Tag Archives: Colorado

Mondays are for memories – Dirt Roads and Daring Adventures!

Since we had a mini-adventure last week when we decided to find a new way home, I thought I’d share a not-so-mini adventure we had while we were in Colorado Springs, CO, back in 2008. It will long be remembered as a drive of a lifetime!
September 21, 2008 – Dirt Roads and Daring Adventures
We had quite a day yesterday. Since we found ourselves back at Glen Eyrie until Tuesday (we had moved briefly to a local Camping World in the hopes they could fix our awning. They could not. (at least not before we had to be leaving for Texas) ), we decided to try to take care of some sightseeing we had somehow not been able to accomplish previously. So, bright and early we headed out to drive the Rampart Range Road to Woodland Park.
The road starts in the Garden of the Gods –
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The Dirt Road Adventure begins….
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The views were spectacular (although Gary does wonder why I continue to take pictures of Pike’s Peak, since it doesn’t really change. It has such a commanding presence in the area that I just can’t seem to stop myself!) –
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The road was a little rough, but the views were wonderful. And before we knew it, we were heading into Woodland Park where we enjoyed a hearty breakfast and then continued on our way to 11 Mile Canyon. Gary had gone fly fishing there last weekend, and while he hadn’t caught anything, he had been very taken with the beauty of the area.
As you can see by the entrance, it’s easy to see why….
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The drive into the canyon is along an old railroad track and it’s pretty steep down to the river. But the ride was delightful – downright stunning in places –
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Two of the three tunnels –
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As we were headed back to the entrance, we noticed a turn off onto another dirt road. According to our trusty GPS, it would (eventually) lead us to a county road that would eventually get us to Cripple Creek, our next intentional destination. So, off we went! Good thing we had 4Wheel drive – the road was in pretty rough shape, but again the sights along the way, were worth the effort –


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We finally made it to CR 59 – not quite a paved road, but improved at least! And it seemed to lead us a view into a valley between the mountains –
View of valley

We did make it into that valley and all the way over to Cripple Creek – an old gold mining town that at one time was the 4th largest city in Colorado! Right now it makes it’s living off of tourism and small stakes gambling.
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Little did we know that the real adventure had yet to begin! We decided to head south on a road called “Shelf Road”. A friend had said she was going to be camping and climbing along that road, so we thought we’d give it a try and see if could maybe track her down. We never did find her (though I think we were pretty close), but we did find out why the road is named “Shelf Road”. It’s because the road is really just a single lane shelf running along the side of the mountain.
The road looking back –
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The canyon looking down (gulp)-
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The road looking ahead –
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(it’s that swatch going along the mountainside, about half way down.)
Of course the most exciting part of the road is the fact that it’s only one lane, but is a two way road.

Needless to say, I was about ready to kiss the blacktop when we finally reached the end!
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The day ended with a rainbow –
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And a fitting end of truly amazing day!

And if you would like to see a bazillion more pictures of this day – (more or less in order!), check them out HERE!

Catching Up – Installment 1

Long, long ago (well, last October at least) we drove from California to Waco, TX. And we took 10 days to get there! The reason it took so long was that we made stops at any number of National Parks along the way. I just checked where I had left off with our travel stories, and it seems we had just left Page, AZ and Lake Powell. Then I went to Gary’s journal to refresh my memory about what came next –

Tuesday, Oct 11 –
Left Walmart & drove east along rt. 98 & 160. Stopped at 4 Corners (Navajo land) & also Hovenweek NP – Pueblo Village-buildings. Continued on to campground. Set up RV. Relaxed. Went to Dinner. Pizza – Stopped at Walmart – ordered drugs. Went through many back roads to get to Hovenweep.
Wednesday, Oct 12-
Went to Mesa Verde NP. Toured Balcony House and drove around to all other lookouts. Stopped @ museum & watched movie. Also went to Anasazi Village for more movies and museum. Dinner @ small restaurant. Picked up scrips @Walmart and did laundry @ campground.

Yes – we do lead an exciting life, filled with Walmart trips and laundromats. But there were a couple of POI’s in those paragraphs too!

Four Corners –
Truth here – it was a little disappointing. Although, it was what it said it was – a marker of where the four states come together. Several folks were waiting in line to get a picture of someone in their group standing in all four states at once, but that didn’t seem all that important to us. In looking back over my pictures, the one above is really, truly the only one I took. Oh well.
Hovenweep National Monument
I’d never even heard of the  Hovenweep National Monument. How about you? Here’s a little bit about it from the website –

Once home to over 2,500 people, Hovenweep includes six prehistoric villages built between A.D. 1200 and 1300. Explore a variety of structures, including multistory towers perched on canyon rims and balanced on boulders. The construction and attention to detail will leave you marveling at the skill and motivation of the builders.

We enjoyed a bit of a hike
and were impressed with these remains perched on the canyon rim.
Here’s a little panorama of the canyon –
See the mountains in the distance? It was quite the landmark in this neck of the woods!
After we did a bit of exploring in the Hovenweep ruins, we continued on our way to our next campground. Remember the mention of lots of back roads?
Oh, yeah, baby!
We settled nicely into our campground (and worked in that exciting stop at Walmart). The next day we set out for Mesa Verde – a true highlight of our ‘long road to Waco”.
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Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa Verde, as you probably know, is all about cliff dwellings. It was absolutely amazing to see these masterpieces of engineering from centuries ago.
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While most of these cliff communities were viewed from overlooks, there was one that you could actually tour. The Balcony House
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And it was a real hands-on tour!
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We had an excellent Native American guide, who, as we stood silent in one of the rooms, serenaded us with a melody from his handmade flute.
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It was goose-bump beautiful!
These cliff dwellings were truly amazing.
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And the view on the way back to the campground was pretty striking too!
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It was a great day – from the guided tour to the many cliff dwellings to the beautiful views to those handy movies!
I’d highly recommend it as an addition to your bucket list!

Well, that gets us a little farther down the road, but there are still more adventures to share. But enough for tonight! HERE‘s a link to more pictures of the Hovenweep National Monument, and HERE‘s a link to more photos from Mesa Verde National Park.
I’ll save the rest of the trip for another day!