Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Touring the US Capitol

After flying back East to see family, I am so far behind on the blog that I'm afraid I'll never get caught up! I saw my father in Pennsylvania, and my son and daughter-in-law in Northern Virginia. My daughter and her family also flew in from San Diego.

My daughter arranged a tour of the Capitol through her Representative, Duncan Hunter. His intern gave us a private tour. My granddaughter, Mara, was ready to go.

The Old Supreme Court Chamber was used from 1810-1860, and was the site of numerous landmark decisions, including the Dred Scott case.

All through the main floor of the Capitol are 100 statues, 2 from each state.

I think poor Father Damien from Hawaii could have used a better sculptor.

Each side of the Capitol has a kind of "mini rotunda." This is the one on the House side. We also got to see the House in action, but no cameras were allowed.

And this is looking up into the main rotunda.

Right next to the Capitol Building is the US Botanic Garden.

My pictures just don't do it justice.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Arizona Gets Greedy

I just discovered that Arizona has increased the fee for their State Land Permit from $15 a year to $50 a year. Do they really think this is going to raise more money?

This used to be a great deal for boondockers. I've written about it previously here and here.

What do you think? Will they end up with less money or more? I'm not sure I will renew mine. I may just stay on BLM land instead.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Grand Junction

I'm definitely back in the West, when the elk wear cowboy hats!

Moving on to Grand Junction, CO, the WINs are set up at the fairgrounds. It's a great spot, although I don't think it's available for individual RVs. I was only there for a couple days, because I'm flying back east to visit family.

The only activity I did was a 6-mile, one-way, all-down-hill hike through Colorado National Monument. This aerial shot (that I shamelessly copied) shows our approximate route, from high on the plateau off the lower right hand corner to the valley at the center top of the picture.

We had great views all along the way, passing many of the park's major rock formations.

At times it was rather steep and rocky. Here I am being wimpy on a downslope.

One formation I especially liked was the "Kissing Couple," a little hard to make out from this angle.

And then there was the little froggy, that a certain Donna should like.

Wait a minute, I don't think that's the trail....

We were kind of pooped when we got to the end. Not enough for the ambulance, but it did provide a nice seat in the shade.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

El Jebel, Colorado

After going over the Rockies on I70, I rejoined the WINs in El Jebel. Yay! I'm really in the West now. We're staying on a private lot right in town.

There is lots to see and do around here. One of my favorites is the view at Maroon Bells, just out of Aspen.

The lake had a lot of beautiful green algae in it.

What a difference a day makes! Since some of the group missed the first trip to the Bells, I agreed to go again. (Twist my arm...) We had some rain in El Jebel, but it was all snow up here.

There are a couple of ghost towns in other directions out of Aspen. Independence is on the way to Independence Pass. Gold was discovered here in 1879, but the boom was short lived. Three years later, the gold ran out.

The town of Ashcroft was an old silver mining town established in 1880. It was abandoned when the silver boom ended in the 1890s.

It once had a population of 2500.

Some of the many artifacts still lying around.

The Redstone Coke Ovens are south on the way to Marble. They were built in the late 1890s to carbonize or "coke" coal mined in the area.

One night we all went bowling. Except for the 5-pin bowling we did in Canada, I haven't been bowling in almost 40 years!

You can probably tell that from my great form! I did manage to break 100 in both games, but just barely.

Birthdays are always an excuse to eat! John celebrated his 81st, and we all hope we're as active as he is when we reach that age. Happy Birthday, John!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Marble, Colorado

The town of Marble is an amazing place. Huge chunks of marble lie all over town, even in the river. Marble from this area was used to build the Lincoln Memorial and the Tomb of the Unknowns.

In the midst of the old mill now sits an ice rink.

Even the picnic tables in the park are marble!

Our goal today is to get to Crystal Mill. I have wanted to see this for a long time, and Phil volunteered to drive the terrible 5-mile road from Marble to the tiny town of Crystal. We were pretty lucky not to run into too many people going the other way, which would involve a lot of backing up.

Wow! Here it is! The Mill was not really a mill, but a power generating station. It did not generate electrical power, but used a water turbine to drive an air compressor. The compressed air was then used to power other machinery or tools.

Back in those days, the river was dammed up.

Another view from river level. The mill is reputed to be the most photographed site in the state.

Instead of going back the way we came, Phil wanted to go back through Lead King Basin. It was longer, but more scenic and the road was supposed to be better. Hmmmmmm.....

At one point, we had to drive through the river.

Up, up, up we went!

Through it all, Phil kept smiling.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

More Rocky Mt Natl Park

Since I was in Longmont for 2 weeks, I went to Rocky Mountain National Park a couple more times. One day I took the Old Fall River Road up to the Alpine Visitors Center, at 11800' elevation. It's a one-way up only road, narrow with steep dropoffs.

Along the way is Chasm Falls.

The views are spectacular up above the tree line.

Even in the rear view mirror!

On another day, I went on the hike to Dream Lake and Emerald Lake. This is a popular hike, with great views and a very well maintained trail.

Dream Lake is just that -- like a dream.

More perfect trail up hill to--

Emerald Lake. You are so close to the mountains here that it's hard to get a picture.

On the way out of the park, a large bull elk gathered with his large harem. There were at least 10 ladies. Didn't hear any bugling, I think that comes in a few weeks.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Thanks, Chuck!

Chuck Woodbury, publisher of RV Travel Newsletter, has mentioned my blog in his latest edition. Wow! I'm honored. It's a terrific newletter with all kinds of helpful RV tips. I really like what he said about me and the blog, especially the "young" part.

The newsletter must have a huge following, because the number of visitors to my blog skyrocketed the day it came out.

Thanks, Chuck!