Wednesday, August 30, 2017

A month in Colorado

July 24 to Aug 24:

Since we have not posted to our blog in a while I will make a quick summary of the month we spent in Kremmling, Colorado. Kremmling is a ranching community located about halfway between the Rocky Mountain National Park and Steamboat Springs. The RV park we stayed in was a small family owned park with no amenities. Connie had problems with her allergies (we think it was the sage brush blooming) and that limited our activities.

During our month we spent several days visiting the Rocky Mountain National Park. The Trail Road runs across the park (east to west) and we drove the entire length of the road twice: once to Estes Park, Colorado and once to Bear Lake. The road reaches an elevation of 12,200 feet and we got out and walked to the highest point you can hike in the park at 12,480 feet. We did a couple of hikes to some falls at the lower elevations near the entrance to the park. The pine trees in the forests here in Colorado (and throughout the west) are being destroyed by the beetles. In some places there more dead pine trees than live ones.

We drove down to Leadville, Colorado one day to visit the highest city in the continental USA (that is what they claim) at an elevation of 10,200 feet. It was a beautiful drive south from our RV park to the Silverthorne/Dillon area and then on to Leadville before returning to our campground through Vail.

We visited Steamboat Springs on a number of occasions. We rode our bikes around town one day, ate lunch in a couple of good restaurants in town and spend several days visiting with our friends Steve and Larrianne Curtis. Steve and Larrianne have a "cabin" in the community of Clark north of Steamboat Springs and we spend one night in their place. We also got to drive around that part of Colorado and do several short hikes in the area.

There was a small rodeo in Kremmling that we attended one afternoon along with seeing the winners of the local 4-H and fair competitions. We got a chance to visit with George & Susan Viscarelli who we had met last year in Maine. Their son is a chiropractic doctor in Boulder and has a place in Grand Lake, Colorado which is near the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park. We also drove over to Winter Park one day and had a nice lunch.

We observed the solar eclipse while we were in Kremmling. We were outside of the total eclipse path so it was only a 93% eclipse. The temperature dropped several degrees during the eclipse although it did not get very dark where we were.

 Here is a link to photos from our month in Colorado if you want to see them: Click Here for Photos

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Travel to Colorado

July 18 to July 24:

We left Lake Georgetown on Tuesday morning headed to Lubbock, Texas. Lubbock is where I attended college (1972-1977) and I have only been back to the Texas Tech campus once since I graduated. We had a nice day to travel and arrived at our campground, Loop 289 RV Park, in the late afternoon. We were assigned a pull through site and got set up for our three day stay.

Loop 289 RV Park
This is a small RV Park with a number of long term residents. We found the park to be nice with full hookups and shopping located nearby (the park is right off the loop that goes around Lubbock). The RV park was located next to a Gander Mountain Store that was having a "going out of business" sale with prices marked down 50-80%. We took advantage of the sale to purchase some shoes and clothing. There was just a few days left before they closed and the selection was very limited, but we did find a few things in our sizes.

New pair of shoes for Connie.
We spent the two days in Lubbock visiting the Texas Tech campus along with the seeing the city. The campus had changed so much that I did not recognize most of it. The size of the campus has doubled and a number of new buildings have been added to the school. Also the medical school has greatly expanded and now occupies a large space next to the main campus.

We drove out to MacKenzie Park to see the prairie dog town. This small community of prairie dogs has been located here since the park opened in 1935. In most places the prairie dogs were eliminated as pests, but here they were allowed to survive next to the golf course in the park.

The next day we visited the National Ranching Heritage Museum which is located on the Texas Tech campus. The National Ranching Heritage Center is a museum and outdoor park with 49 historic structures dating back to the 1700's. In addition to the 19-acre historical park, the NRHC has 42 life-size bronze steer sculptures and a 44,000-square-foot museum with seven galleries featuring art exhibits, photography and artifacts that capture historical and contemporary Western life.

We also visited the Silent Wings Museum which is a history of the glider pilots and planes used during World War II. The army air force base in Lubbock was one of the places the pilots trained during the war. A group of former glider pilots started a small museum in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in the 1980's and it was relocated to old Lubbock airport (once it shut down) in 2003. It was a very interesting museum and gave a history of this part of the war I knew very little about. The glider planes were able to carry a squad of men fully packed or a Jeep with a tow vehicle. Most of the glider planes were only used one time since the landing was a "controlled crash".

One of the glider planes used during WWII

Inside of the glider

 On Friday morning we left Lubbock and headed to Capulin, New Mexico for two days. Capulin is a town of 66 people (according to 2010 census) located about halfway between Clayton and Raton. We arrived at the Capulin RV Park early in the afternoon and got set up for our short stay here.

The town is located at 6600 feet in elevation so the temperatures were quite mild compared to our days in Texas. The park office sold grass fed Angus beef raised by a local rancher. Connie bought us a couple of steaks that we cooked for our dinner one night. It was so tender that you could almost cut it with a fork.

On Saturday we visited the Capulin Volcano National Monument which is located a couple of miles outside of town. We were fortunate to have a clear day for our trip to the top of the volcano. The last eruption of the volcano was about 55-60,000 years ago. I did not realize that there are at least 7 volcanoes located in this northeastern part of New Mexico. We stopped by the Visitor's Center to get our pass along with information about the park then drove to the parking lot near the top of the mountain. The top of the volcano is 8,182 feet in elevation and on a clear day you can see for 100 miles. We walked the loop trail (about 1.5 miles) around the rim of the volcano and then walked the carter vent trail (another 0.5 mile). The views from the loop trail were spectacular with it being a clear day.

Overhead picture of volcano from the park brochure.


Crater Vent Trail

On Sunday morning we left early to make the drive to Lissa and Scott Oklers house near Castle Rock, Colorado. They have 30 acres of land and offered to let us spend the night at their place on our trip north. Lissa and Connie were roommates in the Dallas area back in the 1980's and the last time they had seen one another was about 22 years ago. We pulled into their driveway and then made the tight drive down a gravel lane to their barn where were able to hook up to 20 amp electricity. The afternoon was warm but the nights are cool, so we did not have to run our A/C's while we were there. We had a great visit with Lissa and Scott along with their kids (now in their 20's). They served us elk steaks Sunday evening from a hunt that Scott and one of his sons had killed last winter. Monday morning Lissa fixed us coffee and breakfast and we visited for several hours before getting on the road again to continue our trip north.

Lissa and Scott

Scott, Lissa and Connie

Lissa in front of their house

Barn where we parked the motor home. It was a slow drive backing up the motor home and turning it around to leave.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Back to Texas - Family Emergency

June 16 to July 18:

After making the decision to head back to Texas with the news of Connie's niece Lisa Aragon worsening condition, we left around 11:00 AM on Wednesday morning to drive as far as we could. I was "under the weather" so Connie drove most of the day. She made comments that evening about how beautiful the drive along Highway 30 in Idaho was (I sleep through this part of the trip). We made it as far as Rawlins, Wyoming where we spend the night at the Western Hills RV Park. We set up as the sun was setting, ate a quick meal, and then on to bed. The next morning I was feeling a little bit better and we split the driving between us. We made it to Dumas, Texas where we pulled into the Dumas RV Park for the evening. After another quick overnight stay we were on the road again the next morning. Connie called all of the  parks in the area to see if they had any spots open, but all of them were booked for the time period that we needed them. Our friends Brooks and Heidi Ivey graciously opened their extra bedroom to us for as long as we needed it. We made it to their house in Cedar Park, Texas where I dropped Connie off. I drove the motor home and Jeep on to Rosanky where we keep the rig parked at my dad's ranch while we stay in the Austin area. My dad has put in a second 50 amp connection so we are able to have full hookups while at the ranch.

Connie spent the next few days at the hospital with Lisa. Lisa was in a coma and was not able to communicate with anyone. Connie and her sister, Debbie, would be at the hospital during the day while Lisa's boyfriend would spend the night at the hospital. As the days passed Lisa's body began to shut down and the family had to make a decision about when to take her off life support. The decision was made to keep her on the machines until her daughter was able to make it down from Fort Worth to see her mom. Once this occurred, the machines were removed and Lisa passed quickly from this life. She was 41 - much too young to be gone.

Lisa Hodges Aragon 1976-2017

In the days that followed Connie helped her sister, Debbie, make the arrangements with the funeral home for Lisa's cremation, arrange a memorial service for her and started the process of going through her possessions. Most of her stuff was in a storage facility and everything had to be gone through and decisions made about what to do with it (what to keep, what to give away and what to donate).

Connie with her cousins Alan & Donna along with sister Debbie (far right)
Once this was all accomplished, we spent a few days at Brooks and Heidi's house before heading out to the ranch in Rosanky for a few days. We did manage to have a "Happy Hour" one evening to see several of our friends during our stay at the Iveys.

After spending some time with my dad, we made a quick trip to San Antonio to see our good friends, Fran and Mal Vaughan. Coming back to Rosanky, we drove the rig to Jim Hogg Park on Lake Georgetown where we spent a week with temperatures near and above 100 degrees. We were able to spend a couple of days in the lake to cool off from the heat. Rhonda and Russell Herrington came out for a visit and spend the day with us in the park.

Our site at Jim Hogg Park on Lake Georgetown

On July 18th, we packed up the rig and headed north again to escape the Texas summer.