Saturday, August 30, 2014

Our Last Day In Almost-Heaven......

August 30, 2014
Ouray, CO

Today was our last day in Ouray.  Sadly, we pack up and head out of this little slice of Heaven in the morning. 

So, what do you do when its your last day in this magical place?  

For starters, you walk the town.  

You soak in the uniqueness of each store....

You enjoy wearing a sweater in August and you try to get just a little more mud on your Jeep....

And you put the Jeep in 4-wheel drive one last time by taking an unknown trail.

Which is exactly what we did.  As we set out trying to find that "perfect" trail, we came across a road marked County Road 14b (the "b" stands for BAD) just north of Ouray.  Sounded innocent enough to us and the GPS showed it to connect up with the trail we were currently on so we were like "Let's do it!".  

About a mile into this trail, that little voice inside me was saying, "YOU'RE AN IDIOT" and found ourselves unable to turn around.   So we plunged forward several more miles gaining altitude with each beautiful red Jeep scraping the edges of trees and shrubs as the trail became less and less of a trail....

After following this pea-brained idea of mine for what seemed like FOREVER, we finally did connect up with another road.   I believe it was at this point (shortly after I stopped kissing the ground) that Chuck, my cheerleader through this agony, turned to me and said, "We should have filled up the back seat with people and charged them for this adventure!!"

Ohhhhh......and our buddy Jim took the Black Bear Pass trail again today (seeing as we couldn't see anything during the rain, sleet and snow of 2 days ago) and look what happened to the Jeep right in front of him.......


What A Difference A Day Makes

 August 29, 2014
Ouray, CO

What a difference a day makes!  Yesterday was rain, snow, sleet and 40 degree temperatures and today.....well, TODAY was 72 degrees and SUNNY!

Murphy took this picture in case you were wondering....
 So, we decided to teach Liz a little bit about how to use her 4-wheel drive gears today.  Chuck surprised me with this Jeep almost two years ago for Valentines Day (thus the red color!) and I have loved every minute of it!  It will go ANYWHERE....climb ANYTHING.....float through EVERYTHING....and today we proved all three of those things!

View of Red Mountain from Brown Mountain
We took a little trail called Brown Mountain that was rated a Class 2, Moderate in difficulty.  That, compared to the Black Bear Pass of yesterday which is Rated 5, EXTREME....we were thinking this was the "perfect" road for Liz to learn how to use the Jeep for what it was intended for.

Brown Mountain Trail
 And at this point, I would like to apologize to our son, Troy, who loaned us his hitch carrier to carry Chuck's scooter on......I "might" have heard it dragging a few times in a couple steep, narrow rocky sections that I read later should have been attempted by an experienced four-wheeler. Sorrrrrry.......

Wildflowers just before the PANIC ATTACK
We are almost to the top of Brown Mountain, above the tree level at 11,500 feet, when everything turns to rock.....lots and lots of rock....and I'm expected to continue on up this incredibly narrow, rocky ledge (I use the term "ledge" loosely...much like the rocks that were occupying that ledge) and I just can't do it.  I stop....I panic....I get that "shifty-eyed" look of "WHAT AM I GOING TO DO?" I inform Chuck I'm backing up......he then gets that "shifty-eyed" look like "YOU'RE KIDDING, RIGHT?".....and I slap that puppy into reverse and down we go.  And this was a Class 2 beginners trail.....
My Passengers
We eventually found our way back down this beginner mountain, headed into Ouray for a little ice cream and people watching after meeting up with our buddy Jim from Florida.....but not before I took a tumble in the middle of front of the world.....chasing Murphy who was chasing a big dog who belonged to a nice couple from California who had to pick me up off the street. (thank GOD there's no pictures of that...)

The 3 Men...Jim, Murphy and Chuck
So we have survived (barely) yet another day in Ouray.  Tomorrow is our last day here and I'm sad to be leaving this little piece of Heaven.  The views are like nothing you can literally takes your breath away.

Murphy & Molly hanging out on the bumper trailer
And the BEST part of today?  I got to spend time with my sister Debbie whose on vacation here too!!! Best part, hands down!! 

So, here's just a few pics from what our eyes saw today.....we are so B-L-E-S-S-E-D.....

Friday, August 29, 2014

Rain, Sleet, Snow......Black Bear Pass

August 28, 2014
Black Bear Pass, Ouray, CO

We Lived.


I drove 1,000 miles to travel back up the Black Bear Pass......a memory of three years ago that I held on to so tightly that my inner-self wouldn't rest until it lived it again. 

And today, that happened.  But a completely different memory was formed this time.   I'm struggling to find the words to describe this trek up that beloved treacherous mountain....

The weather said partly sunny....high of 66......but when we woke this morning, it was pouring rain. P-O-U-R-I-N-G.

We went anyway. 

As we headed up that perilous wet 12,000' mountain.....the only Jeep to tackle it this day.....the temperatures were dropping into the 40's...the rain turned to sleet....then snow.....and the fog was so thick the mountain disappeared from view. 

Did I mention we were in an open-air itsy-bitsy Jeep with 5 people in it?

This was not for the faint of heart, folks.......climbing over 12,000' on narrow, wet and dangerous trails with only inches from the edge.....and being the only Jeep in sight did cause me to rethink whether this was a good idea or not.

And then it happened.

I had to pee......


I held it as long as I possibly could.....I was sitting on the hump seat in the back and kept "mouthing" to the driver in his rear-view mirror how desperate I was getting....but folks, we are hanging off a mountain....there's just no rest stops on this trail.

He finally stopped.....I climbed over the rear spare tire.....told everyone to sing while I relieved myself at the back of the Jeep in 40 degree weather with a fantastic view of Telluride.....and all was well in my universe once again.  Ahhhhhh.

After a warm, dry lunch in Telluride, this little group of 5 who feel like family now, headed back to Ouray a different route over the mountains....a sunny, beautiful, aspen-tree-lined route this time.....

......and promptly kissed the ground.

Thursday, August 28, 2014


August 27, 2014
Salida to Ouray

Have I mentioned to you guys that we are wearing every day......and turning the heat on in the Jeep and Hotels.....oh ya.....we SO are.

We left Salida this morning after two tire-sized pancakes for breakfast......

Drove west through the mountains of beautiful Monarch Pass......

And then slammed on the brakes after going through gorgeous Gunnison to get the Jeep a little dirtier by taking an unmarked dirt road that looked a bit treacherous and a place where you might find someone unloading a body that they never wanted anyone to find.....

And finally, to THIS......


The hotel we are staying in is right downtown.....and after unloading the Jeep and then reloading it and then unloading it again due to a room change so we could have a view of the rushing river below us instead of the parking lot....we are finally here.  Beautiful Ouray!!

And is THE day.......our buddy Jim from Florida and I are hitting the Black Bear Pass  for a full 8 hours of climbing boulders, hanging off cliffs and high heart rates as we travel from Ouray to Telluride via over-the-mountain....literally....OH YA....I'm getting goose-bumps just thinking about it!!!

Here's a PREVIEW:

Hopefully you'll hear from me tomorrow.....

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A Mountaintop Day

August 26, 2014
Salida, CO

I think the hardest part of telling you the story of our day is having to pick which pictures of that day I have room to share with you.  And trying to condense our day down and still keep you interested and hanging in there with me is a real challenge.

Today was our first day to just "be"......we sought out mountains to climb.....we searched for wild life.....and we were on the hunt for that view that made us go "Awwwww".....

And we found it on top of Spiral Drive...

And Methodist Mountain.....

 And finally, at 12,000' Monarch Pass.....

Truth be told, we only took the Tram up Monarch Pass for the FREE popcorn.....and any worries I might have had of misplacing Charlie quickly disappeared when I followed the trail of popcorn to this....

But you want to know the very BEST part of being in Colorado??

Today.....we're loading up the Jeep and heading to.....OURAY!!!!!!