Saturday, May 27, 2023

5/27 Frisco, Colorado

I've been here a week, but it has been cold and rainy, so not the best for taking photos.  This is one of the prettiest areas in Colorado, with snow-capped mountains surrounding Dillon Lake and this Forest Service campground.  It is a very popular ski area during the winter and a hiking and biking area during the summer.  There is an 18.7 mile paved bike trail around the lake, and it is very busy with locals and visitors.  Check it out here:

There are three towns around the lake: Frisco on the west, and Dillon and Silverthorn on the east, so it is very easy to ride a bike to any of those towns.  Or at least it would be if it didn't rain and blow every day, plus being quite cold.  The sun does come out from time to time, but the clouds are always in the sky looking threatening.  The other problem, at least for me, in terms of walking and riding my bike is that the elevation here is 9,200' high, so there is not a lot of oxygen around! 

Also, a couple of days ago, I had gone out to the nearby water treatment plant to dump my tanks and pick up some groceries.  When I got back to my campground, I noticed that there was a warning light to check my radiator anti-freeze level.  With a bit of help, I managed to open the hood and discovered the reservoir was completely dry!!!  Took Uber to and from the nearby Walmart store and bought two gallons of radiator antifreeze.  (I am hoping it is a slow leak from a hose.)  The first 24 hours, it did not leak at all, so this morning, I was going to drive to the historic town of Leadville today, but when I went out to unhook this morning, I discovered a puddle of antifreeze--checked the reservoir and it was about 20% down.  I did run out and dump my tanks, but decided that driving 35 miles over a pass to Leadville was not a good idea.  

So, I have an appointment at the Ford dealer on Tuesday morning, and I did stop again and got two more gallons of antifreeze, so I can safely make it to the dealer.  In the meantime, I will relax and enjoy the scenery here. 

This is an extremely popular campground, by the way, because it is only about 70 miles west of Denver.  Would be a lot easier to get a site if it were farther away!!  I have been here before, but two years ago, I was not able to get any sort of reservation here.  This year, I got in on the first day it opened because school was still in session, and it is not really summer here yet.  


Note the little red hummingbird feeder I have on my window!


These are black-chinned hummers, except if you see the males in the right sunlight, you can tell their chins are really bright red.  There are dozens of them here, all fighting for a chance to drink.  They are very fast flyers and make a constant high-pitched trilling sound as they fly, so you can tell where they are.   

This female has a spotted white chin.  I have noticed that two or three females will share the feeder, while the males do most of the fighting. 

The camp hosts told me that a couple of years ago, the forest service went through and removed all of the dead trees that had been killed by insects.  Now there are mostly younger pine trees, along with some aspen.  Shorter trees does make it easier to see the snow-topped mountains.  The next few photos were some I took on a walk through two parts of the campground yesterday.

I'm not sure where the ski slopes are because most of these mountains look too steep for skiing.

It took quite a bit of walking to find the lake, but here it is.  You can paddle on it with a kayak, but you are not allowed to swim or dip any part of your body in the water because it is used for drinking, but I suspect it is too cold anyway for swimming.  The town of Frisco is to the right of the shore in the distance.

My campsite is very close to where the bike path crossed Dam Road, which is the road that goes past the campground.  I just walked behind my camper to take these photos.  

This view is looking towards Frisco, about a mile down the path.  

 And this view is looking towards Silverthorne and Dillon, about two miles away. 

And this is the view of my campsite from the road and bike path.

As soon as I get my leaking antifreeze problem solved, I'll take some photos of the towns, and then hopefully drive to Leadville.   Next Friday I head east through the Eisenhower Tunnel and on to Denver for a couple of nights.

Friday, May 19, 2023

5/18 Salida, CO

Salida is a medium-sized town about 80 miles north of the New Mexico border, along the Arkansas River, at an altitude of 7,000'.  The river is a substantial river, especially during the spring thaw, and  is very popular with rafters, kayakers, and all kinds of water sports.  It is also in the heart of ski country, so it is a booming town because it gets tourist business throughout the entire year.  

It is a long story, but I was scheduled to spend four days in a campground in New Mexico, but the dirt roads in the last state park I stayed at combined with strong winds to make it difficult to go out, and impossible to open any windows.  The next state park turned out to have the same winds and dirt roads, plus I got on the wrong road trying to get there and ended up driving 20 miles out of my way and almost getting stuck on a badly marked road which consisted of two ruts.  The straw that broke the camels back was a sign that pointed to a right turn to get to Highway 95, but the place where it wanted me to turn ended up being a locked gate to a private residence!!  Somehow I managed to turn around without going into a ditch and made it back the way I had come.  At that point, I made the decision to head north into Colorado in hopes of a better campground. 

I spent a couple of days in the small town of Alamosa, CO, but the RV park there was expensive and had no view, plus it also had a lot of dirt in the roadways.  I stayed inside and got caught up on some tasks, then filled up with gas, groceries, and propane and headed out to the town of Salida.  It was a beautiful drive to Salida, but as you can see from the photos below, it rained occasionally, and I was afraid that it might be snowing over the passes.  Luckily, I made it though with almost no traffic and no icing issues. 

All of the rivers in this part of the country are overflowing their banks because of the snow melting on the mountain tops.  

At this point, the highway went over an 11,000' pass, but at least the pavement was dry.  I can imagine skiing around here in the winter.

I found a really nice, brand-new RV park with paved roads and brand-new gravel on each site.  (I had wanted to drive farther north to Leadville, but all of the Forest Service Parks were closed until the weekend, so gave up that idea.  I will stop in Leadville on my way to Frisco and Heaton Bay Campground tomorrow.  

The RV park opened during the winter, but has been pretty empty because not too many travelers know about it.  Lots of empty spaces, but that made it nice and quiet for the four nights I have been here. Sites are gravel, but it is new gravel, and the roads are paved. 

Terrific views!!!   And the Arkansas River borders the RV park, so I am sure future campers will enjoy the ability to raft right from here.

Nice to have everything so clean and neat. 

This is the clubhouse. It has the park offices, laundry, exercise room, and a meeting room with large TV and a pool table. 

One of the reasons for such a large club house is that they are selling what are called "park models."  These are similar to tiny houses, but are commercially made and better regulated to meet building codes.  In most states they can be no larger than 400' square, and have wheels on them so they can be easily moved.  I went online and checked the prices of these.  They were about double the cost in some other parts of the country, but most had a loft and they looked well-made.  Rent for the space was about $680 per month, which I think is steep, especially as it does not include electricity.  

One nice thing is that each had a storage shed in the rear, and it looked like most of the 20 currently onsite seem to be occupied.  Each has a parking space for a car on the side, but I think I would like a larger site. 

Certainly a nice view!!  I would prefer these to an apartment in the town because of that view and lack of traffic noise.

I had accidentally driven through the old downtown area and decided to go back to check out some of the small stores.  But first, I parked along the river and walked across the bridge over the river. 

Lots of people rafting or kayaking in this heavily flowing river.  I am guessing the water is pretty cold, especially since it was recently snow and ice!!  Air temp was in low 70s, so it was a nice day for walking around, at least.

This is looking from the opposite side of the bridge.  There are several restaurants overlooking and also several raft and kayak rentals.  These particular rafts were controlled by a professional, I am pretty sure. 

If you scroll up a couple of photos, you will see this guy on the right just at a small rapids.  He kept going over it, then paddling back up, and going down again.  Went under on purpose a few times, also.  He is riding a very small, short kayak that has a raised bow.  I saw a lot of these, so they might have been rentals.

Our fellow on the green kayak has headed downstream a bit to the next small rapids.

Finished crossing the bridge and took this photo of the town.  Almost every shop is occupied, which is a good sign.  This is really still the off-season, so it will get busier later.

I liked the old Victorian buildings. 

Tomorrow, I head to Frisco and Dillon Lake.  Been there before and looking forward to being there for a whole two weeks!! 

Friday, May 12, 2023

5/4 Ghost Ranch & Georgia O'Keeffe's Scenery

I had been to Ghost Ranch, where Georgia O'Keefe had a home and spent a lot of time painting, a few years ago, but this time I made reservations for the bus tour.  This was a very large ranch that was donated by its owner to the Presbyterian Church of the USA.  It is still owned by them and is now a retreat and arts center.  You can stay in one of their housing units, take art lessons, take some trail rides, or just relax and enjoy the scenery while you are there. 

Or, you can just stop by for the day and visit the gift store, museum, and some of the facility buildings.  Depending on the seasons, they offer several different kinds of bus or trail ride tours. Here is the website that describes this interesting facility:

Just driving the few miles there from the camp ground was pleasant.  By the way, Georgia O'Keeffe first drove here from Santa Fe and from Abiquiu on dirt or non-existant roads. 

It's easy to miss the entrance!

The road into the ranch is dirt and about 3 miles long.  

It's a surprisingly large facility.  

The main entrance, lobby, and gift store.  They also sell drinks and box lunches here.  There is a formal restaurant in the ranch, but it is for overnight guests who are attending workshops.

This was the original home Georgia O'Keeffe lived in here.  She later had a home a couple of miles down a ranch road that was more private and quieter. 

The two rooms on the left here was the original ranch house of the owners. 

 Inside the original ranch house. 

A couple of the other ranch buildings.

This is the small museum on the facility, with artifacts found there. 

Below is the ranch road that goes to the second house O'Keeffe owned here.  The tour leader said she often set up her painting easel on this road.  She tour leader would stop at various points and show us copies of the paintings O'Keeffe made while also pointing out the specific scenery that was painted.  I think it was worth the fee, but I am not sure I would want to take the tour in extremely hot weather.

This puzzled me because it looked like someone had been doing some digging here. 

My next stop will be a state park about 60 miles from here, so that will be my next posting.