(this email is being sent to many of our friends who are wondering, “Where the heck are they now?)
We left Balfour on the 10th of October for Kelowna where we spent Thanksgiving weekend with Erik, Laurel and Haley (Erik’s sweetie). Haley is attending her second year of kinesiology and Erik has taken a leave from his position with the Kootenay Ferry to be there with her and also to complete some advanced seamanship courses. Laurel has taken a full time position with Wood Gundy as an office administrator and is putting to good use the experience she has gained over the past few years in the business. They all seemed to be well settled into the Okanagan lifestyle so we took our leave and headed for Calgary.
We spent a pleasant weekend visiting with cousin Anne and Bruce Lofting, found a few more of the necessary items needed for the RV, stocked up on supplies and were treated to a wonderful Tapas dinner at one of Calgary’s finest restaurants. Thanks again, Anne and Bruce!
We left the rest of our fresh fruit and vegetables with Anne, knowing that the US customs people will confiscate them, however, when we reached the border the fellow at the window barely glanced at the passports, asked where we were going and waved us through without any fuss. Just another in a long line of snowbirds heading south as the weather cools, I suppose.
The drive south from Calgary on Hwy 2, then Interstate 15 runs through long stretches of rolling foothill and flat grasslands dotted with fat cattle and in places, the odd oil well. We hastened through knowing that colder weather was not far behind, staying the first night in a small campground in Conrad where there was no one around to collect the camp fee. (Sometimes that happens!) We were up early and continued that day to Idaho Falls where the weather was beginning to show signs of the reduced latitude, but still cool at night.
Day three found us pulling into Moab, Utah. Moab is in the Red Rock layer, part of the Colorado Basin, a vast area of sedimentary layers accumulated over a couple of billion years as evidenced when one gazes into the Grand Canyon. More recently, Moab has become a mountain biking mecca and a diverse pattern of trails have been developed for cyclists of all experience levels from paved, two lane bike trails, to rocky and steep, to smooth layers of red rock. If you go there, make sure your bike tires have an inner coating of “tire slime,” a liquid rubbery substance that instantly closes up all those nasty little pin holes created from riding over the goat’shead stickers and other spiny cactusy things.
After spending three nights in Moab, tidying up the trailer and restocking, we drove into western Colorado to a small town in the mountains called Ouray. Not unlike our own Rossland, the town is surrounded by high mountains and was once the center of mining and prospecting. There is also a very nice hot springs there where the water has no sulfur smell. Most of the summer activities had been closed up and the town was in that slow transition to winter. Most of the leaves were off the trees, but there was the odd cottonwood tree still displaying its bright yellows, shining like beacons in the late afternoon sun. The local campground had closed for the winter, however they were allowing snowbirds to stay for free overnight. There was electricity but no water or sewer and free is the right price.
The following day we pulled the trailer over the “Million Dollar Highway” at an elevation of 11,500ft (3500m). The weather continued to be relatively warm, sunny and dry which was very reassuring to Maggie, who remarked a few times on how extremely deep the ditches were. Like vertical drops of a thousand feet or more as we wound our way up and down the steep canyon walls. The trip would not have been possible with any snow or ice in the forecast. At the bottom of the pass we found ourselves in the tiny town of Silverton. Again, another silver and gold mining town of the 1860’s era. Small mounds of diggings spotted the hillsides as if a troop of gophers had been randomly at work. The town itself reminded us of Dawson City and had that feel of an old frontier town with wooden sidewalks, false fronted stores, restored brick hotels and one huge courthouse that seemed out of place until you read about how many times justice had been administered at the end of a rope. We had hoped to find some semblance of the old and raucous days in the form of perhaps a theatre show or a dusty old saloon but were somewhat disappointed to find everything had been converted to coffee shops and trinket stores all selling the same memorabilia, mostly made in China. There were also the ever present gun and ammo shops, all doing a raging business due to it being hunting season. We had passed a number of vehicles displaying their various kills mounted on their roofs like trophies, blood and other bodily fluids oozing across the rear windows. One lady in a tourist info office had warned us not to go walking in the bush unless we had the obligatory blaze orange vests due to some of the hunters being a bit trigger happy. She said it was OK for the hunters to be fully outfitted in camouflage, though, so much so that we could likely pass by them within a few feet and not know they were there. We did, in the end, find a few trails to follow where there were no hunters and Miss T was suitably impressed (as was Maggie.)
We passed through the mid-sized town of Durango, then drove east to the smaller town of Pagosa Springs where we stayed for a couple of nights. The weather turned a bit cooler and being above 7000ft our water hose froze solid at the campground near town. After a soak in the hot springs, America’s deepest, whatever that means, (this one reeked of sulfur, so much so that it took a few days to get the rotten egg smell out of the truck) we drove on to Santa Fe, capitol city of New Mexico. A brief tour of the old section of Santa Fe confirmed that a) it was old, b) it is pretty on a sunny day in the fall and c) the shops were full of very rustic and pretty things, none of which we could either afford or had the room to carry home. We did find a unique café, Harry’s Roadhouse, close to the RV park where we had two quite enjoyable meals, both with the southwest flavour of chipotle and green chile.
We are currently in the small city of Alamogordo on the eastern edge of the Great White Sands desert. Since the weather is warm and dry during the day and only bearably cold at night (40-50f) we decided to stay for a week. There is a town about 20 miles away and about 3500ft up called Cloudcroft. We’ve been up there 3 times to enjoy and explore the cooler, greener mountain areas. A railway was built in the late 1800’s along with a lodge where folks would spend their R&R time in the cooler climate. Lots of history in the area, small mines and timber harvesting. Check it out at www.cloudcroft.com . www.thelodgeresort.com
Also, nearby is the Holloman Airforce base and the Whitesands Missle Range where there has been much activity testing flying things and blowing stuff up since the mid 1940s. Every few hours some sort of killing machine screams overhead followed by a second one close behind, likely looking for the first one. But I like flying things so I find it entertaining.
Just a few miles up the desert was the sight of the first nuclear explosion, a 20 megaton bomb nicknamed Trinity in July of 1945. www. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trinity_(nuclear_test)
Something I found exceptionally ironic was when the local folks started asking what the heck was that big bang was all about, the military and government fabricated a long song and dance about how a munitions storage facility had been mistakenly targeted during a training exercise. Well, that was only the first of many. Have a look at the Yucca Valley, about 135 km NW of Las Vegas. It’s pockmarked from one end to the other from testing and perfecting nuclear devices. One would assume that the deceptive descriptions proffered by the military and government have also been highly refined. Oh, no, they couldn’t possibly mislead the public…….and get away with it.
We’ll be off to Arizona on Sunday, then will meet up with our friends, Dave and Donna from Vancouver before crossing into Mexico at Tecate near the end of November. Sailing on into the setting sun……
Maggie and Bob and Miss T.
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