2016 Colorado Adventure Day 3 – First full day in Ridgway

Day three of our trip, I woke up having bad back pain. Just getting up and walking really hurt. So I should probably add that I injured my neck rather badly about 10 years ago in a mountain biking accident. My spinal cord was compromised and required eventual surgery to fuse my cervical vertebrae. Over the years it’s gotten worse and the day before left, my doctor called and advised against taking our trip to Colorado as it would take me out of emergency range of a major neurosurgery center. But, me being me, I decided I was fine enough to go.

Anyway, I decided to relax at the house while the others explored the area shops. I had some work to still do on the Jeep (putting the rear Bushwacker flares on) so decided to tackle that. The Bushwacker flares are a royal pain in the ass to install, especially with numb fingers. I think I spent more time dropping and finding screws than I did actually bolting the things on. I managed to get one on in the 2-3 hours everyone was gone. I realized soon after that, even despite my best efforts to shade myself, I had underestimated the power of the sun at 8,000 feet. When Rach got back she offered to help so i let her do the last flare on her own with me just giving guidance. She did it quicker than me and her’s looked better.  Showoff! In the end though, we were both rather sunburned by the end of the day. I didn’t realize how badly that was going to make the next few days suck…

Later, we hung out at the house and I decided to send up my Phantom 4 drone and explore the area. After my flight (check it out below – best viewed full screen in HD), I spent the rest of the day relaxing and we cooked at the house.

 

Recon Flight Ridgway from Bob Lionel on Vimeo.

Colorado Adventure 2016 – Travel Day 2 the Arrival

We couldn’t find a porter to carry our luggage to our truck so we decided instead to just use one of the rolling luggage carts from the hall. As we approached the elevator there was an older woman waiting for the elevator. She immediately appeared to be giving us the stink eye. Once inside the elevator she made a comment about the luggage cart, wanting to know where we got it. We said from the hall. She immediately made it known to us that she thought we had “hogged the cart” by stating they had been there a few days and hadn’t been able to find one of the carts the entire time.  I politely informed her that we just got in last night and the cart was in it’s place when we arrived last night. Walking away from the elevator, she said that people like us were assholes for not allowing anyone else to use the carts. I told her that we didn’t have the cart and she really needed to drop the bitch attitude. She gave me the “I can’t believe you said that look” and stormed to her car. I can’t believe a missing luggage cart could possibly spoil the fun and luxury of La Quinta…

Back on the road, we headed north towards Pagosa Springs, Durango and then up 550 to Ouray and finally Ridgway. Pagosa Springs was a beautiful little town, but was definitely alive with tourists like us. From there we headed on to Durango and made a stop at a grocery store there for some last minute supplies. Durango is the last decent sized city before you head into the San Juan Mountains. After our brief stop, we pulled onto Highway 550 – The Million Dollar Highway.

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Highway 550 is known as the San Juan Skyway Scenic Bypass and also famously as “The Million Dollar Highway”. It’s said to have gained that name from the last twelve miles into Ouray when a traveler said after arriving that he wouldn’t drive it again for a million dollars! It’s also said that its because when it was constructed in the late 1880s, it cost over one million dollars per mile. I have no idea what the truth is, but i can tell you that for a lot of people, its the latter.  The road goes from simply scenic to a two lane road that can be steep, twisty and narrow enough to make passing trucks or RV’s on curves quite nerve-wracking.  There are often several hundred foot drops and one other thing. There is in most places no shoulder so that it may be open space with a cliff less than 10″  from the outside white line of the road. Oh and there are no guard rails, a fact that the locals are very, very proud to point out.  I’ve driving the road several times, but it still gets to me. We took one of the pullouts about halfway through to let everyone steady their nerves.  Just before Ouray, we pulled over to take a gander at the falls that runs under the highway. A short drive through Ouray we continued on through to Ridgway about ten minutes farther North and our house for the next few days.

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The house was nice with a backyard that stretched all the way to the mountains. It didn’t take long to realize that we had neighbors behind us. The field was home to a prairie dog “town”. We unpacked, got settled in and then headed to the True Grit cafe for dinner.  The cafe gets its name from the academy award winning movie of the same name, which was filmed in the area. The food was great, cowboy style dinner.  I had chicken fried steak that was delicious. They even have food for those weirdo vegans.

We then headed back to the house for the night for some stargazing.

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Colorado Adventure 2016 – Travel Day 1 Dallas to Santa Fe

Day 1

This year we decided to go back to Colorado for our vacation. We had a great time last year and I guess we REALLY talked it up because this time some of the rest of the family decided to join us.  My wife’s parents, her sister and significant other convoyed along for the trip. The initial plan was to only take two vehicles, our 2014 Grand Cherokee ecodiesel, and one of their Acura MDX’s. I wasn’t sure how that would work as I remember last year how packed my JK was for just the two of us. Granted, I carry a lot of extra stuff like camera gear, drone, tools, etc so maybe it’s possible?

Saturday we took the dogs to be boarded while we were gone. For me this is the worst part of the whole experience.  Not only is it the most expensive part of our vacation, but it also means being in the house for the last day without any of our four dogs around which is just weird, and feels really lonely. Luckily, we had tons of packing to do which somewhat took our mind off our abandoned dogs. The plan was to get it all packed and loaded early enough to get a good nights sleep. Doesn’t that sound smart? Yeah, well about that plan…

So earlier in the week, I took the Grand Cherokee in to have the rock sliders put on it. It should have taken a few hours, but apparently these things are extremely difficult to install and it took the dealership the rest of the week and they still weren’t able to finish. We were basically left with the decision of delaying the trip so that they could be finished or taking the Jeep with them “mostly” installed and functional. So, the other part of the story is that I still needed to put the rear Bushwacker flares on and 6  skid plates. I had planned to have a couple of days after the rock rails were done,  but since the dealership kept the Jeep over those days, I had Saturday to do the rest of the work.  Oh boy.

Luckily my good friend Chris Russell was kind enough to give up a Saturday to help. He actually did most of the work as I was having issues with my spine that made it difficult for me to do a lot of this work. We spent all day on a job that I thought would take but a few minutes. That’s the way it always is (should bolt right up) turned into screams of “WTF???!!!??” It started raining about halfway through the day so some of the day was laying on a wet driveway in the rain working away, BUT we got the job done by about 9pm. So much for getting the Jeep loaded and a good nights sleep!

 

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We got to bed about 4:30am and rose at 8am to get on the road. We knew it was going to suck, but that tends to be the way we do thing at Casa Lionel. We got on the road and headed out, mostly on time.

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We stopped in Vernon, Tx for fuel. I checked our Jeep and we still had over 3/4 of a tank but I topped it off with diesel.  A couple of hours later we stopped for lunch in Amarillo at a truck stop at one of those “Trucker malls”.  We headed back out, past Cadillac Ranch, thinking briefly of stopping but remembering how hot it was outside. A bit later we took a slight exit to drive past the old ghost town of Glen Rio. It used to be a great place to stop and take some photos in the ruins of the old Post Office, Diner or Motel, but now although it eerily is still abandoned looking, it has residents. Visions of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre nudge us back on the road and on towards our stop for the day, Santa Fe.

We arrive at Santa Fe just before sunset. Our place of rest the lovely La Quinta Santa Fe West. We do not have the best of luck with hotels. We are beat though and the room is nice enough and were it not, I’d likely sleep the same. If you are tired enough, any place to crash will work right? You would think so but we later find that isn’t always the case.

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