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050709_241c_6859wls.jpg - Colorado National Monument

7/09/05 - Colorado National Monument
Today we decided we've had enough of the triple digit heat of Utah, and headed for Colorado. So we drove back North to I70 and then East to the Colorado National Monument near Grand Junction. At the entry gate, we were told that there was not a good place to either park the coach, or turn around, until we got the visitor's center at the top of the mountain. So we bravely drove our sixty foot rig up a very windy road, through a couple of narrow tunnels photo, to the ridge where we could stop and catch our breath and view the view the valley floor several thousand feet below us. photo We spent a little while at the Visitor's Center, getting our National Parks Passport book stamped and a souvenir t-shirt, and then headed back down the same road. What an adventure!

So we continued our Eastward journey, along the Colorado River, and through the magnificent gorge going through the White River National Forest. I really wanted to stop and take some photos of the gorge, but there was no place safe to do so.

After consulting our Passport America (a discount RV Campground membership) book, we decided to stay at the RV Corral Campground in Leadville (Map), which is above 10,000 feet in the Rocky Mountains. So we headed south on US 24, which turned out to be a pretty challenging drive too.

Rocky Mountains from Leadville
Rocky Mountains from Leadville

7/11/05 - Aspen Colorado
Yesterday we stayed pretty close to home, mainly because we have been doing a lot of traveling lately, and also because we are having trouble breathing at this altitude. This manifests itself in being pretty lethargic. We did drive around this very interesting little mining town, which was a major silver mining town in the 1880s. The mines here have also produced large quantities of gold and lead but were closed in the 1980s. Here's an article about Leadville's colorful history.

We also discovered some interesting old architecture photo, in addition to some downright funky houses photo.

Today though, we decided to go for a drive to Aspen, Colorado (Map). So this morning we headed South on US24 to Twin Lakes photo, and then West on route 82 across Independence Pass photo (at 12, 093 ft). Near Independence Pass are the ruins of a mining town, now a ghost town in every sense of the word, called Independence, which is being preserved as an archeological site.

Aspen trees
Aspen trees

Of course we saw many beautiful Aspen trees along the way.

As we approached Aspen, we found ourselves on a very narrow (one lane really) winding road. I was very glad to not be driving the coach today!

Aspen is a very hip town, with lots of expensive restaurants and stores. I loved the setting of the town, nestled in the mountains, and this fountain photo which was being enjoyed my many people, of all ages. Even the police were interesting, wearing blue jeans and white polo shirts, with POLICE written across the back, and riding bicycles.

7/12/05 - Rocky Mountain Drive
This morning we decided to head for a slightly lower altitude, so we drove North on route 91 across Fremont Pass (elevation 11,3180) to I70, where we turned east for one exit, stopping in Frisco for lunch. Then we headed South on Rte. 9 to Breckenridge (Map), which is another upscale ski town, much like Aspen. Here are some more photos of Breckenridge.

While my wife did some shopping I took these photos of a river park photo nearby. There were many beautiful flowers photo all over town, especially outside this building.

Then we headed back to I70, passing by Frisco Bay (which was amusing to me because I grew up near San Francisco Bay), and then down a very steep grade towards Denver. The engine brake in the coach seemed to handle the grade pretty well. We decided to stop for the night in Golden, but after trying three different places that were essentially full, decided to drive up to Loveland, about 40 miles North of Denver.

On the way we called the Riverview RV Park, just West of Loveland (Map) about six miles, which is in the Passport America book, to make sure they had room for us. When we got there I went back to unhook the toad and noticed that there was quite a bit of oil all over the back of the coach and the front of the Trailblazer. Apparently we had sprung an oil leak coming down the Rocky Mountain grade.

After selecting a site, I was directed to back into it. I have done this quite a few times now, so I agreed. The man directing me was at my left rear and my wife at the right rear. As I started to backup, I checked my right mirror, then my left. I was concentrating on the man's hand signals as I slowly backed and turned, when all of a sudden I heard a terrible crunching sound and I quickly hit the brakes. I slumped to the steering wheel, afraid to learn what damage I had done. As it turned out, I just moved the right mirror and put a few small scratches in the front right corner of the coach. It could have been much worse.

So then I went to put up my satellite dish, and as I was watching to see if it would clear a tree, tripped over a cement fire ring that I failed to see. I landed pretty hard on my butt and scraped my side up a little bit.

After getting situated we decided to go out to dinner. My wife offered to drive because I was still a bit shaken from the two accidents. So we all piled in the car and she backed right into a tree, breaking the left rear tail light. This, of course, sent her into hysterics and it took a little while before we could pull it together, and try to go to dinner again. This time I drove and we wound up having a very nice dinner in Loveland, and an uneventful rest of the evening. What a day though!

7/14/05 - Davidson Chevrolet
Today we took the Trailblazer into Davidson Chevrolet in Loveland. I had called ahead and made sure they had the tail light in stock. I also made an appointment for them to take a look at the drivers seat which will not move forward or back. When we got there I met with the service writer and asked how much to install the tail light for me. He replied $40 and I replied you've got to be kidding, knowing that this was at most a five minute job. So I borrowed a screwdriver and went out and installed the tail light myself in about two minutes.

Then we started talking about the driver seat and I said that it had been determined that it needed the entire assembly, not just the switch. They were unsure if they could get the part, and then only after determining for themselves that it needed it, so I went in to talk with the folks at the parts counter. After a bit of convincing and a couple of phone calls, it was determined that they could get the part from a dealer in Denver and another part, if needed, could be acquired from another dealer too.

So the next hurdle was, what to do while waiting for them to work on it. They were fresh out of loaner cars, so they agreed to get us a rental for the day. But the rental company was fresh out of cars to rent, so someone from there came to pick us up and take us back to the campground until a rental was available. When he arrived he only had a two passenger car, so someone from the dealership wound up giving us a ride back to Riverview. A couple of hours later the rental company showed up with a brand new Chevrolet Tahoe.

About the same time we got a call from the service manager saying they did need to get the parts and the car would not be ready until tomorrow. Since we now had a rental car, that was not a problem. So tonight we drove our new car to Loveland and had a great Chinese Buffet.

Flowers in Fort Collins
Flowers in Fort Collins

7/15/05 - Successful Seat Repair
We decided to take the Tahoe and go shopping today. It was kind of fun driving a big SUV. I had briefly considered buying the Tahoe instead of the Trailblazer, but I felt it was too big to tow. After driving the Tahoe for most of the day, I think it is too big all the way around. I really like the size of the Trailblazer.

After driving around Loveland for awhile, we went up to Fort Collins, to an art store there. Along the way we discovered this fantastic floral display. Turns out this is a University of Colorado project.

These beautiful planters photo were in front of the art store in Fort Collins. After leaving there, we headed back to Loveland, just in time to get the call that the Trailblazer was ready.

7/16?/05 - A Sunday Drive
Yesterday we sold our last puppy to an elderly lady that lives in this RV Park. She saw us walking the dogs a couple of days ago and exclaimed I want that puppy. So today we made her a good deal, after talking with some of her neighbors, to see that she could take good care of the little guy. She was very, very happy.

Today we went for a drive in the country and saw many natural and man-made walls made of shale photo. When we got home we began testing a new version of Small Business Tracker Deluxe, which I have been working on for awhile now.

7/18/05 - Benson Sculpture Garden
This afternoon we took a break from testing and programming and went into Loveland. There we discovered the Benson Sculpture Garden, which is a fantastic collection of (mostly bronze) statues.

Nearby was a fire station with this wonderful bronze tribute to firefighters.

Then we had lunch at our new favorite Chinese Buffet. This restaurant not only has great food, including a Mongolian barbeque, but wonderful artwork, both outside, inside and on the ceilings.

Next we stopped at a few antique stores and discovered some other cool sculptures along the way.

Big Thompson River
Big Thompson River

When I got back to the Riverview RV Park, which is on the Big Thompson River, I took these photos.

7/21/05 - More Testing and Severe Weather
For the past several days we have been steadily working on Small Business Tracker Deluxe. It's always an interesting cycle of: add a feature, test it, fix any problems with it, decide to add some other feature, add it, test again, fix more problems, add more features, test again, fix again, etc. until I am satisfied that everything works properly and there are no more improvements to add to this version.

Yesterday we took another break and stopped at this little park by Loveland Lake to take photos of some more beautiful sculptures and flowers.

During the past week we have had quite a bit of thunder and lightning and very high temperatures. Today it was 104 degrees in Denver. This made sitting in the air conditioned coach, a rather attractive alternative.

This afternoon we left Loveland and drove to the Rocky Mountain Cummins repair facility, just north of Denver. We have an appointment for tomorrow to get the oil leak fixed and the entire chassis serviced, so we will camp in their driveway tonight. Our coach has about 15,000 miles on it now, so it is due to be serviced.

Beautiful Sunset
Beautiful Sunset

This evening we were treated to these beautiful skies.

7/22/05 - Exploring Denver
Today we got up early and checked in. Servicing the coach's chassis is very involved and there was considerable discrepancy between the chassis manual, the engine manual and what the Cummins dealer recommended. So after discussing this for nearly an hour and getting a $1500 estimate, I decided to have the service done elsewhere. By this time they had determined that the oil leak was caused by an improperly routed oil dip stick tube, that was placed too close to the exhaust when the charger was replaced. They needed to order the part so decided to have them make a temporary repair, return to Loveland, and then come back on Monday when the part arrived.

Dayadevi needed her glasses adjusted, so we decided to go to Lenscrafters in the Cherry Creek Mall in Denver to have this done. We did a little driving around while were there. I was amazed at the number of brick buildings because on the west coast, where I have spent most of my life, there are relatively few.

Somewhere in our travels today, we discovered a Prairie Dog preserve. We saw a few in the distance, but they mostly disappeared when I parked the car. The Prairie Dog, by the way, is not a dog at all, but a member of the rodent family. They live in burrows in the grounds and the Utah Prairie Dog is somewhat rare and therefore protected.

7/23/05 - Rocky Mountain National Park
This morning Dayadevi insisted that we go into Loveland and buy me some new shoes. I have a hard time finding shoes that are comfortable, due to very sensitive feet. I typically buy only one pair at a time and wear them until they fall apart. Today we bought three pairs for me, which I believe is a personal record.

Devil's Backbone
Devil's Backbone near Loveland, CO

Next we went West again and discovered an interesting waterfall, by the entrance to a housing development. Then we stopped briefly at the Devil's Backbone to take pictures of this interesting rock formation.

Then we drove to the Rocky Mountain National Park through the beautiful Big Thompson Canyon. Along the way we saw a big saddle ranch in Estes Park (Map), with a large group of people getting ready for a horseback ride.

We entered the Rocky Mountain National Park photo near the Beaver Meadows visitors center photo, which was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. It is a very striking building, inside but especially outside, of course. Inside we saw a great three dimensional model of the park and decided to focus on the high Trail Ridge Road that goes up to the Alpine Visitors Center.

We stopped at many turnouts and took lots of pictures of the Rocky Mountains photo, a couple of chipmunks photo and the many Magpies that we found there.

Trampled Tundra
Idiot people trampling tundra and bothering a herd of Elk

Next we stopped at the Forest Canyon photo overlook, took these photos and began to learn about the relatively barren, but very fragile ground (called Tundra) we were observing. Nearby there was a large heard of Elk grazing that had attracted a large crowd of people, who unfortunately were walking down toward the herd, disturbing them and the fragile Tundra beneath their feet.

Tundra Exhibit
Tundra Exhibit in Visitor's Center

We went from almost 90 degrees of heat at 6,000 feet to a cool 65 degrees at over 11,000 feet. Near the Alpine Visitors Center (11,790 ft), in the high alpine region of the park, we saw some small glaciers. Inside the visitor's center we learned more about the building, and the Tundra. The captions on the beautiful poster (to the right) read:

The alpine tundra of Rocky Mountain National Park is vast, covering nearly a third of the park. Though there is tundra in other U.S. national parks, none is as readily accessible as this, offering a rare opportunity to observe and enjoy a wonderous community of highly specialized species. The word tundra means a land without trees. Arctic, or polar, tundra occurs in the far north and alpine tundra at high elevations. There is tundra on every continent. From the Rockies to the Alps, from Siberia to Scandinavia, roughly nine million square miles of the Northern Hemisphere is treeless tundra. Rocky Mountain National Park's alpine tundra covers over 130 square miles.

Here is a view of the Never Summer Mountains photo we saw from near the summit, and another beautiful alpine photo photo I took on the trip back.

Bull Elk
Bull Elk

As we descended we began noticing more wild flowers photo, so we stopped to take some photos. Then we came upon this incredible bull Elk.

Rather than going out the way we came in, we decided to go out the more northerly route though Horseshoe Park. Here is beautiful river photowe discovered. The sun was setting, so we didn't get to explore nearly as much as I wanted to. We'll just have to come back someday and spend a lot more time here. Here are some more photos of the Rocky Mountain National Park.

We stopped in Estes Park for dinner and I took some photos of beautiful flowers photo as we walked along a beautiful little stream, in search of a Mexican Restaurant.

As you can see from the photos, dark thunder clouds formed, and then vanished, during most of the day. We we got to Estes Park, the weather was pretty nice, but as we finished dinner it started to rain very hard. So we got to walk about six blocks in the pouring rain to get to our car. I was soaked, and a bit upset at myself for parking so far away, but I had a dry t-shirt to change into, which I had purchased earlier, so I wasn't too wet for the trip home.

7/25/05 - Rocky Mountain Cummins
Yesterday we stayed in the coach and did some more testing, while a big thunderstorm passed over head. Today we packed up and drove back to the Rocky Mountain Cummins facility. They got to work on the coach right away and by the time we got back from lunch, the new part was installed and we were on our way.

We headed east on I70 until the sun began to set and stopped at Shady Grove RV Park in Seifert, CO. Just after we got settled in, it got very windy and began to rain heavily again.

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