Lake Mead N.R.A.

Lake Mead N.R.A.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Visit by my Sister and Nephews

June 27-28-29, 2010.

My sister, Mim, her husband and boys live outside of Denver. She decided she, her boys and their dog would come tent camp with us Sunday and Monday night. Her husband unfortunately wouldn't be able to come as he had to work.

They arrived Sunday around 3 p.m. and we quickly got their tent set up along the banks of the Arkansas River within our campground, Pleasant Valley RV Park. Now the park doesn't advertise tent camping and I think they made an exception for us. 

I took Mim for a ride in our new Jeep, Rubi. After the ride it was time for dinner and getting everyone settled.

On Monday, we took the boys fishing along the river in the Big Horn Sheep Canyon. 

We weren't having any luck there and so we took them to downtown Salida where the boys did some more fishing on the river. 

We got to watch the locals practicing their kayak and rafting skills in the river at the spot where we had watched the FIBArk activities.

Later we enjoyed a picnic lunch. Before we knew it, the day was shot.

Mim and the boys spent a windy stormy night by the river as a small storm passed through dropping some rain after dark. They were real troopers insisting on sticking it out in the tent. The next morning they were packed up and ready to roll in no time at all. After breakfast we said our goodbyes. We will be seeing them over the July 4th Holiday when we move to Colorado Springs.

The rest of the day we spent making preparations for our move to the U.S. Air Force Academy campground.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

St. Elmo, A Mining Ghost Town.

June 26, 2010
Today, we woke to sunny skies around 8:00.  It had rained lightly overnight. Just enough to make everything spotty with dust and rain.  After breakfast, we quickly made plans to visit an abandoned mining town known as St.Elmo. My father and Karen were taking their truck into town to the car wash and to do some shopping. So It was a day trip for Joyce and I in our new Jeep Rubicon.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
St. Elmo is a ghost town in Chaffee CountyColoradoUnited States. Founded in 1880, St. Elmo lies in the heart of the Sawatch Range, 20 miles southwest of Buena Vista. Nearly 2,000 people settled in this town when mining for gold and silver became evident. The mining industry started to decline in the early 1920s, and in 1922 the train discontinued service. The community is listed on theNational Register of Historic Places as St. Elmo Historic District. It is one of Colorado's most preserved ghost towns

On the way up the mountain, we stopped along a stream to "test the waters".  It was cold!

Most of this water if not all of it is from snow and ice melt.

Afterwards, we continued up the dirt road to the ghost town.

After reaching just over 10,000 ft. above sea level, we came across St.Elmo at the end of the road. It was a cool 72 degrees compared to 82 degrees in the valley. 
St. Elmo was originally named Forest City but was later changed because of the multitude of towns with the same name. The nameSt. Elmo was chosen by Griffith Evans, one of the founding fathers, who was reading a novel with the same title.[2

The town was at its pinnacle in the 1890s, when it included a telegraph office, general store, town hall, 5 hotels, saloons, dancing halls, a newspaper office, and a school house. The Denver, South Park and Pacific Railroad line ran through St. Elmo. There were 150 patented mine claims within the area. The majority of the people who lived in St. Elmo worked at the Mary Murphy, Teresa C., The Molly or the Pioneer Mines. The Mary Murphy Mine was the largest and most successful mine in the area. The Mary Murphy Mine detained over $60,000,000 worth of gold while it was in use. While the other mines eventually shut down, the Mary Murphy Minecontinued until the railroad shutdown in 1922.[3]

We got out and walked around.

Once the mining industry shut down, St. Elmo drastically declined in population. Miners searched elsewhere for gold and silver and the business district in St. Elmo shut down as well. Few people continued to live in the town. Postal service discontinued in 1952 after the death of St. Elmo's postmaster.

Even though St. Elmo is considered a ghost town it is still inhabited. Tourism brings many people to the St. Elmo area every year. The old mining roads are now used as jeep and four-wheeler trails. There are also many good places to fish along Chalk Creek, which runs through St. Elmo. The general store is open during the summer, where tourists can rent four-wheelers and buy other items they have for sale. Many of the buildings are still intact. However, the town hall and a few other buildings were burnt down in 2002. Buena Vista Heritage is rebuilding the town hall to its original state.

After walking through the deserted mining town of St.Elmo, we began our return journey, taking a few short side trips on jeep trails along the way.

We passed a lake on the way down that we really hadn't noticed on the way up the mountain.

The lower portion of the road up the mountains was paved.

We made another stop along a stream and water falls area.

Joyce posing in front of her (our) Jeep Rubicon (Rubi).

Another beautiful day in Colorado.

Travel day to Pleasant Valley RV Park in Howard, Colorado

June 25, 2010.

We were thoroughly enjoying the "banana belt" of Colorado. However, our sites at Snow Peaks RV Park were reserved so we needed to move. This area of Colorado is very popular for RV'ers and outdoor enthusiasts. It's not unusual for campgrounds to have no vacancies during the weekends.

So, we made plans to move to Pleasant Valley RV Park. Located outside of Howard Colorado, it's on the Arkansas river along the river gorge. In fact it's just miles from the Royal Gorge.

Pleasant Valley RV Park is at an altitude of about 6700 ft. About 1200 ft. lower than Snowy Peaks RV Park. We crossed this bridge over the Arkansas River approaching the campground.

It is a small park with only 30 amp, water and sewer hook-ups. It does have lots of cottonwood trees which provide ample shade.

We were assigned site 41, a pull through for $27 a night. We paid for 5 nights.

The closest large town is Salida about 15 miles north on Hwy. 50.

Some of the sites in Pleasant Valley RV Park are very nice especially those along the river.

However, ours are pull through sites and are packed in rather tightly side by side with other RVs. 

All of our neighbors are very friendly and it's not as bad as it looks. Most have been here for a month or more. Although the roads are dirt, they are sprayed with some chemical that keeps the dust down. There's a bit of lawn at each site and a small concrete slab. Phone reception for Verizon is virtually non-existant. We have to travel down a dirt country road towards a cemetery to get a cell tower signal. The park doesn't have cable and there is no aerial cable reception in the gorge also known as the Bighorn Sheep Canyon. We are able to get good satellite reception. The campground also has very good wifi.
Our view off our porch.

The park and surrounding area is alive with birds and wildlife. We've seen and heard the shrills of lots of hummingbirds and other birds that we haven't identified. We've also seen a brood of Canadian Geese that are being raised along the shores of the river.

All and all not a bad place to spend a few days!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Hiking above Buena Vista, Colorado

June 24, 2010.

Another beautiful day in Buena Vista, the "banana belt" of Colorado. Joyce and I decided to go for a hike today. My father and Karen had plans to drive to Aspen.

Joyce and I started off with a short hike near the Midland Railroad Tunnels.

However most of the trail we started on was closed due to nesting birds. So we had to give up doing a long hike at the Midland Tunnels.

We drove into Buena Vista and stopped at the visitor center to find information on a hike in the local area. We were referred to the Barbara Whipple Trail and the Midland Bike Trail at the east end of Main Street. The trail head starts with a small bridge over the Arkansas River. There was a group of rafters preparing to launch so we waited till they launched to get some pictures.

On the trail, the climb was moderate for us flatlanders at a starting elevation of 8K feet and climbing over 350 ft. We did a combination of the Barbara Whipple Trail and the Midland Bike Trail.

The views on the trail were breathtaking as we looked down on Buena Vista.

Below looking West is the historic Main Street of Buena Vista.

We obviously are not accustomed to the altitude as we were breathing hard just from hiking and climbing. We hiked for about 2.5 miles completing the loop and then headed back to Rubi (the jeep).

The rest of the day, we made preparations to move to another campground. We wanted to extend for another week, but the campground had already rented our sites. 

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

2010 Jeep Wranger Rubicon Unlimited

June 22, 2010.

Okay, so we had been going back and forth for several months now with the idea of replacing our car with something more suitable for our lifestyle. As you may recall at one point we almost bought a Rav4. Well, I've always wanted or compared everything we were considering to the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, but didn't want to spend the money for one. So we pushed on with the car.

Well the other day I'm at the local Dodge dealership in Salida, Co. to get the Malfunction Indicator Light (MIL) checked out on my Dodge Dually. While I'm there waiting, I'm perusing the row of Jeeps. I got to talking to a very friendly and non-pushy salesman, Larry who let me take a 6spd manual Jeep Sahara out for a rather long test ride and then a long test ride in a Rubicon I was smitten!

I picked up my truck after a couple hours. I was told that it was an emissions EGR fault code that they reset with the hope that it was a fluke code set due to altitude or something bizarre. The service department was backed up and although I would have liked to have gotten an oil and fuel filter change, I would have had to make an appointment for next week.

When I got home I talked to Joyce about my test ride and she was interested in going back to do a test drive. We had decided about a week ago that we would seriously consider a Jeep Wrangler once we got to Colorado Springs or Denver.  So I had been doing some on-line research. 

Once at the dealership, we got with Larry and she drove the manual Sahara and also the automatic Rubicon that I liked. Now I always assumed that Joyce would not like the more rugged off-road oriented Rubicon and would prefer the Sahara model which is more refined and not the off-road specialist like the Rubicon.

Anyway after some long test drives, Joyce decided that she liked the Rubicon and she wanted an automatic. So by the end of the day we had struck a deal. We took it home that night to be sure. The next morning we drove back to the dealership to find Old Betsy where we had left her in the lot.

We completed the cash deal and signed all the paperwork. Now the only concern is if the dealership will be able to complete the tag transfer of our Florida plate from the Dodge to the Jeep. I understand that we have to mail the completed paperwork once we receive it from the dealership to our tax collector and pay the Florida taxes. The paperwork that we need to send to Florida is supposed to be completed within a week. The dealership gave us a 60-day temporary tag.

The color closely matches some of the stripes on our Carriage Cameo.

I took my father for a test ride up a forest road checking out the 4wd. The Rubicon is pretty rugged and has some off-roading features that I'll need to learn to operate. We climbed a steep dirt forest switch back road with no problem! There are plenty of off-road opportunities in Colorado. Aside from that, it seems that 90% of the campgrounds that we have been to, are on dirt or gravel roads. The Jeep is much more suited to the dirt than the car. The only downside is that the car was much better on fuel. It's too early to tell what kind of mileage we will get with the Jeep. The sticker said 15-19 mpg. Everything in life is a trade-off! 

We think the Jeep Rubicon will work out well for us.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Happy Father's Day and Mountain Biking

June 20, 2010.

Happy Father's Day!
We woke to another beautiful day with cool temps overnight and early morning. We took my father out for breakfast in Buena Vista to celebrate Father's Day.

Later Joyce and I went mountain biking on Clear Creek Road just a few miles north of our campground on US 24. The picture above and below is of the reservoir on the first portion of the road. 
Clear Creek Road (Chaffee County Road 390)
Length: 12.0 miles
Road Beginning and End:
 This portion of road is passable by passenger car. The first segment of road is through private ranch land. Leaving it, you enter forest land with lush aspen, pine and shrub growth on both sides of the road. Fishing in nearby Clear Creek is a challenge. A museum in the ghost town of Vicksburg, about 8 miles from U.S. 24, is maintained by the Clear Creek Canyon Historical Society. As you climb gradually toward Winfield, Clear Creek disappears and reappears through the undergrowth. Several of the buildings at Winfield are maintained by the historical society; the rest are privately owned.
Description: A moderate four wheel drive road offering nice opportunities for hiking.
Hiker Access To: Colorado Trail, Missouri Gulch (including Mt. Belford, Mt. Oxford and Missouri Mt.) Continental Divide Trail, Lake Ann, Three Apostles, Huron Peak, North Fork Clear Creek

The dirt washboard road soon climbs steeply. We drove our truck for as long as we could up the dirt road toward some old mining towns. However, the road got to be too rough and we were shaking and rattling to death in our Dodge dually. We pulled over and unloaded the bikes at 9200 ft and began our ride. We came across a couple of deserted mining cabins during our ride.

The climbs at altitude sure took our breath away. The down hills were also steep. It was great fun!

We quickly wore ourselves out and made our way back to our truck for the a bumpy ride back..but not before posing for the long arm portrait!

On the way back down, I got a Malfunction Indicator Light (MIL) on the dash in my truck. Probably an emissions issue that I'll need to get checked out.