Thursday, June 30, 2011

Staying Home

June 29

Today we decided to stay home, and do virtually nothing. It was a relaxing day. Tony made low-carb pancakes and we had fresh blueberries with them. We both stayed preoccupied with reading or various other little things throughout the day, including a nice long nap.

Late afternoon, clouds started to form. Very interesting to watch in the crystal blue sky, with mountains all around. It's hard to get perspective to tell if they are moving our way. A check of the radar said yes, spotty light showers were coming soon. We had a few brief sprinkles, but no significant rain. The clouds did cool it off rather nicely though!

Tony decided to cook the 1.5" thick steaks we had bought earlier in the week from James Ranch. Our little O-Grill did great! It was so tender. After dinner we went for a walk around the park, since we had seen many arrivals and departures the past 2 days. I like to see what the rigs are, where they are from, and what they pull with. There are folks here from California, Arizona, New Mexico, South Dakota, Florida, Texas, Oklahoma, and Oregon!

We checked out the pool area that had been recently updated, the game room, laundry and cafe. This place has greatly improved the facilities since we first came, but still not to the level they were selling us when they wanted us to join in a time-share membership offer, back in 2008.

We stopped at the observation deck that sits out over the river, and enjoyed the view of the rushing water. I just happened to spot a deer, grazing on the other side of the river. It was farther down from us, closer to our site. We started walking back to our site, and when we got to the area by the river, we were right across from it! And there was another one! Tony tried to get a picture, but one deer started chasing the other, and they ran off. It was neat to watch!

After we returned, we decided to watch a movie. We watched Cars, the first one. I guess I just love the story, it really is a good one. We watch it at least 2-3 times a year on our RV trips.

All in all, a very relaxing day.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Jeeping (No Mammoth Allowed)

June 28

Today we headed to Silverton, CO to pick up a Jeep we'd reserved. The views over Coal Bank Pass and Molas Pass are always amazing, but hard to really see and enjoy at 60MPH. We picked up the jeep about 8:15AM and headed out towards the Alpine Loop, a great area for off-roading. The road starts as packed gravel, but then quickly turns into something more suited for 4x4s! In fact they have many warnings recommending high-clearance, 4-wheel drive only.


We averaged about 5-10 mph most of the time. We also had to stop for oncoming traffic -- 4-wheelers, other jeeps, and off-road motorcycles -- as the trails are mostly one-lane. We drove over Engineer Pass, which reaches an altitude of 12,800 feet above sea level. It was beautiful to see lots of snow, high above the treeline, and very tiny tundra as the only vegetation.

Along the way we saw chipmunks, ground squirrels, and marmots. At one point, we stopped and ate the lunch we brought, listening to the roaring rapids of snow-melt rush down a mountain stream.

We then continued to follow the rocky, barely improved road to Lake City, CO. A quaint little town! We fueled, did some shopping, and headed out again, to Cinnamon Pass, at 12,640 feet. We'd been this way on a previous trip, but the scenery never gets old. We even saw two deer. 

We really were amazed at the amount of snow that was still left. Much more than we'd seen a few years ago. We also saw lots of rushing streams and waterfalls, cascading down to the various rivers.

We got the Jeep back about 4:30PM. We traveled 69 miles total, and it took about 8 hours. Whew! Tony did an amazing job of handling the jeep, and we had a great time.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Mammoth heads to Durango, CO

June 25 - June 27

Saturday we arose early to head to Amarillo, TX. We chose to go I-635 to I-35, through Denton and then through Decatur to Hwy 287. We stopped for a quick shopping trip through Camping World, then the usual for fuel and restrooms. At one stop, the temperature on the truck's outside thermometer said 113 degrees! The closer we got to Amarillo, the drier the vegetation looked. It was obvious they were in a severe drought condition. We arrived in Amarillo about 6:15PM, in time to visit family and eat dinner.  

Sunday we again hit the road early, for the longest stretch of the trip. This part of the trip was challenging in that we had a significant headwind, as well as rolling terrain. We had to fuel more often, and at one point give the engine a quick rest as temps were getting a little high for comfort.

When we got to Cline's Corners, we decided to go a different route than we have in the past. Normally we head into Albuquerque, then head northwest. instead, we turned at Cline's Corners toward Santa Fe, and then on to Albuquerque on I-25. According to the GPS it is slightly longer, but we enjoyed the change of scenery, the break from the headwind, and the less stressful drive (bypassing Albuquerque). This will become our route of choice for the future!

The scenery through New Mexico is always amazing to me. So many colors and interesting formations. In some areas, it is also interesting to see very little evidence of man's impact. I wonder if the fact that there are still a number of Indian Reservations in the area have something to do with that. It's refreshing to see, especially growing up and living in a big city all my life.

We arrived in Durango about 5:30PM Mountain time. Got in our spot and set up, ate dinner and relaxed. About 7PM, the sun gets behind the mountain range, and the temps cool quickly, into the low 70s, making for a very pleasant evening to sit outside. The Animas River is just 50 feet from our trailer, and sitting outside we can hear the water rushing by. We could also hear hummingbirds! Lots of folks have feeders, and one hummingbird was making a high-pitched fluttering chirp as he flew around the park. We also went for a walk around the park and saw a North Trail, and a Big Horn. Didn't see their people, but hope to visit sometime with them.

Monday was "go to town" day. We went to downtown Durango and explored the shops, visited the railroad depot, and ate. I'm on a quest for a key rack with an elk on it for the trailer, so looked at many shops with mountain/western decor. When we headed back, we stopped at the James Ranch located on the Animas River. They sell their own grass-fed beef, eggs, pork, and cheese, as well as their own organically grown vegetables. We picked up some steaks, ground beef and eggs for our stay here. After some relaxation at the park, we decided to finish grocery shopping at the Organic Market just at the edge of town. We got some fresh bacon cheddar burgers to cook... which were amazing!! Tony cooked on the grill and we enjoyed them, eating outside on the picnic table.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Lake Tawakoni State Park

 June 2-6, 2011

We decided that since we had the storm damage repaired, and had not been anywhere since March, we needed to go somewhere to get away for a bit. Also to check out the repairs. I went early Thursday to pick our site, since Texas State Parks do not let you reserve specific sites, only that you have a site reservation. I looked at what was available and though our preferred pull-through was not free, I picked a back-in I thought we could get into. We arrived just after 5pm, and got settled in. It was extremely DARK at our site, so I tried out our rope light for "location lighting."

Friday we both had to go to work, but an easy 30 min additional drive from Tawakoni. We had tacos for dinner and relaxed. We saw two new Heartlands in the park, a Sundance and a Big Country.

Saturday Tony had to go in for the last teacher in-serivce day at school, then came back just about lunchtime. We had sandwhiches on flatbread. I did some various tasks around the trailer, and we relaxed, took a nap, and enjoyed being away. Also took a scenic drive around the county roads around and over the lake. We went by the old marina Tony said they used to keep their boat. For dinner, Tony grilled chicken on the new O-Grill, it was great! We also went for a bike ride around the park, and saw a beautiful sunset.

Sunday Tony played drums in church service. We returned, ate lunch and napped. We had to start watching the weather, due to some pop-up severe thunderstorms. The park rangers came by and told us where the shelter was if we wanted to go there, and to keep an eye on the news. One got fairly close, thundering and cooling down the temps, but died before getting rain on us. We started packing some things to get ready to leave, and watched the Mavs NBA Finals game. Took pics with Eileen, as we always do. She felt right at home, since our site was fairly wooded.

Monday we got up early and got loaded up. Tony had to take the trailer to the dump station, while I hurried back to town to get ready for work. He is off now, so he could take the trailer home and unload it during the day.

Overall a quick, but enjoyable trip.