Ski Trip to Aspen/Snowmass

Another wonderful ski trip, this time with the Chagrin Valley Ski Club and our friends from Ohio, to Aspen/Snowmass, Colorado. A destination with four mountains: Snowmass, Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk; and two incredible towns, Aspen and Snowmass. We flew from San Diego to Denver to meet up with the group flying from Cleveland but arrived too late to catch the bus so we took a small van with the five others who were late arrivals as well. It was a long drive to Snowmass from Denver, four hours with a stop for groceries and beer. We stayed at the Top of the Village Condos, a perfect ski-in/ski-out location, and shared a two bedroom condo with Karen Moyer and Bruce Kahn. Lucky us, because we flipped for the Master bedroom and won. The first two days at Snowmass, the weather was picture perfect, blue skies and lots of snow. Monday night we took the free shuttle into Aspen to see the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour playing at the old Wheeler Opera House, built in 1889. We had dinner with the group at the Red Onion Restaurant, Aspen’s oldest historic restaurant and bar established in 1892, dating back to the silver boom of the 19th century. Continue reading

2016 Iron Horse Bicycle Classic, Durango CO

Poster-Web

We left the RV in Moab at the Portal RV Park while we were staying in the condo in Durango with Jim and Dana. On Friday Jim and Dana got their bikes ready for the Iron Horse Classic bike race tomorrow and Bob and I went out for breakfast to the College Drive Café. We were both still hungry from the 5 day rafting trip, so I ate a huge Veggie Burrito, Bob had the Whole Earth omelette and we cleaned the plates enjoying every mouthful. Jim and Dana arrived with their friend Don and his niece, Dior, and they joined us for breakfast as well. Then we went shopping in Durango, love all the fabulous outdoor stores here, but we ended the day at the nail salon getting pedicures, badly needed!! Finally it was dinner time and we all met at the East by Southwest Japanese restaurant and had a fabulous sushi dinner. Continue reading

Priest Gulch, Colorado

Priest Gulch-25On Friday, May 13th we left Mesa Verde and drove in the RV to Dolores, CO, not very far away. We are staying at the Priest Gulch RV Park located on the Dolores River, a beautiful site nestled in the pine trees listening to the roaring river go by. In the afternoon we drove in the jeep over Lizard Head Pass to Telluride where we ate lunch at the Brown Dog Pizza Restaurant. There is still a lot of snow on the pass and the mountains, so we won’t be able to do any backpacking while we are here. The next day we drove to Dunton Hot Springs, a private town turned into a private resort set in a picturesque wooded area off the beaten path. There is a gate across the road so no one can trespass unless guests,  we took photos from afar. Near by we hiked the Geyser Spring Trail, 2.5 miles R/T, the trail ends up at a small warm pool fed by the only true geyser in the state of Colorado. We started the trail by crossing a foot bridge over the West Dolores River  and climbed 500 feet to 9,100 ft in elevation. The sulphur smell is very strong and there is a sign warning people not to bathe in the pool due the sulphur dioxide eruptions that occur every thirty to forty minutes emitting strong sulphur gases. We had been here in 2009 and there was no sign, so we did bathe in the pool with no side effects. The water was not very warm this time, so we did not attempt to bathe. Click on thumbnail to view images Continue reading

Canyons of the Ancients, National Monument

Hovenweep-28After visiting the Anasazi Heritage Museum yesterday and seeing all the artifacts that were excavated from the Canyons of the Ancients and learning about the Ancestral Puebloan life on the Great Sage Plains, we wanted to visit the area in person. The Canyon of the Ancients encompasses more than 170,000 acres of high desert in the southwest corner of Colorado. Thousands of archaeological sites have been recorded in this incredibly ancient culture rich area. The first we stopped at was Lowry Pueblo, a 1,000-year-old Ancestral Pueblo village, and most of the area is protected under a modern roof. Off to the side we saw the Lowry Great Kiva, 47 feet in diameter, it is one of the largest kivas found is this area, very impressive, definitely the largest kiva we have seen so far. Click on thumbnail to view images Continue reading

Anasazi Heritage Center and Mesa Verde National Park

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Square Tower House

Today we drove to Cortez, and then north to the Anasazi Heritage Center, located in Dolores, which is a museum of the Ancestral Pueblo culture and other Native cultures in the Four Corners region. The Heritage Center, in operation since 1988, is a fabulous museum of millions of artifacts and displays showing the life of the native pueblo people, who resided in permanent communities called pueblos and grew their own crops. We saw many artifacts of tools for hunting and cooking, pottery, basketry in many colors, and a loom where one could try their skill at weaving. There were two pueblo ruins outside the Heritage Center, the Dominguez Pueblo, an example of an independent family homes outside the main pueblo, and the Escalante Pueblo constructed in 1120 to 1130 AD and made of groupings of stone walled family and common rooms, and a kiva. There was more to see at this pueblo, and it had great views of the Great Sage Plains and the McFee Reservoir. It was well worth the walk up the hill to view this ruin and see the views, but we had to leave and continue on our quest for more ruins at Mesa Verde. Click on thumbnail to view Continue reading

Upper Colorado River Scenic Byway

Fisher TowersOur adventure today takes us on a driving tour of the Upper Colorado River Scenic Byway along SR 128. Just north of Moab on HWY 191 we turn off onto SR 128 and follow the southern bank of the Colorado River through a narrow steep gorge. Looking through the roof of the jeep up at the sheer sandstone walls of the gorge was a spectacular sight. Along the river there were many campsites which are on a first come first serve basis and they usually are full by noon. We drove almost 40 miles to the Dewey Bridge which crosses the Colorado River. The River runs for over 400 miles in Utah and there are only 3 sites with bridges to cross it and the Dewey Bridge is one of them. The original Dewey Bridge, built in 1916, remained the longest suspension bridge in Utah until it was destroyed by fire in 2008. Continue reading

Pagosa Springs, Colorado

Today is a day of rest, so we decided to go to Pagosa Springs, Colorado, “Home of the World’s deepest geothermal hot springs”, about 40 miles drive north from our campsite in Bayfield. The Great Pagosa Hot Springs were first discovered by the Ute Indians, who named them “Pag Osah”, meaning “boiling water” or “healing water”. Today there are three spas that make use of the water from the same heated underground aquifer which feeds the Great Pagosa Hot Springs. We visited The Springs Resort and Spa with 25 different size hot pools and temperatures. We tested almost all of them during the 2 hours we spent in the hot mineral rich water hoping to heal, relax and rejuvenate our bodies. The Lobster Pot was the hottest at 110 degrees, and Bob’s nose became as red as a lobster. A wonderful place to come for healing, relaxation and rejuvenation, we highly recommend it. Continue reading

Durango & Silverton Railroad

It is Opening Day for the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad and we have premium class tickets on the Knight Sky Observation car, the newest flagship car in the fleet, built in Durango and put into service in May 2012. This railroad is an engineering marvel built by the Denver and Rio Grand Railway in 1881-1882, headed by General William Jackson Palmer, so that the mining towns could grow and flourish. After WW II, mineral prices fell and the mines closed, but in the 1950’s Hollywood came to town and the railroad struck pay dirt again. In 1981 it was purchased for $2.2 million and many upgrades and restorations to the rails and coaches were made. Today, the D&SNG is owned by Alan C Harper who we met when he came through our car to visit. Continue reading

San Juan Skyway

The weather finally cleared and we decided to drive the San Juan Skyway Loop, 232 miles, one of the most scenic drives in America today. The sun was shining brightly and the mountain peaks were covered in freshly covered snow. From Durango, Colorado we drove north following the Animas River valley and then climbed up to the Molas Pass at 10,899 feet, and all the way down into Silverton, Colorado, founded in 1874. The town’s elaborate Victorian architecture reflects the millions of dollars in gold and silver that were mined here during the 1800’s. Leaving Silverton we climbed the Million Dollar Highway winding through the iron-clad Red Mountains, along the sheer sides of the Uncompahgre Gorge, through tunnels and past cascading waterfalls over the highest elevation at 11,075 feet, and arrived in the town of Ouray, Colorado, known as the “Switzerland of America”. Most of the buildings here were built between 1880 and 1900 and the entire town is a National Historic District. We stopped at the spectacular Box Canyon Falls and the famous hot springs. Continue reading

Mesa Verde, Colorado

Today we drove to Mesa Verde National Park, created in 1906 to preserve the archeological heritage of the American Pueblo people. The Park includes over 4,500 archeological sites; only 600 are cliff dwellings and we took a tour through one of them, Balcony House. This is one of the best preserved sites in the Park.

Balcony House and Cliff Palace

The builders of Balcony House are known as Ancestral Pueblo people, beginning about A.D. 1200, many chose to build their homes in the cliff-side alcoves. We started at the top of the cliff and walked down several flights of steel stairs with great views looking down into the Soda Canyon; and Balcony House is built 600 feet above the Canyon floor. Continue reading