Monday, September 29, 2014

Back at the Reservoir

Another ride out at the reservoir this morning.  It was a beautiful day.

Look at that sky.  It's an amazing blue.

That was then, this is later.  We just brought the passenger side slides in because of the wind.  It's not producing that much rain, but the gusts are impressive.

Today's riding was difficult.  Laurence has lost his memory of when and how to shift gears on the bike.  Also lost is the ability to pump up a bicycle tire.  The Alzheimer's brain is tragically interesting to watch.  He'll acknowledge that if he gets a flat he won't be able to fix it, and in the same breath is adamant that he can ride by himself.  This after getting stuck on two up hills because he was changing gears in the wrong direction. At this point I am really hoping for an early winter so the bicycle will stay in the garage.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Historic Downtown Pueblo

Today we took a day off from riding.  We drove in to historic Pueblo, intending to do some urban hiking, but unfortunately a pair of walking shoes was missing from the truck.  We did check out the historic part of town, but didn't do the river walk.
This is the Pueblo Union Depot.   It is a spectacular building and is in good repair.  I have borrowed the photo and the text from the referenced website. 
Pueblo Union Depot was constructed in 1889 in the architectural style of Richardsonian Romanesque by the architect Frank V. Newell.  In 1892, the Depot handled 51 trains, 18,615 passengers and 164,718 pieces of baggage per day. During this year, there were 103,114 tickets sold, worth $568,639.  The Depot was built by Puebloans Henry Thatcher and Mahlon Thatcher and the following five railroads: The Denver & Rio Grande; Denver, Texas and Fort Worth (later the Colorado and Southern); Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific; Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe; and the Missouri Pacific Railroad. Passenger service ended in April of 1971.

Behind the depot, there is a small railroad museum.  This is the Santa Fe 2912.   She's a "Northern" 4-8-4 engine, meaning it has four lead trucks, eight drive wheels and four trailing wheels (under the firebox).  Originally built in 1944, she was retired in 1955.  This engine was always an oil burner - not a conversion from coal. Look at the size of it!

Jim reports that all of the engine instrumentation has been removed.

The depot has been converted to some retail and is used for special events.  It is just gorgeous inside.  The floor is made of those tiny octagonal tiles.

Look at the wood on that door.

Inside is just lovely.  The wood on the stalls is solid.

Above we see a beautiful painted tile picture of some romantic far off land.  The chandelier looks to be alabaster.

In the men's room they have a naked lady painting.  It was good to go on a Sunday, when the building was not in use.  Otherwise we could not have checked out the restrooms.

Do you see any cars on the street?  Nope. Downtown Pueblo is eerily deserted on a Sunday afternoon.  It's the county seat, and the area is largely populated by lawyers; so there's no reason for any retail to be open.  We had lunch in a cafe where the umbrellas are.  The setting was good, but the food was mediocre. 

The side of another building.  Most of the historic area dates from the late 1800s.

I love the gilt.

This is the county courthouse.  It's pretty dang impressive.

After leaving downtown and our short slow walk we had to hurry home.  Colorado can brew up a storm very quickly, and the mountain bikes were out, cabled to the picnic table.  We got them under the grill cover just as the rain started.  There was some very impressive lightning and thunder, and then it all went away, just like that.

Friday, September 26, 2014

More Riding in Lake Pueblo State Park

It's still hot.  Today it hit 94.  94!  It's the end of September, already.  Yesterday we went out to Lake Pueblo State Park again with the mountain bikes.  We failed to find the single track in the area, and ended up riding the dirt road network in the north end of the park.  It was good, lots of up down, and no willy inducing sidehill trails.
Last night there was a pretty good sunset.

Today was road riding.  Laurence (brother) bought a new carbon Trek.  He hasn't ridden in a couple years, so we did a short hilly ride in the park.

Laurence is on the right.  He's resting after a pretty good climb.

The dam.  It's part of the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project.  It's one of a series of dams that control flooding and provide water for irrigation. There is a fish hatchery there, and many people come to catch the fish.  If you're interested in huge public works projects, click on the link.  It's pretty impressive.

Laurence coming up another hill.

The reservoir again.

It was a good day.  Laurence is very happy when he's on a bicycle, even when the road points up.  We're going back tomorrow for more of same.  Sunday the weather is supposed to tank for a couple of days, with hail in the forecast. Hail! I hate hail.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Doing Time in Pueblo West

We had a pretty good sunset last night.  It was hot. It was hot today.  Temperatures are running at least 15 degrees over normal.

 Today we went out and rode the mountain bikes on the trails in Lake Pueblo State Park.  This is the spillway for the dam.

Here we are at the beginning of the trail.  It was benign here.

And here we are further up the trail, where it had been less benign.  I did some walking. There were some very narrow side hill trails that were just giving me the willies.

Over all it was fun, except for the wretched biting flies.  I did not know flies have teeth.  My legs are all welted up from being bitten when we would stop to read the map, or when I was walking.   Tomorrow we need to go earlier.  I got too hot today.

Colorado is an interesting state.  The congressman who is trying to unseat Senator Udall wants to pass laws outlawing abortion for any reason and birth control.   The rebuttal ads to Udall's campaign discussing this topic feature women standing around in the kitchen talking about how they aren't single issue voters, and Udall should address what he's going to do about the cost of food and gas.   So you get this political climate, and then there is the whole marijuana thing.  There is a pot dispensary on just about every street corner.  It's just amazing.  I don't understand how legalizing pot ever passed in this state.

We've been spending time with my brother and after two days it's just sucking the marrow out of our bones.  Alzheimers can exacerbate a person's worst personality traits, and I have to say Laurence has become difficult to be around.  Since he is not going to change, we must cultivate our "good - fine, whatever" response.  He bought a new carbon fiber bicycle today, so I guess while we're here we'll ride with him and see how it goes.  I'd like to have him micro chipped in case he gets lost.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Fort Collins to Pueblo West, CO

This morning we left Fort Collins.  We took the east side circumferential around Denver, which was a good thing.  I'm not sure exactly were we were, we went where GPS told us to.

This is a refinery somewhere.  It looks very other wordly.

The thing to remember about this route, is that there is no where to stop until almost Pueblo.  There are no rest stops, and we can't remember seeing any truck plazas, either.  There is a Love's just north of Pueblo where we got lunch and diesel.  Please make a note of it, and be careful about coffee intake.
We're now outside of Pueblo West.  It's kind of a horrible little place.  Much shopping and housing, out on the prairie.

The sky is quite large here.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Evanston, WY to Fort Collins North/Wellington KOA

Travel can be so entertaining.  Today was another long day.  We traveled across Wyoming on I80 today.  It started off dark but eventually lightened up some.

It's good that it got brighter.  It allowed us to see the two giant deer who decided to cross a four lane freeway without looking both ways.  The semi in front us us locked up his brakes avoiding them.  Fortunately for us, they kept going across the road and we didn't have to do a panic stop.  This is the first time I've ever seen deer on a freeway during daylight.  We were both wide awake after that.

Eventually we reached the outskirts of Fort Collins.  I checked the mobile website for the Fort Collins/Lakeside KOA, and it told us not to follow GPS instructions, but to follow those on the website.  So we did.  The first thing we saw was a KOA sign at the end of the off ramp pointing east, the directions said go west.  We called the RV park and the guy on the phone says go west, but that there was construction in the area; just follow the detour signs, you'll be fine.  Right.  The steenking road was closed.  The roads to the north and south were not paved.  We don't like to drive on dirt roads in unfamiliar areas.  So, we unhooked the pickup truck, backed up, and headed from whence we came.

Here we are, out in the middle of nowhere.

It worked out, we ended up at a KOA that was much closer to the freeway.  What really pisses me off is that there was nothing about road closures on the mobile website.  There is nothing on the reservations page, either.  They do mention the closure on the information screen, but that is not a page I used, I went directly to reservations.  I think KOA could do a better job with notification, or maybe the guy on the phone could have been a little more informative about the unpaved roads when we first called.

We're at the other Fort Collins North KOA.  We did not book here originally because it got such terrible reviews.  Our experience is that it's not totally awful.  This is the view from the windshield.  We can hear I25 with the front door open, but it's not completely obnoxious.

Sites are not squished together.  You will have to level, there's a pretty good drop off on the passenger side.  We can not get satellite, due to that wretched tree.  Park internet does not work at all for us.  We have good 4G on Verizon.  Power is good, water pressure is good.  Interior roads are paved, but they are narrow.  We didn't brush any trees, but it's narrow.  It's not a terrible park.  If we pass through this way again I think we would stay here again.

The Fort Collins/Lakeside KOA, where we did not stay, is really really far off the freeway, and it's an out and back to I25.  We had a failure to study the map and determine how far they actually were, so we're glad we did not go there.  We would have spent more in diesel to go there than the reservation fee we just forfeited.
Tomorrow we are off to Pueblo West. 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Boise, ID to Phillips RV Park in Evanston, WY

Oy!  It has been a day!  We normally don't like to drive more than 300 miles a day, but today was a 400 miler.  Tomorrow will be almost as long.  I did the distance arithmetic wrong to give us today's mileage.  Tomorrow is a by product of there not being much out here.  We were up at 6:30, so we could be past Mountain Home Air Force Base before the crowds started massing for an airshow.  The talking heads on the news were forecasting carmageddon between construction and crowds, so we were up and out very early.
This is how early it was.  The balloons were out.

We saw this for most of the day.  Southern Utah can only be described as desolate.  We stopped at a Flying J on I84 in Snowville.  Avoid this truck stop if at all possible.  There are only three pumps, and getting out of there in a Class A towing is challenging.  There are many more truck stops up the road that are better.

The Phllips RV park is rustic. 

The view from our windshield.

The good:  There is a strong 4G signal.  We're in a fairly level pull through at the front of the park, which has a clear shot at the southern sky.  Power seems to be good.
The bad:  We're on site 49.  The sewer is very far at the back.  Since we wanted to leave the truck attached to the RV, we could not set a sewer.  The pull throughs are laid out sort of haphazardly.
The ugly:  Park water pressure is 90 to 100 psi.  You must have a pressure regulator!

It's ok for an overnight, but I would not want to spend much time here.

And now for some history.  The park has been here since 1936 and is still family owned.  In November 1868, as the grading crews for the Union Pacific Railroad approached the present site of Evanston, Harvey Booth pitched a tent near what is now Front Street and opened a saloon and restaurant.  With a few weeks, the new frontier railroad camp had 650 residents.

Update to post:  There is no way this park has high water pressure.  Taking a shower was just sad, there was so little water.  Also, the train noise is unbelievable.  The Union Pacific line goes through here, hauling huge freight loads.  We can hear the horns and the basso profundo rumble of big trains.  We're also hearing the pickup trucks running up and down the road on a Saturday night.

Hi Valley RV Park

While in Boise, we stayed at the Hi Valley RV Park.  It appears to be an old KOA.  We liked it.  The people at the front desk are very nice.  We wanted a site with no over hanging trees, and the lady on the desk spent some time thinking about what would be good.  Interior roads are paved, sites are hard packed gravel.  Each site has a picnic table, and a grass strip between you and your neighbor.  Sites are narrow, if that bothers you, you won't be happy here.  Power is good, water is good, we have excellent 4G.  And the satellite works!  Happy days.  We did laundry while here, the washing machines are huge.  Everything is clean, well maintained and looks good.
It's very quiet because you are off the freeway.  Next time we go through Boise, we would stay here again.

Friday, September 19, 2014


There is an art to reading online write ups about an area.  Boise came with glowing reports of places to mountain bike.  Nah, not so much.  Most of the close in areas look like this.  These are foothills covered in tall dead grass.  The signs at the kiosks warn about ticks and rattlesnakes.

This would probably be better when it's cooler.  At the moment, it's just not that appealing.

Our next investigative trip was up to Bogus Basin, which is a ski area.  But wait, what is this?  From reading Metamorphosis Road, I recognize this as a disk golf thingy.  It's the only one we saw.

There are trails, and some of them weren't too steep, but we could not figure out how to get to the flat-ish sections.  All we could detect were switchbacks, at 7,000 feet.  We decided to hike.

Jim on the trail.  It was a nice hike.  There was much elevation gain and huffing and puffing. 

At the bottom of Bogus Basin drive there is this.  That's the Governor's Mansion.  Its history is very interesting.  It was originally built by the Simplots in 1979.  At the time, he was the 89th richest man in America.  He was the primary supplier of potatoes to McDonald's.  This is the house that potatoes built.  They sold it to the state in 2007, and it became the Governor's Mansion in 2009.  The current governor does not live there, perhaps because he divorced one of the Simplot girls.  The house website is interesting and has more pictures of the interior.

However, this is the most amazing thing about the property.  Remember those yellow brown hills?  This is the same terrain.  However, water has been applied to keep it green.  When we went by, there were people on riding mowers, there were people with push mowers, and people with weed whackers all engaged in the maintenance of this beautiful green acreage. 

Yesterday was sort of a slow day.  We awoke to yellow skies due to smoke from the California fires filling the valley.  It was just horrible.  No one was really interested in sucking down gallons of particulate matter, so we did not.  We did spend some time re-arranging our travel schedule for from now until the end of October.  There was much calling of people, writing on the calendar and the like.  Things have changed.  One must be flexible.

This morning we went for a walk in a near by neighborhood.  It's one of the best and most consistently maintained  housing farms we've seen in awhile. They must have a killer HOA.  There are mimosas growing in many yards.  I always thought they were warm weather trees, but they're here.

So, tomorrow we are off to Pueblo West, which has replaced our original goal of the Tetons.  My brother is there with his wife.  Laurence has early on set Alzheimer's.  Without going into detail, his decline seems to have accelerated so we are going there for a bit.  We plan to arrive in Capital Reef October 5, and hopefully the weather will hold for us.