June 19 – Salida, Colorado

WOW – no one told me about all these scary highways. As we left Olathe, the roads were fairly easy to drive. I did notice that the elevation was slowly rising.

We did stop at the Curecanti National Recreation Area (Blue Mesa Reservoir) Visitor’s center on the way. Stopping anywhere except a huge parking lot with the RV is gutsy and scary. The Garmin (GPS) did lead us the wrong way and we had to cross the dam (narrow road) and eventually turn arouond in a parking lot that I almost had to get out and disconnect the towd (car we are towing) but we just made it. Our RV does have a nice turning radius.

Did the Visitors Center and got my stamp. No movie because it was hot and the dogs were in the RV with Brenda. Had lunch and continued the trip. The Recreational Area was established by building dams along the Gunnison River which created a water-based recreation mecca. Saw numerous fisherman cleaning their catches at the Visitor’s Center.  (missed taking any pictures – sorry about that because the area was very beautiful and peaceful).

This is the part that got scary. We rose to an elevation of 11,300 feet. Again, why doesn’t the State DOT invest in guard rails? All I could see was a sheer drop-off and I couldn’t see the bottom.

On the way out of Gunnison, ambulances and police kept passing us with the lights flashing. When we reached the summit, sure enough they were all stopped there. A car had driven over the edge and they were rescuing them. Slight delay as traffic was blocked.

Didn’t realize it but that was the Continental Divide. There was a shop and probably a T shirt at that location but all the rescue vehicles had me flustered.

Then it was all downhill, definitely driving slower. Twice I pulled to the edge (in a pull off area) and let traffic pass (at least 15 cars). They all waved with a smile.

Arrived at 4 Seasons RV park in Salida. Small park, with gravel roads and lots, big enough to relax. Some of the sites are near the Arkansas River but we didn’t get that spot or know about it. Would be a great site next time. (we did catch the strawberry moon).

We celebrated Father’s Day, with messages or phone calls from the kids. Enjoyed that, but the real special celebration was cheese, salami and wine. (dogs are keeping a watchful eye).IMG_1569

Monday was fairly quiet. We went to the Welcome Center and picked up literature on the area.

Salida is a mining and railroad town. Established in 1880 and now has more tourist economy than anything else. The Arkansas River runs thru it which is a very popular rafting river and it is fast with rough currents. River is so important to tourism that they advertise the river’s flow.  Sign says “River Flow 529 CFS” and if you are an engineer, you know that is fast!IMG_1585

After the WC, we found the Elevation Brewery and had one. Nice setup and operation.

Tuesday I ventured out on the bike and ended up riding 14 miles. No paved bike trails here. A lot of dirt and mountain type trails. I did find enough space along the edge of the road thru town and on the outskirts. Did find Spiral Road that had a good elevation rise to challenge me. The ride down was fun.

After the bike ride, Brenda and I and the puppies headed north to the Browns Canyon National Monument (recently (2015) approved by President Obama). Not a lot of signage to find the location (Colorado State ranger had to direct us). But we found it and had lunch and then headed on what looked like a trail. It was rough, winding, and not well defined. We did about ½ mile and turned around. It was hot and the dogs were hiding in the shade.

The Canyon is characterized by stunning granite rock formation with pinon, pine and aspen trees covering the sides with the Arkansas River running through the middle.

We continued north to Buena Vista (another small town) and found the Eddyville Brewery. Enjoyed one, toured town and headed home.

Wednesday the weather was slightly cooler and I headed out on the bicycle to see how far I could go. I forget that I am at elevation 7000 feet and energy capacity is slightly less (harder to breath). I did 22 miles along the same path as the day before but further down the road.

It is amazing riding the bike and watching the mountain range in front of you. There was Mount Antero (14,276), Mount Princeton (14,204), Mount Shavano (14,235) and others. All standing so tall, barren and covered with snow.   These are some of the fourteeners.DSC_0016

After the ride, Brenda and I went downtown Salida to walk around. Salida has the largest historic district in Colorado and Colorado’s first Creative District. I assume that because of all the galleries and shops.

It started to rain, so we hide in the Moonlight Pizza and Microbrewery and had a cold one until the rain stopped. Continued our walk and eventually had dinner at Amicas Wood fired pizza and microbrew. Love those wood fired pizzas.

We also had found the Wood’s High Mountain Distillery. It seems more and more towns have local distilleries brewing away.

We did stop at McDonalds to get wifi to post my blog but it was so slow, we moved to the local library to use their wifi. You have to improvise while traveling. We both can admit that our biggest frustration in this full time life style is lack of fast wifi.

Thursday we are off to Blanca, Colorado, wherever that is?


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