Monthly Archives: June 2013

Days 17, 18 Colorado Springs to Gypsum, Colorado

Two days of overcast sky and drizzle = two days pretty much stuck inside our box. We did go for a hike in the state park where we are camped. It was nice getting out and it reminded me a lot of San Francisco when the fog is in and the air is so wet it feels like drizzle. It actually felt good to have some humidity in the air. The silver lining to the dreary weather is that I got a chance to work on the revisions I need to make on the classes I teach online at UC Davis, Extension. It’s days like these that I miss having a car with us.

We will make the 200 mile trip to Gypsum today and hopefully get a ride in on a loop that takes us to Vail and Aspen. We’ll only be in Gypsum for two nights and then we head to a state park in Grand Junction in far western Colorado. While in Grand Junction we will ride to the Black Canyon of Gunnison and the Colorado National Monument.

Blue sky and no traffic. Woohoo!

Laters…

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Day 15 and 16 Colorado Springs, CO Garden of the Gods and Pike’s Peak

Day 15 – We drove the 60 miles from Pueblo to Colorado Springs, gassed up and stopped at Wal-Mart for some supplies all in about three hours. I hate giving Wal-Mart our business, but they are the only grocery store that has a big enough parking lot for our rig and trailer. We were pleasantly surprised when we arrived at Cheyenne Mountain State Park just up the hill above Colorado Springs. It is a small park/campground with tiered sites so you can see down into the valley that is Colorado Springs. This is our favorite campsite thus far. We will be here until June 6. And that’s the end of our reservations. We’ll be free-wheeling it from now on. We are talking about Rocky Mountain National Park next. Did you know that Colorado has the most award winning State Parks in the USA? We are going to take advantage of as many of them as possible. I’m sure we’ll find one near the National Park. We want to park the rig at lower elevations and take the bike into the park.

Our wonderful campsite at Cheyenne Mountain State Park overlooking Colorado Springs.  It's our favorite thus far.

Our wonderful campsite at Cheyenne Mountain State Park overlooking Colorado Springs. It’s our favorite thus far.

Day 16 – The temperatures for the Colorado Springs area were projected to be in the mid 90’s so we decided to head somewhere a little cooler. We started by heading north to the “Garden of the Gods” city park. This is an area that was dedicated as a free city park back in 1908 and covers an area of 1350 acres. Within this area are some magnificent red sandstone rock formations that have made the park world famous. Some of the formations are over 300 million years old and sculpted through time by Mother Nature. This place offers some great hiking and opportunities for rock climbing if you’re experienced. Some of the more popular rock formations include: The kissing camels and the balancing rock. The hike we took was paved, but there were lots of other non-paved trails to explore if you are so inclined. Leaving the “Garden” the temps were already up into the 80’s so we headed for higher elevations. You cannot get much higher in these here parts than the famous Pikes Peak.

Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs

Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs

Ralph's version of rock climbing.  Two feet off the ground!

Ralph’s version of rock climbing. Two feet off the ground!

It was nice and cool in here.

It was nice and cool in here.

Kissing Camels

Kissing Camels

Balancing Rock

Balancing Rock

We arrived at the entrance to Pike’s Peak Park for the 20 mile drive up to the top in T-shirts. The entrance ranger told us that at the top the temperature was about 40 degrees with winds about 20-25mph. After riding about 7 miles up the mountain, Rochelle put on her chaps, plugged in her heated jacket (turned up close to high) and her leather jacket. I put on my heated jacket but didn’t feel I needed to plug it in. However, I did plug in on the way down. The ride to the top (and down) was awe inspiring with the views that a 14,100 foot elevation can give. We stopped about half way up for a picnic lunch. Once you get up to around the 11000 foot level, the road runs along the ledge of the mountain with only a couple feet of gravel on the side of the road before in just drops off. No guard rails! The road is a narrow, two-lane road and has constant curves with at least half of them being 180 degree switchbacks. I think I enjoyed the ride up a lot more than Rochelle as I could feel her leaning left (towards the inside of the road) most of the last few miles up. Oh yeah, and with a death grip on my shoulders. Once at the top the view was amazing. It almost looked like the view outside an airplane window. The temperature was indeed 40 and the wind was a howling. We stayed long enough to enjoy the spectacular view and have some hot chocolate and world famous donuts (so they say) before heading back down. Rochelle enjoyed the ride down the mountain much more.

As a matter of fact, Katharine Lee Bates was so impressed by the view at the top of Pike’s Peak that she wrote the lyrics to “America the Beautiful”.

Rochelle note: Ralph said to me, “No man has ever gotten you closer to heaven than this”. (Except maybe a pilot or two.)

The top of Pike's Peak - 14,000 feet and 40 degrees!

The top of Pike’s Peak – 14,000 feet and 40 degrees!

Twenty miles up to the top Pike's Peak on this kind of road (on a motorcycle).  And we had to go back down!

Twenty miles up to the top Pike’s Peak on this kind of road (on a motorcycle). And we had to go back down!

On the way down, just getting back to the timberline.

On the way down, just getting back to the timberline.

Maybe we should have taken the train up!

Maybe we should have taken the train up!

The top of the world!  See the edge of the road in the lower left corner?  Now picture yourself riding a motorcycle on this road!

The top of the world! See the edge of the road in the lower left corner? Now picture yourself riding a motorcycle on this road!

We made it back to camp by 5:00 pm and relaxed for a while (took a nap) before firing up the BBQ for a steak dinner and some refreshments. The evening ended with us sitting outside overlooking the lights of Colorado Springs below and the stars above.

Laters…

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Day 14 Pueblo Royal Gorge Loop

We are still camping at Pueblo State Park. We will be leaving for Colorado Springs tomorrow. It’s only 51 miles from here. It will be a very short driving day tomorrow.

What a great day of riding it was today. The ride took us through some of the nicest scenery we’ve ridden in. We started out riding through rolling hills and farmland. Soon we were in an area where we had pine forrest on one side and canyon cliffs on the other. After about 30 minutes of this, the snow capped Rocky Mountains came into view. We were able to enjoy the Rockies for the next 60 miles. The view was amazing with the contrast of the very green fields and forrest that led right up to the gray rocky mountains. The road we were on took us to Highway 50. Yep, same one as back in Sacramento. Well, kind of…this Highway 50 was much more scenic. The Arkansas River ran along side the road for as long as we rode on the highway. On the other side of the road was the canyon wall. We were kidding each other about being one of the Wild Hogs as their adventure took them along highway 50 in this exact area.

Beautiful view

Beautiful view

We decided to take a side trip to The Royal Gorge. As is becoming usual, we went down a back road which wasn’t well paved for about 4 miles. We left the Royal George down the nicely paved front entrance.

The Royal Gorge (also Grand Canyon of the Arkansas) is a canyon on the Arkansas River near Cañon City, Colorado. With a width of 50 feet (15 m) at its base and a few hundred feet at its top, and a depth of 1,250 feet (380 m) in places, the 10-mile-long canyon is a narrow, steep gorge through the granite of Fremont Peak. It is one of the deepest canyons in Colorado.

In 1929 Cañon City authorized the building of the Royal Gorge Bridge, which at 955 feet (291 m) above the river held the record of highest bridge in the world from 1929 to 2003. The bridge forms the kernel of Royal Gorge Park, a theme park owned and run by the city.

We rode the M/C over the bridge and also walked across. If you don’t like heights, this is not the place for you.

Riding on the bridge

IMG_2670 Riding on the bridge

IMG_2681

A look down into the canyon

A look down into the canyon

View from the side

View from the side

The ride back to camp was less exciting, but still nice traveling through rolling farmland. Well, less exciting if you don’t count the shortcut back to the state park. The sign said “Pueblo State Park” with an arrow and everything. So we figured we go that way. Well, the pavement ended about 1/4 mile later but we didn’t believe it for about another 1/2 mile. Turning the bike around on a gravel road that is on about a 20 degree slant and only 8 feet wide is not really pleasant a thing. We succeeded and made it back to camp. The weather today was very nice. It was in the 60’s and sunny up in the mountains and with our heated gear turned on it was perfect. Out of the mountains it was in the mid 70’s and little if any wind for a change.

Laters…

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Day 13 Exploring Pueblo, CO

Since the winds were still howling we decided to keep riding to a minimum and just go the short distance (10 miles) to the Pueblo Zoo and then down to the Arkansas River Walk through the Old Town Pueblo.

The current city of Pueblo represents the consolidation of four towns: Pueblo (incorporated 1870), South Pueblo (incorporated 1873), Central Pueblo (incorporated 1882), and Bessemer (incorporated 1886). Pueblo, South Pueblo, and Central Pueblo legally consolidated as the City of Pueblo between March 9 and April 6, 1886. Bessemer joined Pueblo in 1894.

The consolidated city was once a major economic and social center of Colorado, and was home to important early Colorado families such as the Thatchers, the Ormans and the Adamses. Until a series of major floods culminated in the Great Flood of 1921, Pueblo was considered the ‘Saddle-Making capital of the World’. Roughly one-third of Pueblo’s downtown businesses were lost in this flood, along with a substantial number of buildings. Pueblo has long struggled to come to grips with this loss, and has only recently begun a resurgence in growth.

The main industry in Pueblo for most of its history was the Colorado Fuel and Iron (CF&I) steel mill on the south side of town. The steel-market crash of 1982 led to the decline of the company. The facility operated blast furnaces until 1982, when the bottom fell out of the steel market. The main blast furnace structures were torn down in 1989, but due to asbestos content, many of the adjacent stoves still remain.

Several of the administration buildings, including the main office building, dispensary, and tunnel gatehouse were purchased in 2003 by the Bessemer Historical Society. In 2006, they underwent renovation. In addition to housing the historic CF&I Archives, they also house the Steelworks Museum of Industry and Culture (which we didn’t visit).

Pueblo sits in a “high desert” area of terrain in southern Colorado.

The Pueblo Zoo is a nice little municipal zoo with a ton of greenery. It was so pleasant after being at the Pueblo State Park which is dry and dusty. We saw many different animals and learned that there are red panda bears. They are smaller than the black and white pandas. Ralph and I both love animals so it was a pleasant couple of hours.

Then we headed over to the River Walk. Pueblo has developed the old town area along the Arkansas River with shops and restaurants and a lovely walking path on both sides of the river. Many of the old buildings have been refurbished and some are still in that process.

Pueblo Arkansas River Walk

Pueblo Arkansas River Walk


We had lunch at the Gold Dust Saloon before heading back to camp.

It was nice to get off our butts and walk instead of riding and was a very pleasant day indeed.

Laters…

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