Thursday, August 30, 2012

Why Have I Never Been Here Before?

Creede, CO is a great little town, and I don't know how I've missed it before. The WINs camped in a beautiful meadow just off 149 on FR 509.

Surrounded by beautiful scenery, it was almost perfect. The only thing it lacked is cell phone reception and internet. So I'm very far behind on posting and reading blogs.

The town itself is full of unique shops at the base of some high rock structures.

The natives are very friendly.

The first day we went on a 4WD trip up FR 509 that we are parked on.

We stopped for lunch along a reservoir -

Where we were greeted by hungry chipmunks. I recently learned to tell them apart from -

Ground squirrels, who also were interested in our lunch. As you can see, chipmunks have stripes on their heads, and the ground squirrels are larger. (Especially this one...)

Farther up the road, it started precipitating, as it does every afternoon. Except this precipitation was hail.

It was a great adventure though, in spite of the weather.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Hooper is a Hoot!

The next stop for the WINs was Hooper, CO. There's not much in town here, but we're parked at a hot springs just north of town, the Sand Dunes Swimming Pool. No, this is not our pool, it's just for the very friendly ducks.

No matter what time of day, they come running as soon as you step out of your rig.

The pools were wonderful, but even if you don't like hot springs, it's worth it to come here just for the food. It was voted the best concession stand in Colorado, and I would have to agree. We came for dinner one evening, and I had some delicious coconut shrimp.

One day a few of us went on a hike to Penitente Canyon. It's a world class rock climbing area, but this day we had it all to ourselves.

Years ago, Penitente Canyon served as a refuge for the Penitente Brotherhood of Catholic monks. The Brothers, Spanish and Indian men of deep faith, lived secluded in the canyons of the San Juan and Sangre de Cristo Mountains in order to practice their religion freely.

A short way up the canyon is a painting of the Virgin Guadalupe.

It was painted in the mid-20th century by a member of the Penitente Brotherhood, suspended from above in a tire.

The lichen on the rocks in the canyon is just beautiful!

And the "rockpeckers" have been busy.

After going through the canyon, we climbed up to the plateau following some extremely large cairns.

We did a loop on the plateau, and then tried to find some wagon ruts we had read were here.

Could this be it?

Marvin finally found the deep ruts. As early as the 1850s, Hispanic settlers used "carretas" to gather wood for houses, fuel, and fences. Pulled by oxen, these small carts could maneuver over rugged terrain.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Day Trips from Salida

One day we headed out towards Monarch Pass. There is lots of great scenery along the way.

At the top of the pass, an aerial tramway takes you up to the top of the mountain.

It's an easy way to straddle the Continental Divide.

There are oodles of cell towers up there.

And beautiful 365-degree views.

On another day, we went up to Mt. Princeton Hot Springs. There are 2 large pools - one "warm" at 90 degrees and the other "hot" at 105 degrees.

You can also go down into the creek, where hot water from the springs mixes with cold water from the creek, making a perfect temperature.

After soaking, we headed over to the "Meadow" to eat a picnic lunch. There are beautiful flowers there, surrounded by a 6' high fence, so the deer can feel safe from humans as they munch on the delicious pansies.

All along the creek were old cars filled with rocks, designed to prevent erosion.

We went on to Buena Vista, were there were more deer. Here the "Loser Bachelors" were gathered outside the Town Hall. AND, there was rusty stuff!

Back home, the hummingbirds were learning to share. I have never seen that before!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Salida, CO - The Perfect Town

The town of Salida is the perfect size - a small town, but it still has a Super Walmart. But the Walmart has not destroyed the downtown.

It has lots of thriving businesses, housed in buildings built in the early 1900s.

This old barber pole was the neatest I've ever seen.

Across the Arkansas River is "S" Mountain. You can drive up to the top on a spiral road that goes around and around the mountain.

We went up there for a picnic lunch, and had a great view of the town.

This area is known for great whitewater kayaking. In town is a course for whitewater kayaks. Not too busy now because the water is so low.

There are lots of deer in town. Do you think they know that you can't shoot them here?

But the biggest attraction in Salida is the Hot Springs Aquatic Center. It's the largest indoor hot springs facility in the whole country!

They even have some private rooms, which I though were a little weird. There were steps down to a very small hole.

We're parked west of town, with a great view of Mt. Shavano, one of Colorado's 14ers. My new header is from our parking place. There are also alot of very hungry hummingbirds here.

Every day is sunny until about 2 o'clock, then the skies get dark and it may rain. But I still love the town!

One really cool thing - I got to meet fellow bloggers Jim and Gayle, of Life's Little Adventures, along with their friends, Debbie, Chuck and Carla, who are all parked nearby. What a great time!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

St. Elmo and Beyond

The WINs have moved on to Salida, CO, and one of our first activities was a 4-wheel drive trip over Tincup Pass, looping pack over Cottonwood Pass.

Our first stop was my favorite - the ghost town of St. Elmo.

Founded in 1880, 2,000 people settled here to mine silver and gold. One of the ladies is still here, although she seems a little stiff and needs some hair.

There's an outhouse behind each building -

And of course lots of rusty stuff.

The town is overrun with ground squirrels (like this one) and chipmunks who are very friendly.

We then continued up a rocky road to the top of Tincup Pass, 12154 feet above sea level.

Wheee! We're on top of the world!

The road going down the western side of the pass was even more rocky. Of course, I didn't get a picture of the worst spots because I was too busy holding on.

Finally, we got down to Mirror Lake, where the road got a lot better.

We stopped in the tiny town of Tincup for a snack.

And when we got back to the top of Cottonwood Pass, the road was paved.

All in all, a GREAT day!