Oh what a trip! From Silverton north is properly called the Million Dollar Highway. It was fantastic! 400 foot drops along the edge of the road, no shoulder and fantastic views. Brenda kept saying “Don’t look, just drive” and I did. In fact she wanted to crawl in the back with the dogs but getting the seat belts out was difficult and so she clinched her lips and road in front.
It was 25 miles of slow driving and skirmish moments. Lots of traffic but I was driving as slow as I wanted and cars would bunch up behind me. Every now and then there would be a pull over and I would pull over and let the cars pass. We crossed the Red Mountain pass at an elevation of 11018. There was still snow on the ground at the parking area.
That’s my foot.
Arrived in Uncompahgre River RV Park about 2 PM. It’s an over 55 park, quiet, paved streets, concrete level pads and tree covered. Had to move once so that we could get satellite TV. Great wifi.
Thursday we traveled (20 miles) to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. WOW, it’s hard to believe that each NP is so different. Our first stop was at a look out with steep canyon walls all black in color. This park was so different than anything we had seen before.
We did the Visitor’s center, watched the movie (learned how this canyon was formed) and got our refrig magnet.
We traveled the south rim and did do some short hikes at each lookout. Each time we stopped there was a different view and the rock was always black.
The rock is Gneiss.
The stop at the Painted Wall was most impressive.
We drove the scenic drive to the end and was at the high point of 8300 feet above sea level.
After the park, we had to catch up on some shopping. Montrose, which is the city closest to the NP and is also the economic hub of the area. In fact it had a Target and Wal-Mart. So Brenda was able to do her thing.
Friday I headed back to the NP to do a Ranger-guided tour on the Gunnison Tunnel at the East Portal. It was built in 1909, 6 miles long, 12 foot x 11 foot hole thru the mountain. It took them 4 years to accomplish the work. What was amazing to me as an engineer is that they started at both ends and when they met, they were 1-1/4 inch off.
The surveyors had their calculations right on. This tunnel all flows downhill and therefore no power required to share the water.
It provides overflow water from the Gunnison River to the Uncompahgre river, which allowed the area of Montrose to be farmed (previously it was a desert but now can be irrigated).
The road to the East Portal was a drop of 2000 feet and grades at 16%. You had to drive in low gear or wear your brakes out. I drove slowly with the car.
After the tour, Brenda and I headed to Grand Junction (only town within 100 miles with an REI and she needed new hiking shoes). We did some other shopping and had dinner at the Edgewater Brewery (there is 6 breweries in town).
Saturday we were able to Face-time with Josh and Leah in London. It is always nice to visit with them and hear about life across the sea. They are getting ready to come to a wedding here in Colorado in July and they continue to pursue their sailing lifestyle in taking classes and gathering supplies.
I rode the bike about 10 miles after the phone call. Only 10 because the only place to ride is on the street and this is farm country, roads are narrow and hilly. I did see some of the farmers growing Hops for all the breweries in the area.
I had an “itch” to change tow vehicles from my Sonic to a Jeep. It seems to be that a lot of motorhomes tow a jeep and then get the opportunity to go 4 wheeling. We have missed so much scenery out there. After seeing the price, weight difference and mileage, I think in the long run I would be better off to rent a Jeep at $300 per day than the investment it would take to buy one. Why change what is working?
Had to try one of the breweries in town and we chose 2 Rascals, not a bad IPA.
We smoked wings that night and they were pretty tasty with a beer.
Saturday we pack up camp and head for Salida, Colorado.