Final summer 2010 update

Oops, it’s almost Thanksgiving and we’re closing out the summer travels…

We last left off with our extremely fun and cool time (pun intended) in the San Juan mountains of

Sound Democrat Mine - the stamping mill in the background

Sound Democrat Mine - the stamping mill in the background in the San Juan mountains of Colorado

Western Colorado.  We had a great time staying cool and exploring many Jeep trails in the Ouray, Silverton, and Montrose area.  For the off-road enthusiast, you are hard matched to do better.  One can run a street-legal vehicle, or an ATV, UTV, dirt bike, bicycle, whatever on the trails.  There are a few restrictions, but generally speaking you are liable to come across almost anything on the mountain trails.

This was our second time off-roading our Jeep Liberty in the San Juans and for the first time, we did a trail the Liberty (or me?  both?) could not conquer, the Yankee Boy Trail.  We got almost to the end of the trail – the switchback was extremely rutted from rains and I suppose other off-roading activity and our Liberty just couldn’t get traction.  There was another trail I chickened out on, but I prefer to forget that experience.  Speaking of chickening out, many of these trails consist of  ‘shelf’ roads cut in the sides of mountains that switch back and forth up the mountain usually built for access to the many old mines in the area.  Some of these roads are barely large enough for one vehicle and the drop off down the mountain side could be literally hundreds of feet.  Talk about gripping the steering wheel!  (Stay tuned for another blog post where we try to solve future trail problems…)

We had a check engine light come on in the Jeep while we were in Montrose – the transmission would not shift into overdrive .  Fortunately there was a Jeep dealer nearby and they pulled the code and said our transmission control module was defective.  Great.   That part and repair was only a few hundred dollars.  Yikes!  Fortunately they were a great dealer and took very good care of us!

While in the Montrose area we visited the very scenic Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.  This canyon is sort of a junior Grand Canyon and it was very interesting to visit, but we wouldn’t have

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, near Montrose, Colorado

come to the area specifically to visit the park.  Since we were already in the area, it was a nice sightseeing bonus.  We drove the easily accessible and popular south rim road, and then drove many more miles the following day to drive  the north rim road.

We wanted to check out the Moab, Utah area for 4-wheeling opportunities (off-roading is extremely popular there) so we made reservations to stay at the Colorado River State Park in Fruita (just west of Grand Junction) which happens to be about an hour’s drive from Moab.

In Frutia, we visited the extremely scenic (and very nearby)  Colorado National Monument with its spectacular (stunning is a better word) panoramas.  To quote the Monument’s web site, “Colorado National Monument preserves one of the grand landscapes of the American West. But this treasure is much more than a monument. Towering monoliths exist within a vast plateau-and-canyon panorama. You can experience sheer-walled, red rock canyons along the twists and turns of Rim Rock Drive, where you may spy bighorn sheep and soaring eagles.”

Colorado National Monument

Colorado National Monument near Grand Junction, Colorado

After a few days in the Grand Junction area it was finally time to head back to Forest City, Iowa (the Winnebago factory) to get our windshield leak repaired.  This was totally unplanned!  We were already at Forest City for the Winnebago Grand National Rally in July and had a few maintenance items performed and had no plans to return there for a couple of years.  The original plan after Colorado was to head south to New Mexico, visit with our good friends in Las Cruces, then head east on I-10 for home.  Instead we made a huge detour that ate up more fuel dollars (it costs us about $0.50 a mile in fuel to run the coach!)

We made the best of the detour and since we both enjoy air museums, we stumbled across the Strategic Air and Space Museum in Greenwood, Nebraska which coincidentally was a) right on our

SR-71 "Blackbird"

The SR-71 "Blackbird" was an advanced Mach 3+ reconnaissance aircraft

route to Forest City, and b)  Greenwood was the correct mileage from Frutia  (when we plan a trip from point A to point B, we try to only cover 300-400 miles in a day.)  Here are several pictures of the aircraft in the museum from our photo gallery.

Winnebago got our leak repaired in fine fashion and then we were headed for home!  A very handy first night’s stop was Terribles Casino (with hotel and RV park!) The RV park wasn’t in great repair, but we were only there for one night.  We think of gambling as occasional entertainment and when we lose 20 or 30 bucks, we leave or when we win 30 or 40 bucks, we leave.  This time I think we won about 30 bucks so we implemented our usual plan and left!

We always love leaving for the road and always love returning home – it was very exciting to make that last turn for our little ranch!

As always, thanks for riding along with us.  May God richly bless you.