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Colorado National Monument and The Grand Mesa

April 26, 2011

Elo, Carol, and I spent our last day in Moab hiking the trails in Arches before moving on.  Here are Elo and Carol in the Devils Garden.

After hiking that wonderful trail, we met up with our Ranger led tour group to explore The Firey Furnace, which is a 3 hour walking tour covering two miles of an area of Fins and Canyons called the Firey Furnace.  Shoot me now is what Carol and I said to each other after about the first hour or so.  It’s a cool area of the Park and we learned lots from the Ranger, but taking 3 hours to cover 2 miles was slow going to say the least.

By the time we finished the tour and got back out to the entrance where Dora was parked, the rains were coming and it was getting dark, so the 2.5 hour drive to Fruita, CO was interesting as it was my first time driving Dora in the dark, in the rain, on a narrow winding road, with open range cattle sporadically scattered in the road, and other than the boulder that jumped out at Dora’s exhaust pipes in the very dark State Park in Fruita, all went well.

We decided our first day in Fruita would be sort of a lay day, so Elo grabbed her fishing rod and headed out to try her luck in Colorado waters while Carol and I headed about 25 miles east to The Grand Mesa, the world’s largest flat topped mountain standing at 10,000 feet.  We left the semi-desert of Fruita and headed up to the top thinking we’d stop in at the Visitor’s Center, but this is what we found.

To learn more about the Grand Mesa, click here http://www.grandmesabyway.org/.  I bet tons of folks come here from the surrounding area  in the summer to enjoy the many lakes and escape the heat and in the winter to ski and snowmachine.

Over the next couple of days, Elo and Carol could be found zipping around the single track trails on their Mojos while I was hiking and geocaching in the Colorado National Monument…another preserved piece of gorgeousness with a wonderful history.  Check it out.  http://www.nps.gov/colm/index.htm

Here are some shots I took while out and about.  This one was taken from the valley floor while I was hiking the Monument Trail.

Here is a shot of Monument Canyon with Independence Monument standing broad and alone in the center/right of the shot.  It’s called Independence Monument because John Otto, the “founder” of the area summited the monument back near the turn of the century on the 4th of July and placed an American Flag on top, a feat which he repeated each year thereafter.  Carol and I can’t figure out how he scaled the monolith, especially with the technology (or lack) of the day.

And next is another shot of Monument Canyon with the “Coke Ovens” to the right (a fine example of differential erosion) and the top of the Grand Mesa in the distance.

And two shots I really like taken while switch-backing my way out of the canyon.

As all things must, our time together came to an end.  Elo flew out first, then Carol, and then Dora, Lil Pea, the dogs, and I hit the road for Cottonwood, AZ.  I really wanted to drive back through Ouray and Durango, but the passes are over 12,000 ft in that neck of the woods with very narrow, shoulderless, switchbacking, roads, and every possibility of snow or freezing rain, so I opted for the less lofty road through Telluride and the single 10,000 ft Pass of Lizard Head.   A good decision, if I do say so myself since I found myself driving my 57ft, 26,000 lb rig over Lizard Head Pass is a snow flurry.  The road was relatively dry and sans ice, so I continued on up and over to the beautiful Gateway Canyons below where I followed the Delores and San Miguel Rivers past numerous ranches boasting newborn colts, lambs, and calves frolicking in the Spring grass on the valley floor while the snow-covered peaks kept guard above.   Oh my, are you laughing and rolling your eyes at that last sentence?  I am.  Ha!  Anyway, it was quite a lovely drive, which ended 6 hours later in the Wal-Mart parking lot in Cortez.

The next day, found me fighting very strong and gusting winds all the way back to Cottonwood.  7 hours.  Whew, boy was I tired after that, but I did get a chance to drive through the 4 Corners which is where the states of Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico meet.  The 4 Corners is located on Navajo Land, so I pulled in and paid the $3 entrance fee, worked my way past the numerous fry bread and bead necklace hawkers, and took the following shot of the brass marker.  Take a look.

The marker is also a Geocache, so I got to claim the find, which was an added bonus.

That’s it for now.  Since I’ve been back, I’ve started several thousand dollars worth of dental work I recently found I need and have made an appointment with a chiropractor to see if he can help my neck and shoulder.  Massage School starts on Thursday and I’m very much looking forward to it, so stay tuned.  Oh, and by the way, Elo has indeed purchased the Ibis Mojo she rented and rode while in Fruita.  It is being shipped as I write.  Way to go Elo!  Have you bought the larger pair of shorts you’re going to need?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Li1gray permalink
    April 26, 2011 8:33 pm

    Wow, again! I know it is old me saying that but you have some really great shots once again.

    I forgot to comment about your Raven on the last post. That should be entered in the AK state fair this year, just one of many great shots.

    I guess I have to check on your geocaching stats I haven’t seen how many states are now red for you (A lot I am sure). Sure am glad to see 4 corners I never got out there just the weekend trips for me so it is reallt nice to see so much more of the back country.

    Sounds like Moab treated you well and your trip thru the pass was safe and uneventful even though you had me wondering about the remark “quote” other than the boulder that jumped out at Dora’s exhaust pipes in the very dark State Park in Fruita,”end quote” Not sure what to think about it, still guessing… Glad to hear you are doing well, wonder how the garden is doing back “home away from home” Guess you will fill us in on that when you get back. Have fun at the dentist and good luck on starting the classes! Leroy

  2. Carlene Van Tol permalink
    April 27, 2011 5:13 pm

    What a great road trip you’re having! I love Utah and Colorado. I go to Ouray’s ice climbing festival in January most years, but haven’t seen it without snow. Still need to hit 4 corners; a REAL tourist would get a shot of herself laying on the marker, with an extremity in each state (That’s what I want to do!)

    Stay safe, and happy trails!

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