After a quick but fun stay in Angel Fire, we pointed Temporary Digs northwest and drove to Durango, CO. In 2015 we rented a VRBO in Durango and stayed there for six weeks before we moved onto s/v Let It Be. We had a great time then and were really looking forward to returning to some of our favorite places and bike trails.
The driveway for Lightner Creek goes down this hill.
We stopped at Lightner Creek RV Campground where the sites are in a valley along a stream with steep mountains all around. This was our second visit to Lightner Creek; our first was in 2010 when we rented an RV for two weeks and explored bike trails in Colorado and New Mexico.
The campsite at Lightner is beautiful and shady.
When we left Angel Fire, we were aware that there was a fire about 10-15 miles north of the city of Durango, but it was 2,500 acres and we weren’t too concerned about it. Unfortunately by the morning of our first full day in Durango the fire had grown to 7,500 acres!
The plume of smoke from the fire north of Durango.
There was smoke visible when we were riding trails, but it was in the distance and not an issue. We had planned to stay in Durango for a week but four days into our stay we were hiding indoors until about noon to allow the smoke to clear before venturing out. By 1 pm we were able to ride, but the fires were still growing and the smoke was increasing.
Smoke was becoming more prevalent as the days progressed.
We decided to shorten our stay in Durango since we felt the fires were negatively affecting our plans. The dry conditions and winds had caused the fire to grow to 25,000 acres. Firefighters were working hard and doing what they could to contain the fire and prevent it from destroying any homes, but the smoke was an issue for us. I am so thankful for the hard working men and women fighting the fires, directing it’s course as best they can and protecting homes that could be destroyed. What an exhausting and dangerous job!
You can see the smoke is heavier in this picture than the last one.
Since our departure, Durango has had two days with rain and June 19th, was the first day since the fire started on June 1st, that the footprint of the fire has not increased. The Durango fire has scorched more than 34,000 acres already, so hopefully it can be contained.
Anyway, we packed up Temporary Digs a day earlier than we originally planned and headed north and slightly east to Carbondale, CO to visit with Terrie and Brad, friends from the Sail to the Sun Rally we did in 2016.
We had to alter our route to Carbondale due to the fires but the drive was absolutely beautiful. It is impossible to capture the exquisiteness and scope of the landscape but I managed to capture a few photos.
A rock dam along CO133
The view from McClure Pass, 8,800 feet.
Ok, this is actually New Mexico, but it is gorgeous and I wanted you to see it.
Although we met Terrie and Brad on the Sail to the Sun Rally, we have a lot in common other than sailing, so visiting them in their lovely Colorado home gave us a chance to hang out and have some fun.
Here are some highlights from our visit.
We went to the Carbondale Rodeo!
Very occasionally we went to the rodeo in Texas but they were usually pretty large and a bit of a drive. So when Brad and Terrie suggested the Carbondale Rodeo, we were on board. My two favorite events of the evening were barrel racing and the kid sheep riding. Those little, tiny kids were tough! I think the youngest child was only three! They were all good sports though and were very tough when they fell off the sheep.
Sundown from the rodeo stands.
We explored by bicycle and by car, generally played the tourist/sightseer and enjoyed the company of our hosts.
Photo op during a bike ride.
Carbondale has plenty of biking opportunities both mountain and road. There is a Rails to Trails path, The Rio Grande Trail, that runs from Aspen, through Carbondale and all the way to Glenwood Springs. All together this trail alone is 42 miles one way. If I lived in Carbondale, I am sure I would find time to ride my bike to Aspen and back or maybe put my bike on a bus and get back that way.
Terrie and I took a couple of road rides while Frank and Brad mixed up the road and mountain bike rides. I would love to have access to so many excellent bike paths and trails on a routine basis and I know Frank would also.
The views were breathtaking or was the oxygen in short supply?
Of course we drove up to the continental divide which is were the rivers on one side flow to the Atlantic Ocean and on the other side head to the Pacific Ocean. So I guess you could say this is where both our Atlantic and our Pacific sailboat cruising life are nourished.
The range on the right is the actual continental divide.
Professional photo from a SpaceX photographer.
We randomly asked someone to take our picture and learned that he is a contract photographer for SpaceX…. kind of ironic since Frank was wearing a SpaceX hoodie and one of our sons works for SpaceX. Guess this will be the best photo we get for a while. 😉
We spent time exploring Aspen because you just have to see Aspen while you are nearby, plus it started raining and that was the perfect excuse to stop to have drinks and share an appetizer. Aspen lived up to its’ reputation of being both pretty and expensive. Some of the homes were stunning in their size, style and setting; as they should be since some come with a $20m price tag!
Terrie and I checked out a few shops and I found a very pretty embroidered top but I just didn’t think I really needed a $345 shirt for hanging out in the RV!
The scenery as we explored between Carbondale and Aspen was amazing and SO different from the flat islands and waters we have seen these last few years aboard LIB. We enjoyed using the natural background to grab some pictures.
We can’t imagine more generous or fun hosts than Brad and Terrie.
On a personal note, I had not had my hair professionally cut in more than 18 months so I asked Terrie if she could get me and appointment with her hairdresser. It was such a treat to have my hair cut and styled! I might just have to keep that up while I am in the States. (Thank you, Terrie for arranging the appointment. And thank you, Stacie, for fitting me into your schedule!)
This really only scratches the surface of what we did while visiting Carbondale. I wish I could somehow share with you the warmth of the welcome we received from Terrie and Brad. In addition to feeding us, giving us shelter, loving on Captain and introducing us to their friends and neighbors, Terrie and Brad found a place for us to park Temporary Digs so we didn’t even have to pay storage! WOW!! Thank you so much!
Carbondale is one of the first places we have visited where I felt like I could actually settle down once we finish our sailing life. The surroundings are fabulous, there is a lot to do in Carbondale, there are other towns nearby for additional activities, tennis is available if I want to take it up again, the biking is varied and excellent…. but I would have to learn to live with cold weather in the winter! I would definitely have to experience wintertime before I could seriously consider settling in Colorado. It was really nice to find a place that Frank and I agree has potential as a place to live once we decide to move back to land.
There was not a bit of shade on this ride down the Spanish Trail.
Our final stop in Colorado was Grand Junction. It is much more arid and brown than Carbondale, but it has some great places to ride bikes and the town is quaint. Our stop in Grand Junction was a quick one as we are moving fast toward California where we will visit our children.
The magnitude is hard to grasp until you see how small the train looks.
We divided our time in Grand Junction between bike riding, getting a few bike adjustments accomplished and making reservations for our next RV campgrounds.
Who knew Bible Study Camp included cutting horses?
At the KOA in Grand Junction, Temporary Digs backed up to a horse arena and stable area and every day I watched folks working their horses and teens taking lessons. I actually went to the arena and to see if I could ride or take a lesson, but the lessons were part of a Bible Study Camp (???) and obviously I couldn’t join them.
Listening to the horses neigh and seeing them every day made me miss those times when I rode as a youngster…. perhaps once we are back on land for good I will look into horseback riding once again.
Here are a couple more pictures from our bike rides in Grand Junction.
The Gunnison River makes a U-turn.
Frank’s ride through Colorado National Monument, “The Monument.”
Aptly named “Balance Rock.”
Unusual shapes in Monument caused by erosion.
Although early settlers thought these were giant man-made structures, the unique shapes are caused by erosion of the protective Kayenta Formation layers which revealed the softer Wingate Formation layers seen in these smooth, rounded pattern. (Luckily I can read the information signs.)
Sunset is a great time to ride in Grand Junction.
Frank and I both thoroughly enjoyed our stops in Colorado and could easily spend much more time here. The temperatures are great, especially compared to Texas in the summer, the terrane is varied and interesting, the options for outdoor activities appeal to us and the people have been very nice.
That concludes our too quick trip to CO. I have a feeling we will swing back through here in the fall, but for now we are pointing TD toward California…. I can hardly wait to see Hunter and Clayton and have some family time!!!
I think I could fall in love with Colorado!
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