After spending almost two weeks in Colorado, we woke up this morning with chilled toes and cold noses, the rest of us being ensconced within our layers of flannel and wool.  It had been warm during the days, well into the 60’s, and only recently dropping into the 30’s at night, but last night hovered close to freezing temps.  Time to move on to our next destination, Texas.

While spending time with family here on the Western Slope we had also taken a weekend trip to my old stomping grounds of Colorado Springs, on the Front Range.  Here we spent time with my good friend, Jennifer and her boyfriend, Taylor, and drove around like tourists looking for yard sales in Old Colorado City and Manitou Springs.  Robert enjoyed the many fine examples of neon workmanship announcing the presence of dining rooms and motels, and some not so fine remains of what had been beautiful signs that had been allowed to rust and decay.  I had some issues finding my way around town since some landmarks have been replaced by new growth, but by the end of our stay I was getting my bearings again.

Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep on the way to Colorado Springs on Hwy 50

Our trip had another purpose, and that was for us to reconnaissance a possible suitable route through the mountains.  The last time we had come to Grand Junction to visit, we took Highway 50 over Monarch Pass on our way to Texas.  This is a daunting idea with such a heavy trailer, especially after our experience with the Pink Mountain Debacle.  Long and steep is the approach to the pass, with many curves, and the off side is brutal on brakes.  I used to visit my Dad when he lived near Crestone in the San Luis Valley and I would take a less traveled road which I remembered had more gradual grades and a lower altitude pass, Highway 114.  So we checked it out on our way to the Springs, sans trailer, and it seems to be our path of choice.  We’ll head south through the San Luis Valley and over towards Raton Pass, another area of concern, but after that we’ll be on (mostly/comparatively) flat land.  The caveat being, we need to leave before any precipitation hits those mountain passes, because if it gets snowy and icy, we’ll need to go through Utah and down to Arizona instead.  So far, so good…fingers crossed!

A view of South Park from Wilkerson Pass on Hwy 24

After our visit, we took a different route going back to Junction, taking Highway 24 through South Park and meeting up with I-70 at Minturn.  Just outside of Minturn is the abandoned mining town of Gilman, where we stopped to take some pics.  I reckon the stream flowing below the mine has got some placer gold in’t.

Gilman. I’d pan that.

There was another couple also at the pull off, who asked where in Alaska we were from (our license plates are a conversation piece, we’ve found!) and we told them and lo and behold, they were from Alaska originally and just moved down here a couple years ago!  I didn’t get their names but the guy is a two time Iditarod musher.  Yeah, because who else do you meet on a secondary road pull off, but an Alaskan musher?  Sorry, guy.  I wish I had asked yall’s names!

Mushers gonna mush

Yesterday, we went grocery shopping and sanitized our freshwater tank, today we’ve rinsed and filled the tank with good Colorado water and I’ll be packing up for an early departure in the morning.  We’ve both had such a good time in Colorado, it seems a shame to leave.  We’ve had fun spending time with our little grandchildren and the kids, as well as with friends.  However, the nip in the air is undeniable, and there will be Thanksgiving dinner with Robert’s family in a couple of weeks, so it’s time to ramble on.

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