Colorado Trip – Day 2 – Red Mountain Pass

For this segment, you must know a little background – When Mom first called and said, “Let’s take a trip”, she wanted to ride the steam train between Durango and Silverton – she told me what time she could be gone (5 days) and I researched all the things we could see/do on our way to Durango and back – came up with an itinerary for each day to ensure we wouldn’t be forced to drive 8 hours straight to get from one place to another, or have to rush when we’d rather meander, accompanied by a list of things to do in each area, prioritized, so we could easily cut something out, if we wanted to spend more time at one stop, or happened upon an  interesting by-way I hadn’t found on any map/tourist site during my research – or visit longer with the interesting locals at the cafe we choose for lunch – –

Since my stroke, I’m even more anal about planning – because I don’t feel as confident in my ability to quickly adjust to changing realities – sometimes, my brain still can’t process fully or quickly the multiple stimuli it’s being bombarded with all at once  – – sometimes, my body doesn’t adjust to changing barometer or altitude levels just as quickly as it used too, meaning I have to sit or lie still while it recalibrates.    So while I want to feel like I’m still able to take life as it comes, seize opportunities and go with the flow, quite simply, I feel more at peace and enjoy forays into new areas more, if I do a little research and plan for any eventuality my twisted brain can come up with – at least that way, I’m not as surprised when the surprising shows up –

Here’s the itinerary for this leg of the journey:

  • Depart Ouray area no later than 2:30 pm for Durango – Total Mileage – 66.9, Estimated drive time – 1.5 hours
  • Points of Interest on way to Durango: Ironton, Joker Tunnel Mine, Red Mountain Pass, multiple ghost towns/mining towns listed along the route – Much of the drive meanders along the Uncompahgre River
  • Arrive in Durango no later than 5:30 pm so we have time for supper before going to melodrama

See?  I gave us 3 hours to meander along the way, enjoy the scenery, soak up the history of the mining era…..

Here’s the reality:

  • Depart Ouray around 3:00 pm with afternoon thunderstorm rolling in.
  • Drive much of Red Mountain Pass in a pouring rain the windshield wipers can’t keep up with.
  • Realize there are no guard rails to protect you from sliding down what looks like a sheer, (probably exaggerated) 1-mile drop-off, covered only with rock slide material from avalanches/snow removal processes – no trees to catch your car, nothing – you go over, you’ve got air time to think about your life choices before you hit bottom and are done for…
  • Realize you can’t keep an eye out for signs telling you which ghost town you might be passing,  what mountain is coming up on your left, which river you see that looks like a trickle from this distance, because you’re too busy watching the little white car from Texas, approaching you, in your lane, with a string of traffic behind him dutifully staying in the correct lane –  it’s raining so hard, he apparently can’t see the middle line – – and realizing your choices to avoid hitting him head on are: A)over the edge to eternity, B) head-on into the string of cars behind him or C)head-on into the mountain rock that edges the left side of your roadway….
  • Breathe Deep – – You can do this – – – Okay, he’s back in his lane – – what did I miss?
  • Pull-off to wide parking area, with lots of signage to tell you about what you are seeing, only to snap a few hurried pics, because the next wave of lightening is moving in and Mom, who really wants you around to drive the rest of the way down the pass, is anxiously begging you to get back in the car….
    • In all fairness, this is why she gets nervous: (circa 1970’s – Mom is on the phone with her sister-in-law, trying to end the call because there’s a thunderstorm nearby.  Phone flies out of her hand across the room, and she is startled by an instant, loud boom of thunder – – Dad thinks she panicked and threw the phone – until he sees the black greasy spot on the side of the house where the phone line box used to be….)  She does not mess around when a thunderstorm is near….

The following pics are mostly taken from a nicely built pull-off near the where tracks, old buildings and signage indicate you’re viewing mining districts that eventually were consolidated into the  Idarado Mining Company (which closed in 1978).   I quickly read and took pictures of the history signs, but regrettably, the pics are too speckled with rain to easily read – so, I’ll just say – …It is worth the trip – even with Mother Nature and heavy traffic scaring the pants off you – 🙂  And I plan on going back someday to better explore this area.

 

Before we got to the hairy part
Before we got to the hairy part
Is this Joker Tunnel?  I know not, but like old tunnels, so took a pic anyways...
Is this Joker Tunnel? I know not, but had to share the pic anyways…the sign on the right is for a trail head…

(Next few minutes… Driving, Breathing, Praying, cursing, Giving Gratitude I didn’t go over the mountainside….Look!    A nice big pull-off with lots of information signs, a ghost town, a bridge to nowhere – – whaddya mean it’s lightening again?!?)

Bridge to Nowhere
Part of the infrastructure of  a consolidation that became the Idarado Mine, which closed in 1978.
One of three red mountains
One of three red mountains
Was unable to figure out from area sign exactly which ghost town this is
Was unable to figure out from area sign exactly which ghost town this is – there numerous mines and towns listed on the map sign posted at this stop, but no red star indicating “You Are Here” – Yes, I’m an average tourist…
Car
Little boy in red cowboy boots to his grandpa, “Grandpa! Come look at this car! It’s a Mustang and I bet it’s a thousand years old. Let’s go get it and fix it up!” Grandpa, “It’s not a Mustang, see, it has 4 doors….” 🙂

And finally, a sign and a memorial seen along the way that really, for me, say it all:

Red Mountain Pass
Red Mountain Pass
Honoring those who make it possible for you to drive it
Honoring those who make it possible for you to drive it

 

Colorado Trip – Day 2 – Box Canyon Waterfall & Park

We continued our travels south towards Ouray, Colorado and next stop – Box Canyon Waterfalls.  Located at the south edge of Ouray, we turned right onto narrow gravel road to wind our way down to the full parking lot for the Falls –

Driving towards the falls
Driving towards the falls
Gazing North from pull off to Falls
Gazing North from pull off to Falls

Technically, I could have been looking east, for all I know – my sense of direction gets somewhat skewed in the mountains – but, I am looking back towards the direction we came on Hwy 550 – so I’m calling it north!

Gazing South from pull off to Falls
Gazing South from pull off to Falls
Welcome to the Park
Welcome to the Park

First, we took the little side ‘native flora’ trail….

Along the nature trail path
Along the nature trail path

Then we wound our way back to the main Lower Falls trail, and soon came to ‘The Beginning”

Entering the bottom trail to Falls
Entering the bottom trail to Falls
First Glimpse
First Glimpse
Glad I wasn't in charge of building that walkway!
Glad I wasn’t in charge of building that walkway!
Watch your head!
Watch your head!
They didn't mention the cowboy boot left by Mother Nature
They didn’t mention the cowboy boot left by Mother Nature
Put my feet in to give perspective - but look at the cowboy boot rock!
Put my feet in to give perspective – but look at the cowboy boot rock!
Looking up at the High Trail - which we declined to do - Metal stairs/walkway - afternoon thunderstorm rolling in -
Looking up at the High Trail – which we declined to do – Metal stairs/walkway – afternoon thunderstorm rolling in by the time we finished doing the lower trail – 🙂
Getting nearer
Getting nearer
We're getting closer!
No more pics for awhile – they all are covered in water spots!
From the Bottom Looking Out
From the Bottom Looking Out
From Bottom looking Up
From Bottom looking Up

This was Mom’s favorite of the whole trip – pictures and words can’t describe, but hopefully shared enough you make this stop a “Must See” on your trip itinerary!  🙂 Next up, driving Red Mountain pass during a downpour….

Colorado Trip – Day 2 – To Telluride

Just so happens, if you turn off to the right at main Ridgway intersection to see True Grit’s movie location, you are on the road to the Dallas Scenic byway and, with one left turn a few miles on, through a beautiful drive I couldn’t safely stop to take pictures of, you’re on your way to Telluride.

 

Dallas Divide/Scenic Byway
Dallas Divide/Scenic Byway
Check out that wonderful fence!
Check out that wonderful fence!

Along the way to Telluride, if you’re paying attention, there is a brown sign for a County Park – stop by, eat your picnic lunch, walk through and admire their native plant gardens, the little pond and the creek –

What Losing Gamblers Actually Pay For - Worth It!
What Losing Gamblers Actually Pay For – Worth It!
Little pond at park
Little pond at park

Nope, don't know what creek, but still awesome!

Native Plants - Yarrow everywhere!
Native Plants – Yarrow everywhere!

Outside of Ridgway and near Telluride, you’ll see signs for Last Dollar Road – a beautiful shortcut we didn’t take because most of it requires 4WD – Next Year!

Mom’s friends had told her she simply had to see Telluride, that it was their favorite mountain town, etc., etc.  As I pulled into the outskirts, I was disappointed – the townhomes/condo lodges at the edge for the ski trade convinced me it was just like all the other ski towns – but as we traversed the main street, I was in for a pleasant surprise…

The Real Telluride
The Real Telluride
Flowers, Flowers and restored historic homes
Flowers, Flowers and restored historic homes

Telluride on my list of places to spend some time in, to explore and really get to know the history.

We aren’t even through Day 2 and I’m pooped resizing photos – Next up – Ouray and the Box Canyon Water Falls

🙂

Colorado Trip – Day 2 – Dallas Creek & Ridgway

Our room at Montrose was awesome and affordable – if you’re planning to be in the area, make sure you book your room at Affordable Inns of Montrose – clean, beautifully decorated, with awesome mattresses and pillows, rooms and friendly, helpful staff and awesome landscaping  – did I think to snap pics?  Heck no, I was savoring the moment, writing in my journal.

No supper recommendations for here, as we did drive-thru junk food to eat as we drove back out to Black Canyon of the Gunnison.  Affordable Inns provide continental breakfast, but frankly, can’t tell you about it, cause we left early to embark on our adventure of the day….

Dallas, Dallas Everywhere

My dad was named Dallas – so of course, Mom and I had to visit Dallas Creek, Dallas Peak and drive the Dallas Scenic Byway –

Greeting the day as we drive south
Greeting the day as we drive south
Dallas Creek
Dallas Creek

We left Montrose and traveled south on the Million Dollar Highway (550) towards Ridgway – a stop off at the local gas station featured friendly staff and locals, as well as a stop by the original stage scene for John Wayne’s True Grit movie – wished my Dad was here, so he could explain all the functions of the old time firetruck –

Saloon, bank, general store - with no fake fronts -
Saloon, bank, general store – with no fake fronts –
How do Artists do it?  Capture the spirit of the Moment - Kudos
How do Artists do it? Capture the spirit of the Moment – Kudos
Needs a recoat of Metallic Cherry Black, me thinks - -
Needs a recoat of Metallic Cherry Black, me thinks – –
Just one pic of the flowers that abounded everywhere on our trip
Just one pic of the flowers that abounded everywhere on our trip
The firehouse, with flora and sculpture attached
The firehouse, with flora and sculpture attached
Across the street and ain't that a fine old brick building?
Across the street and ain’t that a fine old brick building?
To Early for a Rooster Cogburn Whiskey Breakfast
To Early for a Rooster Cogburn Whiskey Breakfast

Failure and Fantastic are both F words

Because I wrote this a long time ago – and still feel the same way – 🙂

The Good, Bad and Ludicrous

I think I’ve been pretty good about not using the F word as much in my blog as I do in daily life.   Not that I have a deficient vocabulary, but ya know, sometimes the F word just says it all and more.

Recently I learned the child unit is hovering around F status in some classes at school.  I happened to be in the company of Ms. Home-schooled her kids when I got the “Mayday, Mayday” auto-email from the school concerning dipping grades.  Ms. Homeschool wanted to know how I felt about it and what I was going to do.

I’ll admit, I used to get my panties in a bunch about anything lower than a C – I mean really, you’re talking to Ms. Valedictorian, National Honor Society.   My kids are smart and I expect them to utilize the natural talents they were given.   To learn discipline…

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