And now for a little dip! Sunday, 10/25/14

Since we were skunked on riding the Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge train yesterday, we picked Pagosa Springs as our next destination.  Actually, Jimmy asked me what I wanted to do, and I thought for at least two seconds before replying, "I'd like to swim in Pagosa Springs."  We piled out of Durango and drove the 60 miles to Healing Waters Resort & Spa in Pagosa Springs.  We snuck in under the wire on this one ... their RV area closes Oct 31st, all five sites.  

Nothing fancy here, but the full hookup "room" charge included use of all their on-site mineral pools.  Jimmy and I were quite comfy in this "charming setting," and it was quiet.  I looked up a 2004 Colorado trip diary I kept and this is the same place (different name) we stayed at then, only we were in their motel, not an RV.  We found the place today w/o any problem, and felt pretty proud of ourselves.  Ten years later, however, we could see the years were catching up with this grand ol' place (and us, too?).

According to the Guinness World Records, Pagosa Springs is home to the deepest geothermal hot spring measured by a plumb line.  The actual depth of the spring is unknown, as the plumb line measured a maximum depth of 1,002 ft, and it ran out before hitting the bottom of the spring.  Ute Indians believed the hot springs were a gift from the Great Spirit; most people believe the hot mineral water holds healing and therapeutic value.

The lady at the check-in desk told us that the large mineral swimming pool temperature was 95°, the large outdoor soaking tub was 105°, and the indoor baths (separate male and female baths) measured a skin-burning 108°!  Neither of us went near the indoor baths!  Jimmy favored the outdoor hot tub, and I enjoyed a blissful swim in the 95 degree pool.  My hair felt so soft when I washed it later.

Before jumping into our suits, we strolled along the river walk and into the town proper.  The day was sunny and warm and it felt good to be Out and About.  It being a Sunday, not much was going on and most of the shops were closed.  Jimmy is on the bridge over the San Juan River.

 I betcha there's trout just waiting to be caught in this shallow river! 

 Ten years ago, this huge resort across from ours wasn't around -- The Springs.  Don't think they have RV sites, and I bet the rooms are a lot more expensive.   

 Nice man sitting in front of a nice mural on San Juan Street. 

 Here is the actual (CAUTION!) hot mineral springs.

 There is also a certain odor about this spring, our pools, and the whole area of town near the spring -- the exotic fragrance of rotten eggs -- sulfurous!  Aw heck, we got used to it.

We bought a few groceries, we walked, we soaked and swam, and then we had a yummy dinner out at Ramon's as the sun was setting.  This little lake had lots of coots and grebes, and one black kitty sitting on the shore watching them longingly.  Cute to see.  All in all, today was a very good day!

Rollin' on the Road -- Saturday, 10/25/14

So, what's it gonna be?  Durango, and the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge train?  Or Pagosa Springs and their healing hot springs?  Coming from Canyonlands in Utah, both spots are relatively close.  Jimmy wanted to ride the train one more time, so Durango was picked.  On our way, I thought a phone call to the train station might be in order. Haha, the joke was on us -- today was the last day the train would run this season.  Missed it by a few hours!  Oh well, we've ridden it before and without advance reservations, I doubt we would've gotten tickets.

Nevertheless, we drove on to Durango CO, and since riding the train was out, we decided we'd just drive Smartie on the "Million Dollar Highway" to Silverton.  We pulled in to Alpen Rose RV park in Durango, hoping they'd be open, and this one we did make in time.  They're closing for the year; their last day is Friday, the 30th.  After setting up and lunch, we hopped in Smartie for the heart-stopping 50-mile drive north to Silverton.

 Driving in Cortez, CO, we spotted a farmer's market, found an easy on-street parking space, and checked it out.  I bought a 16-oz baggie of hand-picked dried pinto beans, and then we bought muffins at Mr. Happy's!

Alpen Rose RV Park in Durango @ 6,500+ ft.  Very nice.

Two passes on the road to Silverton are over 10,000 ft.  The scenery is, of course, incredible, even tho much of leaf-peeping season is over at this elevation.  Some spots of color can still be seen at lower altitudes, which you can see at the RV park, but this late in the year, the reds and yellows are almost finished.  Now it's leaf falling season!

At Molas Pass - elevation 10,899 ft.  Beautiful alpine-blue Molas Lake in the background.
Most of the peaks are over 13,000 ft.

The day was fine, sunny and cool, but not cold.  We walked around a few of Silverton streets (there aren't many) and were dismayed to discover the entire town, with a few exceptions, was "closed."  Stores and restaurants would reopen the end of November for snow skiing season.  How disappointing.  We found one open cafe (Mattie and Maud's Cafe) and went in for a cuppa coffee.  We ended up eating a delicious dinner and talking with the personable owner, Lori, for quite a spell ... even closing the joint down!  (She closed at 4 pm this day.) Jimmy says the biscuits and white gravy are to die for!  Thanx, Lori, we enjoyed!

 This is Silverton!  Elevation 9,318 ft.

 Getting closer to Halloween!

What a lovely living room?  Kinda ... this is Silverton's Library.  Housed in a vintage Andrew Carnegie bldg, the library looks virtually the same as it did on opening day, June 12, 1906, altho the librarian just "redecorated" with new rugs and furniture.  Over the past 100 years, Silverton has managed to maintain one of the best turn-of-the-century libraries in the state.  Carnegie libraries are so distinctive and well-built, they're easy to spot. 

 A very fine-looking City Hall, circa 1908.  Silverton is a former silver mining camp, but now depends on tourism for their economy.  Day-trippin' train people in the summer, skiers in the winter.

Think it gets cold here?  A pile of firewood like this makes you think so!

We left Silverton and wound our way back down to Tergel, covered in leaves, in Durango. 

 By gum, on our way home, if we didn't pass the train on it's way back to Durango.  As soon as we drove into the RV park, I walked out to the road in the hope of waving to all the people and taking a picture. 

Here she comes, with a full load of passengers, huffin' and chuggin' her way to the barn.
WE didn't get to ride it, but we did get to see it!

The End!
Or is it?  Where to tomorrow?


A cave and a spring and a cowboy camp, and more! Friday, 10/24/14

Jimmy and I had a full and fascinating day at Canyonlands National Park, exploring as much as we could on foot and in Smartie.  Really, tho, since this park measures a whopping 527 sq miles, the best way to see and do more, would be to have a 4-wheel drive vehicle that can go anywhere.  Most of the roads throughout the park are back roads (some subject to inaccessibility due to mud or flash flooding), and not recommended for little cars like Smartie -- but don't tell Smartie, she thinks she can go anywhere!

The last bit of trail we visited was the Cave Spring trail, a half-mile loop that began at this cowboy camp. If you've ever watched western movies, you know widespread ranching operations required cowboys to stay out on the open range with their cattle.  They lived in isolated outdoor camps such at this one near Cave Spring, which was used from the late 1800's thru 1975 when cattle ranching was discontinued inside Canyonlands.  The items pictured above were left by the cowboys.  This particular camp was established because of the reliable water source, which makes good sense.

Hoping for shade under the overhang.

Under this overhang (cave), is a desert rarity:  A spring.  Beyond the cowboy camp, the soot-blackened ceilings, grinding depressions (metates) and pictographs indicate earlier peoples knew about this spring. Ancestral Puebloan Indians seasonally occupied these canyons six centuries before the cattlemen arrived (700 - 1000 years ago).  Once discovered, people knew where and how to find these springs, and passed the info along.

Delicate Maidenhair ferns line the side walls surrounding the spring.  There certainly isn't much water here today, but if a person (or their horse) was dying of thirst, it would've insured survival.  Red stick figures and hand prints from Ancestral Indians decorated a section in this area. The temperature in the cave at the spring dropped like someone turned on air conditioning, which felt oh-so-nice!  

Also, during storms, this overhang would offer protection.

Beneath the cave ceiling was this remarkable wall.  I have no more information on this type of unique rock.

After the cave/spring, we climbed two "log" ladders to explore the slickrock above the cave.  Cute shoes.

Canyonlands prickly pear cactus thrives on biological soil crust atop slickrock.

This pack rat nest (midden), measured about a yard high and two yards wide!  Pack rats are fairly common in rocky areas or crevices in the west.

 Following the trail cairns, Jimmy and I  walked around up top, seeing potholes and soil crust, cactus, stunted junipers, and strange formations.

I see you, Jimmy!

Since Jimmy and I just spent a few days at Dinosaur Nat'l Park, it might not come as a surprise that I see two dueling dinosaurs in these rocks!

Leaving Canyonlands, we re-entered Indian Creek Recreation Area with its red rock monuments.  Loved the drive!

I enjoy posting our Out and About adventures, processing pictures and deciding which ones get picked to include on each post (a joint decision).  This is a great way to chronicle our travels, so when Jimmy (or anyone else) asks me about        or where or when or which trip, all I have to do is check my blog.  I like sharing these experiences, but, it isn't always easy to concentrate on what I'm doing with TV programs like the World Series (Go Giants!) and Antiques Road Show, interrupting my train of thought!  On the road we live in a 27-ft motor home; quiet time is rare in a small space.  We sit across from each other in the dinette, happy to be together, but sometimes it's hard for me to be coherent, much less creative when my brain is scattered, derailed, or otherwise thrown to the winds.  No matter, we do the best we can!  The main thing is to BE PRESENT and ENJOY each day.  Canyonlands is a must-see.  Now:  Onward we go!


More Canyonlands National Park, Friday, 10/24/14

Jimmy and I turned around after reaching Big Spring Canyon Overlook, at the end of the 6.5 mile Scenic Drive in Canyonlands.  The next spot we wanted to explore was Pothole Point, which had a short half-mile loop trail to follow.  The rock is composed of sand grains deposited by oceans and wind.  Over millions of years these sand grains became cemented together to form the Cedar Mesa Sandstone.  Because this rock is not uniform in the way it was laid down, it hasn't eroded evenly.  Depressions called, "potholes," formed, and once begun, they continue to grow larger.  They become traps for windblown sand grains and pebbles. Temporary pools created by rainwater collecting in potholes are welcomed and used by birds, mammals and reptiles.  Even tiny creatures live in the murky puddles, but we saw no puddles or creatures today! 

I thought the flat "pillows" behind Jimmy looked like they might have been laid down by an alien space ship.  You can really see the potholes on this slab of slickrock.

 But those flat "pillows" are really so much bigger than we initially thought.

 From afar, Jimmy and I both mistook this eroded sandstone to be a piece of ancient wood or tree root.

The ranger handed us a glossy card when we drove into Canyonlands, entitled, "Biological Soil."  He said everybody gets one and everyone needs to read it and pay attention.  OK, we agreed, and set it aside!  So what is biological soil?  Here's some of what we (eventually) read.  It's a soil crust, and important, as it prevents erosion, absorbs water and provides nutrients to plants.  Crusts grow slowly, formed by living organisms, and mature crusts appear lumpy and black.  They cover nearly all soil surfaces in the desert, and are very fragile.  One footstep can kill hundreds of years of growth.  In short, don't step on it, period.  We didn't.

 Prickly pear cactus has adapted in this biological soil crust.

 Potholes -- big and little -- everywhere!

 What a marvel -- the needle spires -- and far in the distance.  I wish I could've taken a better picture, but shooting into the sun ....

The wooden shoe arch is right in the middle of the photo.  

And it does look like a wooden shoe!

This area was cool to walk about, tho, in reality, the desert sun was getting hot.  As you can see, not much shade is available in this expansive country, and the sun radiating off the slickrock made us feel even hotter.  We dressed for 44° weather this morning, and shucked our jackets early on, but we wished we'd worn shorts.  It was easy to find more to look at, more wondrous sights to behold, and yet the day was wearing on.  So, we jumped back in Smartie and continued on toward Cave Spring.  And we'll post that one tomorrow.  

How about a granola bar? Chips? Tootsie Roll? Friday, 10/24/14

It began as we approached Smartie from the Slickrock Foot Trail (Canyonlands Nat'l Park).  A raven sat atop the rail on the car behind ours.  As we got closer, I started talking to him, "Dude, wassup?"  (I always talk to ravens.) I think the following pictures speak for themselves!

The rascal hopped on my bike handlebar!

He eyed my small front bag, found the zipper and commenced working the zipper tab.
 I told him the bag was empty.

So, he decided to check out Jimmy's bike (tool) bag and decided that wasn't worth the effort, either.

I rattled our EMPTY granola wrappers (looking for any bits left inside).  Mr. Raven immediately flew to the passenger side mirror and peered in to look at me for the goodies.  He understood the sound of crinkling wrappers, all right!  Uh, now what?  Jimmy found a Tootsie Roll in the glove compartment, unwrapped it and pinched off a tiny piece... 

... which I delicately (?) handed to the raven.  Do you have ANY idea how big a raven's beak is?

Oh, yum, sez he!  And THEN he called in a friend.  With no more bites forthcoming, and that lethal-looking beak very close to my face (not to mention sharp claws), I said, "Jimmy, START THE CAR!"

He did, and they flew.  But I swear, they followed us the rest of the afternoon.  So smart.  So bold.  And so cool!
Caw, caw, caw!