August 04-12, 2001 Family trip to Colorado...
PICTURES: <CLICK HERE>
We were set to start our trip to Colorado with daughter Nikki and her family (Husband Greg, kids - Charlie, Samantha, Kirsten, Sean and new baby Kinsey), scheduled to leave on August 4th.
Pre-trip woes... One of my other vehicles decided that the 3rd was the day that it was going to develop a gas leak. I was up until 3 AM correcting that problem and then fixing a friends computer. Got to bed at 4 AM and up at 7 AM to leave for Colorado.
My wife and I had two of the grandkids with us and we met my daughter in Abilene, KS rather than try to meet up sooner. They were leaving from Oak Grove and we from Gladstone. By noon we were sitting in Abilene, KS and took the opportunity to have some lunch and go through the Eisenhower museum, boyhood home, etc. I feel that this is an important part of our heritage and thoroughly enjoyed the visit although I personally had been there several times before.
It might be noted that my wife Carol and I had been to most everything we were to see on this visit and the trip was for the enjoyment of my daughter and her family. We were the 'tour guide'. We enjoyed the trip very much even so. <grin>
We drove on to Stratton, CO and stayed the night at Trail's End Campground (1 2). It is a nice locally owned and operated campground with complete facilities and reasonable pricing. Next leg was to go on to Canon City, CO and Jellystone Campground 1/2 mile from the entrance road to Royal Gorge. We had stayed here twice before and although a bit pricey for us... it had all those extras for the kids (that we would not use of course).
Note: On the way through Colorado Springs my wife thought we ought to go to Seven Falls and see them. The closer I got to the Falls the more I realized that I had made a major mistake. The reason?? Seven Falls is located on a narrow access road up in the mountains. Not one single place anywhere along the road to Seven Falls did it say you should not drive an RV or large vehicle up the road. The road was not designed for large vehicles. The parking when you get to the Falls area is somewhat beyond ridiculous! There were six spots for motorhomes, trailers, RVs, etc. If you were in the least having trouble driving your RV you'd be guaranteed to have a problem maneuvering around this area. What if you get up there and there are already six RVs there (we just happened to be number 6 noting that their web page says there are only four (4) spots) you're out of luck. There is no place to turn around. There is no provision for handling these vehicles that is reasonable. The kid that was working there was sorry about the situation but he couldn't do anything about it. Personally... for what we saw at Seven Falls... SAVE YOUR MONEY!
We rented a cabin at Jellystone so that the kids would have more space. The rest of the trip we all slept in the motorhome. It sleeps 8 and was not a problem. This was one of the rainiest years we've seen in this area and the kids couldn't swim because of the lightening. It rained all night the first night here and most of the second night.
The next morning we went into Canon City and toured the Penitentiary Museum located there. We explained to the grandkids that they could end up in this kind of a place if they didn't 'toe the line' <grin>. No one seemed enthusiastic about spending 'time' in the pen. <grin> One thing we would have liked to have done, had we the time, was to take the train up through the Royal Gorge. The Royal Gorge Route would have been fun. The train is a late 50's or early 60's streamliner I believe.
We went to the Royal Gorge and the kids rode the Tram across the Gorge. We rode the inclined train down to the bottom and it started raining about that time. We met some folks from England and had a nice visit with them. They were on holiday in the area. We had been to the area they lived a couple of years ago.
Our next leg of the trip took us west through the beautiful area and drive along the Arkansas (pronounced 'ar kansas' not like the state) river toward Salida, CO. Every moment is a picture perfect site. We stopped in Salida and had lunch. Then on to south US 285 and State Highway 17. We went over Poncha Pass at nearly 10,000 feet. We stopped at the UFO Watchtower on 17 just north of Hooper, CO for a bit of fun. I like SciFi and believe that we are not alone! <grin> This is a spot that the local rancher had set up to address the issue of UFO sightings in the area. There were a lot of fun 'alien' trinkets and we bought our share.
Also just north of Hooper is the Alligator Farm. This was another bit of unusual fun in the middle of nowhere. The alligators were imported to control some fish and ended up a sight to see. The kids got to hold an alligator that was about 5 feet long. The adults also held the alligator and a lot of pictures were taken. They'll even make you a shirt or mouse pad with the picture on it. This was a lot of good fun. We were just a couple of days late for the Gator Rodeo and Roundup that had been held the weekend before.
On the way through this area we hit another swarm of those bugs that seem to make your windshield suddenly bug infested. We were pretty clean before that... and all of a sudden we're covered. What a mess!
The next stop was Great Sand Dunes National Monument. Soon to be a National Park... this is always an enjoyable stop. We decided to stay in the campground at the monument which is open year-round. Most of the sites were taken already... even though there were 88 sites. Any site big enough for a motorhome or RV to park in was taken by some little compact car and a tent. We squeezed into a site and we were thankful to get that. The sites are all primitive. There are restrooms but they have no showers and no electricity for shaving, hair drying, etc. We counted very few RVs of any kind but in an odd turn the folks across from us were from just west of St Louis and there was another Coachman just south of us. We were essentially the only three RVs in the second loop of campsites. The camp host came around and was concerned that we had more than six people in the campsite. We were traveling together from Missouri and had four adults and five kids. I would guess that large families are not expected. They wanted to charge us for a second site until he found out that we were all sleeping in the motorhome. There was no 'extra' tent out at our site but he made an assumption that we were going to put out one and misuse the site. How about a positive attitude next time and a little less on the heavy-handed attitude??
And then there was the idiot that stopped by while I was talking to the rangers and she wanted her camping fee back because there were too many barking dogs and RVs. I hadn't heard a dog (we don't have dogs) and there were only three RVs in the loop that I had seen. The rest were little tents placed at sites that could have supported a lot more than they were because of the tents. If anyone had a complaint it surely wasn't this gal.
After the Great Sand Dunes we went on through Alamosa and on to Wolf Creek Pass. The link is to the Wolf Creek area information page. Wolf Creek is a ski area in the winter and is an old high dangerous pass. New roads have made the pass much more pleasurable and safe. Out next stop was Durango, CO.
While in Durango we stayed at Lightner Creek Campground (or try this link) . This was a nice campground close to Durango on the west side. We were 36 miles from Mesa Verde and about 3 miles from the Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge RR terminal in Durango. The camp was a bit pricey for us but that is expected in the Durango area since it is a tourist Mecca. We'd have been OK on the price right up until we were charged for the extra people in the motorhome. We didn't use but one camp space but they think the two extra adults and the kids are going to use up the facilities I guess. I can't argue with that thought as they do make use of the facilities. I just am not up with the per person extra charge. A buck a person would be plenty.
On Thursday we drove up to Silverton, CO and enjoyed the 'old town' atmosphere. Did a lot of shopping after stopping and getting some lunch. It again started raining in the late afternoon as we were wrapping it up. I bought a couple of books and a couple of pieces of jewelry. The girls got a bit of jewelry from one of the shops that was having a sale. Seasons are so short up in Silverton that the stores all seemed to be having sales to try to clear out things before the season ended. There were a couple of RV parks right in town and we wished we had more time and could have stayed up there. All total there are a half-dozen RV parks in a and around Silverton.
On Friday morning we got up and did the whitewater rafting we had planned. This is of course one of the neatest areas of Colorado with the Animas River running down through town. It was our Southwest Whitewater rafting adventure spot on Friday. We were pretty much ready to head out after the rafting and a rainy lunch.
<WHITEWATER 1> <WHITEWATER 2>
We had the little problem below and were on our way. Our only problem on the trip happened in Durango. The right rear inside dual tire was determined to be flat. I noted that the outside tire seemed to have a lot of weight on it and after checking there was a very good reason. We stopped by the Goodyear dealer and for $13.50 he rotated the spare to the dual. He did not have a tire the size we needed to replace the tire so we drove home without a spare. I highly recommend that you get the tire fixed or replaced as soon as possible. Driving without the spare was asking for it. (Note: We were lucky and got home safely. A trip to Goodyear locally here got the tire replaced. I had planned to replace the front tires anyway and have it aligned so it all worked out. Goodyear recommended that the tires be put on at maximum air pressure of 110 lbs. They indicated that my alignment was minimally off. That was set properly.)
The trip home was easy and uneventful. We stopped at Fun Valley on the east side of the Wolf Creek Pass area. It was a really exciting spot for family fun. They don't have a web page up so I've put something together... click on Fun Valley above.
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