JohnBoy the Law Breaker


Yes, those are the unmistakable red and blue lights of a US Park Service ranger patrol vehicle in my rear view mirror.  Seems our hero was doing 51 in a 35, which the ranger thought was a tad excessive.

After reviewing my credentials, discussing my attire (what are you wearing that vest for?) and giving me a stern talking to, I was fortunate to get off with just a verbal warning.

When he brought my license and registration back to me he asked me what I had been taking pictures of.  I thought that was a really stupid question to ask someone in Colorado, and I resisted the temptation to say something smart-ass because I figured that would just get me in more trouble than I was already in.

I was a few minutes late meeting Sam for lunch outside the Park, but none the worse for wear.

What a Difference a Day Makes

When I visited Rocky Mountain National Park the second day I noticed some changes from when I had been here the day before.


Those white rectangles denoting the pedestrian walkway weren’t there on Tuesday.

No, silly, that’s not what I’m talking about (although it’s true, they hadn’t been painted yet).  This was a picture I posted the day before:


And here was the same view today:


I will be posting another more dramatic example of how things can change from one day to the next tomorrow.

Hidden Valley Visitor Center


The second day I was in Rocky Mountain National Park I stopped at this Visitor Center to use the restroom.  As I was pulling in I noticed lots of people walking around in the areas next to the parking lot with Safety Sam vests on and carrying long grabber sticks.  At first I thought they were having an Easter Egg hunt but no, they were volunteers picking up trash.

After doing what I stopped here for I spent some time reading the signs and looking around the property.  I learned that this site was once home to the Hidden Valley Ski Lodge.  The Park Service deconstructed the Lodge from 1999 to 2003 and reused many of the materials in building this beautiful new visitor center.


I also found a group of people under a shelter talking to a Park Ranger.  They were the volunteers I had seen picking up trash.  I got there just as the Ranger announced they he had combined all the trash which had been picked up and it weighed in at 8 1/2 pounds.  Some people are such slobs….


I had noticed when I pulled in that there was a US Park Service Fire & Rescue vehicle parked near the building and a firefighter was talking to one of the rangers who was working here.  Turns out he was there to give a demonstration to a group of youngsters who were having a Junior Ranger learning session inside the building.


And of course I couldn’t leave without getting my picture taken.  Meet JohnBoy the Park Ranger.


Breckenridge, Colorado

I am spending two nights in Breckenridge, a ski town about two hours west of Denver.  My youngest brother, David, spent the winter of the year he graduated college working at a ski shop in Breckenridge.

This is the view from the interstate at the Breckenridge exit looking south.




And this is a typical scene on the main street in town.


When my friend Shawn learned I was going to be staying in Breckenridge she told me I needed to go to a little French bakery in town and order “Little Nuns,” which are basically three small eclairs, Papa Bear, Mama Bear and Baby Bear size, stacked like a snowman.  Well, I found the bakery but they had no idea what I was talking about, so of course I opted for beignets instead!


Trust me, they weren’t nearly as good as they look.  They need to send their staff to New Orleans to learn how to make a proper beignet.  I struggled to eat them both, as they really weren’t even as good as the doughnuts I get at home.  As Trump would say, “Sad”.

I texted my brother to see if he wanted me to get him anything while I was here.  He replied “Nothing from Breck other than a piece of property on Peak 6, please. Preferably ski-in, ski-out”.  Well, I checked and they had just sold the last one, so I got him a magnet.

A Little Reminder of Home

After getting off the dreaded interstate I started driving north on a section of what is known as the “Million Dollar Highway”.  I quickly came to the small towns of Century City and Black Hawk, which are comprised mainly of quaint little casinos.  This one obviously caught my eye (and for those of you who don’t know me, I live in Durham, North Carolina, a tobacco town and the place where the movie “Bull Durham” was filmed).




I’ll post pictures from Century City tomorrow.  It is really a cute little town.



St. Malo Church on the Rock





I had passed this church yesterday on the way down to Breckenridge but the sun was in a better spot as I drove by today so I stopped again to get better pictures.  Technically this is the Saint Catherine of Siena Chapel in Allenspark, Colorado, just south of Estes Park.  Pope John Paul II visited the church while in Denver in 1993.  He enjoyed a hike in the nearby woods, and also visited the St. Malo Retreat and Conference Center which was adjacent to the church.

The Conference Center burned in November 2011.  A major rock slide destroyed most of the property around the church in 2013 and it was forced to close.  It is now a construction site as the State of Colorado has taken over the property and is renovating the building.


Justin & Raylynn, sittin’ in a tree…


Shortly before getting to Estes Park I noticed this sign next to the highway.  I briefly thought of crashing the wedding but I already had a very busy day planned, it occurred to me that both Justin and Raylynn are both probably 1/3 my age, and they’d probably make me dance.  If I had known what was coming up next I would have danced like no one was watching….


Delay of Game

My plan for the day was to drive north from Breckenridge on the Million Dollar Highway up to Estes Park, go through Rocky Mountain National Park from east to west one last time, attend the production of “Newsies” at the Repertory Theatre in Grand Lake outside the west entrance to the Park and return to Breckenridge in the wee hours of the morning.  Well, everything was going along swimmingly until mid-day when I created a but of a dilemma for myself while trying to pull off the highway for a photo op.

Go grab a drink, I feel another amusing JohnBoy story coming on…..

As I approached Estes Park on Route 7 I got a quick glimpse of the town in the valley before me.  I thought, hmmmm, that would make a great picture, and started looking for a safe place to pull off the road.  The first two pullouts already had vehicles parked in them.  The third was empty so I slowed down and signaled to the two vehicles behind me that I intended to pull off the road.

Before actually pulling off I noticed that there was a considerable drop off between the road surface and the parking area, which was mostly dirt.  Rather than bottom out the chassis of the car I drove to the end of the pullout where the drop off wasn’t as steep.  I could only get 2 wheels off the pavement but that at least gave the cars behind me a chance to pull around.  I put the car in reverse and proceeded to back up into the pullout area.

Next thing I know the front of the car went up, then went down and I heard the distinctive sound of metal on rock.  I was stuck.  Fortunately I was completely off the highway, and I was also fortunate to be in a spot where I could use my cell phone.  After assessing the situation and making one brief attempt to extricate myself, I called AAA.

As you can see, many other folks have bottomed out exiting the highway.


This was the best way I could think of to demonstrate how steep the drop off was.  That is a 16 oz. water bottle.




I put the rock to the left behind the tire to try and get traction backing up.  It didn’t help.

The car was at an elevation of 8,881 feet.  The bottom of my right front tire was at 8,880.


The source of the problem.


Well, long story short, it took AAA 3 HOURS to get there, even though the towing company was only 6 miles away (and it was only 7 miles to Estes Park).  Apparently Bob’s Towing is the only company they use in Estes Park.  I became increasingly frustrated at the beautiful day slipping away.  When the tow truck finally got there it took all of 4 minutes to hook up to my car and pull it backwards off the rock.

I had called my nephew while all this was going on and alerted him that I may not make it to the show.  When I determined that there was no damage to the car (other than a piece of plastic dislodged underneath the engine, merely cosmetic) I drove in to Estes Park, filled the tank with gas and returned to Breckenridge.