We spent 6 glorious days in the mountains of Colorado, traveling the stunning Million Dollar Highway from Ouray to Durango. We went up and down innumerable mountain passes, some as high as 12,000 ft and our little RV did a great job, even with the added chore of towing a Jeep behind her. At the end of June it began to get hot, even in the high elevations of the Rocky Mountains and forest fires had started in various areas, so we decided it was time to head back to Florida. It is so beautiful in those mountains and there is enough to see and do that you could easily spend an entire summer just in that region. We met many people who do stay just in that region for the whole summer. We will be back and for a longer stay next time.
It’s been a great trip and we’ve seen some amazing things. I’m continually in awe of all the athletes we’ve seen along the way. It seems that every time we are going up a mountain pass we see one or two bicyclists making the ascent as well. In 2012 a seven day event with the worlds top cyclists road from Durango to Denver, a 683 mile journey with nine mountain passes and 42,000 feet of combined elevation gain. I get tired just watching them.
While up at Yankee Boy Basin (12,400ft) we saw a runner come down the rough 4 wheel drive road that we were slowly creeping up. Where on earth did he come from we were thinking, and then we remembered that he was probably training for the Hardrock 100 Endurance Run, which takes place in July. It is largely acknowledged as the toughest ultra-run in the world, through the back country of the San Juan Mountains. It lasts 48 hours with 33,000 ft total elevation gain and an average elevation of over 11,000 ft. These people are hard-core. We saw runners on seemingly deserted roads in the middle of nowhere and then of course there’s all the hikers and mountain bikers you see on various trails. It’s all very inspiring.
Believe it or not I even gained a new appreciation for cows, of all things. Most of the roads we travelled on were open range, which meant there were no fences between you and the cows that were allowed to graze wherever they wanted. We were in some extremely harsh areas with no apparent greenery anywhere around but there would be healthy looking cows with calves. I have no idea how they survive. The stench of the feedlots of Texas and Oklahoma where the cows were corralled into small pens in 100 F heat was enough to make you nauseous and think about becoming a vegetarian.
When traveling across Oklahoma we crossed a swath of devastation from the recent tornado. It must have gone directly over I 40 and there was a huge debris field that extended for miles in the hay fields along the freeway. It took us a few minutes to figure out what we were seeing and then to realize how bad it had been and still was. We had missed the entire event while on the road without cable or TV. We then went to an RV park in Oklahoma that had it own tornado shelter painted with folk art. Thank God we’ve never had to experience one of those. Hurricanes are bad but tornadoes are much worse.
A quick stop in at Hot Spring National Park where we inadvertently drove Trixie towing the Jeep up the steep switchback road (not meant for RV’s but with no turn around area) to a viewing area. We then made it back home in time to celebrate the fourth of July with the neighbor’s arsenal of fireworks illuminating the sky. It was a great trip and we can’t wait to do another one.