Our new look, and the dog days of summer – Fruita, CO
Our 5-week stay in Fruita, Colorado is winding down. The extended stop had a two-fold purpose; to get a better feel for the area as a possible place to settle down one day (it’s on our short list), and to wait for the Fall colors to change so we can enjoy them as we continue our travels south and then east.
You see, in 2015 Steve experienced the turning of the Aspens into gold by himself while I was in the Philippines. He raved about it and promised that we would enjoy it together someday. And we’re excited that we’re starting to see the signs now!
We took care of our medical/dental appointments during our first week here. Steve flew to Tucson for his quarterly check-up, and was given two thumbs up by his surgeon. He also had a dental exam to confirm that his teeth and jaws remain healthy after the radiation therapy. Everything’s looking good so far!
I flew to Pleasanton, California to see my dentist for an urgent procedure, and visited with family for several days. Once back in Fruita we visited our optometrist and were happy that all four of our eyeballs are healthy as well. Whew, glad all of that is out of the way for a while!
With medical stuff out of the way we had 4 weeks to check out the area, and we think we covered it pretty well. With the extensive hiking and driving we did, it seemed like we were busy just about every day.
Summer here means farmer’s markets every weekend, and we loved patronizing the local farmers while enjoying the fresh fruits and vegetables, free-range eggs and homemade quiche that we bought every Saturday.
One afternoon we strolled through historic downtown Grand Junction:
Fruita is an outdoor mecca, which meets one of our requirements for our next permanent home. We discovered a seemingly endless array of diverse landscape while hiking in Colorado National Monument, McInnis Canyon National Conservation Area, the Bookcliffs, and Highline Lake State Park, to name a few. And we realized that having bikes, kayaks and off-road vehicles would open up a whole new world of adventures in this area.
Some of our other requirements are having a hospital, an airport and a decent sized city nearby, and Grand Junction works for us as well. Although we’re still a ways from settling down, you can probably tell that Fruita is high on our list!
One thing we loved about hiking here was that many trails are actually “trail systems”, not just individual trails. We were able to easily combine several trails to get the distance and level of effort we wanted, leaving many segments for future hikes. That means the combinations are endless and there’s so much left for us to explore. The best part is that all of the trails are in beautiful areas that we never get tired of looking at and hiking through!
Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness
Nearby Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness forms the core of the McInnis Canyons Conservation Area. We hiked Devils Canyon, the Fruita Paleontological Area and the Pollock-Flume Bench trails. Plaques along the trails described geological features and details, making our hikes educational as a bonus.
A short interpretative round-trip trail at Dinosaur Hill led us to a quarry where, in 1900, paleontologist Elmer Riggs and his team dug 20′ into the sandstone to remove 2/3 of a 70′ long, 30-ton Apatosaurus skeleton. The 6 tons of bones were floated across the Colorado River and loaded onto wagons, then finally onto a train for the trip to Chicago. The bones have been on display at the Field Museum of Natural History since 1908.
Kokopelli’s Loop trail system
This trail system is 6 miles west of Fruita and within the McInnis Canyons Conservation area. It’s a multi-use trail, and includes premiere mountain biking trails that stretch 142 miles to Moab, Utah. Taking several hikes here, we chose Mack’s Ridge Loop, the Steve’s Loop/Mary’s Loop combination, and Rabbit Trails #4&5. We were surprised to encounter very few mountain bikers, but the early hour of our hikes likely helped a lot.
Colorado National Monument
Our stay here would be incomplete without re-visiting Colorado National Monument, only 2 miles from Fruita. This is where we did all of our hiking during our 2015 stay, here is my post detailing the Rim Rock Drive and here are the hikes we took.
During this stay we hiked several trails that we missed last time:
Highline Lake State Park
Highline State Park is just 13 miles west of Fruita, and it was a nice change of pace when we felt like an easy trek around a quiet lake:
As usual, hiking was the main activity during our stay. But we also checked out the shopping and a few restaurants. We agreed that we liked the atmosphere and got a good vibe. Fruita is a small town that’s close enough to everything we think we might need, so only time will tell if we become “Fruitonians” 🙂
So, hey, what do you think of our new look? We want to hear the good, the bad and the ugly from our awesome followers!