Mom got to sleep in this morning while I went down to the Gunnison for a little early morning fishing. Caught a brown trout intantly and thought it would be spectacular but the bite was shortlived and back to the motel and off on the highway we went. From Gunnison we went up, and I mean straight up to Monarch Pass on the Continental Divide (see the dope in the picture who had to be in the mandatory photo at the sign). At about 11,300 feet it was the highest we’ve been so far. The ride down the other side was a little hairy as trucks were pulling over to cool brakes. One stop we wanted to make was Leadville, a spectacular mining town in it’s time and in the shadow of the highest point in Colorado, Mt. somethingoruther at 14 somethingoruther feet. At one point the population was 40,000 people and it now has 3,000. After a quick lunch in the Silver Dollar Saloon we took a tour of the Opera House which saw the likes of Oscar Wilde and assorted other entertainers about 150 years ago. Pretty entertaining little tour. The Silver Dollar was home to Doc Holiday for 5 years of carousing, gambling etc. when he wasn’t doing dentistry, before moving on to parts south. It was early enough, after touring up one side of Main and down the other that we took off and decided to just head farther north until we were tired. We went up through the Vail/Eagle area and I managed to stay off I70 and so we are keeping our record of no Interstates intact so far. A vow we made after leaving I10 at Ft. Stockton TX. We decided to push on north to Steamboat Springs where we thought surely we could easily find a motel room. After all a ski town in the summer? Oughta have a ton of rooms. Wrong! In addition to being a fantastic looking town (mom’s shopping antannea are up), seems there’s a baseball tourny going on here now as well as the usual summer vacationers. The place is packed and I have promised mom some serious shopping time in the morning. Something tells me we aren’t leaving for Wyoming for quite some time tomorrow. Exhausted and mom’s making dinner in the room ’cause we’re too tired to go out and face the crowds. Since we’re so close, we might decide to head over to Salt Lake City instead of north into Wyoming. Decision to be made when we start the car tomorrow so who quen sabe?
We’ve spent a couple of days in Ouray after driving up from Durango. Ouray is the Backpacking, Hiking, 4 Wheeling, Jeep Touring, Irish Pub Drinking, fly fishing, snowboarding, skiing, snowmobiling, kayaking, mountain biking, whitewater rafting capitol of Colorado. Other than that there’s not much to do, ha ha! Wonderful place. Lots of silver mine ruins and history. After some last minute shopping this morning we left on the world’s most treacherous road and we’ve been pretty much paralleling the Continental Divide. Up throuh Red Mountain Pass at 11200 feet, twice as high as Denver. Mom’s been singing Rocky Mountain High and I keep reminding her John Denver is dead and I turn the radio up. Our goal today was to do the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. Now we’ve been to the Grand Canyon but this is just spectacular. No way you can take a photo and do it any justice. After a little hiking and such we were bone tired and so we are now holed up in Gunnison for the night. Had a small catastophe in the Animas River the other day. A small pouch that snaps to my vest had all my leaders and tippet stuff and sssorted necessities in it somehow popped off and someone coming down the trail now has about $50 bucks worth of stuff they didn’t have to buy. Stopped at the first fly shop here in Gunnison and I am back in business again. We’re now off to eat dinner at the Old Miners Restaurant on Main Street. Had a cool bar in Silverton BTW that had swings all in front instead of stools. Reminded me of Jackson Hole Where everybody sits on saddles. A small note. My FORMER friend Tom Marler managed to call us this morning at 6:18 in the morning. Seems they are on teh way to Colorado to see Autumn in Boulder. You’d think having a daughter that lives here, he might have figured out the time change!
I finally have time to send out some news myself. First off, I ate a milk dud and my gold crown came off with the first bite–had to go get Crazy glue. Wow-that stuff works and no trip to the dentist. Doug seems to have in his hip pocket the times when all the cute stores open in the small towns, for he drops me off before he goes fishing and the stores don’t open for two more hours!! Go into one shop and everyone seems to have the same Indian stuff. I have been doing most of the driving because of the twisted mountain roads, but that is better than getting sick. We are still talking to each other and having a blast. Love to all.
Before heading to Mesa Verde today we drove west to see Shiprock (mom keeps calling it Shipwreck). We first saw it while still 40 miles away but we could actually make it out from a high point in Mesa Verde about 80 miles away. Photographs show it was visible for at least 150 miles away in the 1800’s and was a huge landmark for wagons heading west. Due to air pollution, sadly, visibility is now reduced to probably half. Nevertheless it is absolutely awesome to see from the Navajo reservation. For the Navajo, Hopi, Ute and Zuni’s it is spiritually very significant. Then on to Mesa Verde which was one of the things we’ve always wanted to see for years. We passed from the Navajo reservation into the Ute reservation and northward into Colorado. More spectacular scenery all the way to Cortez CO and over to the national park. We alloted a full day for it but you could stay for a week and not see all of it. There are about 60 cliff dwellings in the park and 4600 archeological sites. We took the guided tour to Cliff house, one of the best, and it was awesome. We also saw Spruce Tree house, the museum etc. It took all day and we still only visited the East side of the park. Wow. Constructed about 1200 AD with work going on for about 100 years and then abandoned, the reason for which is not entirely clear. Always been interested in Anasazi culture and picked up some great books from the resource center. Today’s Pueblo, Hopi, Zuni, and Utes are descended from the people who built these sites. Afterward we headed over to Durango for a little taste of what lies ahead tomorrow and from what we saw mom will be in seventh heaven. More tomorrow. I also scoped out some sites on the Animas River to fish a little while mom window shops. We’ll see how that works out. The photo is from the overlook to Cliff House while we were waiting for our Ranger to guide us and the other is about the best shot I could get from the roadside with a huge hill in between us and the rock which blocks about the lower 1/3 of it. Got to Wikepedia and you can see a really good shot of it.
The rooms in Durango are all sold out so we’ve landed in Farmington tonight. Just got our hotel room after a stop at the Laundromat. Today we took one of the most scenic rides ever from Santa Fe to Chama and from there over to Farmington. Breathtaking scenery. Georgia O’Keefe/Red Rock country. Stopped in Chama for lunch and to wet a line in the Rio Chama. Caught my first Brook Trout ever, all of about 6 inches, and a stupid catfish that decided to take a fly. This will be our base for a couple of nights and we’ll head over to Shiprock, up across the Colorado border to Mesa Verde and then back here to our hotel. The next day we’ll head up to Durango and spend the day there. Mom drove a considerable amount today and it was a long haul so we’re pretty tired and ready for a good night’s sleep.
After a wonderful (gag) day of shopping and gallery hopping in Santa Fe I tried to book a fishing guide for today but every guide in Santa Fe is booked for the next three days. The fly shop owner was kind enough to guide me on a map to some close by fishing on public water so off I went this morning to the headwaters of the Pecos River. Hard to believe this little river starts out here high in the mountains runs down through NM into West Texas and joins the Rio Grand at Mexico. Managed to land 3 trout this morning on my new 4 wt. and lost another 1/2 dozen (the result of crimped down barbs, which certainly helps in not tearing up that you aren’t going to keep anyway). Now, after a quick shower and lunch, it’s off with SWMBO for another round of gallery hopping. I remember there was so much fantastic Western/Indian/Mountain art here years ago and now it’s all gone, replaced with surrealistic/modern/crap. Oh well, nothing lasts. Had a fantastic meal last night at Pasqual’s, our favorite Santa Fe restaurant and met some neat and interesting people around us including two sisters from Austin who moved here to live out their old age. They were a hoot. Tomorrow it’s moving further NW towards Taos, Chama and the 4 Corners area. Mom beckons. Adios.