Million Dollar Highway

We began our day by driving the Million Dollar Highway from Ridgeway to Silverton Colorado.  This is one of America’s most spectacular drives with jaw-dropping vistas, it is about 25 miles long and was built in the 1880’s.  You can forget about any standard safety measures like guardrails or shoulders because there aren’t any.   It is a very narrow two lane road with a cliff on one side and shear steep drop off on the other, the grade is 8% with switchback turns that have a maximum speed of 15 mph, and just to make it more interesting there is an occasional bicyclist or two that appears directly in front of you as you round the turn.   Thankful we made the drive with no problems and stopped in Silverton for breakfast.  We found a small café, Kendall’s café on Main Street.  The breakfast was one of the best we have ever had and that’s saying a lot because we have consumed many a breakfasts.  Then off to the Silverton Miners Museum that was next door.  It was originally a jail built in 1902, additional houses have been built around the jail to create a fascinating museum featuring not only the restoration of the jail, but with exhibits of mining life, mining technology of its day, tools, equipment and so much more.  The building is 3 stories tall and with an underground tunnel.  One of the more interesting museums we have experienced.  Their goal is to give you a mining experience and they did that very well.

The Million Dollar Highway is part of the San Juan Skyway, so we completed our scenic loop of the Skyway back in Durango where we made a short stop at the 24 acre dog park for Vegas to get some needed exercise before our long drive to Red River New Mexico.

Durango

Tuesday, July 20th we arrived in Durango

 

and headed for the public land office for visitor information on all the camping sites in the San Juan National Forest.  We decided on Junction Creek only a few miles from historic downtown Durango.  The campground is very massive with beautiful tall pine trees and large open areas for hiking.  The campground host, Tim, was most helpful in helping find the perfect stop to spend the night and enjoy a drink under the trees.

Wednesday we are off exploring, we first went to the Sky Ute Casino on the Ute Reservation and had lunch, then off to Vallecito Reservoir.  We drove the loop around the lake, checked out the camping sites and decided to head off to Mancos state park to spend the night.

THE SAN JUAN SKYWAY

The San Juan Skyway is one of the most scenic drives in America, spanning elevations from 6,200 feet outside of Durango to 11,075 feet at Red Mountain Pass.  We began this beautiful drive from Durango to Mancos State Park.  The park has a beautiful lake where dogs can swim but not people, don’t know why, but Vegas had a grand time.

Thursday, we continued our journey on the San Juan Skyway to Ridgeway State Park, the half way mark to completing the skyway loop back to Durango.  The scenery consisted of rolling meadows, raging rivers running alongside the highway, red cliff mountains, and valleys with breathtaking views.  Tomorrow we will continue the loop on the part that is called The Million Dollar Highway, from Ouray to Silverton.  I can’t wait.  So excited.

National forest

We are in a place with no internet no phone, just a cool breeze and the sound of a running river. Vegas is chewing a bone and Barb is reading. It’s been a long time since I have been so relaxed. The National forest is truly a treasure and I am so thankful that I can enjoy it.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Camping at East Fork Colorado

We started our Monday with an adventure into the wilderness of the San Juan National Forest, we turned onto the gravel road leading along the raging waters of the Blanco River.  The road led us to an isolated primitive camping area next to the river under tall pines with plenty of shade, the perfect spot for an outback experience.  We’ve set up camp enjoying the cool breeze, the sound of the river, and watching Vegas exploring her new territory

Barb’s trash can experience

Eyeing a narrow trail through the brush as a short cut to the trash bins, Vegas and I started trekking onward, when there was a rustling in the grass and a large brown snake came flying up and over the trail directly in front of us.  We both turned and ran as fast as possible back to the payment.  I thought maybe Vegas would resist me, but she was getting out of there faster than me.  We located the sidewalk a couple of rv pads down the way and walked safely with no incidents to the trash bins.  Located in the vicinity of the bins was a large colony of black-tailed prairie dogs, some standing up and chirping at us and other running as fast as possible into their holes.  Vegas wasn’t sure what to make of this.  We did not see any buffalo but maybe tomorrow, it looked like they hang out in that area often.

Caprock Canyons State Park

Vegas not on the sidewalk!

Vegas not on the sidewalk!

“Hay sierras debajo de los llanos” (there are mountains below the plains) was a common phrase used by early Mexican travelers who crossed through this area. We got here at 2:00 and the temperature was 101 so there is no hiking or biking the 25 miles of canyon trails. This afternoon it’s Netflix and Uverse but tomorrow morning we will be hiking with temperatures in the low 70’s.

This is the home of the official Texas State Bison heard. We saw a few when we cane in and I expect to see many more before we leave.

 

Maiden Voyage

The trip from Lordsburg New Mexico to Austin Texas was full of adventure. We stayed close to the US – Mexico border as much as possible and were amazed  at how many check-stations we had to go through.

We boon-docked the first night in Las Cruces  New Mexico at a rest area. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The next morning we were off to White Sands New Mexico.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Fort Davis was our next stop and my first experience with a macerator. A macerator is like a garbage disposal for your black water and gray water holding tanks. When you are ready to dump the macerator pumps the waste out for you.

The next night we stayed in Big Bend National Park and were able to camp in the Chisos Basin. The warning signs said no vehicles longer than 24 ft. but the Unity made it like a champ.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The next day we headed to Seminole Canyon State Park where we hiked the canyon. From Seminole we went to Concan on the Frio River. This area is known for tubing down the river.

Once we got to Austin we started equipping our Unity for the year-long journey across this nation.

A Taxing Situation

The sales tax on new vehicles  in Arizona is 8.25% but in Texas it is 6.25, since we live in Texas and like lower taxes we had the local dealer make an out of state delivery. This entailed having the dealers driver, drive our Unity to the New Mexico state line where we took delivery.

 

Delivery

For one year Barbara, Vegas and Lonnie will travel this wonderful country in an RV called a Unity. This RV is made in Canada by Leisure Travel Vans and is highly sought after. The waiting period to purchase a new Unity is approximately eight months but from time to time they can be found at an RV show for immediate delivery. This is how we found ours and had to fly to Phoenix Arizona to take delivery.