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Hot Air Balloons in Pagosa Springs, CO

A gorgeous Saturday morning in Pagosa Springs!

It is fun being on the field before the balloons go up to see some silhouettes, the gas flames, and the baskets up close.

Beautiful colors! Oh – they are calling it The Color Fest.

Makes you want to sing ” Up, Up, and Away in my beautiful balloon”.

Even the Jester was smiling and having a good time.

We wandered over to the river walk.

And watched some balloons do a touch and go in the San Juan River.

Or just take a break and people watch the people watching!

Fun to also watch from the ramada next to the deepest hot springs in the world.

Oh – we got them to line up: one, two, three, four!

We returned in the evening for a band, a sunset, and a glow from the gas flames on a countdown from 10.

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San Juan National Forest – Pagosa Springs, CO

After crossing Wolf Creek Pass, we drove down Mill Creek Road with this view of Nipple Mountains.

We found this cozy little spot to set up a dispersed camp site.

We had some visitors – one morning one of these lovelies was licking the van – never thought of a cow as curious!

We enjoyed a few sunsets silhouetted by the trees.

Lots of brief monsoon type rains gave us lots of interesting clouds along with the moisture.

We even got to see the rainbow!

Which of course leads to beautiful wildflowers in the nearby meadow.

We took a short hike to Treasure Falls

One of those collared lizards – they are hard to photograph as they are quite fast!

We spent the afternoon at the Archuleta County Fair, watching the Rodeo.

They had to separate a specific cow from the herd, rope it and then ‘Brand’ it.

Of course we got right into the action and tried our city slicker hand at roping!

Another day we hiked into Weminuche Wilderness, North of Pagosa Springs.

We had this hiking companion.

The fireweed was in full bloom – a very nice magenta!

Our destination was Fourmile Falls for a picnic lunch!

The cliffs are actually large conglomerate rocks that were part of the ancient seabed.


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Chimney Rock National Monument and Navajo Reservoir Area

Chimney Rocks is a new national Monument in San Juan National Forest.

It is on the Ancient road to Chaco Canyon.

The sun shines between the chimney rocks on a neighboring hill at equinox.

We had an excellent guided tour where we learned all bits and pieces of the native American history.

Plus it was an awesome day to just be on the hilltop.

The original wall is closest to the camera with the most texture while the rebuilt wall has less protruding rocks.

Details, details, details.

Mostly sandstone construction.

This is the large kiva at the base of the chimney rocks.

Nice to meet some other travelers – we had a great group.

Storage rooms around the kiva with the orientation to the chimney’s.

This is as close to them as we can venture as the sandstone is a bit fragile for too many visitors.

There are faces looking north – perhaps the clouds have outlined them enough for you to see.

A bit further south at Navajo Reservoir, we learned that the Dominguez – Escalante Expedition crossed the San Juan river here near Arboles, CO.

This was a water tower that serviced the narrow gauge railroad – of which the Durango – Silverton portion is still operating.

You can still see the Rio Grande name on this part of the tank.

An old coal car of the Denver and Rio Grande Rail Road. And I realized we have taken no pictures of the Navajo Reservoir!

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Rio Grande National Forest, South Fork, Colorado

A ranger recommended this meadow and we were thrilled with the view!

Perhaps this rock outcropping had a name.

We realized we were sharing the home of these wild turkeys – we saw the same group every day.

They are not exactly cute but they are interesting.

Even though the rain clouds were moving in, we still had a nice sunset.

We decided we should explore that rock outcropping.

Great views – and of the Travato in its camp spot also!

We drove to see this site by the reservoir.

This gorgeous Douglas Fir is the biggest tree found in the Rio Grande National Forest .

Everything about it is large!

We took another near by hike and enjoyed some wild flowers like this pretty rose.

Words to remember!

Back to camp with time to enjoy another nice sunset.

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Poncha Pass and Salida, Colorado

There is the Travato on a hill on Poncha Pass – it is a level spot with a great view and the MINI Cooper is sitting behind it.

We walked a mile or so to O’Haver Lake which is quite pleasant. We hung out at the day use picnic tables but there is also a campground.

This aspen grove was quite dense and interesting.

This is the stone bridge for the turnoff to Marshall Pass road – 7 miles to the pass is a bit much for us to hike with the looming storm clouds.

Salida Fly In – a gorgeous morning and some very fine planes.

Some fun Russian nose art that we had not seen before.

The propellor is polished to such perfection that there are reflections!

Super Bee tail art – the nose looked like a cute smiling bumblebee.

Take off – we thought they were going to fly around in formation.

And maybe give us a bit of an airshow – but we didn’t see it.

There were also some beautiful old cars – this 1940 Buick in from Wyoming.

This was an original Colorado State truck that delivered the fish to stock the lakes – very nicely restored.

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Arkansas River Valley near Buena Vista, CO

We parked along the Numbers 4 section of the Arkansas River, north of Buena Vista, for a week.

Lots of rafters and kayaks – the water is running very nicely.

We walked up river to this area where a commercial photographer was set up to get lots of white water splash.

Our first evening we saw three big horn sheep rams – this guy is checking out the Ram ProMaster Travato! Like brothers. We watched him come down with the binocs.

It was very much fun to watch them forage – they were actually eating yucca blossoms. We read they were re-introduced in this area in 1980.

They kept trying to cross to the river but this would create a bit of a traffic jam with people stopping to take photos.

Our second night there was a group of five rams – then they must have found another place to explore.

We did a day hike up towards Cottonwood Pass to Hartenstein Lake – it was only a little over two miles but 1600 foot climb. We were too out of breath to take many pictures but got this nice one of the lake with Mt Yale during our picnic lunch.

This is the start of a hike in Brown’s Canyon National Monument – gorgeous scenery with granite boulders and the Collegiate Peaks.

Prickly poppies were in full bloom and a thunderstorm off in the valley kept us paying attention.

We walked to this overlook of the Arkansas River and saw a group  rafting Brown’s Canyon.

Time for a picnic lunch before the clouds close in on us.

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Independence Day Thoughts around Twin Lakes

This used to be Hunter Pass before Gold was discovered in them there hills. Leadville was already a boom town and this was the toll road to Aspen.

4 July 1879, three years after Colorado became the Centennial State, gold was found here at the base of Independence Mountain.

One of the famous people to live in Aspen, the John Denver Memorial Garden along the Roaring Fork river is a pleasant place to visit.

Colorado’s second official state song, since 2007 – probably because it seems like the most iconic. It has some pretty nice lyrics.

A good hiking song – Sunshine on My Shoulders.

Did you know the Colorado Trail is No. 1776 – how All American is that? We were on a hike to the Lily Ponds and some surrounding beaver ponds.

Our first wild columbines for the season. “Where The Columbines Grow” is the first official state song of Colorado, but hardly anyone knows the words.

These are the beaver ponds – we did not see any lilies.

The Haute Route: Mavic Rockies, a European ride’s only US route, rode right by our camp site. How cool is that!!!

We had our bikes on the MINI ready to do a shorter ride of our own. This group rode 102 miles from Avon to Snowmass, of which we were about the half way point.

Leadville is where many made their money on silver and it was the second largest city after Denver, in the day.

This Mineral Belt Trail is a great paved trail looping around the city. We stopped in to tour the Matchless Mine, where “Baby Doe” Tabor held on until her last breath – even tho the mine had not been producing $1,000 a day for quit a while.

Horace Tabor spent his earnings and built the Tabor Opera House (and also one in Denver) where we enjoyed the 101st Army Concert Band on their 80th Anniversary Tour. Very patriotic music. Our friends are very involved in the preservation of the Tabor Opera House.

On the 4th, we walked around Mt Elbert Forebay Reservoir. Wow – what a beautiful day! The 14er’s are La Plata to the left, Mt Elbert in the center and Mt Massive in the back on the right .

We created our own Fire Works and had a pleasant evening after our hamburgers and ice cream bars.

There was a lot of smoke in the air, not just from our fire but it gave a very eerie calmness to the night. We thought of rockets red glare giving proof that we are still here! We are sorry tho to hear that there are many wildfires in Colorado this season.

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