Tuesday, August 8, 2006 … 0 Camper Miles – Total 4,960

Mostly cloudy am, sunny, high 80s pm

Bill spent this morning working on the log and web site and actually got it UP TO DATE! That’s the first time it’s been up to date since we started out on this little adventure and, who knows, it may be the last. Of course, it will be a couple of days until the additions get posted to the web site. So, from a readership point of view, it will STILL be behind! Meanwhile, Sandy caught up on writing post cards and letters to family and friends.

In the afternoon, we first stopped at Dinosaur Hill. In 1901, a guy named Elmer Riggs and his crew excavated an almost complete, 70-ft long Apatosaurus which is now displayed in the Chicago Field Museum. It seems an unlikely place, a rugged, rocky little hill just down the road from our campsite.

Then, it was up the hill to nearby Colorado National Monument. This monument is situated on the edge of the Uncompahgre Uplift which rises nearly 2,000 ft above the nearby Colorado River. The 23 mile Rim Rock Drive parallels the rim of the uplift, providing many views of the uplift and the canyons eroded into it’s edge. We also took most of the short side trails to overlooks, foregoing the many long trails that run through the monument. This monument is certainly worthwhile if you’re in the area but is probably not worth a side trip unless you’re into the geology.

Ambitious Lizard Attempts to Consume a Chrysalis
Ambitious Lizard Attempts to Consume a Chrysalis

Fruita to Chatfield State Park, Denver, CO

Wednesday, August 9, 2006 … 266 Camper Miles – Total 5,226

Sunny, hot, low 90s

We were off by 8:15, headed back onto I-70 for another long interstate run. I-70, in this area, however, is really special. It begins by running up Glenwood Canyon. This canyon is certainly spectacular, narrow and twisty with high sides and the swift Colorado river running along the road. What is also really neat is the way the road was designed and constructed. It’s been acclaimed as the best designed piece of the entire interstate highway system. There are frequent rest areas that provide access to a wonderful walking/bike path and launch and recovery sites for the many raft trips running the river. The road is elevated and/or split in several areas; in one place the southbound lanes go through a tunnel while the northbound ones are suspended above the river. It is a beautiful piece of highway. Later on the road climbs high into the mountains to whisk you past many celebrated Colorado ski areas including Beaver Creek, Vail, etc. Finally, just before the final descent into Denver, you climb all the way to 11,200 feet, the highest elevation we’ve seen so far on this trip.

On the way down, we stopped at the small town of Georgetown. It’s a quaint, Victorian town that had a brief history of gold mining. Within a few years, however, bigger deposits were found up-mountain in Leadville. An attempt was made to extend the local rail line to Leadville to transport ore and people. Unfortunately, the builders were beaten out by another railroad. The railroad investment was recouped, however, as a tourist attraction. It turns out that the innovative engineering required to get up the mountain to Leadville utilized several spectacular hairpin turns and a spiral loop right in Georgetown that attracted riders from far and wide.

Georgetown Railroad Winds Under Its Own Hairpin Turn Bridge
Georgetown Railroad Winds Under Its Own Hairpin Turn Bridge

At the bottom of the hill is Denver and just on the south side of Denver is Chatfield State Park. The park had sites available for Wednesday and Thursday but we actually had to get reservations for Friday and Saturday nights, the first reservations of our trip! We set up camp and immediately punched “stun” on the air conditioner … it was HOT! We even set up our awning for only the third time this trip to keep the sun off the front of the camper. (We STILL haven’t needed the screen enclosure that attaches to the awning.)

We quickly showered and headed into the city to see sailboat cruising friends, Roger & Elaine. They’re staying with daughter, Alicia, and her husband, Dave, who live in a lovely, older residential neighborhood near the city’s zoo. One of the main attractions, besides the zoo and daughter and son-in-law, is 16- month-old granddaughter, Erica. We visited for a couple of hours and then headed out for a delicious Indian dinner at the Little India Restaurant.

Chatfield State Park

Thursday, August 10, 2006 … 0 Camper Miles – Total 5,226

Hot again, high 90s

Today, Sandy walked along some of the trails in the park. We then headed toward the city for lunch with Luanna Traubert, a longtime friend of Sandy’s from our Armstrong days. We ate at Champps Sports Bar on Santa Fe Blvd. Great food, huge servings, excellent service and low prices … we recommend it highly! Lauanna was the secretary at our Denver Floor Division Office for many years, retired and has had a wonderful carrer with the Denver Seminary. It was great to catch up with her.

It had been about two months since we had haircuts so we stopped for his-and-hers “dos” at a local shopping center. Then it was shopping time, stopping at the local, going-out-of-business EMS and looking for an innerspring mattress to replace the failing foam mattress in the camper.

It cooled off nicely that evening and we enjoyed a salad with smoked turkey and avocado for dinner.

Chatfield State Park

Friday, August 11, 2006 … 0 Camper Miles – Total 5,226

Bright sunshine in am and breezy, pleasant day

It was windy overnight, enough so that Bill got up early to take the awning down because it made too much noise flapping in the wind.

At 7:00 a.m. Bill took the Lexus in for an oil change and to check out a problem with the automatic headlight system. (It turned out that a piece of paper on the dash board was blocking the headlight sensor … no charge.) Happily, this huge dealership had desk space and WiFi. So Bill posted the web site updates that he completed a few days ago, caught up on e-mail and updated our checking and credit accounts via MS Money. An hour later, Sandy was taking her walk and Bill was back in town for a transmission fluid flush/change.

Alicia & Dave were off for a rare, long camping weekend while Roger & Elaine took on baby-sitting duty. The baby was at day care, however, so we met up with Roger & Elaine for a tour of downtown Denver. Afterwards, we had dinner at the house. It really cooled off by the time we returned to the campground with increased breeze, so it was a great night for sleeping.

Chatfield State Park

Saturday, August 12, 2006 … 0 Camper Miles – Total 5,226

Sunny morning with breeze, rainy evening

This was a much needed kick-back day! After doing the laundry, Bill spent most of the day reading and napping. Sandy did her thing, heading in for a quilt show at the Denver Seminary, where Luanna works. She also explored historic downtown Littleton with it’s farmers’ market and an outdoor art show. We finished the day with shrimp scampi and a salad for supper. It was a rainy evening with nice, cool temperatures.

Chatfield State Park to Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park, CO

Sunday, August 13, 2006 … 111 Camper Miles – Total 5,337

Bright sunshine & very pleasant, then partly cloudy with high of 77

We quickly washed our sheets and towels before breaking camp around 10:30. We then drove straight to the bedding store to pick up and install our new, innerspring mattress which fit perfectly! Now, what to do with the old foam cushions? (We kept the covers but trashed most of the foam.)

We then left the Denver area via Rt-6 leaving behind the urban sprawl for a lovely winding road through canyons and past rushing streams, headed for Estes Park and the Rocky Mountain National Park. It was a beautiful drive, passing by lots of old mine shafts and tailings and tiny old mining towns. One of those towns, not too far from Denver, however, was Black Hawk. To our surprise, we saw not old homes but several, large casinos. It sure was ugly and not at all in keeping with the rest of the landscape. But, folks do LOVE to gamble. We also drove through Estes Park. Yeah, it is definitely a tourist town but with a difference … it is actually attractive and the folks we met seemed really nice! We stopped at the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center at the entrance to the park and decided to camp at Aspenglen, smallest of the Park’s campgrounds. Once again, there were plenty of empty sites, although the camp host said they’d been full every night since July 4!

As we started to prepare dinner, it started to rain and blow . Before we knew it we had a very heavy mixture of rain and heavy pea-sized hail. It was deafening on the aluminum camper roof! Happily, we sustained no damage on either the camper or the car and, as it was winding down, we spotted a rainbow. For once, we could actually see the end of it … on the road right in front of our camper! Sandy couldn’t believe her eyes. We’re sorry to report, however, that there was no leprechaun guarding a pot of gold at the end. Or, maybe, might the gold have been at the OTHER end? We’ll probably never know!

The Blue “Truck”

The rain stopped so Bill made a stir-fry, this time with bison/garlic sausage. (The flavor was ok but the bison meat was really dry!) Afterwards, we walked the campground road. Along the way, we admired a blue Corvette towing a matching, custom-made trailer that contained a matching blue Harley Davidson motorcycle and another, matching mini-chopper. (Eat your heart out Capt’n John … they were on their way home from Sturgis!) It was lights out for us by 9:30.