Saturday, September 24, 2016

Cripple Creek to Ouray Colorado

Saturday September 24, 2016

We woke up at 7:00.  It had been a cold night.  The temperature outside at 7 AM was 25 and inside the Sprinter it was 39.  The one thing we had forgotten was the space heater!  We truly did not expect quite this cool temperatures – I had checked the temps each place and 40’s maybe but not 20’s!  We were not too uncomfortable in our sleeping bags with long sleeve shirts but it was too cold for cooking etc….we broke camp in 15 minutes and were on our way back down the mountain to Florissent where we had hopes for finding coffee and some breakfast.  And did we ever find a good breakfast!  Costello Street Coffee House!  We split biscuits with sausage gravy, a cinnamon roll, and a blue berry scone – they and the coffee were great – not sure if it was us being so hungry or the food….I think it was both.  Restaurant was an old farm house – most of the downstairs rooms were furnished with antiques – the one we were in had an entire wall of tea pots on beautiful shelves.  And the tables and chairs were all old as well…you ordered at a counter where they displayed all their fantastic baked goods and then they brought out your food.  Great second start for the day.
Cinnamon Roll

Biscuit with Sausage Gravy

All the goodies we did not eat!
We headed west on US 24 to Buena Vista and then US 50 through quite a number of small towns on our way to Gunnison.  We crossed what I describe as high plains – lots of cattle, baled hay, and farms.  We saw quite a number of antelope.  Always ahead were the Rockies and there was snow.  The aspen in the snow was certainly beautiful.  We crossed Monarch Pass at 11,312 feet. The road was clear but the parking lot where we stopped to take a photo was still icy.  The scenery continued to be outstanding as we continued to Gunnison. 

Mountains to the West
We began to see snow!

And more snow on the peaks

At Monarch Pass - 11,312 - Continental Divide

In Gunnison we made a Walmart stop – for all the things we needed – a small heater, WD40 for a squeaking door, Windex since we have used ours up cleaning off bugs, and some eggs.  If you continued north from Gunnison you would reach the well-known ski resort – Crested Butte.  We headed south since we need to be in Durango on Sunday to meet Ben’s college roommate.  From Gunnison we headed west to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.  We traveled along the Blue Mesa Lake that had been formed by a dam on the Gunnison River.  It was a huge lake at 7,000 to 8,000 feet elevation. However with the overcast sky and low temps today few people were out enjoying the water!

Blue Mesa Lake
When we reached the park we viewed their film, got a passport stamp, got Daniel a post card, and spent some time at a couple overlooks looking down into the gorge.  This river carved a very deep canyon in the rock – about 2,000 feet– the canyon remained unexplored until well into the 1900’s. 

Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Black Canyon of the Gunnison

The patterns in the walls of stone were facinating
A few miles west of Black Canyons of the Gunnison is Montrose.  Montrose was probably the largest town we visited today. We joined US 550 south to Ridgeway and then Ouray.  Ouray is known as the Switzerland of the US and it is indeed again in the Rocky Mountains at 7,792 ft elevation!  We had planned to stop at the KOA and it is on the north of town. 

approaching Ouray - it is really gray and gloomy!

Ben with his TV set up watching something - with heat!
We had had a wonderful day even with a bit of a rocky start!  Glad though to be stopped where we could climb in the Sprinter, set up the TV, plug in the new heater, and cook supper.  If you have read our blog before you know our Sprinter Van allows us space for about anything – but only one thing at a time. You can lounge, cook and eat or you can sleep – comfortably but not at the same time.  Our late afternoon - evening was of the lounging and eating mode. A first for us – Jane baked corn muffins to accompany our canned beef stew.  It surely did taste good!  Maybe that was because with our huge breakfast all we wanted for lunch was cheese crackers! 

Caught up on the blog even though the internet connection did not allow for posting photos.  The weather forecast maybe calls for snow – if so our departure may be delayed a few hours tomorrow as we must cross three 10 - 11,000 foot passes. They say if it rains here in Ouray, it will snow in the high passes.  The road from here to Durago is known as the Million Dollar Highway – both for the views and the cost of building it!  It closes for ice… so we may not be leaving here until noon or so…..time will tell.

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