6/4 – Ouray, CO – Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, CO
6/5 – Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park – Turquoise Lake National Forrest Campground, Leadville, CO
6/6 – Turquoise Lake – Boulder, CO
After a morning walk around the lake we break camp and head into Leadville for a brief tour of this classic mining town. Highlights included lunch at a hot dog stand (me and the old man only); a visit to an historic Synagogue and a chat with an unemployed miner who will be voting for Trump.
A four hour drive over two mountain passes brought us just south of Denver where we visited his good friend Sue who is dealing with a gleoblastoma (the same tumor that Lilly fought 10 years ago). Sue attended the 2014 Lilly Fest and was diagnosed two weeks after returning home. Please send her some love.
We then drove to Boulder where he skillfully backed the rig into Jack and Marge’s driveway (skillfully not my word) and unloaded me for a three week stay while he and Joyce return to Annapolis for the 10th annual Lilly Fest and Alison’s wedding. Jack and Marge have a great dog (Gizmo) and a fenced yard with plenty of squirrels to chase. This will be a fun visit and as long as they feed me on time and let me hang on their couches during the day.
This is the day I’ve been looking forward to since New Orleans, the return of my favorite female, Joyce. Notice I left the door open for a favorite person because he actually does feed me most of the time and that’s a big deal for a dog.
We picked her up in Albuquerque on Memorial Day Friday so the only place to stay was an airport Sheraton with a nice pool and extremely dog friendly (dedicated dog floor, no extra charges for the old man and plenty of bushes to pee on).
We drove to Durango via Santa Fe, NM and Pagosa Springs, CO. Nothing much happened in SF and PS was so crowded they bagged the hot springs and took me for a really cool walk along the river.
5/31- 6/02 – Eureka Campground, Eureka, CO
I’m not a happy dog right now as they’re rounding me up from exploring Steve’s neighborhood which, by the way, is chock full of fun animals to chase including six horses in the neighbor’s “yard”. Once they tracked me down Joyce proclaimed no more free running for me as I never seem to hear my people calling when they want me to stop having fun (see the preface to this blog for the scientific reasoning for this trait). It saddened me to say good-by to Sky again, but being a dog I got over it in about two minutes as the mountain scenery shot by my open window.
I’m back in the back seat again (he lets Joyce have my space in the front while she’s here, looks like I’m not top dog anymore – he’s not so stupid after all).
We head north on CO 550 to Silver City, 60 miles from Durango but light years more “in-between” as in a population of 660 and the place gets snowed in during the winter as the only access is via three mountain passes each over 10,000’. We pass through town in about 10 seconds going 15mph and turn right on county Rd 2 for the seven mile dirt road drive to Eureka, a ghost town that was once home to the Sunnyside Extension gold mine developed in 1874. The mine operated almost continuously for 130 years. Our campground was located on the old town site and only scattered foundations and one restored water building are all that remain.
Well Joyce’s “no-off-leash” edict lasted about 10 minutes at the campground as we were the only campers in residence out of 50 possible sites and there was no traffic to freak them out. I had a blast sniffing a combination of animals and discarded camp food; this is basically nirvana for me and somehow I don’t miss Korte’s place so much.
We spent two great nights at the Eureka Campground with some Silver City town walks and a 4×4 day trip to Animas Forks thrown in to keep us active. Animas Forks is yet another abandoned mining town (ore depletion being the reason everyone left in 1926 after just 10 years of production and milling. Someone lost a ton of $ on that venture).
6/2 – 6/4 – Ouray, CO
I wasn’t aware of how religious my people were until we made the 26-mile drive from Silverton to Ouray, which crested over the 10,600’ Red Mountain Pass. Joyce did her best to keep him focused on the two-lane switchback road constantly berating him for trying to check his phone for the Orioles score while 1,000’ below the Animas River was waiting for one slip of the wheel. They both invoked the names of various Jewish and Christian deities (he even threw in a Buddha reference on a particularly tight turn). I insisted on having my window open in order to eject myself from a potentially tragic situation; I have also insisted on a double dose of doggie tranquilizers before our next mountain pass adventure (he bought a big supply in Vegas but I haven’t seen any yet).
Ouray turned out to be well worth the effort as the following photos demonstrate:
Steve’s son Cole was camping with his geology field class at the Green River KOA so we stayed the night next door at the Shady Acres RV Park, a very unassuming plot of ground with electricity, water and a hole in the ground to dump your poop from the holding tank (just like a pump out boat for all you nautical types but no pump required).
Steve and Sky will head home tomorrow and we continue on to Moab, UT for some big town living, relatively speaking.
5/22-24 – Slickrock RV Park, Moab, UT
This city RV Park is not very exciting. We opted for the least expensive space with no hookups and neighbors 18” from the picnic table. He said it’s ok as we were within walking distance of three microbreweries and a good Italian restaurant. I wasn’t invited to either of the above so there will be no reporting on his activities inside the establishments. I think it’s safe to say he mostly ate, drank, watched sports on TV and made the female patrons within conversation distance nervous.
The next morning we drove the few miles to Arches National Park which increases the credibility of this adventure as it’s the sixth national park and there hasn’t been a Walmart sighting in weeks; also no RV repair shops as well.
5/24-7 – Hatch Point Campground, Canyon Rim Area, UT
We escape the big city (Moab) and head south to Canyon Rim country between Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. This place is a significant upgrade from Slickrock RV Park in Moab…we share this BLM campground with one other camper and our site is perched above and flat wide valley springing to life with wild flowers. A 200-yard walk over the slickrock (why do they call it slickrock, he asks, when it’s medium grained sandstone with a grip like sandpaper? – this is one of his old man rants that fortunately doesn’t offend most people, although it does annoy his camping companions, but that’s another story).
Arrived yesterday afternoon on a whim as Steve spotted this park on the map while planning our next day activities. We were en route to Brice Canyon National Park in order to up our batting average but decided to follow the paved road off Rt. 89 for 10 miles to this amazing place covered in pink/coral colored sand dunes.
These active dunes source their sand from the Navajo Sandstone, 80 miles to the south. The Navajo itself is over 2,000 feet of consolidated sandstone deposited the Jurassic Period some 175 million years ago as massive sand dunes. So the sand in these active dunes has come full circle and the sand grains are once again in constant motion migrating over the current landscape (do you like these highly sophisticated geological vignettes? If not don’t read them next time as he makes me say this stuff and I’de rather leave them out).
We share the “overflow” camping area with two other rigs, a welcome respite from the more crowded campgrounds surrounding Zion and the Grand Canyon (not to mention Las Vegas). He tells me now we are now seeking out the places “in between”, i.e. in the millions of acres surrounding the great parks of southern Utah where the scenery is still spectacular but the crowds are thin (just like his hair – and skin sometimes). I like this new strategy.
5/17-18 – Bryce Canyon National Park
The scorecard improvement continues: RV shops 3 ; tire places 1; Las Vegas 1; National Parks 4; State Parks 1.
Crap, another national park. I know these places have incredible landscapes that draw visitors from around the world (just listen to the jabbering hoards getting off the tour busses and you’ll know what I mean) but they cramp my style with their no-dogs-on-trails restrictions. Luckily Bryce had recently installed a seven mile, paved, hiking and biking trail running just behind the rim trail – no views from this paved trail but that’s ok with me as long as there are bushes to pee on and small game to harass.
The geezers would tie Sky and me up to a tree and hike to the view points to ooh and ah at the rocks and take dozens of Iphone photos, most of which could have been shot by me they were so lame.
5/19 – BLM land off of Devils Rock Garden Road, 10 miles east of Escalante, UT
Yippie, back to the in-between country on BLM land which means I can be off leash around the trailer as there are no other campers within 5 miles of our spot. For you boat people reading this it’s like being anchored in a remote Bahamian island with not other boats in sight.
The Devils Rock Road cuts through a valley and ridge for 55 miles surrounded by spectacular scenery that gets the geo boys very excited. We spend 1.5 days driving and hiking in the area and get to see only about 15% of the good stuff; one could easily spend two weeks in this small region of Utah and see something new every day.
5/20 – BLM land off of Burr Trail Road, 12 miles east of Boulder, UT
We drive 35 miles on Hwy 12 to the small town of Boulder, named for the large volcanic boulders strewn around the town that were deposited there during the melting of the glaciers 30-40,000 years ago. The boulders originated over 50 miles away and could only have been transported by massive glacier runoff capable of picking up rocks this size of trucks. I’m beginning to get the hang of this geology stuff, although it pales in comparison to chasing rabbits and chip monks around the campgrounds.
We launch off in Steve’s truck early in the morning bound for the southern entrance to Capital Reef National Park, making it the 5th NP visited on this trip, so the number of NP’s now is greater than the number of RV repair shops and tire stores (5 and 4 if you are keeping score at home), he seems to be getting his shit together…finally!
5/13-16 – WillowWind (yes, one word) RV Park, Hurricane, UT
We arrived early afternoon after a 2.5 hr drive from Las Vegas. I couldn’t wait to get out of that town as I spent two days cooped up in his trailer (the AC and soft bed were nice and he did return every 3-4 hours to walk me) but the only wildlife I was able to find were some stupid pigeons pan handling for popcorn on the sidewalks.
Things improved in the afternoon as we drove to the Zion National Park Visitors center so he could read about the geology of the park – he’s seems to be quite fond of rocks as I see him bagging up small specimens he collects on our walks and writing some sort of information on the bag. The only variation on this behavior was in Las Vegas where he came home with his collection already in a bag, they weren’t rocks though, rather some sort of green leafy stuff with names like “Va Voom Vegas” and“Nevada Lift Off”.
He was able to walk me three miles along the paved river-side trail by the Zion visitors center. FYI National Parks are not dog friendly. They say we freak out the natural inhabitants in the park, which I’m wired to do, so they got that right, but I say I’m not any worse than the hoards of tourists that descend from the countless busses stopping at overlooks; some of those people are really freaky…that’s what I’m sayin.
Saturday saw the arrival of Sky, an 80 lb Silver Lab who arrived with his geezer master (Steve Korte, the most famous coal geologist in southwestern Colorado, and currently unemployed like most of them) to join us for a week of fun and games. Sky traveled in a Ford 150 4×4 pickup with a 19’ Airstream Travel Trailer in tow. The scene was set; two old guys with great looking dogs towing large quantities of food and beer in their mobile homes looking for adventure in the wild west. Sky and I prayed every morning that they don’t get us lost.
A three hour drive from the south rim brought us to Kingman, AZ, home to the Route 66 Museum, a large open pit copper mine, and a old downtown area which featured open mic night at the local wine bar. He had a silly smile on his face when he came home after his visit so I’m assuming he enjoyed the Kingman’s wine offerings.
We spent two days here in the hot Arizona sun checking out the local geological offerings, he would take pictures and get all excited about seeing the rocks while I mainly peed on them and sniffed for small game in the cracks.
5/11 – Circus Circus RV Park, Vegas baby
Yes, this famed, but somewhat well worn strip casino has an RV park attached to it – he was so excited with this find because it afforded walking-distance access to 345 casino-enclosed bars and restaurants not to mention the potential to pay for the entire trip with one lucky roll of the dice.
Due to the Vegas law that states (and I’m quoting directly from the Las Vegas Penal Code; page 69, paragraph 2: “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”. Not wanting to be jailed in Vegas there will be no further reports until we leave the city although there are a few photos he took that I can share.
Before we move on I don’t want to hear anymore cheap shots about my spelling, after all I am a dog and this keyboard was not meant for my paws; in addition my hot shot editor almost had to repeat 5th grade due to F’s in spelling and penmanship (what’s penmanship you youngsters ask?)
Now back to our story…
5/7 – Tempe – Trailer Village, RV Site I-55, Grand Canyon National Park
The score is beginning to improve: RV shops 3, tire places 1, National Parks 2 and no Walmart parking lots since Texas.
5/8 – Trailer Village Campground, Grand Canyon National Park
We arrived late yesterday afternoon after 5 hr drive north from Tempe. We both feel safer now that he had a backup camera installed on the trailer. Now we can watch on our 7” screen as irate drivers doing 85 mph approach our rear end as we lumber along at 57 (he’s trying to save gas but I think he has a death wish). At least no one’s flipped us the bird yet.
We were both wide-awake at 5 this morning in anticipation of our first look at the Grand Canyon. I actually think he had a tear in his eye when we reached the rim (he claimed it was dust but I think the grandeur of the canyon and a thought about Noah combined to briefly overwhelm him). I was very excited as the 14-mile rim trail is paved and dog-friendly, although he had to pull me back to the trail a few times when I started chasing wildlife near the rim (don’t tell Joyce).
5/9 – Same place
After 10+ miles of trail hiking yesterday(fit bit-verified) I was again ready to go when he started the coffee at 4:30 am in preparation for a sunrise photo opp. The temperature was below freezing and it was blowing 20kts from the north when we piled into the jeep at 5 headed for the “Duck on a Rock” overlook, famous for the rock hoodoo (that’s a geologic term meaning tower – geology – the most sophisticated of the sciences) in the foreground and the barbed summit of Vishnu Temple in the distance. 25 poor to mediocre pictures later he finally decided it was time for my walk and we headed off-trail a bit for some more exciting views. I made my usual lunges toward the rim chasing birds etc. but he wouldn’t let me get too close thus spoiling my work time (it’s my job to seek out birds).
My goal is to force him to walk me at least 10 miles a day whenever possible. So far we’ve hit the mark only twice, yesterday, and one day in west Texas when he ran out of beer and the Walmart was closed and we had to walk into town (we never came close to 10 miles in Tucson as the Peak’s had a huge dog-friendly couch and plenty of beer, wine and tequila, plus Gordon and Lisa are both great cooks) .
5/6 – Tucson – Tempe, AZ (Jonathan and Jessica’s Place)
The Peaks kicked him out of their place this afternoon so we are headed north to Tempe to sponge/visit some other of friends of his, Jonathan and Jessica (everyone is shocked to learn that he has more than 1 or 2 friends). Being 20 something’s and living in a college town, he felt right at home in their Tempe apartment – finally some hip people to party with.
Jonathan, being an IT person, helped him set up this blog, which he had no shot of accomplishing on his own. Thanks for getting this off the ground Jonathan.
We arrived late afternoon after an uneventful drive from Silver City. Gordon and Lisa live in a community that prohibits RV parking (they have always been rather snobbish so this does not surprise us). Gordon has lined me up a nice inexpensive space in a state park 6 miles from his home so we dropped the trailer off and headed to his house for the beginning of 5 days of eating, drinking, happy houring, napping and an occasional walk around his neighborhood just so I could do my business outside his yard. As Gordon is originally from Canada we also watched some hockey on his computer and at the happy hour bar. Not his favorite sport but he and Lisa are great cooks and they let the old man nap anytime he wanted so it was a great visit.
As previously mentioned, I made two new doggy friends, Weezie and Wooby, a combined 210 years of age in person terms and they can still get it on (walking and eating that is).
The photos above was taken by the old man during a visit to the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, he said he used to fly on a Viscount like the one above from Beirut to Baghdad and on to Basra in 1960-61 when he lived in Beirut and his father lived and worked in Iraq. The top photo is a TWA Constellation which he flew from Pittsburg to San Francisco during his college days. Boy is he old, I just hope he doesn’t keel over while we’re on this trip.
He took advantage of the extended stay in Tucson by checking the trailer into another RV repair shop for some upgrades. He had the solar panel installed (solar panel courtesy of Andy of Annapolis) and purchased a backup camera as there have been some hairy moments on the I-10 when he wished he knew what was behind us.
New score: RV shops: 3; tire stores: 1; National Parks: 1.