Sunday, August 26, 2012

Last Days in Taylor Park

Like I've always said - it's all about the view.

After we left Dinner Station Campground, we went to Lakeview Campground for 9 days.  Lakeview is on the south side of the lake, with a loop of sites that have electricity and million-dollar views. We were in site 52 for 4 days, then moved to site 66.  Both have fabulous views, and we spent many hours just relaxing in our chairs looking at the scenery.

Taylor Park is surrounded on the north and east by the Collegiate Peaks of the Sawatch Range, and about a dozen of them are over 14,000'. 

We really didn't do a lot worth writing about other than Don fishing and me sewing. We did go to Crested Butte again - for dinner at Slogar.  Slogar is a pretty popular restaurant with a unique menu - you get chicken or steak, and most customers get the chicken. It's fried, and tastes a whole lot better than KFC.

 Here's how your meal goes:
First, the waitstaff brings out the "appetizers."  There's a relish tray - carrots, pickles, celery, and cinnamon-poached pears.  There's a bowl of creamy cottage cheese, a bowl of cole slaw, and a bowl of tomato chutney.  Our waitress explained that many people just mix it all together (we didn't).  The pears were pretty good, but were slightly flavored by the pickle juice.  The cottage cheese and cole slaw were really tasty, but Don and I were divided on the tomato chutney (he liked it; I didn't). 

Next is the main meal.  Each diner is allotted half of a chicken - so we got 2 huge breasts, 2 legs, 2 thighs, and 2 wings. It's all on one plate, as this meal is served "family style."  We also get a bowl of mashed potatoes, a bowl of cream gravy, a bowl of creamed corn (not like the canned stuff - this is whole kernels in cream), and a basket of the lightest biscuits I've ever had.  For the biscuits there's honey butter and homemade strawberry jam.  You can get seconds on all the sides, as they're "all-you-can'eat."  They let you take any leftover chicken with you, but not the sides.  We had seconds on the corn, but otherwise, were unable to eat everything and took chicken home with us.  We were both stuffed.

Most days at Taylor Park were spent doing our favorite activities - Don went fishing, and I sewed.  Since we had electricity, I had TV to watch as well, and kept up with the two big trials on TruTV. Our weather was wonderful - mostly sunny days with occasional thundershowers, but never anything extreme.

Pro Cycling Race - US Pro Challenge

The Gunnison-to-Aspen leg of the US Pro Cycling Challenge came through Taylor Park on Wednesday - this is a race that starts in Durango and ends a week later in Denver.  The route on Wednesday was considered the Queen Stage - meaning it was the most grueling.  They went from Gunnison up the Taylor River to Taylor Park, around a part of the lake, then up and over 12,126' Cottonwood Pass.  Then from there they went down to Buena Vista, up the highway a bit, then up and over 12,095' Independence Pass and down to Aspen. 

Don went fishing, so I walked down to the road at the base of the campground to join about 20 others to watch the race.  The camp hosts were there, and learned via radio from the camp hosts down at Lottis Creek (in Taylor River Canyon) that the race had just passed by.  That let us know that it would be about 10 minutes before they got to where we were.

We saw the helicopter first - the one from NBC Sports that was filming the race.  Next came the Colorado State Patrol escorts.  They had sedans, motorcycles, and SUVs.

Here comes the leader, followed by a pair, and then the lead pack of 15 more.  A race official had driven by moments earlier, letting us know that the lead pack had a 4 1/2 minute lead on the peleton.

Here the leader grabs a snack since he's going downhill.

This is still the lead pack.

The lead pack was followed by a great number of support vehicles (with extra bikes, wheels, mechanics, etc.).

About 5 minutes back was the peleton, escorted by more police and race officials, and followed by more support vehicles.  Bringing up the rear were 4 medical vehicles, in case they were needed.

This is looking across the lake towards the peleton and support vehicles as they were approaching the turnoff to Cottonwood Pass.  Here they hit a gravel/dirt road, which they took for 14 miles to the top of the pass.  From there it was pavement the rest of the way to Aspen.

Tom Danielson won this stage, but he didn't win it by enough time to take the yellow jersey away from Christian Vande Velde.  As I'm typing this on Sunday, Levi Leipheimer, the defending champion, is now wearing the yellow jersey, signifying the overall leader.  All he has to do today is hold off Vande Velde in Stage 7 - but it's a toss-up.

I'm typng


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Dinner Station Campground

Tuesday, August 14

On Sunday we left the full-service Colorado Dream Ranch campground and headed up the Taylor River about 12 miles to Dinner Station Campground. It's a small but nice Forest Service campground on the river in the northern portion of Taylor Park. The location used to be a stagecoach stop back in the late 1800s.

Our site, #19, is on a loop that's out in the open and has a fabulous view of the Collegiate Peaks that ring Taylor Park.

We had this site for 3 days.

On Monday we drove up to Spring Creek Reservoir, about 12 miles, where Don fished all day and I read. I was able to sit outside for a while, but then the clouds moved in and I moved to the truck when it started to rain.

The mountain in the background that's making its own clouds is American Flag Peak.

Don was wearing waders and rain gear, so the rain didn't bother him at all.

When we got back to camp, the rain was clearing and we had a huge rainbow.

This morning we awoke to very low clouds--no more view.

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Cottonwood Pass

Saturday, August 11

Way back in 1976, my dad and I came to Colorado to do some camping and hiking. We visited Taylor Park and then drove over Cottonwood Pass to Buena Vista. At the top of Cottonwood Pass Dad took a photo of me next to the sign-- a photo that I wanted to reproduce 36 years later. I don't have that photo on my computer--it's back at home in a scrapbook somewhere.

Today Don and I drove up to Cottonwood Pass--here's the reproduction of the photo from 1976:

It was a gorgeous day for photos--here are some photos from the top of the pass.

A small lake near the summit of the pass.

Looking east.

That's Taylor Park Reservoir off in the distance to the west.

Don coming down from a trail at the summit.

About 1/2 mile from the pass is a lookout point with some picnic tables. Don climbed up to one, and had to rest since it's at 12,000+ feet.

I think the mountain on the right is Huron Peak, 14,003 feet.

This is looking back up at Cottonwood Pass, in the center of the photo.

On the way back down we stopped at a meadow with these two signs:

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Cool in Taylor Park

Tuesday, August 7

We left Ridgway on Sunday, with reservations waiting at Cobbett Lake Campground up on the Grand Mesa. It was only a 58-mile trip, but to get up on the Grand Mesa you have quite a climb: the Grand Mesa is 10,000 feet high. The campground we were headed to is right across Cobbett Lake from the Grand Mesa Visitor Center. We realized when we turned off the main road that it was going to be a tight place, as the road was pretty narrow. When we got to the campground, we discovered that someone was in our site. We also noticed that even if it was empty, we couldn't get into it due to some trees that were too close to the road. We found the camp host, who had just arrived that day, and she offered to go make the people in our site leave. We told her about it being inaccessible, and she took me in her cart to look for another site. There weren't any.

After consulting with Don, I told her we'd just go on to Taylor Park, and to assist us in getting a full refund from recreation.gov. Once we got back down off the mesa, I called recreation.gov to cancel and get the refund going.
My next call was to the campground up behind the Taylor Park Trading Post. It's called Colorado Dream Ranch, and we've only been there to use their laundry room. But they have full hookups, and I hoped they'd have a site for us on a Friday night. Sure enough, they did--a nice site on the back row with views of the mountains and Cottonwood Pass. We are here for 9 nights, then we go to Dinner Station Campground, a Forest Service campground about 12 miles further up the Taylor River.

This campground caters to the ATV/dirt bike/4WD folks, with access to the trails right from the campground. There are a few people here for the fishing, but I think we're the only ones here without ATVs, bikes, or 4WD. We've met some really nice people. Wayne and Sheila from Kansas insisted on giving us some coffee when our microwave broke. We'd been drinking instant and were sometimes zapping it instead of using the kettle to heat water--but our first day here it started smoking and we definitely don't want to burn the trailer down! We have a Mr. Coffee, and thanks to those kind people we have "real" coffee. Kay and John from Texas have invited us to share their campfire a couple of nights, and last night they gave us some decadent turtle pie. Steve and Wilma, who work here, came over yesterday to watch the USA women's soccer gold medal game, and brought a cantaloupe and a bunch of fresh jalapeƱos.

Sunday we went to Crested Butte so I could get some fresh fruit and veggies from their farmers' market. It was also the day of a big art festival, and the main street (Elk Street) was closed off and full of vendors. The art was beautiful, but way above my price range. We ate pizza for lunch that had local Colorado sausage on it. It was very tasty. At the farmers' market I picked up some Olathe sweet corn, butter lettuce, and red potatoes.

Right now I'm sitting in the trailer during an honest-to-goodness gullywasher. It started raining heavily about 20 minutes ago, and the rain turned into hail--about pea-sized. Our TV says "searching for satellite signal," so that shows me that the storm clouds are pretty dense. I haven't seen it rain (or hail) this hard since we got to Colorado!

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Mirror Lake

Monday, August 6

Mirror Lake is at 11,000 feet and sits just underneath Tincup Pass along the Continental Divide. To get to it, you drive about 11 miles from Taylor Park to the old town of Tincup. In the center of town, take a left and go 3 miles on a very rocky, bumpy road up to Mirror Lake.

When we got there, I set out my chair and a good book, and Don took his float tube and got into the lake.

I was very foolish and sat out in the sun too long. I forgot that at 11,000 feet, you can get a sunburn much quicker than you can at lower elevations. My legs took the brunt of it--luckily our neighbors back at Taylor Park had some aloe vera gel I could use.

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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Relaxing in Ridgway

We've had a wonderful stay here at Ridgway State Park. I've enjoyed having electricity and television (especially during the Olympics), and Don has had a blast with the Uncompahgre River just steps away. We're in the Pah-Co-Chu-Puk campground, which is below the dam from the reservoir. The tailwaters here have presented quite a challenge to Don, but he's slowly started to figure things out. Today he caught a huge rainbow and an even larger cutthroat. He didn't even know there were cutthroats in the river here.

Yesterday we went to the Ouray Hot Springs Pool. It has three sections; one includes the lap lanes and a large play area that's 9 feet deep. It also has the landing atea for some huge circular water slides. The temp in this section is 85 degrees. We swam laps for about an hour (slowly and stopping often), and then went over to the hottest section. There it's 105 degrees, and we stayed there for less than 10 minutes. The "medium" section was where most of the kids and their parents were--it was 95 degrees. It felt like a bathtub. We went back into the cold section for a while and then decided we'd had enough. (Seriously--my shoulders were pretty sore last night, and both of us picked up a little sunburn.)

We went up to the central part of Ouray, where I bought a cheap watch since my good one is malfunctioning, and we enjoyed some ice cream at Mouse's Chocolate Shop. I strolled through a bookstore for a bit, but didn't find any books I wanted and successfully resisted getting a canvas messenger bag. I also wandered for a while at a gourmet kitchen/food store--nothing I needed there, either.

Today I went to Montrose--it was Farmers' Market day and I wanted to see what they had. I bought some okra and green beans. I also picked up some groceries at City Market in preparation for going up on the Grand Mesa Friday. Dinner tonight was grilled hot links and fried okra. Maybe it's all in your mind, but it seems to taste better when it's fresh.

Tomorrow's laundry day, and I plan to visit the bookstore in Ridgway and use their Internet. Then Friday, we'll head up to the Grand Mesa--200+ lakes at 10,000 feet. We won't have hookups, and I have no idea whether we'll have cell reception, either.

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Last days on the Dolores

Saturday, July 28

This is site#20 at Cayton Campground. While it's not right next to the river, I think it's the best one since there's no one next to us and we have a fabulous view. Our last 2 days here were spent relaxing (me) and fishing the river (Don). We couldn't get a TV signal here, so I read a lot, sewed a little, and listened to music from my iPod.

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