This morning we drove to the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park which was only a few miles from our campground. The park has the highest suspension bridge in the United States at 1,053 feet above the roaring Arkansas River. The canyon walls in this area rise as high as 1,250 feet and are as narrow as 50 feet at the base along the river. The bridge is 1,280 feet long and was built in 1929 as a tourist attraction.
The optimum way to tour the park is to ride the gondolas across and then walk down a steep hill to walk back across the bridge. However, we arrived at the park at the same time as three tour buses so the line for the gondolas was longer than we wanted to wait. Instead, we walked across the bridge and then walked uphill to the gondola line on the other side (there was no line) and rode the gondola back to the other side.
The view of the Arkansas River from the bridge.
We had to leave the park after just walking the bridge and riding the gondola because we needed to eat lunch and go to Echo Canyon River Expeditions where we had scheduled an afternoon white water rafting trip.
Echo Canyon River Expeditions
Our trip was 10 miles of whitewater on the Arkansas River with class III and class lV rapids. The raft trip was $82,50 each and I paid $69 for the pictures—I am such a sucker for photos!
Zip lining over the Royal Gorge in the Royal Gorge Park
After we finished our whitewater trip we drove back to the Royal Gorge Park because I wanted to zip line over the Gorge. The zip line was $45 (and totally worth it, but I also chose to pay $30 to get a video a a few pictures of my epic flyover).
I am in the gondola ready to ride across the gorge so I can zip line back!
Zip lining across the gorge!
Big Hat parked in our spot in the Royal View Campground
- We stayed at the Royal View Campground for two nights at $54.13 a night. We’ve spent a total of $3,252.89 or an average of $38.27 per night.
- We’ve driven 4,898 miles in Big Hat and 3,823 in the car for a total of 8,721 miles
First stop this morning was at the Visitor’s Center in Twin Lakes, a town listed on the National Historic Places. Nearly all of the buildings (less than ten) are of log construction and date from the two decades prior to the turn of the twentieth century. At the Visitor’s Center we were told that we should drive Indepedence Pass to the Continental Divide which is the highest paved road where a Continental Divide is located in North America. The drive was the usual Colorado beautiful with lots of steep narrow turns and sharp drop-offs with no guardrails.
The view from behind the Visitor’s Center in Twin Lakes
Independence past has an elevation of 12,095’, the highest paved road that crosses the Continental Divide in North America
Looking to the east is a view of Mt. Elbert, the highest summit of the Rocky Mountains of North America and the highest point in Colorado.
After we drove down from the summit we stopped in Twin Lakes to eat lunch at a little food truck called Punky’s Mobile Trailer. Tom had a hamburger with ribbon fries and I had a grilled cheese sandwich.
After lunch we took a 5 mile roundtrip hike along the Twin Lakes to the Inter-Laken Lodge and the Dexter Cabin. During the 1800s the lodge was a popular resort for the wealthy. Visitor’s rode a train to a nearby station and then took a short carriage ride to the luxury summer retreat. James Dexter, who purchased the hotel and grounds in 1883, upgraded the facility to include a log tavern, pool hall, a dance hall, an ice house and a six-sided privy that accommodated 6 guests in separate rooms. The resort operated for 25 years.
James Dexter, the owner of the Inter-Laken Resort built his own cabin in the mid-1890s. The house is open to hikers to see the restored interior and view the lake from the cupola.
After we finished our hike along the Twin Lakes we continued to drive to Leadville, Leadville has an elevation of 10,152 and is the highest incorporated town in the United States. The town was originally called Silver City and was the last city where Doc Holliday was a law man. Once we arrived we stopped for ice cream before heading to the Mineral Belt Bicycle Trail. The trail is a paved 12 mile loop that encircles the town. There are markers at each mile and we started our ride between the 4 and 3 mile marker. Unfortunately, we chose to go the wrong direction which caused us to ride 8.5 miles UPHILL instead of being smart and riding the downhill direction.
A little humor along the way!
That night we drove back to the Four Seasons RV Resort in Salida, CO for our final night at that location.
- Four Seasons RV Resort $49.50 per night. We’ve spent $3,115.34 total or $37.53 per night
- We’ve driven 4,853 in Big Hat and 3,796 in the car for a total of 9,523 miles.
- We paid $2,107 for gas or $.22 per mile
Today we experienced something we’ve never done before. We rented a jeep for the day and took a 41 mile drive on part of the Alpine Loop from Silverton. The Alpine Loop is a rugged 4x4 road that winds through the spectacular scenery of the San Juan Mountains.
The first leg of our journey was to the old ghost town of Eureka, once a gold mining town, but totally deserted now other than the remains of the old Sunnyside Mill. We could have driven this far in our car, but beyond this point, the road has deep ruts, big rocks and loose sand.
Remains of the old Sunnyside Mill in Eureka.
There was a restroom here, so lots of people stopped for a break.
We were not part of a tour, but many people were leaving the rest stop as we were leaving.
We were told that this year’s snowfall in the Silverton area was 225% the typical yearly amount. and there were many avalances reported around the state. We passed several avalanche sites along the way, but the biggest avalanche site was just cleared LAST WEEK—and only wide enough for one lane of traffic to go through it! Look at the big trees that are imbedded in the snow!
Our next stop was the ghost town of Animas Forks. At over 11,000 feet it was one of the highest mining camps in the United States. The first prospectors came here to look for gold and silver in 1873. By 1885 the town had a summer population of 450, but few people stayed for the winters when the mines were shut down. Fire destroyed much of the town in 1891 and an avalanche in 1943 destroyed most of the business district.
The Gold Price Mill was constructed in 1904 and was the costliest mine built in Colorado at the time. The mill was constructed with structural steel instead of timber, but was only in operation from 1904 to 1910 when it close. It was later salvaged for use in the Sunnyside Mill in Eureka (remains pictured above) which opened in 1917.
Pictured above is the Charles and Alma Gustavson House built during 1906-1907. Charles bought the land for $1.00. The house was always known for the “indoor toilet.” It was actually an outhouse with a closed hallway which connected it to the rest of the house. They sold the home in 1910 for $110.
The scenery along the way was truly magnificent! We had never driven on such steep roads with such tight hairpin turns. Most of the roads were single lane with some wider areas to let a vehicle pass going the opposite direction.
We drove the Million Dollar Highway (Rt. 550) today between Silverton and Ouray, CO. It was an absolutely stunning drive with beautiful vistas. It has steep cliffs, sometimes narrow lanes, no guardrails and a number of hairpin S curves, but totally worth the drive! We drove this in our car—not in our motorhome --even though we have driven it in a motorhome in the past.
The Red Mountains as seen from the highway.
The Treasury Tunnel is the eastern end of the Idarado Mine that produced primarily lead, zinc and lesser amounts of gold and silver. The tunnel was originally built to connect several previously inactive mine sites. As one of the San Juan’s larger mines, it contains nearly 100 miles of underground tunnels. Miners would enter here at the Treasury Tunnel and ride the underground trams to their workstations.
Passage along the Uncompahgre Gorge.
The sign gives you some idea of the road condition
A view of the town of Ouray from the highway.
Once we arrived in Ouray, we drove up the Amphitheater Campground Road and hiked the Baby Bathtubs trail. After we finished that hike we drove to the parking lot for the Cascade Falls Trail and walked up to the falls. Later, we walked the Main Street area of Ouray.
We walked up to the Cascade Falls in Ouray.
After eating dinner (a GREAT pizza) in Ouray at the Goldbelt Bar and Grill we drove the Million Dollar Highway back to Silverton. We are staying at the Silver Canyon RV Park in Silverton which is about one block walk to the downtown area, such that it is.
- We’ve driven 3,554 in the car and 4.603 in the car for a total of 8,157 miles
- The cost of the Silver Canyon RV Park was $49.60 for a total campground cost of $,286
Although I didn’t know it before today, the official name for Monument Valley is Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park. Monument Valley is between 5,000 and 6,000 ft. above sea level. The height of the monuments range from 100 feet to 1,500 feet tall. It is located on the Arizona–Utah border near the Four Corners area. The valley lies within the territory of the Navajo Nation Reservation and is accessible from U.S. Highway 163.
Monument Valley has been featured in numerous computer games, in print, and in motion pictures, including multiple Westerns directed by John Ford that influenced audiences' view of the American West.
The roads through the valley are loose red sand, and at first we thought the only way to see it was with a guided tour. The guided tours are given in pickup trucks with open air bench seating in the back and a canvas cover. Since this is a dessert area, it is VERY dry and sandy. As the vehicles drive through, the sand is stirred and thrown into the air. We decided to try the drive in our Honda CRV (with the windows shut and the air conditioner running) and were hoping we had enough traction and clearance to make it. The CRV did great and we had no problems.
I thought this was such an iconic picture with the horse in this setting. Definitely reminded me of the old westerns I watched as a kid.
These are sun-baked mud covered homes called hogans. Hogan means home to the Navajo. The cone shaped home on the left is called a Male Hogan, used as a temporary home because it can be built quickly and taken apart to be used at another location. The round shaped home is a Female Hogan, used as a permanent home which can accommodate more people. These homes are still used by the elderly and for ceremonial purposes. They are made of cedar, bark, sand and water.
We scheduled a six hour cruise tour on Lake Powell in Page, AZ that combined the cruise with the opportunity to hike to Rainbow Bridge National Monument, one of the largest natural bridges in the world. We had to be at the dock at 7:00am, but weren’t able to board the Little Emma for our cruise until almost 8:15 because the mechanics were working on the boat's air conditioning. Nevertheless, we had a beautiful day for cruising the lake. Coincidentally, our boat captain is from Franklinton, Louisiana and is working on Lake Powell for eight months.
Lake Powell is a huge reservoir on the Colorado River, straddling the border between Utah and Arizona. It is the second largest man-made reservoir by maximum water capacity in the United States behind Lake Mead. Upon completion of the Glen Canyon Dam on September 13, 1963, the Colorado River began to back up and the newly flooded Glen Canyon formed Lake Powell. it has 1960 miles of shoreline--longer than the combined CA, OR and WA coastline, and over 96 major side canyons.
Our first stop was here where we got off the boat and walked a mile to the Rainbow Bridge National Monument.
Once we got to Rainbow Bridge, we hiked up the mountain on the left side and were able to come back down on the other side of it.
Here’s the view from the other side of Rainbow Bridge.
This is the view walking back towards the boat.
We made one more stop to pick up the mail and to get some ice cream. Because people rent huge houseboats and stay out on the lake for a week at a time, there is a convenience store with fuel tucked out in the middle of nowhere.
Check out that road coming down to the dock. I’m not sure whether that is how the fuel and supplies get to this store or what, but notice how the road matches the rock around it.
We left Kanah,UT on Hwy 89 and stopped 45 miles later to hike the Toadstool Trail. (This stop is also just 27 miles from Page, AZ if you are going the opposite way). The hike is only 1.6 miles roundtrip, but there is no shade and lots of loose red sand to walk on, so it was definitely a warm hike in 95 degrees! After signing the trail register, we walked through the cattle gate and continued north towards the badlands ahead. A brown post marked the trail up the wash.
This is Tom walking up the wash.
Notice the lighter colored trail depending back to the starting point.
Going down after going all the way to the top!
The terrain and the toadstools look they are on some strange planet.
This morning we entered the lottery to hike The Wave in Utah (google it in images—absolutely amazing), but didn’t get one of the TEN slots. Tom had tried the online lottery four months ago and obviously didn’t win that one either. Only 20 hikers per day are allowed to go there.
Anyway, we decided to drive to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon since it was only 80 mikes away. WOW!!!! We think it’s so much prettier than the south rim and we didn’t even have a clear day. It was 56 when we got there and 70 when we left. It is also a lot less crowded on the North Rim.
After we arrived and stopped for our obligatory picture at the park sign, we walked the paved .5 mile trail to Bright Angel Point. The trail is paved, but very steep in places, both coming and going with some steep drop-offs on both sides, but there is a spectacular view from there.
Bright Angel Point
Here is the view of Bright Angel Point from the Rim.
After completing the Bright Angel Point Trail we hiked up to the lodge and restaurant where we celebrated our 31st anniversary with a mediocre meal at lunch (but a great view and a great day).
After lunch we drove Cape Royal Road all the way to the end, stopping at Point Imperial for a lovely hike along the rim and some beautiful vistas. Point Imperial is the highest point in the part at 8,803 feet and the biggest drop to the canyon floor. The Colorado River is 5,000 feet below. We also stopped at all the points circled above in the National Park Service’s map.
View of Mt. Hayden from Point Imperial.
Cape Royal provides a panorama up, down, and across the canyon. We could see the Colorado River through the natural arch of Angels Window, but not well enough to get a good picture.
It was a great way to celebrate our anniversary. Have road will travel…..
We left Springdale around 11:00 this morning and drove back out of Zion on the beautiful Zion/Mt. Carmel highway to head to our next destination of Kanab, Utah. We started out driving separately since our combined length is too long for this road.
Coral Sands State Park
After parking Big Hat at the Kanab RV Corral Campground in Kanab, Utah, we walked a mile to the Visitor’s Center to get information on hikes and things to see. We decided to start off with a drive to the Coral Sands State Park which was about 15 miles from our campground. Along the way we saw a few cows standing on the side of the road—not your everyday sight in Louisiana!
Look how tiny all those people look up on that sand dune. We walked to the very top which was very strenuous in that deep loose sand, and watched people try to sled and boogie board all the way down..
This is also a great place to ride an ATV.
The side of this building says it all!!
We left Springdale around 11:00 this morning and drove back out of Zion on the beautiful Zion/Mt. Carmel highway to head to our next destination of Kanab, Utah. We started out driving separately since our combined length is too long for this road, but then hooked the car back up as soon as we got out of the park.
Coral Sands State Park
After parking Big Hat at the Kanab RV Corral Campground in Kanab, Utah, we walked a mile to the Visitor’s Center to get information on hikes and things to see. We decided to start off with a drive to the Coral Sands State Park which was about 15 miles from our campground. The park features coral-hued sand dunes located beside red sandstone cliffs. Along the way we saw a few cows standing on the side of the road—not your everyday sight in Louisiana!
Look how tiny all those people look up on that sand dune. We walked to the very top which was very strenuous in that deep loose sand, and watched people try to sled and boogie board all the way down..
This is also a great place to ride an ATV.
The side of this building says it all!!
This morning we drove into Zion National Park and caught the shuttle for our ride to the Temple of Sinawava stop, the last stop on the park shuttle. There we exited the shuttle and walked the 1 mile Riverside Walk to the point we entered the Virgin River. This time we were more prepared than the last time we hiked the river. We rented special water high-top hiking boots, neoprene socks and a shoulder height wooden walking stick.
The Zion Narrows is the narrowest section of Zion and the most popular slot canyon to hike in the park. Sections of the 1,000 foot high cliffs narrow down to just 20-30 feet wide. The hike began by hiking upstream, crossing back and forth across the Virgin River, through ankle to mid thigh deep water. We hiked all the way up to Wall Street, a 2 mile section of the canyon where the walls narrow to 22 feet and the water spans from wall to wall.
The south entrance to Zion National Park is located in the town of Springdale, Utah on Utah Rt. 9
Here we are at the beginning of the hike
It was so cool hiking in the Virgin River. Look at the grandeur of these magnificent canyon walls.
Here we are at Orderville Canyon, two miles upstream from where we began our walk in the water (3 miles into our hike)This is called Wall Street because the river goes from wall to wall in this part of the canyon.
Our hike was a total of 6.2 miles and a very strenuous one. We were absolutely exhausted when we were finished. We had to get back on the shuttle and ride back to the Visitor’s Center where our car was parked. After a quick shower, we ate lunch at Jack’s Sports Grill and then came back and took a NAP!
It was HOT today—but not while we hiked in the water!
This morning we got up at 5:45 so we could get on the Zion National Park Shuttle and ride to the drop-off point for the Angel’s Landing Trail. This trail starts at the Grotto Trailhead, stop # 6 on the park shuttle. It’s 5 miles roundtrip with an elevation change of 1,488 feet. Switchbacks allow the trail to climb the canyon wall up to Refrigerator Canyon. The trail then climbs a series of switchbacks called Walter’s Wiggles—21 of these in total. The Wiggles get you to the top of the ridge at Scout Lookout where the views are amazing. For the final 1/2 mile the trail is very steep with chains bolted into the rock to hold onto.
Switchbacks climbing up to Refrigerator Canyon
Look carefully to see the people hiking up.
These 21 switchbacks are called Walter’s Wiggles. Look how many are above me!
This is the first “mountain" past Scout’s Landing. My journey ended about halfway up this.
Almost to my final resting spot.
I made it this far.
…and here is where my nerves had me stop. Too scared of heights to go any further!
Tom kept going!
Tom’s final stopping point before that last scary—drop-offs on both sides—ascent.
Here he is in the green shirt coming back down.
and here I am going back down!
It was an amazing hike and I am so glad we at least attempted it. The views were magnificent and it feels great to have hiked 4.4 miles (and Tom’s 4.86)!
This morning’s drive was an 86 mile drive from Bryce City to Zion National Park along Utah Highway 12 and US 89. We entered Zion National Park on the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway. There is a fee of $35 to drive through the park from that entrance unless you have a National Park Pass, which we have. The drive is truly magnificent!
It’s a beautiful drive through the park.
There is a 1.1 mile tunnel on the highway that has a width and height restriction. No vehicle can be higher than 13.2 (our is 12’8” or longer than 40’ for a single vehicle or 50 feet for any vehicle combination). Since our combination is 58 feet, we had to unhitch the car and drive it in separately which was no problem. We also had to pay a $15 “escort fee.” Nobody escorted us, but they held the traffic to one lane so bigger vehicles could drive down the center of the tunnel.
Here’s the tunnel. It’s 1.1 miles long and was built in 1930. Tom was the brave one to drive Big Hat through it and he was sure to stay in the very middle since we only had 5” to spare to spare for the clearance. The sides were only 11’4”, 1 foot 4 inches shorter than Big Hat.
Rental Class C Motorhomes
We are staying at Zion Canyons RV Park and Campground. We have a beautiful view of the mountains from our camper. We walked around the campground this evening and counted 63 Class C motorhomes. 55 of them were rentals! That’s amazing to us because before we hit Utah we saw very few rentals.
We drove from Escalante to Bryce Canyon City where we stayied at Ruby’s Inn RV Park and Campground. As we parked Big Hat, we noticed the large number of rental Class C RVs—close to 90% by today’s count. We went to a county music dinner concert at Ebenezers. Both the food and the music were very enjoyable. The hostess went around to each table and ask where people were from. It was like a list of countries in the United Nations. We have never been to anywhere in the US where such a huge percentage of visitors were from other countries!
We walked around most of the RV park last night for exercise and also to count the number of rental RVs and we were amazed! We talked to an Italian family who flew into Los Angeles and renedl one. We met them in Escalante. They are here for three weeks with a big class C RV. He told us he only drives small cars at home and rvs the size of what he rented don’t exist there. So, for him to drive in a new country in a huge vehicle is quite an experience for him.
On Friday we got up and caught the park’s shuttle bus into Bryce Canyon National Park and got off at Inspiration Point. From that point we were able to view the full Amphitheater, as the view is called.
This is the view of the amphitheater.
From there we walked the Rim Trail to Sunset Point where we hiked the Navajo Loop Trail and the Queen’s Garden Trail. We ended near Sunrise Point and walked out to the shuttle pick up spot. That hike was 3.6 miles with an elevation gain of 600 feet.
Look at all the people walking the switchback Navaho Loop trail down to the bottom of the canyon. There are at least 10 switchbacks going down in this picture.
The trail back out of the canyon floor.
In the evening we drove the entire length of the main park road which is 18 miles. The road ends at the park’s highest elevation of 9,115at Rainbow and Yovimpa Points. We walked the Bristlecone Trail while we were there.
View from Rainbow Point.
It was another great day!
We had the most amazing day today in Escalante National Monument! We hired a guide James Dome who drove us 26.5 miles down the Hole in the Rock dirt road to hike in the Peekaboo, Spooky and Dry Fork Slot Canyons. A high 4 wheel drive vehicle is necessary to drive the very end of this road near the parking lot for the slots, but I can’t imagine hiking these three slot canyons without the expertise of our knowledgable guide!
Hole in the Rock Road
The first part of the hike was down a steep rock face that James called The Quilt. We walked across it for a while before we started to descend.
Heights are not my best friend so I tried not to look down and instead just watched my feet.
Going down, down, down.
The first slot we hiked and squeezed through was Peek A Boo. It was about a 10’ climb to get into the slot and our guide and Tom handled that climb with ease. James threw a rope down for me to hold onto so I could climb up. I definitely didn’t find it as easy as those two!
Here, we had to straddle the rock to get over to the other side.
Absolutely amazing beauty!
Here we are coming out of Peek A Boo. Next we walked .5 miles before entering Spooky.
We had to drop down about ten feet to get into the Spooky Slot Canyon.
Lots of small places to climb around to get through the slot.
There is even a small arch inside the slot.
There’s not much extra space to m maneuver in some places. It was so narrow we had to walk sideways through much of the slot.
At the end our walk back out of the canyon and up the steep rock face to get back to the parking lot.
Today we drove the beautiful Scenic Byway 12 from Torrey to Escalante through Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. It was a 65 mile drive on a sometimes SCARY road, but the scenery was magnificent. We traveled over two highway grades of 14% and some of the road had shear drop-offs with no guard rails on both sides at one time (I didn’t take any pictures of that because I wasn’t looking). Tom did an excellent job of driving our 36’ Big Hat (our motorhome) that was pulling the Honda CRV with our bicycles on the back rack with a combined length of 58’.
There were also cows grazing on the side of the road because it was open range.
See that 14% grade sign???
Devil’s Garden in Grand Staircase National Monument
After we set up Big Hat in the Canyons of Escalante RV Park, we drove to Devil’s Garden, an area featuring hoodoos, natural arches and other sandstone formations.
This morning we drove back into the park from our campground in Torrey, UT. Our first destination was the hike to Hickman Bridge, a 133 foot natural bridge. Along the way there were beautiful views of the canyon below.
The trail starts here. The trail is 1.8 miles long and has an elevation gain of 400 feet.
The trail keeps going up, up, up!
Another giant rock formation along the way.
The scenery keeps changing as we continue to climb upward.
We made it!
We arrived in Capital Reef National Park on Saturday afternoon and were absolutely amazed at the beautiful scenery we saw as we drove the park to get to our campground in Torrey, UT.
We drove back into the park on Saturday morning to hike a few trails. Our first stop was at the Panorama Point Overlook and then we drove the unpaved dirt road to the Sunset Point Trail to see the Goosenecks Overlook.
We stopped at the Capital Reef Visitor’s Center before driving eight miles down the Scenic Drive to the end. Then we drove two miles on the unpaved dirt Capital Gorge Road with unbelievably beautiful vistas of huge canyon walls and colorful rock formations.
When we got to the end of the Capital Gorge Road, we parked the car and walked the Capital Gorge which was a 2.0 hike roundtrip. It was an easy hike that was mostly flat, but walking between the hike canyon walls was thrilling.
Afterwards, we drove back up the scenic road and turned onto the unpaved Grand Wash Road. At the end of that road we parked the car and did a STRENUOUS (did I say STRENUOUS???) to Cassidy Arch. That hike was 3.5 miles roundtrip with an elevation gain of 670 feet, but it was a beautiful hike.
Can you spot Tom on top of the arch?
We stayed at the James Robb Colorado State Park, Fruita which was a beautiful paved campground with covered picnic tables at each site and full hookups. The park also had a bike trail, picnic area, volleyball court, playground and other amenities.
The first evening we were both there, we ate dinner at Golden Corral and bought groceries at Walmart before coming back to Big Hat to relax. Later, we walked around the campground in the evening and I took these pictures at sunset.
On Friday we drove into the Colorado National Monument and hiked a trail around the visitor’s center. After driving all the way through the park, we stopped at Outback for lunch.
I was still exhausted from my long drive I did the previous two days, so we just hung out at the campground for several hours. After dinner I went to McDonalds that was right beside the campground to use their wifi to work on Ben’s Shutterfly vacation book.
When we left Glenwood Springs this afternoon, I left in the car to drive Ben back toward the Denver Airport (208 miles). We spent the night in Lakewood with Darien and Licia while Tom drove Big Hat on to Grand Junction. We didn’t feel comfortable leaving the motorhome unaccompanied for two days.
For dinner we ate at Chuy’s Tex Mex which was delicious! Afterwards, we stopped at McGill’s for ice cream. I had salty caramel Oreo cookie ice cream which was the best ice cream I have ever had!
We were able to see Charles’ completed umbilical tower that he spent over 80 hours building. He had to find parts that are no longer in circulation from as far away as Sweden and even had a few made with a 3D printer! Including the Saturn V that he had built a long time ago, there were over 6,000 pieces in his project! We weren’t able to attend, but he gave a presentation at the Bailey Public Library showing new videos from the NASA archives, engineering feats accomplished, and displayed his completed umbilical tower with Saturn V—all to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
After dinner and ice cream we played Phase 10 until bedtime.
Wednesday, July 24 Ben and I left the O’Brien's home in Lakewood at 7:45am to eat breakfast at McDonalds before heading to the airport. Since he was an unaccompanied minor, I had to check him (and me) in at the ticket counter before heading for the gate to wait for his flight.
We couldn’t have asked for a better travel companion and we will definitely miss him.
Meanwhile, I had to drive from the airport 277 to Fruita, CO (outside of Grand Junction) to meet back up with Tom. I drove 485 miles in two days and was EXHAUSTED by the time I got there!
Our second experience with having to have reservations to do a hike was today when we wanted to hike the Hanging Lake Trail. Too many people were hiking in that area, there is road construction and limited parking, so we had to purchase passes at the Hanging Lake Welcome Center located beside the Glenwood Springs Recreation Center. I tried to get reservations for the two previous days and was finally able to get them for today at 12:45. The cost for the shuttle and the hike was $12 each.
We boarded an unairconditoned bus for the 25 minute ride, which took at least 45 minutes because of the construction, As soon as we arrived, we started walking the bike trail to where the actual trail began. We hiked a total of four miles, but the strenuous part was the 1.25 miles going up with an elevation gain of 915 feet. We hiked over boulders, along streams, across bridges, and saw five snakes before we FINALLY got to the top and saw the beautiful Hanging Lake. It’s such a surprise to see such a beautiful sight so high up in the mountains!
Up we start by climbing over these boulders.
We would look up when we got to a clearing to see how much further we had to go.
We are on our final ascent!
…and here it is—the beautiful Hanging Lake!
After we took our many photos at this point, we hiked another 100 feet or so in elevation over .25 mile to Spouting Rock where we hiked behind the waterfalls and took some additional pictures.
Here is Ben hiking back down the trail.
After we rode the bus back to the Hanging Rock Welcome Center, we drove to Kaleidascoops and got some well-deserved ice cream before heading back to Big Hat at the Glenwood Canyon RV Resort. Ben and I grabbed our swimsuits and towels and drove back to the Glenwood Springs Recreation Center to swim and sit in the hot tub while Tom stayed behind and rested.
After a late dinner we played an alternate version of Phase 10 which was fun.
We left Breckenridge to drive to our next stop in Glenwood Springs, CO. Because we had to change some reservations in order to get Ben back to the airport for July 24, we couldn’t book a campground for the first night. We stayed in a very nice Walmart Parking lot with five other motorhomes. The first evening we went to the Glenwood Springs Vaudeville Dinner and Show. The dinner was very tasty and the entertainment was hilarious!
By the time we got back to Big Hat and played a full game of Phase 10, it was bedtime. Even though our generator didn’t work in Breckenridge (we are guessing it was because we didn’t know how to make the high altitude adjustment), it started up first time in the Walmart Parking lot. We slept comfortably for the night.
On Sunday morning we drove to Maroon Bells which is near Aspen. No-one can drive a car into the park from 8:00AM - 5:00pm, so we drove to the Aspen Highlands Visitor’s Center where we paid $15 to park and $8 each to ride the shuttle into the park. The ride took about 25 minutes and was narrated by the bus driver. Because of the record amount of snow during 2019, there were many avalanches within the park and the cleanup delayed the opening on the park for the season. Apparently several weddings that were scheduled to take place in there had to be relocated outside the park.
On our ride up to the park we could see the paths of the avalanches which totally uprooted all the aspen trees in it’s way. In all our past travels we had not seen the destructive paths of an avalanches.
Ben took a picture of us right when we arrived in the park. Then we spent several hours hiking up to Crater Lake.
When we finished our hiking for the day, we boarded the bus for our ride back to the Highland’s Visitor’s Center and then drove the 44 miles back to the Walmart in Glenwood Springs after stopping for some ice cream at Kaleidascoops.. We drove Big Hat to the Glenwood Canyon RV Resort where we will be spending the next two nights.
We spent four days in the absolutely amazing town of Breckenridge at the Peak One Campground. The campground is part of the National Forest and is very pretty. It’s actually located in Frisco, about 8 miles from Breckenridge, right along the Dillon Reservoir. The lots are huge, but there are no electricity or water. hookups. That shouldn’t have been a problem because our water tank holds 70 gallons of fresh water and we have a generator. However, for some reason, our generator did not work so we had no electricity other than lights. Nevertheless, we were never in the camper during the day when it was warm and at night the temperature dropped into the high 50’s.
The first evening we just walked along Main Street in Breckenridge and ate at Eric’s Downstairs. The pizza was very good!
On Thursday we rode our bicycles for 6.25 along a bike path that went from our campground into Frisco and back. In the evening we met Adrienne and Will at a music concert at the Frisco Historical Park.
When we got back to Big Hat, we made a campfire, roasted marshmallows and made s’mores.
Epic Discovery Park
On Friday we spent the entire day at Epic Discovery. To get there we rode the free town gondola up the mountain. We bought an unlimited ride pass for Ben and chose a three-ride ticket for Tom and me. As soon as we got there we rode the ski lift up the mountain to ride the alpine slide back down.
Next, we stood in line to ride the coaster.
There was a huge mountain of snow piled high to play in, and we enjoyed sliding down on it.
Here goes Ben!
Next was Tom
But my ride down was the most exciting
Ben climbed many sides of the rock wall from easy to difficult.
While Ben enjoyed riding the rides and climbing the rock wall, Tom and I rode the final ski lift higher and then hiked near the top of the mountain. In some places there was still snow on the mountain and on the path. It was an absolutely great hike with beautiful vistas. We hiked and walked 5.5 miles!
Late in the afternoon I went with Tom to get his hair cut while Ben finished out the day on top of the mountain at the Epic Discovery Park. The hairdresser discovered someone had taken her phone. It was a new iPhone and she was so upset—naturally. I showed her how to sign into Find my Phone on my phone and we locked her phone and put the phone number at her shop for someone to call if they found her phone. I could see where her phone was located on the map and it was only a few blocks from her shop. Tom and I walked to where her phone was located while I was continually beeping her phone. We walked in the store where the app said the phone was and I could hear it making the ringing sound. ( mind you it had a phone number to call if anyone found it right on the lock screen). I asked the guy for the phone and he handed it to me while saying it had been making noise for thirty minutes. I called the owner at the number we had put on the lock screen and walked the phone back to her at her shop. She was so grateful!
Moral of this story is to make sure you have the Find My Phone turned on in your phone and know how to use it!!!! I have found my phone on three different occasions in the past five years with the help of that app.
Peak One Campground, Frisco Bicycle Park
There is an awesome bicycle park in this campground where Ben and some other campers rode there bikes in the evening. I asked him to stay on the easy trails because I didn’t want him to get hurt since he had never riden his bike on those types of trails. There were many young adults riding and jumping ten or so feet in the air about each hill. Very interesting to watch!
Yesterday we drove back into Rocky Mountain National Park and this time headed for the Hidden Valley picnic area where we hiked a very steep trail. The beginning of the trail was paved and we thought the hike would be mainly for families with young children. After .25 miles the paved trail ended and we had to walk across a fast-moving stream on a fallen tree to continue along the trail. Because of the record level of snow in RMNP this year the snow is still melting. Although there was no snow on this trail, the water run off was continuous. Some of the trail was soggy and some was downright covered with water, but we forged ahead hoping to get to the top of that particular mountain. After hiking .75 miles straight up and realizing the top was totally eluding us, we decided to turn around and head back down. We later found out that Hidden Valley used to be a ski area that’s been closed over 30 years and we were hiking on the ski slope!
Tom and Ben going back down the trail after walking through some mud.
We drove out to the Bear Lake parking area in hopes that we would be lucky and get a parking spot. We were able to park and walk to the lake to take some pictures before leaving RMNP.
We stopped on the way out of the park to walk around and snap a few more pictures.
In the afternoon I went into town and got a pedicure while Tom took a nap and Ben rode his bicycle with some friends. At 6:00 we joined a covered dish dinner at the campground hospitality area. I brought red beans with sausage and rice which was a hit (Blue Runner, of course). In the evening—and for five other evenings while we were in Estes Park– we played bridge with Donna and Bob. Their bridge scores were much more impressive than ours. In other words, they killed us!
Since it gets dark late in the evenings, Ben was able to play outside until 8:45.
We left our friends this morning and are now headed for Breckenridge, Colorado
- Manor RV Campground for 6 nights @ $55.00 per night. Campgrounds cost so far $1,507.86, an average of $31.41 per night.
- Total miles driven in Big Hat 3,461 and 1967 in the CRV for a total of 5,528 miles
- We’ve spent $1,440.78 on gas, or an average of $30.02 per day
We drove into the park around 8:15 so we would be able to get a parking spot at the Alpine Visitor Center at the top of Trail Ridge Road. The weather was perfect when we entered the park with beautiful blue skies. It’s a 23 mile drive to the Alpine Visitor Center with an elevation gain of almost 5,000 feet. The road is in very good shape, but there were many places along the way where there was no shoulder or guardrail and a very steep drop-off.
After parking at the Alpine Visitor Center, we hiked up the Alpine Ridge Trail to the top of the mountain, an elevation of 12,000'.
We then hiked back down to the Visitor’s center before crossing the road and hiking the UteTrail 4 miles down to the Continental Divide. We accidentally got off the trail at the wrong spot and ended up blazing our own trail down the side of the mountain until reaching the road about .75 miles before Milner Pass and the Continental Divide. Some of the way on the Ute Trail the path was covered with snow and we couldn’t see where the trail actually was. Although we lost out way in the final mile of the hike, we still reached our destination in four miles, the length of the entire correct trail. Ben was very scared when we were “lost” and forging our own trail. He started putting an “X” on each snow drift we passed, so if we had to hike back up the mountain, we’d know we had come that way. When we found the road, he was convinced that his "magic stick” pointed us in the right direction .
The Ute Trail
Bob and Donna Copper were picking us up at the Continental Divide to take us back up to get our car. As we were hiking the final .75 miles along the road, Ben spotted Bob’s car quite a distance away and commented that it looked like Bob’s car. As it came closer (and passed us), we realized it WAS Bob and we yelled at him, but he didn’t hear us. While waiting for us, another group of four women needed a ride back up to the Visitor’s Center and he offered to take them up. He then returned to get us.
At the Visitors Center we had some hot chocolate with Bob and Donna before heading back to Estes Park in our separate cars.
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