Photo taken near Monument Valley, Utah

Monday, September 12, 2022

Goodbye, Colorado...For a While

 At Lone Star Corral Escapees Co-Op, Hondo, Texas...

Our last few days in the Gunnison area were a blast. Besides our usual roadies Jackie and Steve, we were joined by Bubba and LouAnn as well as Hank and Shirleen. 

After my playing a couple of hours' dinner music for the end-of-season party at Palisades RV Park, we had the idea that we would go off-roading in Bubba's new Jeep. But more about that later. 

The first requirement was a rousing game of 42 (an old domino game that actually takes some skill, for you youngsters who don't know about it). Hank and I beat Sandy and Shirleen, but they hurried to declare that it was just by a hair. Nevertheless, a victory is a victory, and we'll take it.

Our next adventure before Hank and Shirleen arrived was a trip to Tin Cup, Colorado--a tiny place with a single restaurant, Frenchy's, where there is a jumping-off point for an off-road trek that was my first serious one. Here are photos of the restaurant and our group. Jackie and Steve were with us this time; Hank and Shirleen had not yet arrived.

The object for the guys after lunch was to reach Tin Cup Pass, which was the continental divide in the area. The girls said, "No way; we're headed back to Crested Butte to do some shopping." And poof! They were gone. The guys settled into the Jeep for the 13-mile rocky, wandering drive that required three hours to navigate another four thousand feet up the mountain! The road, while not necessarily cliff-hanging in nature, was so rough that I was sure we would lose some essential part off the Jeep and be stranded until our bodies were discovered in the spring. I'm also pretty sure that our incredible bounce house inside the Jeep rearranged some of my internal body parts. I wouldn't be at all surprised if an x-ray showed that my spleen and appendix have exchanged locations.  Here are photos of the trail and proof of our arrival at Tin Cup Pass, elevation 12,154 feet:

Much to my amazement, the Jeep seemed to operate normally when it returned to a paved road, so I have a good deal more respect for the vehicle now. Perhaps my concerns were overblown, but I still checked afterward to see if all the fillings were still in my teeth. Here is a photo of the Jeep when new as LouAnn and Bubba were taking delivery at the dealership. Little did it know the torture that was awaiting it in Colorado:

Our adventures were not over with the torture of off-roading at Tin Cup. A guest lecturer at our park--a professor from the local university--revealed a number of interesting details about the mining industry in northern Gunnison county, especially about the marble quarry located at Marble, Colorado--not far from Crested Butte. He told us that the Yule Quarry at Marble was a stunningly large deposit of marble and that all the marble inside the Colorado state capitol building had come from there, as had the tomb of the unknown soldier, a vastly complex and difficult undertaking that required an entire year, beginning in 1930, to lift it from the mine and transport it to Washington, DC. With such history in mind, I declared we would be going there, even though it would require another off-road bounce fest afterward; fortunately, that one was not nearly as challenging as Tin Cup. 

Before we got to that part, however, we stopped in the town of Marble (population 162) to have lunch at the only restaurant in town, Slow Groovin' BBQ. Now, listen here: It is worth the trip to eat the fare at this place. The cook had to be a Texan, as it was easily the best BBQ we had eaten in Colorado:

We also walked around some outdoor inventory of a shop that deals in artist-finished marble pieces that had originated in the Yule quarry. Take a gander at this gorgeous group of marble horses that can be yours for $125,000. Yes, you read that right:

Then it came time for the guys to begin their off-road trek to see one of the most photographed places in Colorado: The Crystal Hill Mine.  As before, the girls, showing far better sense than their husbands, begged off and headed back to Crested Butte to see if they had inadvertently left something on the stores' shelves from the day before.

Of course, I would like to have seen the quarry itself, but this was not allowed. The Yule Quarry is owned by Carrera Marble of Italy; I highly recommend that you look it up on the web and in Google Images. There is vastly too much information and photos available there than I could possibly include here.

Since we had no place to carry the horse sculpture in the Jeep, we opted to head up to Crystal City, the off-road part I mentioned earlier. The goal here was to take our own photos of the Crystal Hill Mine, a professional photographer's dream shot. I'll show you my photo below. On the way, however, we enjoyed some gorgeous scenery and some of the clearest mountain streams we had ever seen--many like this one that was nearby:

Okay, drum roll! Here is the payoff for our bouncy ride to the Crystal Hill Mine. Perhaps you have seen a photo of this in Colorado visitors' guides. It will definitely be made into a print for our wall.

We only wished it had been a bit later in September, so the Aspens would have turned yellow in the background. That would be stunning, for sure.

There was no shortage of things to see on our way back, such as this unusual red rock formation:

We really must include something whimsical here, as any group of guys--no matter how old--never really grow up. Seeing the sign below hanging from a porch on someone's house, we pulled in their driveway and shot a photo. I can't imagine what the homeowners thought about our bold trespassing, but I have even less idea what the sign means:

As we bade goodbye to our last touring day in Colorado, we couldn't help but take one more photo of the grandeur of the mountain scenery:

The final photo shows three of the four couples together at a dinner at Mike's Garlic Restaurant located by the Gunnison River. From left to right are Sandy, Mike, Shirleen, Hank, LouAnn and Bubba. A great time was had by all, and we hated to leave our incredible surroundings.

Our trip back to Hondo was uneventful, but Texas was calling, and we felt very blessed to have made our escape during the summer when our glorious state is not so hospitable.

Our next adventure?  To see the kids, of course, then off to Branson, where we will spend about a month, then back to Hondo.

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it as I should every day.

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

Friday, September 2, 2022

Sharing the Cool Mountains With Friends

 At Palisades RV Park, Gunnison, Colorado...

It has seemed like another world here as we occasionally check the temperature back in Texas and find it sometimes 40 degrees warmer than at our 8,000-ft. elevation. Now that we're into late August/early September, it is getting even cooler, and we run the heater almost every night. 

I have been fulfilling my very enjoyable "gig" playing the piano for park events, including Sunday Bible study and popular old standard tunes as well. I had been wanting a portable keyboard so, in anticipation of this summer's music activity, I purchased a Yamaha P-515, an amazing instrument that has the same keyboard as a Yamaha grand piano. (If you're a pianist, you know the importance of a weighted keyboard complete with wooden keys.) I'll include a short sample video:  

(Sorry for the gross-looking arm boo-boo. Getting clumsy in my old age.)

We occasionally have the honor of meeting some of our blog readers--on this occasion, a couple who, by chance, were staying here in Palisades for a few days. Fellow Texans, we have determined to meet up when we get back home and become better acquainted.  Meet Mike and Lynn. Great folks, these are:

Along with friends Jackie and Steve, who have joined us here--but at another park--we have enjoyed a number of side trips with beautiful scenery. I'm afraid there are many photos included here, but I have many more for which I didn't have room. If only everyone could spend summer in a place like this! 

Looking eastward toward Salida from the summit of Monarch Pass.

Waterfall into a crystal clear pool near Crested Butte. (Photo courtesy of Jackie Thornton)

Yellow flowers abound in a field. (Photo courtesy of Jackie Thornton)

Valley north of Crested Butte (photo courtesy of Jackie Thornton)

Beautiful flowers everywhere. These blue ones are larkspur, I think.

Loved this photo of a bee on one of the larkspur flowers.

A beautiful drive to Lake City, not far from Gunnison.

A view southwest toward Lake City

Cool, crystal clear Cebolla Creek near Lake City.

Downtown Lake City, Colorado

California Poppy planting at Lake City

Dining on the bank of the Gunnison River in Gunnison at Mike's Italian Restaurant.

Flowers in Crested Butte

More flowers in Crested Butte

Downtown Crested Butte with Crested Butte Mountain in the background.

Even more flowers in Crested Butte.

For those who requested, my latest monthly column for my hometown advertiser newspaper is available on page 28 in the following link: .  I also have articles on page 26 in the August and July issues.

We're being joined by friends Bubba and LouAnn and possibly Hank and Shirleen very soon. There will be more adventures in the offing!

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it as I should every day.

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