Thursday, September 29, 2016

Yep, Behind Again

When we left Salida (about two weeks ago), we made it about 60 miles south and stayed a night in the parking lot of Russell Lakes State Wildlife Area.

It was really nice and we saw lots of waterfowl.  However I got really horrible pictures, like this one of some American Avocets.

The next day we climbed over Wolf Creek Pass, where there are actual snowsheds.
 (Those are bugs on the windshield, not snow.)

We stretched our legs with a short hike to Treasure Falls.

Then we drove through Pagosa Springs, a very touristy town with lots of hot spring resorts along the San Juan River.

We don't do hot springs, but the area has some fine hiking and public land to park on.  We found a spot, then took the car to meet up with some of our Mesa winter neighbors who summer in the area.  Charles is one of those Renaissance men who can do anything.  One day he saw a program on tree houses and decided to build one for when the grandkids come to visit.  So cute.

And he demonstrates his artistic side by making chain saw sculptures.

When we returned to the rig, the sky was gorgeous, although it might have been because of the controlled burning in the area.

I really hate those controlled burns, but I guess that's better than uncontrolled burns.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Browns Canyon NM

As I’ve mentioned many times, Salida is one of my favorite towns with its active lifestyle, scenic mountains, and nearby hiking.  We thoroughly enjoyed our stay although the mountains were not snow covered like in this mural. 

During this visit, we hiked some of the nearby Browns Canyon, a fairly new national monument as of 2012.  Our hike took us along the beautiful Arkansas River. 

The water is just crystal clear.

The Arkansas is known for whitewater rafting.  Unfortunately we didn’t see any during our hike as it was during the week and late in the season, but we wondered if this was evidence of a raft that didn’t make it. 

We had a gorgeous day to admire the canyon walls.  I do love rocks, you know. 

Monday, September 19, 2016

On to Salida

But first, I was so excited to post about Bishop Castle that I forgot to mention an unusual car that we saw parked there – the Witch Car.  The picture doesn’t really do it justice.  All the decorations are just beautifully done.

We spoke to the creators and they were on their way to a decorated car show.  Wouldn’t that be fun to see?

We also enjoyed our car ride to and from the castle, especially the part though Rattlesnake Gulch.

The next day, we continued west on US 50.  At Canon City, the road climbs to bypass the famous Royal Gorge.  I am so angry at the prices charged to experience the gorge that I will never go back.  They have bundled all the touristy activities and made it almost impossible to just get a picture of the gorge and bridge.  But the drive around it has its own charm.

Then we followed the Arkansas River, another gorgeous drive,

To the free BLM Salida East campground.  No services, not even trash, but conveniently located just outside of one of our favorite towns, Salida, Colorado.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Bishop Castle

Located high in the mountains of the San Isabel National Forest, southwest of Pueblo, Colorado, is one of those roadside attractions that just have to be seen to be appreciated.  Bishop Castle is a lifetime project of Jim Bishop.  He bought the land for $450 and has been building his 'castle' since he was 15.  It's truly awe-inspiring.

The tallest tower (so far) is 160 feet.

I liked the dragon guard.

Here's a picture of Mr. and Mrs. Bishop from 1967.
(Quite a hunk, huh?)

He was an iron worker so there's plenty of decorative iron in the castle.

As well as pretty windows that I believe were donated.

In this view from the back, you can see a bridge to an uncompleted tower.

Which I had to walk out on.  (I watched other people do it first to see if it was safe.)

Here's Ron in that iron ball way up on top.

The 72-year-old Mr. Bishop wasn't there the day we visited, but he has lots of signs around so you won't be in any doubt about his strong political views.  I just think it's amazing that one man can devote his whole life to a project.  Not the first time we've seen such a thing, but it's always impressive.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

More Hikes

We took two more interesting hikes while staying at Bear Creek Lake Park and one awe-inspiring stroll.  The Dakota Ridge Trail begins near I 70 and quickly climbs to the top of the ridge.

It then follows the along the top of the ridge for two miles,

With plenty of views in each direction.

Including an aerial view of Red Rocks Park.

According to Wikipedia, the Dakota Hogback extends all the way through Colorado from the Wyoming border to New Mexico.  It was formed about 50 million years ago when the modern Rocky Mountains were created.

But we hadn't gotten enough of those gorgeous red sandstone formations, so one day we took Ron's grandson Adam to Roxborough State Park to hike the Fountain Valley Trail.  That's Adam waiting patiently for us to begin.

We did the loop clockwise which took us along the valley floor,

With some close encounters of the formations.

Then we had a climb to the other half of the loop and the spectacular overlook.

(We probably should have done that in reverse.)

Then later that day, we went to Dinosaur Ridge with Ron's daughter Kelli and grandson Harper.  Was he excited!

Dinosaur Ridge, before it was pushed up to a 45 degree angle by the Rockies, was part of a great inland sea.  Ripple marks are common in the sandstone.

As well as trace fossils.

But Harper was interested in one thing only - dinosaur tracks!  The tracks were first exposed during road excavation in 1937 and are from the Jurassic Period about 150 million years ago.  Obviously the scientists have darkened the prints so the average person can see them, but the impressions can clearly be seen once you know where to look.  I was just as fascinated as Harper.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Local Hikes

Besides spending time with Ron's family, we also took advantage of some nearby hikes.  We were staying in Bear Creek Lake Park which is very close to Red Rocks Park with its famous amphitheatre.  With almost 10,000 seats, it is very popular with performers because of the fine acoustics.

It was built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC.)

We took the Trading Post Trail which winds among the Fountain Formation red rocks.

Another day we drove to the top of Mt. Falcon and took the Castle Trail.

What's that in the distance?

It's the remains of a magnificent chalet built by John B. Walker in the early 1900s.  Unfortunately, lightning struck the home and it burned down in 1918.

We continued on and enjoyed views of the metropolitan area to the east,

And more of the foothills of the Rockies to the west.

Finally we came to the site of Mr. Walker's grand idea, a Summer White House.  If you blow up this picture, you'll read that he laid the cornerstone in 1914,

 But looking at the foundation, he didn't get very far.

However, it is a nice cornerstone.

Mr. Walker might not have completed his grand idea, but his vision of preserving land eventually became the foundation for the Denver Mountain Parks and Jefferson County Open Space.