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:
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:
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.