Hiking Colorado National Monument – Fruita, CO

The Rim Rock Drive at Colorado National Monument was a convenient way to admire the iconic red sandstone landmarks there, and to peer into the gaping canyons. (Read post here)  After doing that for a few hours it was time to lace up our boots and hit the trails.  There was a large assortment of them, plus an additional list of trails outside the monument provided by Pam (Oh the Places).  It was hard to pick which ones to follow, but we certainly weren’t disappointed with our choices.  Keep on Reading

Rim Rock Drive – Colorado National Monument – Fruita, CO

Before my hasty departure to the Philippines, Steve and I were well underway in our exploration and hiking at Colorado National Monument.  I was happy that my “guest blogger” was willing to fill in while I was gone, adeptly sharing his solo excursions as he made his way into Arizona.

Now that I’m unpacked and settled in, I’ll do a bit of back-tracking to cover our experiences while at Colorado National Monument.  Our home base was at the very nice James M Robb Colorado River State Park in Fruita, Colorado (Steve’s review here).

Fruita was a city that we both loved.  It’s at a relatively low elevation and has an environment that we think we could actually settle into someday.  We know we’d never get tired of looking out the windows at this fantastic monument every day!  Keep on Reading

Exploring the iconic Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater – Morrison, CO

There were numerous hiking trails to choose from near our RV Park in Golden, Colorado, yet we kept going back to Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater – not once but three times! The first time was with John and Pam, then with Al and Ingrid and finally Steve and I took a last hike there before moving on.

Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater
Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater viewed from Dakota Ridge

Our inclination toward Red Rocks Park had a lot to do with its scenic trails, geologic features and its music venue like no other.  We learned that a lot of big-name bands have returned repeatedly to this beautiful amphitheater set into the towering rocks and offering amazing acoustics for their music.

Creation Rock
The back side of one of the natural sandstone walls lining the amphitheater- Creation Rock
 Eroded sandstone and siltstone Red Rocks
Checking out the eroded sandstone and siltstone

The top of the outdoor amphitheater is a perfect place to take in the 200-mile panorama of Denver and the distant plains.

Red Rocks Amphitheater
Dakota Ridge is the first one across the valley, and the Denver skyline is in the distance

The amphitheater is open to the public for viewing and exercise activities when events aren’t scheduled.

Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater
Ingrid, Al and Steve watch the hoards performing their daily exercise rituals

We also saw several people capturing the beauty of the area with strokes of a brush.

Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater
A lone painter doing her thing

We were happy to see abundant wildlife and wildflowers during several hikes through and around the park.

We marveled at the open air amphitheater built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), and the National Park Service – without any help from machinery – between 1931-1941.

Red Rocks Amphitheater
I would love to watch a concert at this 9,000 seat venue!

We discovered a great music museum within the amphitheater.  It had nice displays showing the hundreds of acts that had performed here during the past decades.

Our hiking muscles were quickly whipped back into shape as we explored several of the many hiking trails surrounding the geological formations.  On one day we met with avid hikers John and Pam to tackle the Red Rocks Trail, a 6-mile loop that lead out of the Park and connected with the Dakota Ridge Trail.  We also traversed the Matthew Winters Open Space area that day on the way back to our cars.

Hans and Lisa had already hiked these trails several days before, so we mostly followed their path.  Rather than rehashing the details of these scenic trails, I invite you to check the accounts of Metamorphis Road and Oh the Places They Go for more information about them.

Red Rocks Trail
The gang at the trailhead with Dakota Ridge in the distance
Dakota Ridge Trail
These beauties took a break at the top of Dakota Ridge
Red Rock Parks
Steve and John are dwarfed by one of the sandstone formations

When Al and Ingrid arrived in town a few days later we hiked the Trading Post Trail, a 1.4-mile loop that wound through spectacular formations, valleys and a natural meadow.

Trading Post Trail
Ingrid gives Steve instructions on how to take our picture.  Gee, I never do that!
Trading Post Trail
I think he listened well!
Red Rocks formations
These red rocks appeared to be neatly arranged
Trading Post Trail
Final stretch for the ladies in blue

Steve and I went back on another day to climb the Funicular Trail to the north entrance of the amphitheater.

Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater
Those are “hogbacks” on the left and in the valley

Before audiences are amazed by a performance here, they can choose to get a good workout by walking up from one of the parking lots to the amphitheater.  There are plenty of steps up to and around the seating area to get the blood pumping.

Red Rocks Amphitheater
Just some of the stairs leading up to the amphitheater
Red Rocks Amphitheater
Looking up from the stage

Another place we kept going back to, this time for authentic and fresh mexican food, was La Casa Alba in Golden.  Lisa found this hole-in-the-wall restaurant, and by the time we left town we had been there for lunch with special people four times!

LA casa Alba, Mexican Restaurant
Another great meal at La Casa Alba. Don’t miss this place if you love authentic mexican food!

And that’s how we spent ten days with friend bloggers in and around Golden after my return from the Philippines.  Till we meet again, my friends, see you somewhere out west this fall and winter!


Time for a good cleaning and a Happy Thanksgiving

75 mph Speedlimit
Wow, we can zoom by here!  But no, we keep it around 55 all the time.  What’s our hurry?

After an exciting night at a Casino parking lot, we purged our water tank of the mineral water from Tecopa and continued on with Arizona as the next destination. The southwestern states were very much in our minds as we experienced a wet and cold summer in Alaska.  Every time it rained there we longed for the dry, sunny and mild winters which can be had in the southwestern states.  We longed to be in Arizona this winter to hopefully bask in the sun and stay dry.  Don’t get us wrong, we had a fantastic summer in Alaska, despite the almost-constant rain.  So after trekking southward for the past two months, we have finally arrived at the Grand Canyon State. AZ sign

Weaving thru the fringes of  Nevada and California, we  crossed into Arizona and immediately  “lost” an hour of our day.  Arizona is the only remaining state to not follow the Daylight Savings Time (DST) change.  That means it stays light out a little later, so it’s ok by us!

Our first stop was Bullhead City, located on the Colorado river across from Laughlin, Nevada (where the casinos are).  Arizona and Nevada are bordered by the Colorado River and we found the location of both cities (Bullhead City, AZ and Laughlin, NV) interesting.  When we crossed the Colorado River we either gained or lost an hour, depending on our destination.  So, if you live in Bullhead City and work at a casino in Laughlin, you must leave for work an extra hour early – bummer!  But ok, you also get home an hour early every night. Bullhead

Bullhead City was named for Bull’s Head Rock, an old landmark located along the Colorado River.  In the era of steamboat travel up the river, it was used as a navigation point.  Unfortunately, we did not see this rock formation as we were told the water has covered it and only a small, undistinguishable part remains.

RV Wash
It took these guys just over an hour to wash the coach.

But first things first.  This stop was mostly for Betsy.  The mud, bugs and grime from Alaska and Canada, coupled with a recent sand storm have accumulated over time, and she was very dirty.  Figuring that it probably wouldn’t rain on her again for quite some time, we thought this a good opportunity to do a top-to-bottom spick-and-span cleaning job.  At the Ridgeview RV Park we learned that a couple of guys from the local cleaning service would make a house call to our site and give Betsy a good scrubbing and washing. The cost was $100, far less than would be required to make Steve get out of his chair and do it himself.  We scheduled them immediately and the next day Betsy was looking much better.

Enter Steve…during the next three days he labored with the pleasure of protecting the roof and polishing the entire coach until Betsy gleamed like new.  Then he cleaned and lubricated all of the compartment doors.  In the meantime, my contribution in this beautification project was as the interior master-duster and wheel polisher (8 wheels – Steve said I did such a great job on the RV wheels that I could do the car wheels, too.  Whoopee!).  Finally, we cleaned all of the interior windows and removed the screens for a good washing.  Wow, the old girl looks like new!

This stop was also a time to reconnect with my cousins, Merla and Estela, who live in Bullhead City.  We met their families and spent an evening with them over a delicious Thanksgiving meal and some playing of Texas Holdem.  We also played the dice game LCR (Left-Center-Right), since it was a fairly large group.  If you want to have a simple game that is always a smash hit at a party, pick up this inexpensive game at a toy store – it rocks!

Before strong winds kicked up we managed to walk quite a bit, but got in only one decent hike.  On this hike I saw for the first time BeepBeep – RoadRunner.  I loved the cartoon about the adventures of the Road Runner and Wile E Coyote, so I got very excited, snapping pictures like a maniac.  Look, isn’t it cute!  This was the first time I had seen in person the bird that always outsmarted the hapless coyote.

After spending a very productive Thanksgiving week here it was time to move along to another place that we have heard good things about and been wanting to visit for some time – Lake Havasu and the London Bridge.  Stay tuned!