Back in Texas Again

What a summer we have had!  Today is the last official day of summer and with that we have returned to Texas.  We are back at AOK Camper Park in Amarillo for the night and plan on returning to Dallas tomorrow.  The calendar may say that it is the end of summer, but here we are in 95 degree heat at 6PM.  Welcome back to Texas.    (I guess for those who have been here all along, this is cool)

From Raton we took Highway 287 past Mount Capulin, an extinct symmetrical cinder cone volcano that is part of the Raton-Clayton Volcanic Field. It is the outstanding feature along the road where rolling grasslands meet the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

All along the way are large fields of volcanic lava that were thrown from at least 100 recognizable volcanoes in the Raton-Clayton field.

We saw a number of antelope some by themselves others in small herds.  Some were grazing with cattle, but most were just in the vast open grasslands of this portion of New Mexico.

We crossed into Texas at Texline and then on into Dalhart and Dumas.  We were once told this is an automotive Bermuda Triangle, but fortunately we had no trouble with our truck or trailer.  The mesa-like area of the Panhandle falls perceptibly over sharp bluffs at a rate of about 10 feet per mile.  The land is largely an undulating, broken stretch filled with cactus and sage. 

Dalhart is in the heart of what was once the XIT Ranch a three million acre cattle ranch that existed from 1885 to 1912, the largest land area of the Texas cattle ranches.  Dalhart was also the heart of the 1930s Dust Bowl.    Two interesting places just south of Dumas:  First a large wind farm, Texas is the nation’s leader in wind-energy generation, and many of the state’s wind farms are on the mesas in and around the High Country of the Panhandle.  (Supposidely “green” but in reality a black hole for tax money.)

The helium plant is the second interesting place that we pass south of Dumas.  Helium is the second lightest element and exists only as a gas.  The area was once the self-proclaimed “Helium Capital of the World” for having one of the country’s most productive helium fields, and the US Helium Reserve Storage facility.  The United States held 90% of the world’s helium reserves until the turn of the century.  The plant closed in 1995 with the “Helium Privatization Act” but signs for it still exist along the highway.


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Saying Goodbye to Colorado

We have had such a good time in Colorado that it is almost hard to leave, but it is time and we are ready to get back home and see the family.  After four months we really miss them.

Thursday we said our goodbyes to the folks that we have gotten to know here at Arkansas River Rim RV Park and pulled out.  The route took us south back to Salida and along Highway 50 east to Texas Creek.  This portion of Highway 50 goes through Browns Canyon.  It is a very impressive narrow gorge with sheer granite walls that is just wide enough most of the way for the river, a railroad track and the highway.  At the river level pinion juniper trees dominate as the elevation increases and where trees can gain footholds, they give way to Douglas fir, Ponderosa pine and large stands of aspen.  During the summer months this is a premier destination for white water rafting, but of course in late September, it is too late for rafting.

At Texas Creek we turned south toward Westcliffe and Silver Cliff.  This travels up the Texas Creek Canyon and out into Wet Mountain Valley.   This valley is an unspoiled and remote place wedged between the Wet Mountains to the east and the jagged peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Range to the west with Horn Peak and Humboldt Peak at over 14,000.  As we drove into the valley we spotted a heard of elk grazing near the road by the creek.  It was a pretty good size herd, and of course they moved on off into the trees as we stopped to get a picture

Rather than going straight south through the valley, we chose the more scenic route to angle over into the Wet Mountains and the San Isabelle National Forest.  Here the road ambles through forest ablaze with golden aspens.  When we left Buena Vista most of the aspens were losing their leaves, not so here.  They are in full brilliant color.  The mountains were covered in dark green firs, but were lite up by the gold of aspens interspersed like dots throughout the mountain side. Along the way a deer was just off the road.  She was a little more cooperative than the elk.

We connected with Interstate 25 at Colorado City and sadly knew that our mountain experience was over for this summer.  In the distance the Spanish Peaks were visable through the haze, and there was one last pass to cross.  We crossed Raton Pass into New Mexico and pulled into the Raton KOA for the night.

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A Little Bit About Where We have been for the Past Month

The upper Arkansas Valley, through which the Arkansas River flows, is a north-tapering, sharply defined valley that extends from Salida to the continental divide near Leadville and is located between the Sawatch and Mosquito Mountain Ranges. Near Salida it is a wide mesa filled valley approximately 10 miles wide. As it moves toward the headwaters of the river it narrows to less than a mile wide. Much of the valley sits surrounded by peaks towering almost five thousand feet above with several mountains soaring to over 14,000 feet. We are in the middle, about half way between Leadville and Salida, near Buena Vista, the heart of 14’er country (the greatest concentration of 14,000 foot peaks on the continent). To our west are the Sawatch peaks of Yale, Harvard and Princeton. To the east are lesser peaks of the Mosquito range such as Marmot Peak at just under 12,000 feet. The river itself is at our back door.

According to historians, this area has a rich history that spans thousands of years. The Arkansas River was a natural corridor for prehistoric peoples, nomadic hunters, Spanish conquistadors, trappers, explorers, traders, and pioneers. It was inhabited by the Ute Indians, with frequent incursions into the area by Comanche, Arapaho and Cheyenne, who were natural enemies of the Utes. Early settles told of battles between the various Indian tribes, perhaps prompted by buffalo hunts in the southern part of the valley. Earlier, Spanish and French explorers passed through and in 1802, mountain man James Purcell reported bountiful beaver on Chalk Creek. Zebulon Pike was commissioned to establish the western boundary of the Louisiana Purchase and spent the winter of 1806 in the valley. He recorded that Purcell told him of gold in the area, but it didn’t trigger a gold rush. That was to come a half-century later. Some unknown, daring prospector in 1859-60 made his way up the Arkansas, and found glittering gold in its sand and gravel. Prospectors working the river staked the first official claim April 12, 1860. The rush to gold in the central Rockies was on! The site of that first claim – almost at our back door. A couple of prospectors currently have claims on the river behind our camp and regularly work it. Campers are allowed to pan for gold, but cannot use any mechanized mining on the claims.

As the gold rush died out, silver replaced it until the repeal of the Sherman Silver Act made mining silver much less profitable. Other metals were also mined in the valley, so mining remained a major activity through the middle of the 20th century. Ranchers and farmers came along to settle the area in the late 1800s and replaced prospecting as the main form of livelihood for the valley.

Horses in a field just up from us                         Goat Dairy toward Buena Vista from us

As we drive though the towns of Buena Vista and Salida, many of the homes reflect the colorful Victorian era in which they were built. The downtown buildings are mostly from the late 1800s era. In Buena Vista, we have found it interesting to see the same building house both saloons and government offices Outside of the historic downtown a few newer business have built along Highway 24 and modern homes are scattered in the outlying areas. Salida which is much larger and seemingly more prosperous was built around the arrival of the railroad, but dates from the same time general time. Today with a major east-west highway, it has become a commercial center for the area.

Buena Vista                                                               Buying Propane

Burgers                                                                              ]The town book store

Interesting Houses

One of the perks of our site is that we are only a few miles from both Cottonwood and Independence passes, the two highest paved road passes in the state. Many side roads and trails abound with access to rivers, lakes and forest. We have enjoyed sightseeing and finding quiet places to pull out our chairs and soak in the sights, sounds and fragrant smells only found in the Rockies.

As our time grows short here, the season is turning with the colors of fall dominating the area and the early snows beginning to put lacy white caps on the tallest mountain peaks. We will definitely return to the area, there are so many more places to explore.

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Winter Descends

According to local meteorologist: “This time of year, you get huge flips in the weather” and that is exactly what we are experiencing. Yesterday we were outside, perfectly comfortable in short sleeves and shorts, today the temperature is in the low 40s, damp and cloudy.

With the forecast stating that there was rain and possibly some snow in Leadville, we packed up and headed the thirty miles north. We had planned a trip to Turquoise Lake anyway. It didn’t look too different at the campground, just cloudy. A few miles down the road we drove through some sprinkles and became convinced that we would not see much in the way of snow. As we approached Leadville, the clouds were pretty low and we decided that we would not be able to enjoy the lake, since it sits in a high mountain bowl with Mt Elbert and Massive bordering it. The mountains would be obscured with the low clouds. As we drove on, we began to see a little more snow on the nearby peaks and what looked like more on north of Leadville. Snow is not unusual in Colorado in September, and we were hoping to get to experience just a little of it.

Sure enough after going through Leadville and heading north on Highway 91, we were rewarded with sights of light powder on the mountains. We drove on up past Freemont Pass and the Climax Mine. The higher we climbed, the more everything was covered with snow. In some areas the gold of aspens ran up into the snow, in other areas the deep blue green of the firs was dusted with a light coating of white. In some places clumps of aspens had already lost all leaves and now stood as grey specters against the mountain side. Fluffy clouds hung low around the mountains, sometimes obscuring them altogether and other times wafting upwards in little wisps like smoke. Higher up snow became more dominate and the fir trees had little white pillows on their limbs, reminding us of beautiful Christmas trees. After the pass we made several stops along the Clinton Gulch Reservoir area. The mountains were covered in a blanket of white, much more than the dusting we had seen just a little way south.

As we returned to camp, the mountains in our area are sporting a heaver covering of snow as well. None in the valley, which is fine with us, but what a nice reward for our last few days! The forecast is for the temperature to return to the low 70s for Tuesday and Wednesday, our last two days here. We leave Thursday morning.

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A Touch of Snow

The weather has been getting cooler. We have been experiencing highs in the low 70s and nights getting down into the low 40s with a creep into the 30s. During the day, when the sun is out, it is very pleasant and enjoyable outside, but gets rather nippy when the sun goes down or hides behind a cloud. The deep blue skies with lacy cirrus clouds have predominated, however, on Wednesday evening dark clouds moved in and we had rain beginning around sunset lasting all night and a good bit of the next day. Were we surprised to see snow topping the high mountain peaks the next day! How fun! We were hoping to see some snow before it was time to leave. Now, even though it is just a little, the mountains have their icing.

On Friday we drove up Cottonwood Pass, to see more of the fall color and perhaps some of the high mountain snow. From the valley floor, the snow looks like lacy night caps on the peaks, only the ones over 14,000 feet though. Along the Cottonwood road, the golden color of sage blooms, willows and aspens has definitely taken hold. In my mind, I characterized the color of Oregon as a deep blue-purple due to the many dark blue and purple hydrangeas and other flowers we saw along the coast. The color of Colorado in the autumn is definitely gold. Everywhere you look something is displaying the sun gold hue; aspens, willows sage flowers and other plants have turned this dazzlingly bright color. Our trip up Cottonwood to the pass once again gave us many opportunities to enjoy this. We did not get close to any snow, it’s just a distant promise that probably will not be fulfilled until after we leave.

Saturday we drove back out to the railroad tunnel road and found a beautiful spot to walk down near the river for lunch. We set up lunch under a giant old ponderosa pine, the ground littered with its pine cones. (I gathered a bag of them to scent and use for Christmas decorations). The water rushing over the rocky river bed gave a noisy music to our sojourn adding to the feeling of peaceful isolation. We stayed for a couple of hours soaking in the delicious smells and sights.

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Its Time For Colorado Gold

Perhaps the most appealing part of autumn in Colorado, and one of the deciding factors to keep us here longer, is the gold found in the mountains each year. Not the gold sought by prospectors over a century ago or even today, but rather the gilded glory of Colorado’s aspen trees. Aspen color does not vary nearly as much as the rich reds and purple leaves of the East, but there is something about gold leaves against a backdrop of rich dark evergreen and deep blue sky that makes the mountains special in fall. We eagerly note the new splashes of color as they appear in our wanderings through the area.

Aspens grow in areas where the firs and pines have been damaged or destroyed, thus they may be mingled in with other trees on a mountainside or dominate a hill or valley. They propagate from their root system, often creating groves of thickly growing white barked trees with black scars around the trunk and shiny light green leaves. Each stand of aspens thus is a clone of the mother tree, therefore in the fall each tree turns the same shade of gold and at the same time as its twins. So in one area some groups of trees will still be green while others have turned.

Historically, native tribes used the aspen bark to make medicinal teas to alleviate fever. The inner bark was sometimes eaten raw in the spring, and the outer bark occasionally used to produce a powder that was used as a sunscreen. Aspen is a favorite of wildlife too, serving as food for beaver elk, moose, and deer. We just enjoy the view.

Sunday afternoon we drove down toward Salida and then west over Monarch Pass. Along the way some mountainsides were afire with the golden aspens, all yellows and golds. In other areas bright gold shown out like feathers tucked into an evergreen head.

Monarch Pass at 11,312 feet is located on US Highway 50 between Salida and Gunnison. The pass is offers panoramic views of the southern end of the Sawatch Range and as a well-traveled road is considered one of the most scenic in Colorado. At the pass is a gift shop with a small restaurant and an aerial tram that during the summer goes from the parking lot to the top of Monarch Ridge above the pass (at approximately 12,000 feet). In years past we have skied Monarch with our church’s youth and men group. Many good memories of those times came to mind as we passed the ski area.

As we went over the pass, the first thing that we saw was a sign warning truckers of a 6% grade for the next six miles, but just as you get near the end of the six miles there is another sign warning them to stay in low gear for the 6% grade for the next six miles. I guess that makes 12 miles of steep downhill grades. The road continues to give spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and the approaching valley. Once the road descended into the valley, we turned around to retrace our route back up to the pass and over to Salida. Just east of the pass is the Madonna Mine. The Madonna mine was the first big operation at Monarch. Silver, lead, zinc and iron were the main metals found in the region. At its peak 30 carloads of ore were shipped each day. The mine is a strip mine, so ore dumps cover large areas just to the south of the highway. Today there is a small renewed mining operation in progress.

We stopped in Salida for a late lunch and a shopping before returning to Buena Vista and our camp.

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A Secluded Spot

Thursday was a beautiful sunny day, so we decided to find a nice spot to pull out our chairs, read, relax and enjoy a picnic lunch. The fall color is continuing to grow, therefore we headed back up Independence Pass road. We passed the Twin Lakes, Perry Peak Campground (we were surprised to see the campgrounds already closed for the season), and South Lake Creek road to find a great pull off with access to the creek soon after. It was a short, easy walk down to the creek. We placed the chairs in an opening and enjoyed the noisy creek and beautiful scenery. There were a few biting flies, but not really a bother. We were completely hidden from the road and due to the creek, there was no road noise. The creek, which was running swiftly but low, was filled with boulders and good sized rocks. Across the creek firs and pines marched up the side of the mountain, as thick as hair on a dog’s back. A huge bird’s nest topped a dead tree. (The nest is the black blob in the center of the picture)A chipmunk teased Heidi from a nearby tree and even dared to come down to run into some rocks on the creek’s edge. There was one grouping of Aspens in the process of turning to their golden yellows of fall in our secluded spot. We probably stayed a couple of hours, just reading and soaking in the delicious smell of the forest. We could have stayed there all day, except that a cloud floated overhead obscuring the sun and turning a warm day into a very cool one.

We drove on toward the pass to enjoy more of the spectacular scenery again, only turning around as we neared the tree line.

As a side trip we took the Lost Canyon Road from Hwy 24 over to the Twin Lakes and Independence Pass road. Perhaps if we had continued straight rather than turning toward Independence highway, we would have found a canyon, but all we found was a rough road over a high desert plain, definitely not worth the effort.

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Labor Day

Labor Day has come and gone. As predicted, the RV Park filled up with mostly people from Denver coming out for a last fling to celebrate the end of summer. We had a pop-up just out our door with a good number of children, two tents in the tent area behind us, close to the river also with several children and dogs. They knew each other and had a great time, playing games, riding bikes and exploring the river. Saturday night the owners held a pot luck dinner and party. Jeff, the owner, has a Country and Western Band and the members came in and put on a performance. They are pretty good and we had a nice time. The food was excellent. Jeff and his wife provided the hot dog makings and everyone else brought side dishes. We stayed for a while; I understand that some of the band and their followers stayed most of the night. Fortunately they were on the far other end of the park away from us. We heard nothing.

Sunday, we saw Fred and Karen off for their start towards Oklahoma. We will miss their company and hope to get together from time to time. After they left, we gathered Brady’s fishing gear, got a Subway sandwich and headed to Cottonwood Lake. Cottonwood Lake, tucked between Mount Princeton and Mount Yale, is in South Cottowood Canyon, a side canyon to the one that leads to Cottonwood Pass. It is high in the mountains at over 9500 feet and is a popular fishing area.

After perusing the lake, Brady decided not to fish, so we drove on up toward the pass and found a nice place to stop and enjoy lunch. The drive showed several Aspens and other trees in the early stages of putting on their golden fall show of color, but it is still a little early. In most of the areas where there are opening near the creek, people had set up camps. Again, I imagine, enjoying a last outing of the summer.   If you compare this picture to one from the blog entitled a Quiet Time, you can see the some of the change of color taking place in this high alpine valley, just below Cottonwood Pass.

More beaver activity.

On the way up, I spotted first a doe lying in a yard in town and then a few houses down, a big buck nibbling at some trees. As we returned, we saw the buck again, but by the time that we turned around to get a picture, he had managed to disappear. He had a really nice rack, too bad that we missed the picture.

Today is Monday and most of the new comers have packed up and left. We are back to our spacious surrounding, with lots of peace and quiet and places to sit outside and enjoy the mountains, trees and sky.

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Independence Pass and Ghost Town

As August draws to a close, most of our RV Park neighbors have left. One left a couple of days early because they were concerned about their East Texas home and effects of Hurricane Isaac. I certainly hope that all is well for them. From the news it seems likely that it will be. So here at the park, we have not only a nice wide space, but now no one for two spots on our left and six spaces on our right, out our door, very nice – at least for us! I understand that more are scheduled to come in for Labor Day and it will be full again.

Wednesday and Thursday were spent mostly around camp. We went to brunch with Fred and Karen. The restaurant was very nice and we each had a huge omelet. Afterwards we stopped at a couple of stores, including a fabric/craft store. They had a little bit of a number of different crafting things but primarily specialized in quilting supplies and books. Karen found a few things that she wanted, but nothing caught my attention. The next day Brady and I again were in town and we stopped at a local bead store. I did find several things there to purchase. I was very pleased and somewhat surprised at the breath of their selection. During the morning the weather is usually very nice, bright and sunny. By early afternoon clouds are rolling in and late afternoon frequently brings a thunderstorm or at least some rain. Life in the mountains.

Friday we were off to Independence Pass and beyond. We went back toward Leadville on Hwy 24. With the sun mostly behind us, the Arkansas River was sparkling little diamonds as it rushed along and the rocky cliffs gleamed in the bright sunlight. We turned west on State Route 82 which runs over the Pass from Twin Lakes, near Leadville to Aspen in the west. The Twin Lakes were so calm that the mountains and clouds were perfectly reflected on their surface. From Twin Lakes the road begins to climb through the beautiful valley of Lake Creek. The scenery all along the route is some of the most spectacular in all Colorado. The road runs right beneath several high mountains of over 13,000 feet, including Mount Elbert whose 14,433 foot height is the highest in the state and the second highest in the Continental US. The colors along the valleys and on the hillsides are alive with a mixture of the deep verdant green of firs and pines, lighter lime green of aspens, and a growing mixture of golden yellows of low growing shrubs and a few aspens beginning to show off their fall color. All through the canyon’s valley is extensive evidence of beavers at work, with multiple dams causing the creek to widen and form small ponds as it snakes its way down toward the Twin Lakes far below.

It took a lot of work for Brady to get to the right place to take the picture.

Along the way we spotted two marmots running across the road.  One stopped and posed for a picture.

The road continues well above tree line providing some amazing alpine views. At 12,095 ft., the summit of Independence Pass marks the Continental Divide and is the second highest paved road over a pass in Colorado. The land around the summit is flattish, windswept, and covered by sparse vegetation of delicate tundra plants occasionally broken by low shrubbery and bare patches of rock. The tree line is a thousand feet lower down – and yet all around are higher mountains. To the north of the pass parking area is a good size shallow glacier pool. There were a good many people at the pass during our stop, some just looking and others taking advantage of the hiking trails leading off to the nearby peaks.

Continuing west the highway begins to descend into the valley formed by the Roaring Fork River. On both sides from the pass the road drop-off is steep enough to require a 6% grade and several switchbacks.

A few miles towards Aspen the road passes the ghost town of Independence. It was a center for gold mining in the early 1880s. The Independence lode was discovered on July 4, 1879 – thus giving the resulting town and the pass its name. At the height of its boom period, it was home to around 2,000 people, as well as a stagecoach stop and layover for the twenty-five hour trip from Aspen to Leadville. The gold vein was shallow and quickly played out and soon the town was abandoned. One of the information signs at the site ask the question, “What would you do for gold? Imagine hurricane force winds and white out blizzards as you endured long, cold and lonely winters.” With snow for eight or nine months of the year and an elevation of 10,900 feet, the conditions for the inhabitants of Independence were extreme. There was nothing to keep the town alive after the gold played out and trains made their way to Aspen. Today the site of the town is marked by several buildings still standing and some that have fallen to the elements. An historical society has erected signs that tell the original purpose of some of the buildings and spell out the town’s history.

While still beautiful, the views on the west side are more restricted and the surroundings not quite so scenic, perhaps due to the trees which close in the road. We decided to turn around after a few miles on this side and return the way we came since we were not interested in Aspen or making the longer loop back to camp.

Back on the east side of the pass, we stopped at a pull off which offered access to the creek. Across the creek at this place are the remains of a lone cabin. I wonder if it was the home of a lonely family, were children raised here or was it simply the dwelling of a single miner. What stories could be told by the many such remains throughout the mining areas of Colorado. Brady and I have often remarked that they must have had a view of God as a miserly, harsh master, since they always looked for riches in the harshest, most inaccessible of places.

Jeff the owner of our RV Park came by while we were sitting out this afternoon and remarked that by tomorrow night the place will be full again. Several new comers pulled in this evening, and it is definitely filling up for the holiday.

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Over and Back Again

Our daily travels in the Buena Vista area.

Oh what a lovely day! It seems that about every other day is bright and sunny. Sunday was one of those days. The rain has washed the smoke out of the air and once again the mountains are clear and standing out in all their glory. We took a picnic lunch and headed toward Taylor Reservoir. From Buena Vista we turned toward Cottonwood Pass once again. Around and up the winding road along Cottonwood Creek, through forest of primarily fir trees, and on up above the tree line; what a beautiful drive. We stopped at the pass and briefly to take in where we had been and where we were heading. At the pass the road west turns to hard packed, rutted dirt and begins snaking its way down. (I thought of the difficulties that the Pro Cyclists must have had on that stretch as they raced up to the pass a few days ago.) The road winds languidly down the mountain, with numerous switchbacks and a lot of terrific viewpoints. There were several magnificent views down to Taylor Reservoir from above the tree line. On this side of the pass the trees are lodge pole pines and grow straight, tall and thick with mostly clear understories. Little creeks and streams meander through the forest as they make their way down toward the lake, adding little pools here or bogs there as they go.

Taylor Reservoir is a pretty reservoir sitting at 9400 feet in a wide valley of the Taylor Canyon. At this time of year, as with many of the reservoirs, the water level is noticeably low. As we approached Taylor Reservoir, we began to see cattle on the road. More and more of them were grazing along the roadside or crossing to find a more delicious munch. It seems that all the land on the east side of the lake is private grazing for a nearby ranch. They were running a pretty good size herd. There were a number of cabins and buildings up on the hill, Taylor Park store, restaurant, and Dream Ranch RV. The cabins seemed to be lined up on the top of the hill, which would offer good views, but no trees were around and the area seemed rather bleak. One of the main recreations in the area is off-road ATVing, one of the trails that we saw bounced up and down swells and over hills, that must be quite a ride! We found a place at the south end of the lake to pull off for lunch. I had been hoping for a place with tables or at least a shady place to spread out a blanket, but no luck there. From up on an overlook, boats out on the large lake appeared to be tiny. The views of the Sawatch Range surrounding the lake are beautiful. After lunch we thought about heading toward TinCup, but after a mile on the washboard road decided better and worked our way back the way we had come. By this time the usual afternoon clouds were working their way over the mountains, but we did not encounter any rain.

In Buena Vista, we stopped at the book store, a converted house, to pick up some new reading material. They have a good selection of used books, so we each found something to keep us entertained.

On Tuesday, Fred, Karen, Brady and I took a drive east on Colorado 24 to Wilkerson Pass at 9,500 feet. We stopped at Artero Reservoir for lunch, a hot sunny lake in a high desert basin. We saw a lone white pelican land on the lake. There were lots of birds, but only the one water bird. As we ate we noted all the rain shafts around the area, it looked like there was rain on all sides of us.

Wilkerson Pass has an interpretive center, which features exhibits that trace local history and natural history. This pass was part of the Ute Indian hunting route and later stagecoach lines. It is a high mountain pass on the eastern edge of the desert basin, between the Sawatch Range to the west and the Front Range to the east. At the pass there were a few splatters of rain. From the pass we returned to Buena Vista and the campground. On the road back we caught up with the rain, or it caught up with us and for a few miles there was a hard rain, but by the time we reached the camp, we were once again in the warm sunshine.

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