Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Trip to Durango, CO through Wolf Creek Pass 7/09

Our drive from Colorado Springs, CO to Durango, CO took us south on I-25 and turned right / west on US 160 at Walsenburg.

This mountain is off the road to the north. It is about 12,000 feet above sea level and timberline is around 9000 feet, so that is why it is bare on top.

We passed this thrift shop and thought it was cute. 2 reasons we didn’t stop – we were caravanning with friends and it is hard to find parking for our rig when we are towing a car.

Our first challenge was La Vita Pass. Even though it is only 9000+ feet, it is steep and the RV was not happy at all. In fact we had to pull off just before the crest to let it cool off. Downhill was fine.

Next obstacle was Wolf Creek Pass. Gotta say we were worried about this even before we left home and even more so after La Vita Pass. The up hill is steep but more gradual than the last one but the downhill is a 7% grade with a few hairpin turns.

The map says it is 10,550 but you can see what our GPS said when we got to the top!!

That is our road still going down and around the mountain side.

I have all the confidence in Gene, but I am a white-knuckle rider. Someone told me, on an RV message board, that the solution for me was easy - booze and a blindfold, LOL. We made it up and down just fine so all the worry was for naught.

Tunnel through the mountain.

We arrived at our RV Park the Alpen Rose – which we do not recommend to others. We are not the most experienced RVers but all the help except one lady was rude and unfriendly. We pulled in and Gene didn’t even have the RV turned off when a golf cart pulled up and the man barked, last name/ reservations? You have to off load the car here!!! No hello, glad you are here, nothing!!
When we made the reservations it was with the understanding the 2 RV’s would be next to each other. Someone switched the reservation and we were on one end and our friends where on the other end. After a lot of jiggling around the nice lady got us close to each other.
The pool closed at 8PM (which is early) and they were kicking people out 15 minutes before. The playground consisted of swings and a horsey on a spring.
There are lots of RV parks in the Durango area and there is no need to go someplace that is rude and unfriendly and 8 miles north of town.
We could see the train go by and hear the whistle so that was pretty nice.

Just across the small road was a field with 4 horses. The kids had a grand time visiting with them and letting go of all the pent up energy from the 6-hour trip.
Next day we rode the train.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Durango to Silverton Rio Grande Steam Train Ride

What a joy it was to take our youngest grandson and this train ride. Our friends also took their granddaughter. The kids had a blast.

This train ride took us from Durango, CO to Silverton. When we made our reservations we chose the Gondola car, which is covered but has open sides. There are advantages and disadvantages.
The advantage is being in the fresh air, larger seats on benches that let our group of 6 sit next to each other rather than 2 in a row. Since we were 2 sets of Grandparents, each with a grandchild, seats of 2 would not have worked very well.

I actually think the disadvantage is an advantage. Because we were outside some of the smoke and coal ash flew back and we had cinders and soot in our hair. Our hands and faces were tinged with black. It is all part of the experience and we were none the worse for the ‘dirt’.

There is a new car they have added recently. It is called the Silver Vista. It is covered but with a clear roof so you can look up and see the sky and the tops of the mountains.

The train follows the Animas River. At times there were river runners (folks in rafts and kayaks). Since we took the trip in July the water level was down. The river runs harder and faster in spring when the snow is melting.

At times the track through a mountain is very narrow and the clearance betweenthe rocks, on both sides, is just inches.

There are bridges and trestles over the river. At certain times the engineer would release steam that shot out the side of the locomotive. Usually the steam creates a rainbow.

The train had many cars so as it went around turns we could see the front and the back.

The trip to Silverton, which is over 9000 feet above sea level, takes 3 ½ hours. Passengers have the choice to either take a bus back to Durango or the train back. The scenery in both directions is awesome, so we have always taken the train, both ways.

The layover in Silverton is 2 ¼ hours – just time to eat lunch and do alittle shopping and have some fun – like ride in a stagecoach around the few dirt streets of the town. And then it was another 3 ½ hours or so back to Durango.

This is one of those trips that is a must for everyone, at least one time. We ALL found it very relaxing with the swaying of the rail car and the sound of the engine.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

AirBoat Ride Cypress Lake, FL 3/09

When we visited Orlando there were coupon books and activity guides at every gas station, rest area, restaurant etc.

In them there were several ads for an airboat rides. We chose the one that said it was totally primitive and would not pass any housing areas. Cypress Lake is about 45 minutes SW of Orlando and was very easy to find.

There was only one other lady on the trip with us. Each seat came equipped with earphones because the engine is so loud. When our captain wanted to tell us something he shut down the motor.

The trip started immediately when we left the dock and went through some marsh and tall grasses. It was absolutely fantastic and we were only on it for less than 5 minutes and saw this alligator.

And it got even better. Next he went looking for alligators. By the time the ride was over we had seen 35 alligators with 5 of them swimming together in the lake.

We followed a river into a cypress grove. Some of the trees there are over 100 years old.
Years ago they would harvest the cypress knees for the tourist trade but it was discovered that they were part of the root system so it is unlawful to cut them anymore

There were lots of birds - some of the ducks had hundreds in one flock. The captain had fun driving into them so we could watch them walk on the water before they took flight.

The other flock is Ibis.

The trip was an hour long, but when we were done, I told the captain it was really only 10 minutes. He said he hears that alot. We arrived back alittle wind blown, but totally happy.

Since we have been together we have seen and done a lot, but for me this tops the list of all my favorite things to do. It is Gene’s 2nd – seeing the Statue of Liberty for the 1st time is his #1!