We're so glad you joined us!

Here we are – kids, dogs and all! Thanks for visiting our page! We're hoping that you will enjoy hearing about our travels and experiences as a family. We intend for this blog to share more than just travel journals, but also insights and lessons learned during our daily adventures. Please share your comments and come back often! * update * as of August 2010, we finished our journey, so new entries to this site will be rare. Linda's starting a new personal blog here. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Big Snowstorm

It was a good thing that we worked in the Royal Gorge and viewing the 12,000 ft. passes before this snow came in! We had a blast with over 9" of snow in the area. The snow wasn't as 'wet' as we had seen in Wyoming and the temperature didn't fall too far below 30.

We stayed warm in the RV, the water supply didn't freeze and we spent a lot of time playing! Remember this bridge from our hike a couple of days earlier?

Well...to be truthful, one member of our family was most definitely NOT fond of the snow. Pepper actually doesn't care for temperature variances beyond her limits of about 68-72F. To have any form of moisture in addition to the violation of temperature boundaries makes conditions intolerable. We made her as comfortable as we could, but we were not successful in making her happy. More entries will follow of the sledding adventures.

Royal Gorge

We decided to take a good part of a day to take in the Royal Gorge, about 60 miles from the rv park. A pretty good snow had fallen over much of the area, so we called first to make sure of road conditions. We were advised to wait a bit to allow for the snowplows to catch up and were glad that we did! The bridge is reputed to be the highest suspension bridge in the world, spanning the Arkansas River 1053 feet below.

Vehicles are allowed to cross the bridge - one direction at a time, but we left the truck in the parking lot and hoofed it across - some of us more gingerly than others. The boys enjoyed peering through the planks to the river far below.

The suspension design allows for sway from the wind and live load (people and vehicles).

Besides crossing the bridge itself, visitors may cross the gorge via the tram. We enjoyed the perspective of the bridge and the gorge from the ride and the entertaining conversation with some tourists from England.

Yet another means of touring the gorge is via the inclined railway. The stairstep designed cars transport visitors along rails attached to the steep slopes. A couple of spaces allow seating, but most of the spaces are for standing as you descend and ascend the wall of the gorge.

Here's the view of the bridge from the bottom of the gorge:

Also at the bottom of the gorge is a close-up view of the sometimes Class V whitewater rapids of the Arkansas River and the unique hanging bridge built to carry the trains through alongside the river.

We also visited a wildlife viewing area with elk, bison (including one white one!) and big horn sheep. During the busier summer season, lots of activities relating to the pioneer days are available. We were pleased with the day that we had. The admission, while pricey, offers some unique opportunities to view a significant man-made accomplishment!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Beautiful fall day in the mountains

While exploring the town we came across a city park located next to the Arkansas River. There are several hiking and bike trails that begin at the park and climb through the rugged hills. Linda and the boys checked out the options and came up with a good trail for us to try.

They picked a very good one that started along the stream and climbed up a scenic hillside. It also included historical and educational kiosks that gave us great insight into the town and the area.

As we gained elevation, we could look across the valley and see the 14,000 ft Collegiate mountains in the distance.

Cory is always on the lookout for nice rocks to climb and this trail provided several good candidates. This one at the top of the trail included a wonderful view as well.

It was a good tired that we all felt as we found ourselves back at the bridge where we started. A beautiful place with fly fishermen applying their trade in the creek. This is also a kayaking hot spot in the season. Looking out over the rapids, we all thought that would be great to see.

After our hike, we drove across the valley to the east face of the Collegiate mountains and up to Cottonwood Pass. We were quickly piling on our coats as the temperature according to the truck was 22 F - quite the contrast to the warm temperatures in the valley! We didn't have our warmest coats, only light jackets so we were quick in catching the sights from the 12,000+ elevation view of both sides of the mountains.

The view was breathtaking as we gazed upon mountaintops as far as we could see toward the west....

We stopped a few times on our descent back on the eastern face for Cory to try out sledding. Alas....he was gravity challenged as the slope wasn't steep enough for a good ride.

One face provided pretty good speed for him, but the altitude and cold were taking their toll.

We thoroughly enjoyed the ride further down the mountain including this view of Rainbow Lake, surrounded by a few lodge buildings tightly sealed up for winter.

We returned to the RV for dinner and battening down for forecasted cold and more snow. What an intriguing fall season we've had so far!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Field Trip

We planned on a shorter academic day today to allow for a field trip to a local goat dairy. While doing some laundry in the a.m., the RV park owner stopped by and asked if the boys would like a ride in his antique fire truck. He normally runs the fire truck each evening during the summer, but with so few campers in the park, the truck remained on display at the front entrance. He was preparing to park it for the winter with covering for the coming snows and was so thoughtful to think of our guys! They had a great time, then finished the rest of their work in time to visit the Jumpin' Good Goat Dairy in the afternoon. The owner of the dairy is Dawn Jump, thus the name!

First we saw the bucks that were segregated from the rest of the herd. They will be breeding in the next few weeks for a new batch of kids in the spring.
This is last springs crop of kids. They were very busy with a fresh bale of alfalfa.

Next to the business end of the dairy - the does were brought into the milking station where 13 at a time are fed alfalfa touched up with molasses while the milking machines go to work.

Each of the boys were allowed to participate!

The main produce of this dairy is cheese. The milk from the dairy's goats is certainly used, but they purchase most of the milk from a nearby goat farm. We were able to see the area where the cheese is made and packaged, then the next stop was the 'cave' where the cheese is aged.

Two large storage rooms are built 10' below ground for constant temperature that is ideal for the aging process. The dairy supplies cheese to local grocers and gourmet shops in nearby towns. They are waiting paperwork to clear the way for marketing their cheeses in Whole Foods Market in Denver and Boulder.
Growing busier and busier, they are looking for volunteers to help out with the handling of the new arrivals in March. Milking the does and feeding the kids becomes overwhelming for the dairy at that time and they've had great success with combining the work with education efforts with volunteers. If interested, they request contact near the end of January to schedule training.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Buena Vista - si, es verdad

Translation: Good View - yes, it's true! The Spanish name for this area is certainly accurate. We are enjoying the beautiful sights of this area - especially in fall. We had a little surprise in the weather - again. The almanac would tell you to expect highs in the 60s and lows in the 30s or 40s this time of year. We again are experiencing temps below the 'norm' and also some unanticipated snow conditions. Before the snow arrived, we took a few photos of the town. This is a depot under restoration near the main crossroads. Behind the depot are large cottonwoods in full color at a community park.
Here's the park with the pond as the centerpiece. The sign for the park tells us that it was dedicated in 1880. So many people must have enjoyed this spectacle over the years!

OK - same park a few days later with the snow falling. Still lovely, it just looks a bit more wintry than fall-like!

While Linda was tryiing to capture some photos of the pond from another direction, this brave duck came directly over. Think he's accustomed to sympathetic handouts?

On a drive in the surrounding rural area, we met one of the hundreds of deer in the area and her fawn. We see deer almost every night hanging out in the RV park and frequently see them along the roads in town.

Another wintry scene on the rural roadway. We realize that in true winter, snow would likely be piled up on the shoulders much higher. We don't plan to stick around in the RV to see that sight though!
We were pleasantly surprised to find this pumpkin patch on our travels, Each pumpkin is wearing a testimonial to the amount of snow accumulation!

Monday, October 19, 2009

BIG Wash Day

A couple of days ago, we blogged about the dog wash day. Well, that was simple compared to the degree of washing that was needed for the truck and RV. The Clark Cleaning Crew tackled the truck first with a hand wash. The RV park that we're in now will sell a 'wash permit' for $5 to cover anything you want to wash on the exterior (vehicles or RV's). Quite the bargain for the amount of cleaning we needed to do. They've nearly finished the front cap here - you could hardly make out the logo before they started between the caked on bugs, snow and ice crud and just plain old dirt. They're using a hose, bucket, Turtle Wax car wash, scrub brushes and a whole lot of elbow grease.
They were able to complete about 1/2 of the 5th wheel before the sun set. Great job guys!

Saturday, October 17, 2009


We had a birthday celebration for me (Linda) this week. My family is really great at spoiling me! The boys had some terrific cards and sweet wishes first thing, and Craig had put his artist skills to work on a beautiful sketch of one of my favorite subjects - the brown pelicans! Isn't that terrific? Then Craig made some scrumptious french toast for breakfast - see what I mean about spoiling? After breakfast, we declared it to be a holiday from school work and the boys worked outside to create some artwork of their own - inspired by their dad, no doubt! Cory began a detailed sketch of the nearby mountain and Will worked on some bird sketches in one of his books. We then loaded up in the truck and went for a drive toward nearby Leadville, with a planned stop at Twin Lakes along the way. The glacier formed lakes are a beautiful deep blue and framed beautifully by some of the tallest mountains in Colorado.

Seeing the route continued on to Aspen, we changed our plans and continued on the 38 mile trek. Along the way is Independence Pass at elevation 12, 095. Within view along the way is Mt. Elbert, the tallest mountain in Colorado at elevation 14,433.
We descended from that point to Aspen, which boasted valleys full of the trees by which the community gained its name. Not having planned the stop in the village, we stopped only long enough to get a drink from the fanciest McDonald's we've ever seen and drove through the narrow roads to see the various condos, shops and the ski resort.
We then travelled back the way we came, over the mountains on narrow two and sometimes one lane roadways. Unfortunately, we witnessed an accident site manned by the sheriff's department where we got a brief glimpse of a vehicle that had somehow slipped off of one of the steep slopes and was wrecked in the trees not far from the roadway, but probably dropped at least 50 feet vertically. We hope and pray the occupants made it safely from the vehicle!

We drove on to Leadville and had a nice dinner at Quincy's. When seated, the waiter advised that only one entree was available - rib eye. We all chose the smallest cut - 8 oz. and were served salad, baked potatoes and bread for a very reasonable price. The dinner was delicious and too generous of servings for one sitting. We gathered our doggie bags and contentedly headed back to the RV park. After dinner settled, we closed the day with birthday cake and turned in - having had a great day!

A regular day in an irregular place (for us!)

We're loving the scenery in Colorado. We have three of the infamous 'fourteeners' in view of our windows. This particular morning, we had a fantastic rainbow as well as snow showers fell on the higher elevations, but not on us! Here it seems to be sinking over the closest hill (beyond the less than attractive RV storage in this RV park). We've decided to bathe just about everything around here and the two boys need to earn some pocket change. Nice coincidence!

Previous dog baths have been outside, using the handy shower station by the dump valves. Although the sun was shining, the wind was a bit chilly for the dogs to be out soaking wet.

Here goes the first victim:
The next victim is NOT going to fit in that big blue bowl, so we tried out the RV shower.
Once dry and combed out, the girls were much happier than during the baths and looked lots better! Good job guys!Next, the truck and hopefully the RV. They definitely are filthy after the snow and ice we've been through!