am back on the road and
headed west. I zoom through Pagosa Springs, and head for Durango. It is getting late and I have no place to sleep
tonight! But, I do have all the forest service maps with me and I now know how to use them to find camping, but
even then, that is very hard to do in full darkness, which is headed my way, fast! I'll add this note, by using the free
camping in the national forests, I spent less that 100 dollars on this trip for places to sleep. Actually it was probably
more like 60 dollars, or less.
I stop in Durango, fill the car with gas, and then study the map. There is a country road about 11 miles west of
town, it goes up into the national forest. If I hurry, I can find something before the light is gone and I cannot see
potential camping spots.. And, luck is with me.. I find the road, I drive up it a few miles and there it is, my camping
place, a little wide place between the trees, just big enough for my car and my tent! I had gotten a call from a friend
earlier, who was needing to chat about a few things, so I set the tent up, went back down the road to where I could
get cell service, made my call, then headed back to the tent, which now is in pitch darkness! No problem.. The GPS
I am using remembers where it has been, for the last 1000 miles or something like that, so, no matter where I have
gone, I can track myself back to the location using this feature.. I think it is called a bread-crumb trail.. Whatever it
is, it works great! I get a fast bite to eat, and I am good to go for a night of sleeping. Was a fun day!
To see the memory photos for this day, use the following link:
2012-09-27.. Leaving Durango area and heading to Dunton and Telluride.
WOW, winter must be getting close. It was another chilly night. I was very warm in my big down sleeping bag,
which I do not get into, but rather use it unzipped, as a blanket! However, again, there was ice on the inside and
outside of the tent! Got pretty cool last night! I check the temp, but forget what it was. Was somewhere in the 30's.
This tent is the best I have ever had, but it has one bad feature, no vent in the roof to let the moisture out.
Therefore, my breath collects on the inside of the tent, then freezes! Sometimes when the tent is bumped, the ice
will fall down in a way that resembles snow falling!
Ok, I am out of the tent, I have eaten, packed the tent and gear in the car, now I am ready to go, and would have
gone back down the road to the highway, but something told me to follow the dirt road a bit further up, past my
tent. I did, and the pay off was really neat! I found some really interesting stuff.. Buses that had been converted into
living places, phone booths in the middle of nowhere, old buildings from days gone by, and an old pickup that most
likely had traveled it last mile on the road. I think you will be amused to see this stuff.. As for the phone booth, I
wish I had checked to see if it was a working model. I tend to think it was, given the other stuff I saw around it. But,
not far beyond the phone booth, I had to turn back, the road did get too dicey for my little car. More reasons for me
to get the truck! But, with gas prices going to over 5 dollars per gallon, maybe I will stay with the car a bit longer. In
Telluride, the gas was 4.40 per gallon.
Back on the highway, I headed for Cortez, and Delores, etc. Delores is the home of a couple of young people that I
know from a backpacking trip a few years ago. Did not have time to see them this trip.. Was on the run! And, it was
not far beyond Delores that I had to exit onto the road to Dunton, and the area that Bob had suggested I go to.
From the beginning of this road, there was gold everywhere, I had caught this area just right! Thankfully people in
this area are use to people like me being out on the roads at this time of the year. I was a very poor driver this day,
as I was stopping in the middle of the road, stopping in areas with no shoulders, etc.. But, I got my photos, and
nobody got hurt! If you ever get a chance, in season, do the drive to Dunton, and beyond. The colors are just
awesome. For me, the colors were great everywhere, but just past Dunton, there is a road that turns off to the left.
Take it. It takes you up to the biggest aspens in the state, or so I think. And, I think Bob also said this was the
case.. There are some really old and really big aspens there. Biggest I have ever seen.. You will see some of them
in the photos. As usual, there is not much more I can say about the trees and the colors, they were just awesome.
The weather was not so great this day, but hopefully the images will still give you a fair idea as to what I found in
this area. Really neat area.. Now once back down from this side road, which sort of goes on forever, and eventually
goes to a big lake in the mountains, to which I did not go on this trip, you catch the main road and continue on. The
main road that passes by Dunton, later comes back to the main highway, just north of Rico.
Once back on the main highway, I doubled back to Rico, which was only 6 miles or so, of driving.. Took some
memory shots there, then headed back north to Telluride, stopping along the way to grab some memory shots!
And, again, I got really lucky as I drove to my camping site up above Telluride.. Caught the sun and the moon in just
the right places for some neat shots.. I took a LOT, but weeded them out to just a few of the best ones! But to be
there was the awesome part! Was magical.. Wait until you see the images to see what I mean! The one thing you
will notice, I think, is that the lakes I photographed are really low on water.. In all the years I have been going to
Colorado, I have never seen these lakes low on water. Never. But, it was another awesome day. Hope the images
share that with you. To view these memories, use the two links below:
2012-09-28. Telluride to Antinito...
I am a lucky person on this trip. I wake up to another great weather and color day.. The sun shining on the
mountains above Telluride is just the best!. And, yes, I am taking a lot of photos, trying to catch this light show with
a camera. Cannot be done, but, one can try. After I have eaten, packed the car, and got on the road, I stop
everywhere I can to get memory shots, even in the middle of the highway.. there are not enough pullouts for me! I
go my shots, and no close calls on the traffic thing! But, I did get caught in some construction stuff for what seamed
like an hour! The people shot off some explosives, then had to clean the rocks from the road so we could get past
the work area! My path this day took me from Telluride to Ridgeway, and it was on this leg of the trip that I got
caught in the construction work, but once past that, I had free sailing. I stopped off at the Ralph Laren Ranch, which
is one of the most beautiful places in Colorado, just outside of Ridgeway. And, mucho people like me stop along the
highway to take photos of the mountains on the backside of the ranch. You will see a sample of this in the next set
of images! I stopped, I got my shots, I got back to driving. This morning I had a choice of going back into the area
where I had been yesterday and do more photos, or explore more areas, by going towards Quray and Silverton. To
be honest, there is almost nothing of color on this side of the mountain range. Not sure why. It is beautiful over here,
but the trees are not aspens, and so the gold is rather limited.. I did find a few little spots, and I did take a lot of
photos, but as a whole, this is not aspen country over here!
I sailed through Durango, and set sail for Pagosa Springs, as I have decided I am going to go to Chama, New
Mexico, and on to Antonito, an area I have heard has some awesome fall colors! I stopped in Pagosa for a few
minutes to get fuel, etc, and some chips or something, then I entered Chama into the GPS.. That said, I was on my
way. My buddy Nick called. He was double checking to see if I am still in the car or have stolen a plane or
something, as I seem to be covering a lot of area, really fast. Well, truth is, I am in the car, but not wasting any
time, anywhere. I am on a mission. And right now I have to hurry, cause darkness is once again closing in on me
and I will be coming into color, I hope, and will also need a place to sleep! That said, Nick and I tried several times
to talk, but I kept losing him as my cell service was not good out in the country where I was driving! We did manage
to visit some, but was very limited.
I arrived in Chama, and oddly I recognized it as a place I had been, but could not remember when. I sneaked
though the little town, and headed for Antonito. Along the way, I found some color, but mostly, this area was still
green, much like the Wolf Creek Pass area.. But, as I studied the area, I assessed the area to be challenging to
get good images, even with the color, as the terrain is just not suited for photos, somehow! Hard to explain.. Guess
it was lacking in hills or something!!! That said, I stopped for a few images before darkness caught up to me, in fact
while I was in town, either coming in or going out of, I saw one of the most awesome sunsets, and of course I
jumped out and got some photos of it! Was just the best.. And, I had a police car come by, pull into an area near
me, watch me do my thing, etc.. Everyone should have stopped and watched the sunset! It was one in a million!!
But, it was in Antonito, that I stopped at a Subway, got my usual sandwich, ate, and studied the Colorado map I
had dragged in with me. It is hard to describe what all I was thinking, but when all the thinking and looking, and
studying of the map was complete, I decided the color chase had to end here, it was time to head home. There
were was still some gold up in the hills, tucked away in little valleys, etc, but the easy part was gone. To find more
color would require a lot more driving and a lot of misses! Time to call this adventure off and head home. Plus, I
have another adventure to get ready for, so I really needed the time at home to finish up this stuff and start packing
for the next one... With this decision made, I filled the car with gas and headed home. From Antonito, I drove to a
rest area north of Pueblo, Colorado, where I spent the night. I am officially headed home. For the memory images
for this day, use the link below:
2012-09-29, Last day in Colorado
This morning, I am up early, get my car rearranged so that it is drivable, eat my usual breakfast at the picnic table
near me, then I am on the road! I already know I will not make it home today, as I cannot drive that far at one time,
but I am not sure where I will end up.. Many times in the past, on my way out and on my way back, I stop at my
friends, Kathy and Dave, home in Kansas City area, spend a night or two, tell stories, celebrate, etc, then head on
home, but this year, it was different. Kathy and Dave have become much more like me and are traveling more, so
for both my trips through their area, they were either gone, or committed to another social adventure. That being
the case, I waved as I went by, and kept on heading towards home. Actually on my return trip, it was way late at
night when I came through the KC area. No need to talk to Kathy after 8:30 PM, she cannot spell her own name
past 8 PM.. The woman has to have her sleep! I cannot argue with her style, she is more healthy that all the rest of
put together! Guess I should adopt her habits, but I am a night owl, so I guess I am doomed! But, by phone, we
agreed to get together later and catch up on the gossip we missed out on this time! That said, I thought the sunset
last night was going to be the best, but as it turned out, luck brought another one to me this day.. I am not sure
which one was better the one, last night, or the one this night. I had a better chance to stop and watch the one last
night, and to get some neat shots of it. But, this night it was not so easy, however, I finally found a place where I
could get off the road and snap a few memory shots of the last sunset. They are not as grand as the day before,
but they are neat, and they help make the memory of the trip just that much better. It was a long driving day, but
thanks to cell phones, I was entertained pretty much all day by getting calls from friends, who had some time to
help me pass the time, which I appreciated. Was a long day, but a great day. I found another rest area east of
Kansas City to spend the night! Will go from this rest area to home tomorrow. For the memory shots of the last
sunset, use the link below:
2012-09-30, I am home from the Road Trip in Colorado..
The last day of the Road Trip in Colorado. I wake up before 0700, rearrange the car again, get my breakfast
chores taken care of, and I get on the road. Today this adventure will end. I am not sure if I had anything besides
music to keep me occupied, aside from listening to music as I drive home, but lucky for me, a friend calls to chat,
fairly early, and we talk pretty much all the way to my home! Yes, I and some of my friends can stay on the phone
all day!!!!!!!!!! Not sure if it is a skill or a curse, but it is what it is! That said, I pulled into my local QT gas station at
around 10 AM, and by 10:30, the car is filled with fuel again, the travel records are completed, and I am headed the
last mile home, to meet Nick, and share the stories of the road. He had called while I was filling the car with fuel. He
will meet me at my place in a few minutes! Now speaking of talking, Nick and I can do that. We visited from 10:30
AM, until 1:30 PM, when his wife called and insisted that it was time for him to get himself home.. Too funny!! But it
was a fun visit! After that, I spent a couple of hours unloading the car, then took it to the car wash to rinse it off. It
has to go in tomorrow for routine service. They wash them at the dealer, but this was so bad that I chose to do at
least a rise to get the heavy stuff off before the service people had to deal with it... And, as I was returning, around
4:00 PM. I called Ralph, my travel buddy for the Michigan trip. I wanted to know if he was busy. He reported he
was printing photos for his daughter. I told him I had called to see if he was up for dinner, and to show me his new
car, but we could do that later! No, he could do dinner this evening.. Just go ahead, get my shower, and call him.. I
did shower, I did put on clean clothes, and I did call him. He arrived in about 8 minutes, driving a new Cadillac!! If
you followed me through the Michigan trip, you will know that Ralph and I were traveling in his fairly new 2011
Cadillac. However, while we were on that trip, the roof leaked, and the air-conditioners in the seats did not always
work!!! Not good, plus, the car was a bit small for all of our gear, etc.. Mostly a town car, not a travel car.. So,
guess, what, a week before I returned, he traded it in on a new 2013 Cadillac, one that is bigger than the one he
had in Michigan! I'm guessing we will be taking this one on a road trip to see if it can hold up to the stress of a road
trip! Whether it survives or not, it is pretty. It is red and has lots of new automatic features inside it. I think he said
the Apple people designed the navigation system, etc.. No nobs, all touch dash, like the Apple Ipads!!! Go figure!
But, we ate our Subway dinners, then he insisted that I test drive it, and so I did.. I am not sure it would be a good
choice for me to take camping up in the mountains, though I would try if he wanted it tested, but I think it is a street
car! Leave the mountains to Honda! I can say, this Cadillac is the first car that I have driven that will not lean over
on a hard curve. I tried the acceleration, the brakes, and the steering. The first two are what you would expect, but,
I sort of tried to turn the car over by steering hard to the left and right. The car will not lean over, no matter what
you do to it, it stays flat!! That is amazing, to me.. My car is great, but as I recall, it will lean over when you whip
the steering wheel back and forth! I guess that leaning effect has a name, though I do not know what it is.. The car
did survive, and at the end, we went for popcorn at Target, which has the best popcorn of any place I know,
outside of the movie theater! Ralph drove me home, gave me the mail that he had picked up for me, and once back
in the house, I could sit down and rest. The adventure was over. Now to clean up, do the computer stuff, then get
ready for the next trip, coming up soon...
There are no memory photos of this day, though now I wish had taken some photos of the condition of the car, the
contents, and Nick sitting in it, trying to imagine what it must have been like to have lived like I did for 6 weeks and
to have traveled as far as I did. I am not sure of the numbers, but I think the counter on my camera says I came
back with 6475 photos. I erased a fair number as I was shooting them, so the count was most likely close to 7000.
As for the miles on the car, I think the trip meter was showing close to 4000 when I got back, maybe more.. I will
have to check. It is about 2500 to drive out and back, so the rest of the miles were up in the hills hunting for color..
Nick tells me that the ground track for my travels looks like I was running from the law, as I was all over the place,
and moving fast! At any rate, my stuff is now moved in, the car has been cleaned and serviced, so it is ready for
another big road trip.
THANKS again for sharing my adventure(s) with me. Your name is on my list, and will remain there for future
adventures, unless you request that your name be removed. If you want to get off the list, just send a note to me,
tell me to remove your name, and I will do it as quickly as I can.. On the other side of that option, if you know of
someone who would like to be on it, but is not, let me know, I will add them.
Enjoy the fall weather, and the holiday season coming our way!
Tom Ballard Photography