Thursday, September 20, 2018

T.Ex. 1.0 (Turtle Expedition) Week 3

This post is going to be late because there are so many places we have been this week without cell service or internet. I work from a chromebook and you can't do anything without an internet connection. So here goes.

We said our farewells to Heidi and Dan in Oak Creek, Colorado. We enjoyed a couple of evenings of good food and good conversations. Dan made us elk burgers the first night and then the second night it was elk and fish tacos. Dan showed me a couple of guns he was building and I have to say they were awesome. I even got to fire one and it was a blast, literally.

We headed south and then east along I-70 to St. Kathryn's Winery in Palisade so that Lisa could stock up on a delicious lavender wine she likes. Once fully stocked we then headed over to James M. Robb State Park along the Colorado. There are great views there nestled in between canyon walls.
The park had a wildfire this summer but the campground was okay. They added nice picnic table shelters to all of the sites. We were going to go to the top of Grand Mesa next so we made sure to be charged, dumped and filled.

Grand Mesa is the worlds tallest flat top mountain at over 10,000 feet. It was 91 in the valley and 67 at the top. It felt nice. The drive up is very long and nearly a 5,000 foot climb so make sure your vehicle is ready for that. There are pullouts to cool it off if it gets hot. I wouldn't bring a large RV up here because there is no place for big rigs. We checked out 4 different campgrounds until we found the perfect spot for us at Ward Lake campground.

Sunset on Grand Mesa

Since we are flatlanders we are not quite used to the elevations even though we have been in elevation for 2 weeks. Like I said it was over 10,000 feet here and very hard to get our breath and it was the highest (no comments please) that we have ever camped. So this was just a one nighter. Next stop, Black Canyon of the Gunnison.

We were up early the next morning because we couldn't sleep due to lack of air. So we packed up and headed to lower elevations. What a difference a couple thousand feet make. We found a store and loaded up on geocache goodies for the geocache emergency and then headed up, again, into the Black Canyon National Park. This is at 8,000 feet. Found the campground and got a spot. We have learned to get in the National Parks early to get a site and then do your exploring.

What spectacular views. To the bottom it can be as far as 1,700 ft. to 2,750 ft. down.  This was also an overnighter. It's not like I am going to hike to the bottom of that thing. No way! Next stop, Gunnison and Alamosa.

We spent a nice night in the Black Canyon and then headed down, again to take care of the geocache emergency in Gunnison Colorado. Geocache Emergency Also to buy a printer because Lisa needed to work while we had cell service and internet. Geocache emergency averted, we then went to Alamosa Colorado to the KOA. We needed power and internet for a few things. You can read all about the KOA in my campground reviews when I can get around to that one. Next day we headed to the Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado.

Again we headed up to another 8,000 ft. elevation. We are beginning to feel like fish out of water. We have never been here and it was truly an amazing site.
We got to the campground early and got a nice site. From the campground you can hike out to the sand dunes and climb them. We thought we would just walk out there a little ways but we went further and further. About half way up we thought we could never make it.
She looks like that because I am so slow.

As usual, nobody waits for the invalids..
There are many factors against us. The main one-the altitude. We are already at 8,000 feet  and we are still climbing another 700 ft. in sand. Every 6 inch step up you sink 3 inches. Talk about the thigh master work out. The sand is hot. The air is thin. We kept telling ourselves that we would go to the next level and then rest. Then the next. Finally we got to the top.
This was the hardest hike we have ever done. I did not complain at all. Mainly because Lisa was 100 feet above me all of the time.

Going down was much easier. I was motivated by all of the cold beers in the refrigerator.  We were spent. We built a fire and ate dinner and then the next day it was off to go to Mueller State Park near Pikes Peak.
Grouse Mountain views.

See, nobody cares about the invalid.
This park had some great views also. We did a short hike to the top of Grouse Mountain. Over 9,000 feet. It was fairly close to Pikes Peak. We wanted to stay a couple of days so that we could unload the camper and not have to bring it to the top of the mountain. So glad we did. 20 miles up climbing 7,000 feet would have been way to much.

The view from the top was nothing but spectacular. You are up so high, over 14,000 feet,  that everything is so far in the distance, but if you zoom in you don't get the feel of the magnitude of the entire view. Lisa read somewhere that if you want to drive your own vehicle up, you have to go early or late in the day. Parking at the top is very limited due to construction up there so they limit the number of cars during the busy times and then you have to ride a shuttle.

We are not big thrill seekers by any means but this was a big step for us and kind of a bucket list item. So we drove our truck, "The Beast" up to the top. That was one white knuckle drive. Going up all you see is giant drop offs with no guard rails and clear blue sky ahead of you. We didn't take any pictures going up but the following pictures are of us going down.

The "Beast" turned 150k up on the mountain. I think it could do it another 100 times. We couldn't. One and done is what we said. After that we went to the Garden of the Gods. We have been to the Valley of the Gods and were curious to see how they garden. It is a free attraction so why not.

More excellent views. 

Well our time is coming to an end here in Colorado. We are so tired of not being able to take a deep breath and going "Oh yeah". 

Where will we pop up next. We had a great time here in Colorado. Now we are enjoying some good old fashioned oxygen.


  1. Those were quite the adventures! Glad you did Pike Peak even if it was a "one and done" experience. If you head back up this way we have plenty of things you can do and cross off your bucket list!

    1. We are headed back next week. Do you want the walls and roof done?