Posted on October 18th, 2014 by Brenda
On our way out of Cortez, Colorado and into Utah we took the southern route, route 160 to 162 into Utah. When one does this you pass through the Ute Indian Reservation, ending up on the Navajo Indian Reservation. Close by is a very interesting monument.
There really is nothing out there but this monument. The road is totally open and easily drivable with a big rig.
The monument itself is called Four Corners Monument. You may have heard of it. It happens to be the only place where four states intersect at one point. Pretty interesting and since it was only 5 miles or so off our route, we chose to check it out.
Well, it’s exactly like we had thought. Looking at the pictures online and now in person, it really is just a plaque in the middle of a granite pathway where the four corners join together.
So here’s my question. Looking at Google Maps and the Four Corners Monument, it looks like the actual plaque depicting where the four corners meet is wrong. So, is Google Maps wrong or was the monument plaque built slightly off?
It’s actually not a new question. Looking at the Navajo Nation website, the four corners and where they actually meet up have been disputed for over 100 years. According to their measure, the monument is anywhere from 1,800 feet to 2.5 miles off. According to the Director of the Navajo Parks and Recreation Department, the current plaque/marker is correct according to the law that was in effect at the time of the surveys, back in the 1860s. The Four Corners Monument was first surveyed by E. N. Darling in 1868. Darling’s location was marked by a sandstone marker.
In 1868, GPS technology was not available to surveyors. According to the U.S. Supreme Court, the current location is the legal location of the Four Corners.
So I guess we’ll take this monument as a true placement of the four corners.
Here’s our video flyover of the Four Corners Monument with a really cool ending. (At least we think so.)
When we left the four corners we headed to Bluff, Utah. What’s in Bluff, Utah you ask? Well, with a town of around 200 people, we weren’t expecting much. There actually was much more than we thought to this sleepy little town.
We stayed at the Cadillac Ranch RV Park, which was right in town. It was totally big rig friendly and the Wi-Fi worked wonderfully, surprisingly enough. Seeing that Bluff is pretty out there and there’s not much surrounding it, we did not have high hopes for Wi-Fi. We actually had better wifi than some larger, more modern rv parks we’ve been to.
I chose Bluff, Utah because it made for a nice base camp for exploring some of the southeastern area of Utah.
Here is a quick video of the Cadillac Ranch RV Park
One of the things we did not know was in Bluff was a nice museum called Fort Bluff. Located just across the street from the rv park, it was actually a really well done museum.
Bluff was the first Anglo settlement in southeast Utah. Settled by Mormon pioneers seeking to establish a mission on the San Juan River in 1880, the museum has a great display of the early settlement and their struggles.
It depicts how the settlers had carved out the route through the Hole-In-The-Rock, expecting the journey to take 6 weeks; it actually took over 6 months. Historians consider the Hole-in-the-Rock Expedition one of the most extraordinary wagon trips ever undertaken in North America and a fine example of pioneer spirit. Many sections of the trail were almost impassable. To allow wagon passage, the men spent 6 weeks blasting and chiseling a path through a narrow 1,200 foot drop in the sandstone cliffs known as the Hole-in-the-Rock, which is still visible at Lake Powell today. As a matter of fact, you can drive part of the Hole-In-The-Rock route that the early pioneers carved out.
What amazed us most about this journey the early pioneers had established was that in that entire time, there was no loss of life.
Protected by a secondary rooftop, the original Barton Cabin may still be seen at the Fort.
A memorial wall has been erected to honor those pioneers that first made that arduous trip across the state and established the town of Bluff.
I highly encourage anyone in the area to visit this museum. It’s actually free of charge, donations accepted, and you gain a lot of knowledge about the area. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit there.
Another feature of Bluff, Utah is the Navajo Twin Rocks. Shadowing the Twin Rocks Cafe and Trading Post, these rock formations symbolize the Navajo Twins of the Navajo creation tradition. The cafe and trading post are nothing special in our minds. Just a touristy place to shop and eat. Of course we tried the cafe and it was average. Nothing spectacular. Then again, you’re in Bluff. This cafe is really the only place around.
Bluff, Utah really surprised us with all there was to do around the area. In another blog post we’ll get into some of the spectacular drives around the area.
Posted on October 14th, 2014 by Brenda
The San Juan Mountains in Colorado are just gorgeous in the fall. The roads are big rig friendly but you do have a slower drive with the elevation and the sharp curves. It’s very doable though.
However, I would not want to drive these roads when theirs bad rain or snow. So I would recommend checking the mountain weather before you start off on your trek.
The San Juan Mountains are home to many cute, popular and historical towns such as Telluride, Ouray and Silverton, Colorado. We did not however get a chance to visit any of these. We have to leave something to do next time we’re in the area after all.
We stayed at the Mesa Verde RV Park near the Mesa Verde National Park. A great place to explore the area. Really long pull throughs. Nice views. Their Wifi worked for us but not our friends. It really depends on where in the park you are located. Verizon worked ok with our booster. We’d stay here again.
We had some awesomely dark nights and our friends we were traveling with broke out their camera and gear to take some great shots of the night sky.
Almost every night was this spectacular.
We had some real fun taking these pictures.
Thanks Jay and Joanne for these!
There is a main tour that you can take with a Park Ranger where they take you through the dwellings. They have some good stories of how these various rooms, they believe, have been used. According to the National Park Service, these cliff dwellings are some of the most notable and best preserved in the North American Continent.
It really is amazing to think that the Ancestral Puebloans climbed up to these locations and made these cliffs home.
While here, our friends Jay and Joanne invited us to their Rosh Hashanah, The Jewish New Year celebration, which this year fell on September 24th (yes, we’re a little behind in our blog postings). It’s a two-day celebration, which begins the first day of Tishrei, which is the first day of the civil year and the seventh month of the ecclesiastical year in the Hebrew calendar.
They had a wonderful dinner planned. Starting at sundown with the lighting of the candles and a prayer. You then start off with apples dipped in honey, which signifies a sweet New Year.
While traveling around we encounter many different cultures and traditions. Whether the traditions are religious or just something passed down from generation to generation, it’s always interesting to experience first hand. That’s one of the reasons we travel. It was a great dinner and we appreciate our friends including us in on this celebration and experience.
While here we also drove to Durango, Colorado for a day trip.
Durango was much bigger and much more congested than we were expecting. We did enjoy walking around the main historical main street area.
I have to admit though; the best part that we found about Durango was the Durango Diner. This is truly a gem in the heart of the historical main street area. Established in 1965 it still has the 1965 charm and original countertop. We were lucky enough to find them early enough as they close at 2pm. Serving breakfast all day, we ordered an omelet and one blueberry pancake, which they are known for, and shared both.
Boy…were they good.
So we’ve been touring all over this area and we have seen a lot. However, there is so much to do and see in this area, looking back, I feel like we’ve hardly touched the surface. Next time around we’ll definitely have to make it up to the mountain towns.
As mentioned, we stayed at the Mesa Verde RV Resort. Here is a video David did for them…
Posted on October 8th, 2014 by Brenda
Montrose, Colorado is considered the gateway to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. Montrose and the KOA that we stayed at made for a nice stop for a few days to explore the area and the National Park. The KOA that we stayed at was one of the better ones that we’ve seen. It had nice long pull throughs, plenty of room for our 45 foot motor home and our tow behind and nice grass between the sites. The very bright rainbow that appeared one evening made for some nice photo ops.
The National Park was just a short drive up the road which made it very convenient.
The “Black” in Black Canyon gets it’s name because it’s so deep, so sheer and so narrow that very little sunlight can penetrate it.
Fun Fact: According to the NPS info, in just 48 miles in the Black Canyon the Gunnison River loses more elevation than the 1500 mile Mississippi River does from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. The power of the fast falling enables the river to erode tough rock.
The river drops an average of 96 feet per mile in the National Park. It drops 480 feet in one 2 mile stretch. Fast, debris-laden water carving hard rock made the canyon walls so deep.
We had a great day for hiking this area. We took the South Rim Road from the Visitor’s Center that takes you along the rim, winding up to an elevation of over 8200 feet. There are many over look areas and areas you can get out and hike to various points of interest. Some you can even rappel down to the water if that’s your thing. That’s a little too much for me though.
It was such a nice day that David got his Quadcoptor out and did some flying. Not much though as the wind picked up and as you can imagine, between the higher elevation and the wind tearing up the cliff walls, that can make for some hard flying. The elevation plays a factor as it makes it more difficult to get lift, thinner air and all. The motors are working harder as well and therefore the batteries do not last as long. So you must really watch your time that you spend in the air.
David did manage to capture some nice video footage despite the wind.
You also have the issue of the deep canyons, for if your battery start to run low, the programming on the quadcoptor tells it to start to slowly descend to land. If over a canyon at that time, it’s over. So short flights and a constant eye on power is and was a must. There was so much more we would have loved to fly but could not risk it.
So if you find yourself in this area of Colorado, Montrose and the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park are worth the stop.
All in all, we hope you enjoy this wonderful view of the Black Canyon National Park with a hello to those we met on the trails.
Posted on October 6th, 2014 by Brenda
When we left Breckenridge, Colorado we kept heading west on I70 and went through Glenwood Canyon to our next stop, Glenwood Canyon Resort. It was a beautiful drive through the Rockies during the peak leaf peeping season. The Colorado River ran along the highway and if you look closely at the picture, on the other side of the river, are railroad tracks. We did see one Amtrak train traveling along those tracks while we were driving. Pretty incredible if you think about how difficult it must have been to not only build this road but also lay that entire track.
Glenwood Canyon Resort is right off of the highway, so it is easy access, however you really don’t hear the road that much, especially at nighttime. You’re nestled in between the canyon walls and the Colorado River, and yes, those train tracks are still there across the way.
We did hear a couple trains that night but it wasn’t as bad as some places we’ve been. That being said, there are some RV sites along the river itself, so those would be much louder I’m sure. The sites along the river however are not big rig friendly. So we were on the upper tier.
The resort has quite a few activities from white water rafting to zip lining. Or if you feel up to exploring the area, Glenwood Springs, Colorado is the next exit up the highway and this little historic small town was voted as America’s Most Fun Town among other accolades.
Known for it’s Hot Springs, Caves and Caverns and many other outdoor activities, you’ll have no chance of getting bored. Now this being said, we did not explore the town at all. We were only in town for one night and our goal for this trip was to take our tow vehicle and drive into Aspen and explore what that town has to offer.
Driving into Aspen was close to an hour trip however, it was a gorgeous drive through cute little towns and beautiful fall colors everywhere.
While Aspen is probably most well known for being a ski town and a place where you can spot celebrities (we did not see any by the way), it does have some nice shops, restaurants and many other outdoor activities to keep you busy the rest of the year.
Unlike Breckenridge where the shopping is more for us, Aspen’s shopping is very high end. With Prada to Gucci to many various art galleries and fur stores. I can see why celebrities like it here. You should have seen all the private jets at the small little Aspen airport. Makes you wonder who was in town.
We had lunch, sitting outside of course, enjoying the scenery and our friends. Wandered around the streets a little bit and soaked in the atmosphere and just enjoyed the day. Aspen has some wonderful old architecture mixed in with some modern day buildings. Pretty interesting.
What else is interesting is Aspen has quite a few sculptures around the area. We found this bear in the central park area. Upon closer inspection of this over 6 foot bear, we realized he was made up entirely of nails.
Very inventive. I must say, people in Colorado seem to really like their sculptures. We have found them all over from small towns to large it doesn’t matter.
We enjoyed our day with our friends exploring some of what Aspen and the surrounding area had to offer. It was one of those perfect weather days where you just have to be outside.
When we got back to the resort we had a lovely stroll along the river and enjoyed the crisp evening air and clear skies. We ran into one of our neighbors in the campground and they had said that there was a black bear spotted crossing the highway headed towards this direction.
We took that as our queue that our stroll was over and it was time to head inside as the only bears I care to run into are the kind made out of old rusty nails.
On our next time through we’ll have to make more time to spend in this area and do more exploring. That’s the nice thing about shorter trips. You can figure out what you’d like to go back to and what you’d can do without. Aspen is one of those towns that I’m glad we went to but I really don’t need to go back there. Glenwood Springs on the other hand we’ll make an effort to come back to.