Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Exploring Colorado–Western Slope

colorad-western-slope[1]We learned real quick that we were in the western slope of  Colorado and that this area was different than being on the other side of the Rockies.  This is the land of the valleys, canyons, farming,  and reservoirs.  Things are really beautiful and with so much to see you just don’t know where to start.

The town of Crawford was a unique place as it is just a small town with a population of less than 500 that was established in 1882.  There was only one restaurant when we arrived but a second one was opened before we left the area; there is a hotel with 6 rooms that is above the feed store, a post office and a lovely old Methodist Church that was built in 1900 for only $164. 


The place we had to go to do our shopping was in Hotchkiss, CO.  This is a “city” with a population of less than 1,000.  There is more here as there is a grocery store, 3 hotels, and a few restaurants to choose from. 

The first settlers was in the late1879 early1880, when it was technically illegal to be there, picking out likely homesteads while the Utes were still in possession of the land. Then in 1881when the land was taken from the Utes, two of the settlers with a a herd of 200 horses came back and were the first into the valley as legal settlers.


When we moved over to Sweitzer Lake State Park, we were now in Delta, CO.  Delta is the county seat for the area and has a population of less that 9,000, which is the largest population of any place in Delta County.  This was the location we had to come to for any major shopping while we were at Crawford.  They have a Wal-Mart, 3 major grocery stores, and numerous restaurants.  The town sits where the Gunnison River and Uncompahgre River intersect as was a fur trading post for the Ute Indians in 1826.  It was known as Fort Uncompahgre at that time.  In 1882  the name was changed and the town of Delta was established.  The town is now known for the murals pained on the side of the building throughout.


One of the other neat towns in the area is Paonia, which has a population of less that 1,500 and is known for it production of cherries.  Paonia State Park on the reservoir is close by and is the major primitive camping spot in the area.  This area was occupied by the Ute Indians until 1880 when the settlers came in and ran the Indians out.  The town was incorporated in 1902.  It has had a interesting history as the cattle ranchers created a secret society to run off the sheep herders and were known as the “Night Riders” .  They would run the sheep off the cliffs at night and/or massacred only at night.  Learn more about the history of this town visit the website as its history is fun Town History


To the south side of Sweitzer was the city of Montrose.  Montrose is the most populated city in Montrose County of just under 20,000 and is the county seat.  We have now entered in the the biggest city close to us.  It is really neat being around such small towns and cities; just being out of the Houston and all its traffic has been great.  Montrose is the gateway to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park (more on that later).  The city has everything one could want but Fred says it has Russell Stover’s Chocolate Factory and  a number of Breweries – what else do you need!!  The first settlers were again back in the 1870’s but it was not until the Ute Indians were “officially” removed from the land in 1881 were the settlers ever able to claim the land.  Montrose officially became a town in 1882.  The town at first supported the miners in the area but soon became a major agriculture hub and the railroad came to the town.  The closest airport to us was also located in Montrose; if you needed anything big this was the closest place to go.

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Russell Stover’s Chocolate

             Colorado Brewery & Pizza







   Horsefly Brewery and Pub



              Montrose, CO



DSCN4589One of our favorite small towns in the area was Cedaredge.  This town is on the southern slope of Grand Mesa (next chapter) and is just a beautiful, friendly town with a population of less than 2,300.  They have what is called the Serenity Run each year, which is bikers that are recovering alcoholic and/or drug users on their way to Sturgis, SD.  It was interesting seeing all them and at the campground they stay at they have a day filled with games and fun.  (Serenity Run 2015)

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Pioneer Village

They have also really preserved their history  at Pioneer Village; a museum as you enter town with original building of their past.




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Wine, Beer & Whiskey

We also lots of fun at the brewery, distillery and couple of wineries that were in the area.

Cedaredge, CO


One of the other towns in the area that we made to trip to was Ridgeway, CO.  This was further north and near the entrance to the million dollar highway. Gateway to the San Juan Mountains.  Not to under shadow the San Juan Mountains, but just to the east is the Cinnamon Mountains.  Between the two ranges  and being the in the Uncompaghre Valley you will not find a more picturesque place.  The town was the site for the movie True Grit and many of the buildings are still used today as business.  Dennis Weaver was born and raised here and his son still sits on the city counsel and the population is less than 900.  The town history is full of rancher, miners and railroad history.  The Rio Grande Southern Railway (R.G.S) was one of the first railways passing through Durango,  the rich mining camps of Telluride and Rico. The R.G.S. was 162 miles long,crossed more than 140 bridges and trestles and connected to the Ouray branch of the Denver & Rio Grande at Ridgway.  Great little town to visit and hang out at.  Oh it is also a major skiing location during the winter months as Telluride is close by.

If you ever get the chance visit any of these towns and they were fun and unique in their each individual way.  Loved our time in Colorado.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Adventure to Denver

My longest BFF lives in Denver and of course with us being this close I had to go spend some time with her.  Fred needed to get his six month check up at the VA anyway and this gave me a great excuse.  We scheduled our trip at a time in which we were not on the schedule for any volunteer work and took our four days in Denver.  Well at least I took all four days, Fred surprised one of his girl scouts from days long ago and flew to Seattle for her wedding – but more about that later.

Our trip to  Denver took us through the Black Canyon of the Gunnison into the area know as the Curecanti  National Recreation Area.  This route is Colorado Scenic Highway 92 and is really spectacular.  It takes through many great overlooks in the Black Canyon, but the highlight was the Blue Mesa Reservoir.  There is lots of hiking trails, camping areas and just a place to stop and picnic as you drive through.  We also saw a lot of wildlife along the way and during hunting season there are places that you are allowed to hunt in. 






On the way there we went south so that we could go to Colorado Springs to visit with some dear friends, Rick and Pat Ratzlaff.  They were the first couple we started our volunteering with a couple of IMG_3785years ago.  They are now set up in Colorado Springs, but will start traveling again this next year.  It was great stopping and having lunch with them  . .



Then back on the road to Denver . . .  It was great to get to  Gaylord and Kaila as I had not seen her in a couple of years.  Oh I forgot to say, it was my birthday so we went to dinner and she had to have a cake for me. 

I stated earlier, Fred had to go to VA for his six month check up and so Kaila’s daughter is a surgical nurse with the VA so she cleared the way for him.  On a good note, he got the test completed that they needed and we heard back from the doctor in Houston that all was well and they would see him for his year check up in December in Houston!!!!  Smile  So he made the trip to Seattle for his girl scout’s wedding without her knowing he was coming.  Her mother and Fred had been in contact with each other and they 11403382_10205658133310776_180813939740303537_n[1]set up the surprise for her.  Fred and his ex were leaders for their daughters’ girl scout troop and they have stayed in contact with a number of the scouts through the years (plus thanks to Facebook).  Two other girls were there also and none of them had any idea that Fred was coming so it was a great trip and wonderful surprise for them.

While he was gone I had a wonderful time with Kaila doing “girl” things, nail shop, shopping, movie and just talking all night long.  It was so great to be with her and just be myself and just talk about anything and everything.  When Fred got back to town her entire family and us all went to dinner and just had a great time.  Kaila is my “real” sister and a friend that is always there for me.  We figured out that we had been friends for about 35 years and we have been through a lot together.  It is really wonderful to have a sister when you don’t have one. 

Next morning we started our trip back; this time we took I-70 back to see what that was like; wow what a great drive in its own right.  The mountain views were great just before we hit the Eisenhower Tunnel, we came upon a race car being towed and Fred was excited as it was No. 24 – Jeff Gordon.  There was a race in California so we guess they were on their way there. 






The Eisenhower Tunnel was neat as we do not have things like this in Texas; a tunnel through the mountain . . .



Then the mountains as you came out were just neat.  We traveled on and decided to stop and have lunch in Vail so we could see what it was like.  We could see why it is know for great skiing.






The rest of the drive to Grand Junction was along the Colorado River and was really really neat.  The river was high and was flowing fast.  It is amazing to me how the road was built along the edge of the mountains and along the river.  Just beautiful  . . .








We really enjoyed our trip to Denver and seeing more of Colorado.  I must say it is a beautiful state and we are looking forward to exploring more.