Florissant Fossil Beds

As I drove from Breckenridge down to Colorado Springs I stopped in at the Florissant Fossil Beds, near the town of Florrisant.  I was here last year on the day of the solar eclipse and didn’t get a chance to really see the other exhibits.  It was quite fascinating to see all the various images which have been captured in the rock (leaves, insects, bird wings, fish, etc).

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I was also surprised to learn that years ago (34 million years ago!) there were sequoias in this part of Colorado.  I usually think of them as only being in California.

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They built shelters over these to protect them from further deterioration.  You’ll be seeing live sequoias when I get to northern California in a few weeks.

Graduation

My nephew graduated from Colorado College on Monday so I planned the beginning of my trip around being in Colorado Springs for commencement. My brother Steve, his wife Jen and their daughter Ali were all there, as were Jen’s mother and one of Jen’s brothers, his wife, one of their sons and his girlfriend. We all had a wonderful time and were extremely proud of Sam as he wrapped up his time at CC. He will stay in Colorado two more weeks before moving to Ohio where he has landed a job which will allow him to both use and further his talents.

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Post graduation, this is Sam with his diploma. Between his head and the building you can see Pike’s Peak in the background – one of the many things he loved about being in Colorado Springs.

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This is his cap. When he spoke briefly at a dessert reception for graduating theater students he explained that he started a spreadsheet when he arrived at school four years ago and had worked on a total of 146 productions or events while there. He was Master Electrician for a repertory company up in Grand Lake, Colorado last summer and mainly programs all the on-stage lighting , and is involved with other technical parts, for various productions on campus. “Drop Colors” is a technical term used in the trade. Sam took us to one of the many theaters on campus and told us how they may be set up in a variety of ways to enhance the audience experience.

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Later in the day this is Sam and his sister Ali at Garden of the Gods, a large park with huge rock formations.

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On the Road Again

Now that my family activities are finished and I have adjusted to both the altitude and Mountain Time, it’s finally time to don the Safety Sam vest and hit the road.  Today I drove from Colorado Springs south and west across the state to Montrose.

Just west of Canon City (there is a squiggly above the middle ‘n’ so it is pronounced “Canyon”) I stopped at the Royal Gorge Bridge.  It is 1,260 feet long and is situated 1,053 feet above the Arkansas River, making it the highest suspension bridge in the United States.  It is a tourist attraction which, in addition to the bridge itself, offers a tram, ziplines, and other daredevil activities.  Those all cost money (and I’m cheap and afraid of heights) so I was content to stand on the sidelines and enjoy from a distance.

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Further up the road I came across a group of rafters just getting underway.  They will probably end up going under the bridge.

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Next I drove over Monarch Pass.  I zig-zagged over the Continental Divide several times during last year’s trip but this may be the only occurrence this year until I head back east in the fall.  I was here around noon local time and the temperature had dropped to 50 degrees with a stiff wind, so it was quite brisk.

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Looking back at Monarch ski area

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Soon after passing through the town of Gunnison I entered the Curecanti National Recreation Area.  I was really looking forward to coming back to the area to spend some time at the Blue Mesa Reservoir, the largest body of water in Colorado, which is the centerpiece of Curecanti.  I was distressed to see how low the water level was.

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I was at this same spot last year and the water was considerably higher.  I stopped in the Visitor Center and learned that they are in a drought situation as they didn’t get the normal amount of snow so it looks like the boaters may be in for a less than ideal summer on the lake.

At the western edge of Curecanti I was very close to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, which I visited briefly last year and was another reason why I wanted to return to this part of Colorado.  I learned there are two different entrances, and will be in Montrose two more nights, so I will go in one side tomorrow and the other on Thursday.  I took some pictures today but a heavy overcast had moved in and I’ll wait to see if I get better pictures before posting them.

May the 4th be with you!

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Happy “Star Wars” Day!  I thought this would be a good time to bring everyone up to date on my plan for this year’s Big Trip.  I leave Durham next week, on Wednesday, May 9.  I drive to Nashville, Topeka and Breckenridge where I will spend a week at a timeshare property.  The weekend of May 19 I will be in Colorado Springs for my nephew’s college graduation.

My experience with timeshare properties is that they have do not have very good wifi security so I generally don’t use it while staying there (hence no posting).  I will be spending much of my time in Colorado Springs with family members.  For those reasons I probably won’t start posting pictures until May 22, although I may be able to sneak a few in before then.

This year I will be spending some more time in Colorado and southern Utah (mainly visiting 3 National Parks which got little or no attention last year) before moving on to California, where I will be spending much of the summer.  I already have my schedule planned through July 9th, when I will be near San Francisco.  After that I will continue on to several sites in northern California before driving up the coasts of Oregon and Washington.  I’m not sure yet where I will go after that.  I may linger out by the west coast for a while longer or I may head east up near the Canadian border.  My original plan was to visit Alaska this year but that has been postponed.

I will pay close attention to wildfires and other issues which may alter my plans.

I am excited about this year’s trip and will start sharing pictures and stories soon.  I still plan to post pictures from prior trips after I return from this trip – honest!!.  I apologize for not doing that over the winter but I will try to continue the posting momentum when I get home rather than taking a break, which was part of my downfall last year.