Sunday, August 31, 2008

We went to Fairplay

After yesterday's adventure, we needed a down day. One where we didn't challenge a mountain pass. We tried to hang around the campground and watch the campers arrive for their big weekend, but that became boring quickly.

Folks have to hurry to arrive, hurry to set up, hurry to have some fun. It just served to make us want to get away for a while.

We went over the mountain to the East, only about 9,500 feet. Forty miles up the road toward Denver, is the town of Fairplay, Co.

This is the historic main street. Yes you can stay in the Hotel, and Loyce said the man was actively describing his rooms to all that would listen. They were about $59.

This street has board sidewalks, and could be right out of the 1890's. Loyce found the store she wanted right off the bat. Dolls!

We split up, and I went up the street to the hat store. This is a hat factory, not just a sales store. Check that board sidewalk.

They made most to these hats right on the premises. They have a machine from 1890 that goes over your head and copies the exact shape. If you have a big bump in the middle of you forehead, it copies it exactly. Then they transfer the shape to a hat block, where they form your new hat. Once formed, it is baked in a hat oven that permanently locks the shape into the hat.

I did buy a hat from these folks, but it was one that was made in China, for not near the price. But at least I bought something. LOL.

Tonight, I barbecued some hamburgers, and when the sun went down, I went to the group campfire. Loyce passed on the excitement, and stayed back to watch some TV.

The owner of the Campground, spent the daylight part of the evening, giving everyone rides on his model A Ford firetruck. He has benches in the back where the hoses used to be. The old 4 cylinder brings back a sound that has been gone forever.

As it got dark, they parked the firetruck, and built a large campfire out beside the Campground office. Folks began to assemble. The owner, and several of the work campers, brought their guitars and they put on a sing along. Everyone joined in, if they knew the words. At one point, they told us that if you sing a country song backwards, your beer will fill back up, and your wife will come back. That brought some laughs. It was fun, and felt like I should finish it all off by sleeping under the stars on my saddle. If I had one.

Camping and campgrounds are a lifestyle choice. I have never had these kinds of experiences at Holiday Inn Express.

Saturday, August 30, 2008


Today was the trip to Aspen, Colorado. It is one of the closest resort towns to us here in Buena Vista.

However it is on the other side of the Continental Divide. This means it is up over another pass. And this is another white knuckle mountain drive.

As we went up, we got above the tree line, and the road became narrow. It was a cliff side, shelf style, straight down affair. We finally got to the top.

For the ham radio folks, there is a digipeater in the shack at the top. This repeats APRS position packets from one side of the mountain to the other. It showed up on my GeoSat GPS with the beacon, INDYPS. When we parked on top, we were 0.0 miles away from it. We were parked next to this building.

These are the tallest mountains in all of Colorado, so looking around is not as impressive since you are on top of the world. We were at 12,100 and the tallest is 14,400.

Another view from on top.

The trip down was harrowing. At least to me, I didn't like it one bit. The road was cliff side, and followed the curves of the mountain and became too narrow to even paint a center line on the road. You couldn't see the on coming cars as they were around the mountain corner from you, but the road was one lane. As you met head on, the car on the inside had to pull over as close as he could to the mountain, while the outside car squeezed by.

We finally made it down to Aspen. I drove up into the homes on the far side of the valley and took a shot back over town. The ski runs are plainly visible.

Back down in town, the height of the runs above the village is more impressive.

This place was jam packed with people. It is the beginning of Labor Day weekend, and there were absolutely no parking places anywhere. We had to drive all over town without stopping. In order to get a few pictures, I resorted to shooting out the windshield, and the side window of the truck. This is a fountain and a sidewalk cafe, but the tables and the people didn't show up well.

Again more folks sitting outside in a open air cafe and bar.

This weekend is a volley ball tournament, and everyone had on volley ball uniforms.

As we passed the main park, it was filled with nets and folks playing the tournament.

As we drove around, it was obvious that we were not going to be able to park and leave the truck. We had the dog with us and she could not be left in the truck for very long by herself, even though it was only 75 degrees outside. Parking was on side streets, blocks and blocks away, and they had free shuttles that brought you back downtown.

We gave up and returned over the pass. We stopped on the way up, in a pull out to picture why this place is called Aspen.

These are all different shots, looking in different directions.

This is looking more up at the sky where the shorter trees diminish.

Looking right straight into the woods closer to the ground. Wouldn't take too long to become lost in this forest.

On the way back up to the top of the pass, in one of the narrowest parts of the road, I met a Ford Expedition SUV that was going 35 or more. I was right next to the cliff, and there was a washout in the road. I split the difference and passed him without any clearance.

Our rear view mirrors struck each other, and it folded my mirror up against the truck. A loud whack! Didn't break the glass and with the power mirrors, I was able to put it back out and get it readjusted.

The truck doesn't have power underwear cleaners!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Back North to Dillon

They advertise Dillon as a Lakeside Mountain Ski resort. You all know that we are suckers for the lake part of any location, so we went to Dillon today. It is back North to Leadville, and then Northeast on 91 over the freemont pass. Again this is 11,319 feet above sea level. But the road is wide and more straight, without those shelf, cliffside, steep climbs.

Once we arrived in Frisco, which is next to Dillon, we were amazed to find a normal modern day town. Not too exciting. You know Wendy's and Conoco, and the like. Nothing to take a picture of.

We drove around to Dillon, and went to the Malecon (spanish for seaside walkway) right off of main street. The shops were new and the town has no quaintness, but the lake is dynamite!

Again this could be a panoramic shot, if I had a tripod. Note the sailboat in both shots.

I turned to the North, and shot the mountain from the same spot. The lake is beautiful, but the town is new and commercial.

We drove around, and circled the lake, using the GPS as a guide. Otherwise we would have been lost for sure.

We shopped in some stores, and finally went to a Wal Mart, but it wasn't a super store so the groceries were limited.

Driving back to Leadville, we decided to go see if Turquoise Lake was any more Turquoise. Remember the other day it was really overcast and the lake was dark.

It may not be really blue green, but it sure was a lot more blue today.

And another shot. These were taken from the center of the dam.

And while we are on the subject of Leadville, do you remember the quilt shop?

Here are the inside pictures that I promised.

This place seems to be from the turn of the century. The 19th century.

When she was checking out your purchases, she explained that she couldn't take credit cards. She would accept checks, since most folks that quilt are honest!

We didn't have a checkbook with us, so she said just leave your name and address, and send her a check when you get back home! To me, the staunch accountant, that seemed nuts. But she said she has never lost a dime. We paid her in cash! LOL

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Cottonwood Pass/Taylor Reservoir

This is the Shortcut to Gunnison from Buena Vista. We have been avoiding this road as the Gunnison side is gravel, and it goes up to 12,100. But today we felt we had adjusted to the altitude sufficiently to head on up.

We skipped taking photos of the trip up as it was the run of the mill mountain road, with beds and breakfasts, the occasional ranch and so forth. But once at the top, the view was necessary to record. The little tundra pool was not frozen in late August. They tell me that it usually is.

A little more to the right you can see more of the mountains in the distance.

This is the road we just came up. We are above the trees, and the switchback was quite sharp on the last several turns. The steering wheel has permanent finger dents in it now.

I didn't take any pictures of the 15 miles of gravel that led down to Taylor Reservoir. It was narrow and didn't have any guard rails. Places the road was barely wide enough for two cars to pass. Around the switch backs the road tended to washboard. This would cause your axle to hop as you put on the brakes. I opted for first gear for much of the first five miles. This was the steepest. After that I used second gear and sporadic brakes to keep under 30 miles per hour.

I had been told that the lake was one of the most beautiful in Colorado. It was the prize at the end of the bad road. This was taken from the side and almost into the sun.

We sat at this pull out for a while, absorbing the picture. This is from the South end looking back to the North the full length of the lake.

Turned a little more to the West. I needed a tripod so I could have taken a panoramic set of shots. The clouds move and the stitching isn't always the best but you get the idea.

We drove by the dam at the South end of the lake and began to follow the river as it headed down. This one moves fast as it looses altitude rapidly.

Not too many places to pull out, as the river is posted that it is on private property. We climbed the fence and stood on top to get these shots. We were pulled to the side of the road, but not completely off. I had the four way blinkers on and no one seemed to have any problem.

This is looking back upstream from the same spot.

I had to lean way out to get around the bushes, but you can see the rapids downstream.

The road winds down thru the canyon to the left. We had 30 miles of this scenery. Not too shabby.

We ended up back in Gunnison, on the same road that we were on, coming from Crested Butte yesterday. It may be shorter, but we took more time coming down, looking at everything and driving slooooow on the gravel.

This is by far our favorite day trip, since we have been here in Buena Vista. The car is muddy, as we passed a water truck that was wetting the road down for a road grader. We passed him next, but they were both going uphill as we were coming down.

Loyce was very specific, that we were not going back up the gravel to get home. We came back the longer way over Monarch pass, but it was faster by at least a half hour. You can drive 40 to 50 MPH on the good US highway.

Tonight we went to Quincy's a steak house in downtown BV. They were in a very old storefront with the shiny silver metal ceiling. Their menu only had one thing. Fillet Mignon! Your choices were 6,9,12,or 15. Ounces that is. We both had 9 Medium. The potato was baked, with butter and sour cream. Salad had house dressing. No other choices.

Loyce convinced them to put the butter and sour cream on the side. I think I still have steak grease on my face. Oh my, what a day!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Crested Butte

This is Crested Butte. There are two areas or villages in this town, Crested Butte, and Crested Butte Mountain. The Mountain village is to the left of this picture in a valley.

I drove right thru the old town and up to the valley. This is mostly houses, condos, and the ski area. It has several lifts.

Here you can see the areas that are cleared of their trees to make the ski runs.

The village has condos and town homes in neat little rows. Pricey little places, starting at 399 and going into the millions.

Another lift and more individual houses.

More of the mountain village

This is CB Mountain from the road going up.

Now we went downtown to the old Main Street.

The old downtown is still right under the Butte.

Most of these stores were ski apparel, eating establishments, and I did find one fly fishing store.

The post office. It is really old.

This is an overhang of a restuarant, and shows how old most of these building really are. They have new fronts and decor, but the floors all creaked as you walked on them.

Crested Butte is a mix of new and old. The mountain village up the valley is all brand new, and reminds you of Vail, but is more single family units. The old village is from the 1800s and maintains that enchantment. There are houses for miles back down the mountain road that goes to Gunnison.

We enjoyed our tour of the town, but found it a bit touristy, like Vail. Lets put it this way, THERE ARE NO CAMPGROUNDS! And one feels as though they really wouldn't be interested in adding one any time soon.