Photo taken near Monument Valley, Utah

Monday, July 26, 2021

Cool Colorado With Friends

 At Dolores River Campground, Dolores, Colorado...

The first couple of weeks in July that we spent at our Hondo, Texas place was a reminder that we were more than a month overdue for our usual departure from the oven that Texas becomes in the summer. While it wasn't as hot as usual, the heat coupled with the humidity made for very unpleasant days, wherein we were trapped inside but grateful for Willis Carrier's invention of the modern air conditioner in 1902. Being there with friends Richard and Karen was a delightful distraction; however, they must stay in Hondo all summer. There is no doubt they will enjoy their big, spanking new fifth wheel to keep them comfortable and cool.

Our 1,000-mile journey from Hondo to Dolores went without a hitch, thanks to good old Phannie. We try to keep the legs to about 300 miles a day now, especially in the badlands through which we traveled--well, they're not really BAD, they're just, uh, not what you would call scenic. We have tried driving 200 miles a day, but that seems too slow (unless we're in scenic territory), and we've tried 500 miles a day--once. We're getting too old for that kind of abuse. Three hundred-ish seems about right.

Once we approached Cortez, Colorado, the San Juan mountains began coming into view, and we knew we were not far away from a very pleasant remainder of the summer. We continued ten miles past Cortez to the little town of Dolores which, at nearly 7,000 feet elevation, we knew the heat and humidity we left would have a hard time finding us:

Dolores is a tiny town--so tiny it has only one bank and one small grocery store and, of course, the old train depot you see above, the cutout showing the town's elevation of 6957 feet. (I hate to tell you this, my dear family and friends back home, but we often have to use the heater in Phannie on cold mornings; it sometimes gets down into the fifties.) In a drive through the back streets of Dolores--which doesn't take very long--we see flowers like these. I don't know what they are, but they appear to be growing wild. It's a pretty little place.

We spent a day sightseeing, the six of us friends riding with Bubba driving over to Ridgway to eat a scrumptious breakfast at Kate's Place. It's Limoncello pancakes were possibly the best we've ever eaten. Everything we had was good enough to place it in the "Best Restaurants" list on this blog. Here are the six of us at Kate's--way too full, I'm afraid, but the weather was fabulous:

L to R: LouAnn, Bubba, Me, Sandy, Jackie and Steve outside Janet's

We were lucky to meet up with these good friends this summer. While LouAnn and Bubba will be here only for the week, Steve and Jackie will be our traveling partners for the rest of the summer. Are we lucky or what?

We enjoyed Ridgway, an old Colorado town wherein a lot of the old buildings have been preserved like this old firehouse that has become a boutique. Luckily, the owner retained its historic look of the early 1900s. Note the old fire truck parked outside:

Traveling to Ridgway, this is the kind of scenery that is so emblematic of the San Juan Skyway, the highway on which we were driving:

We also drove through Ouray, "The Switzerland of America," as it's called. We agree:

Having toured most of Colorado now, we are convinced the west side of the Rockies has the edge on sheer beauty and scenery. 

Retracing our route somewhat to get back to our campgrounds and, by now, hungry again, Bubba insisted that we stop at this place in tiny Rico, Colorado. The town is so small, it makes Dolores look like a metropolis:

To me, although this historic old 1892 building in Rico seen above was interesting, it looked like a biker joint/pool hall inside. However, Bubba insisted that the food was excellent; this is typical of Bubba, who apparently thinks getting mugged is okay if you can get a good meal afterward.  (Don't write me letters; I'm joking about bikers, pool players and as always, Bubba. Most of them, except Bubba, are fine people. (Yes, I'm joking again.) I admit to putting up a significant protest since we had the girls with us but, as usual, Bubba ignored it. It was fortunate that he did, because the food was, indeed, superb. We had hamburgers so good they would make you cry. And yes, believe it or not, this funky little joint made the "Best Restaurant" list. That's two in one day--something that rarely happens. Oh yes, and there was no mugging, just a friendly game of pool going on inside.

Well, that's probably enough adventure to recount in one post. We had a great day, with good friends, good food and a million laughs. At a sudden moment of curiosity, I pulled out my cell phone and took a look at the temperatures back in Texas. I could only shake my head as, by this point, we really needed a jacket here in Colorado. Such was not the case in Texas.

So goes the end of a great day. I know it's a trite expression, but we wish you could be here.

We leave you with the view above, looking south from Dolores toward Ute Mountain in the distance on the right. I just love it when the day ends with a scene like this.

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; 
please forgive me if I fail to appreciate it each day as I should.

We don't stop playing because we get old; we get old because we stop playing. 
 ---George Bernard Shaw

"I get up every morning, and I just don't let the old man in." ---Clint Eastwood


  1. How glorious is all that. I admit to a bit of envy at the scenery, (and the cool temps,) but, NOT at the travel.

    I believe those beautiful flowers may be hollyhocks.

    Enjoy every minute, and give Sandy a hug from me.

    1. Yes, I understand. The roadtime is getting to be more and more of a challenge. But it's not the same without you. Thanks for the info on the flowers. We miss you guys.

  2. I agree - those are hollyhocks. And today I'm especially jealous of your temps. We are under a heat advisory with a possible 100 this afternoon. Just unreal. Two gold star places in one day, you are really on a roll.

    1. Oh good! Your horticultural wisdom settles it! Well, all I can say is, we feel fortunate to be able to do this. And, you're right...I'm not sure I've ever posted two best restaurants in one day.

  3. We two native Coloradoans have never been to those restaurants, but we'll try to hit them when we're in that part of the state next month.

    Thanks for the idea!

    1. You're welcome. You'll have to be prepared for a vastly different ambiance between them, but the food is worth it. Thanks for following along with us!

  4. Replies
    1. With good reason! It is a neat little place at the jumping-off point for one of the most beautiful highways in the world.

  5. Those are Hollyhocks!!! Beautiful area!

    1. Thank you for the info; I'm terrible at identifying plants. And thank you for following along with us. We're honored!

  6. I enjoyed your photos, Mike, and the group pic is definitely a reflection of good times shared with friends. Sandy looks fabulous and fully recovered - yay! - but I couldn't tell if you've fully recovered from your dishpan hands yet. It's a real pleasure to see the two of you back on the road and having fun.

    1. Thank you, Mary. Sandy is doing very well (thank you for noticing), and there is a slight possibility that I may have been exaggerating as to the trauma to my hands from washing dishes--I'm not saying for sure, but it's possible, as I'm sure you have concluded. And yes, it's good to be out and about, especially here in one of the most scenic parts of the country. We are blessed in so many ways. Now, if y'all were just here....!

  7. Mike,
    I had lost your blog until today.
    Great to see you made it to Colorado, my fav for visits.
    2 years ago we came down from Montrose and Ridgway via 62 and 145.
    Stopping for lunch in RICO. What a find.
    The museum was open in Oct. and lunch at the Bar was super.

    We drove on over to Monument valley and Lake Powell, then N. Rim of Grand Canyon and Bryce NP.

    Still enjoying your Blogging.

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