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Rocky Mountain Rapids

17 Jun

Original Post: July 16, 2007

Last week we headed out to do some touristy rafting, which I somehow had never done despite living my entire life surrounded by these rivers.  In all honesty, I was a bit nervous since I might in fact be the clumsiest person alive and I was absolutely certain I was going to fall out of the raft.  I consider it nothing short of a small miracle that I managed to keep myself inside the raft the entire trip. We only did a half day trip that stopped at Mishawaka…serious blast from the past there, I spent many a high-school evening at concerts there and have some fond, if fuzzy, memories.  We did class III and V rapids, which were not nearly as freaky as I expected, but one of the rafts behind us nearly tipped completely over when they mis-navigated a rock.  We went ahead and bought the tourist pictures.

I'm the one getting soaked

Paddle!

Paddle some more!

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Rocky Mountain High

10 Jun

Original Post: July 13, 2007

My family is really close to Rocky Mountain National Park, so we decided to head up there for a hike. We only were able to go a few miles before it started looking like serious rain, so we headed back down the trail and decided to just drive around for a bit since it was Justin’s first time in the park and we weren’t sure if we’d make it back there this trip. You can go all the way to the very top of the peaks and there is still snow! We went up another old dirt jeep road and then took a quick hike to what seemed like the top of the world. It’s crazy how much the temperature changes with the altitude…95 degrees at the bottom, 65 degrees at the top!

 

Justin and the 'Very Big Rock'

Hiking was going well at this point

Valley in RMNP

At the top

Looking out across the mountains

The Last Day of Ouray

3 Jun

Original Post:  July 9th, 2007

The last full day we were in Ouray we went to go see Box Canyon Falls, and Yankee Boy Basin, both right outside of the town. Box Canyon Falls is a tiny little hike away from town that leads to a waterfall.  The water flows through these huge holes in the rock that are almost sculpture like.  You can get pretty close to the falls and there are some great views through the narrow little canyon.

 

Views through the rocks

Rainbows in the falls

Yankee Boy Basin is a valley in between some of the bigger mountains and you have a take a crazy little jeep road to get there. I thought we were going to fall off the cliff pretty much the whole time and Justin, who was sitting cliffside,  was actually attempting to climb over me to get away from the edge.  In the early summer, which is July this high up in the hills, the wildflowers are stunning and the canyon is filled with colorful flowers.  The snow melt is at its peak during this time as well so the rivers are gushing and waterfalls are plentiful.

The road to Yankee Boy Basin...and we thought the road to Silverton was scary!

Waterfalls in the Basin

The Columbine - Colorado's state flower

Mountain meadows in bloom

Look Ma, No Guardrail!

27 May

Original Post: July 7, 2007

Want to give yourself a heart attack?  Take a drive to Silverton, which is a tiny ‘old west’ style town about 40 miles south of Ouray. You have to go over a huge pass to get there and there is no guardrail and no room for error.  The pictures below do not do justice to how flippin’ steep the cliff is . It’s all tight little switchbacks with no more than 6 inches of shoulder room and it’s terrifying. I can just imagine the tourists from flat lands (say…Nebraska or some such place) getting on this road and just freaking out.

The road is the slice about halfway down the mountains on the left.

Silverton was cute, but the main reason we went is because there is an old narrow-gauge train that you can take to Durango. It’s one of the only trains of its kind left, and it’s old and little and still runs on coal. As a side note, if you happen to ever venture out onto such a train, it’s not the best plan to wear white linen pants, not that I’m speaking from experience or anything. That whole ‘runs on coal’ bit pretty much means that it blows smoke, ash and embers all over the passengers, so we were all quite dirty when we finally got there. The cars are open and it takes 3 1/2 hours to go about 35 miles, which was an hour and a half too long for me, but the views are amazing.

Downtown Silverton

Remember, this was 2007. Silverton has a sense of humor.

Old-school, coal powered, narrow-gauge railroad.

Views from the train.

More views from the train.

4th of July Firemen

20 May

Original post: July 5, 2007

The 4th of July in Ouray is total madness. We started by going to a crack-of-dawn pancake breakfast to raise funds for the local search and rescue teams.  Stellar pancakes and the whole town comes out so if you aren’t there early, well let’s just say the last few people got only the leftover nubbins of some of the best bacon I’ve ever had.   Following the breakfast there was a dinky, yet somehow charming, little parade and then finally, the fire hose fights.

One of the more popular "floats"

The parade route was packed!

It’s a tradition that every year the fire department recruits teams of people who want to compete in a reverse tug-of-war of sorts. The teams of two suit up in their fire-gear complete with full coverage helmets and duct tape around their wrists to keep their sleeves down.  The whole town gathers in the main intersection to watch the teams attempt to blow each other off the road with the fire hoses. It’s got to be one of the craziest things I’ve ever seen, so I’ve uploaded some pictures and clip of it to youtube for your viewing pleasure.

Soaking the crowd before the game begins.

Our view from a nearby roof

These guys were getting pounded!

Happy Little Trees

13 May

Original Post: July 3, 2007

I’ve always looked at those forest and mountain paintings and thought “well, that just doesn’t look very realistic.” Apparently I was wrong. There is a little lake near the cabin and we took the dogs down for a swim on Monday. Neil has a rowboat so we hauled that thing out into the water and as J and I were rowing around I had the distinct thought that I might have left this world and was now rowing about in a Bob Ross painting. Seriously, it was so pretty it just looked fake. The pictures I took do not do it justice.

Lake Lenore. Ouray, Colorado.

Biggest. Dandelion. Ever.

Hooray Ouray!

6 May

Original post: July 1, 2007

After 8 hours of driving we have finally reached Ouray, Colorado. It’s a teeny mountain town in the San Juan range of the Rocky Mountains, and it has to be one of the most beautiful spots in the state. Neil’s family has a cabin on top of a ridge that they built nearly 60 years ago and the view is incredible! The cabin itself is a very small, very typical mountain cabin and it has a big porch for just sitting around and taking in the scenery.

We are literally in the middle of nowhere, and as such, there is a lot of wildlife. Even in the first few hours that we’ve been here we’ve seen a bunch of deer and some fox.  Last night, Neil’s brother was bringing in the bird feeders and I asked if he did that so the raccoons wouldn’t get into them.

He replied, “Nope, we bring them in so the bears won’t destroy them.”

Apparently they’ve had numerous bear sightings right around the cabin, and there have also been some reports of mountain lions as well in the past few weeks. At the annual July picnic today there were three sets of people who have had their cars broken into by bears. This is becoming a problem as the tourists come up to camp and leave their food in the cars because they think the animals won’t get it. The animals are not stupid, and the bears have figured out that big plastic cooler=food, so when the cooler is in the car it becomes car=food. I am going to be really pissed if my car gets trashed by a bear. We have 3 big dogs, so I will not be leaving the cabin without at least one of them with me.

That aside, this place is ridiculous beautiful, here are some pics…

Front porch sitting

Town of Ouray, Colorado

The town is nestled in the bottom swatch of mountains there, so you may have missed it if you’re anything like me and happen to be distracted by all that majesty.

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