Yesterday was an unusual driving day as I usually avoid potentially difficult driving conditions. We arose early and, based on preparations the night before, we pulled out of the campground in Meeker before 6:30 a.m. After adding ½ tank of fuel [prices are up at least 20 cents/gallon in this area], we headed for Craig, CO, where I stopped for breakfast in a local restaurant. My norm on travel days has become stop for a substantial breakfast and then have a meal of mostly veggies upon arriving and setting up for the night. Such breakfasts are typically a veggie omelet, often accompanied by hash browns and some variety of breakfast meat. Pippy has come to anticipate [expect] sausage or bacon or ham when I return ‘home’.
Folks in the nearby booth who were towing a fifth wheel had just come down from Rapid City so we shared stories of travel experiences and destinations. Upon returning to our trek northward we were inundated by heavy rain and then snow. The previous day’s temperatures left the pavement warm enough to remain ice/snow free but our vehicle accumulated a good bit of snow. When we met an occasional semi headed south, great chunks were blown off in all directions. We got out of the snow shortly before reaching Baggs, WY, so it was possible to enjoy the passing scenery. Vast prairie expanses dotted with oil wells, or typically the storage tanks, went on for miles as we drove up WY 789 toward I-80. I was surprised to note what I do not recollect from other such oil production areas: the storage tanks were painted in various colors of tan and green to blend in with the landscape.
Upon reaching Rawlins, our intended stop for two nights, I did some shopping for groceries, supplies, and gasoline at the Walmart east of town. In the meantime the winds increased significantly and the temperature began to drop. We settled in for the night at Red Desert Rose Campground hooking up only the electricity based on the prediction for snow and sub-freezing temps. This morning, Pippy was delighted to discover at least four inches of snow. She jumps and cavorts and roots in it like a little kid at play. If/when the snow stops we’ll play some more….
This morning’s view out our rear window. Clearly the plants will not begoing out today.
And out the south window toward the interstate…
…snow on our hood
…the nearby hill which we won’t be climbing today.
We’re still in Colorado, just 165 miles farther north. Before leaving King’s Riverbend we took our usual morning walk past the on-site ponds and noted that there was a third pair of Canada geese with four goslings paddling about. Then suddenly two of the males got into a fight that lasted perhaps five minutes. They appeared to be grasping each other’s beaks and flapping vigorously in the water. At last one took off, half flying and half swimming, out of the pond. At that point two other geese which were already on land put up a squawk and the ‘loser’ jumped back in the water. He paddled back to his mate and her brood with his head held low, virtually parallel to and only two inches above the water’s surface, apparently a submissive gesture. The water was strewn with floating white feathers….
We headed out of the RV park northward on US 550. I had intended to try a local restaurant for breakfast having checked it out on the internet the night before. At the last minute I noted a Denny’s on the right with ample parking available and stopped there. An omelet loaded with veggies hit the spot and I took the accompanying sausage link to Pippy waiting impatiently in our house.
Opting to stay away from the mountains for better weather conditions, we headed up US 50 to Grand Junction and got on the interstate. The scenery beckoned for a picture taking stop, so we took a brief detour at Palisade, which is a wine producing area.
That’s a winery, not a church…and, no, I was not tipsy.
Another angle from Palisade
Shortly after exiting on CO 13, we had brief rain showers and then snow. The precipitation was barely wetting the road surface but snow did begin to accumulate on the nearby hillsides. We arrived at Meeker Riverbend campground, apparently city owned and connected to a park. It is small with only 10 sites situated on the White River and vacant except for us.
You may recall from last year, we stayed for a week at King’s Riverbend RV Park at Montrose, CO. This year it’ll be just two days as I’m in a hurry to reach Crazy Horse for the month of May and the weather forecast doesn’t look warm and sunny like last year.
However, we did ascertain yesterday that two pairs of Canada geese have a young brood in tow this year. Today they were not in the two ponds on site but as we were walking, we heard a big ruckus down by the river. The parents had taken the little ones down into the grassy area. We arrived just in time for yet another series of loud honking and vigorous flapping of wings by the two males. Why? A red-tail hawk was making a pass overhead with, I assume, an eye on goslings for dinner. I waited to see if the hawk would make another pass with camera at the ready but no such luck.
I posted a number of photos at this park and the fishing lake next door while we were here last year. Here is a shot of the river this year directly behind our ‘house’ and our ‘front yard’.
[One of my favorite spring shots at Ute Mountain; that’s Sleeping Ute in the background]
We left our spot at Ute Mountain yesterday morning and traveled via US 160 to Durango and then north on US 550 to Montrose, Colorado. Although the trip is a mere 165 miles, it is one of the most beautiful and challenging drives we take. Pippy can attest to its engrossing beauty as she sat in the ‘navigator’ seat and scanned the horizon constantly. Snow-capped mountain peaks, beautiful rock cliffs, and forest growth of pine and aspen kept her, and the driver, mesmerized.
The challenge to the driver is much reduced with our current ‘house’. We’re not as tall as the previous 5th wheel, only three feet longer than the former towing truck, and much lighter. The ‘tow/haul’ feature acts much as the engine break on the previous truck minimizing the use of brakes on the steep grades. Close attention to the posted speed limits on up-coming curves and switchbacks [often 15 or 10 mph] reduces the stress and risk. The stopping places on the mountain passes were not fully plowed out so access to even a short walk in the snow was eliminated although Pippy did climb on some of the snowplow leavings – I’m thinking her growing up in Montana explains her affinity to snow.
We plan to spend two nights here at King’s Riverbend RV Park in Montrose and then continue our trip north to Crazy Horse. Weather will likely determine our route….
We’re spending the week at Ute Mountain RV Park which is part of the Ute Mountain Casino complex. This stop has been one of my favorites for spring or fall stops since I started the RV lifestyle. However, my attachment to the area goes back to the early nineties when I spent parts of my vacation at Crow Canyon Archeological Center for three consecutive years. The Center offers week-long seminars which include working on projects related to their explorations, guided tours to local sites of interest, meals and lodging in a hogan on site, and evening lectures by various guest speakers.
My first year was spent actually digging at an archeological site with close supervision. Having been a bit uncomfortable with the excavation of a burial site [felt it was lacking in respect], I spent the second visit working in their lab where a few of us were assigned to sort and reassemble pot shards uncovered at the dig. I came to feel, again, that this was not something that should be done, that the broken pottery should remain as and where it was found. The third year was more to my liking as we engaged in more scientific but non-invasive projects. For example, planting and tending ‘gardens’ to learn how the Anasazi grew and irrigated their food and medicinal plants in the desert climate. We took tree borings to learn more about the time period when their cliff dwellings were built and the climate changes that may have spurred their disappearance from the area. After a fire at Mesa Verde, we observed burned areas to understand the regrowth process after such an event, i.e. which plants returned first and how long did it take.
In addition to a guided tour of the Mesa Verde ruins, we visited other dwelling remains on the Ute Reservation guided by a native historian. We attended a lecture by a native spokesman who shared the tribe’s history. At the time our current location contained only a simple gas station where we met to begin our tour of the reservation.
From the top, left to right, the current gas station, outdoor performance area, the hotel as seen from RV park, the casino complex from our viewpoint, day view of casino backed by Mesa Verde, and as the lights come on at sunset.
We enjoyed one last beautiful sunset before leaving Cedar Cove and all of our friends there. I say ‘our’ friends because Pippy had several with whom she played every morning.
Our first night out we stayed just off I-25 at Bernardo’s Kiva RV Park and Horse Motel. Although it was quite hot, Pippy enjoyed three outings to watch several horsey friends enjoying dinner and plentiful water.
Today’s drive was also relatively short as we took NM 6 off I-25 and angled up to I-40 to avoid Albuquerque. Truck traffic was very heavy on I-40 so we took a breather to find a spot to photograph some of the red rocks.
The view from the interstate is beautiful with a seemingly endless series of red rock mesas stretching like fingers toward the road.
We reached Gallup where I had decided to shop at Walmart about noon. The store and parking lot were packed. I discovered that the Easter Bunny was holding an event there. Inside the store I picked up the few items I needed and entered a check-out line. Two ladies in front of me got into a heated exchange re the ‘rudeness’ of one cutting in line ahead of the other. Fortunately, it did not come to blows and I was relieved to exit the parking lot!
Tonight we’re at USA RV Park west of Gallup. With over 100 sites it’s much bigger than I like but it’ll do for one night….
As we prepare for our journey northward, we are enjoying the peaceful setting here at Cedar Cove.
Just one of several recent beautiful sunsets