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Colorado with kids, some motorcyle riding.

Oct 16, 2008
Bryan, TX
Warning, children have been substituted for motorcycles for much of this post. I have no children, but I like the fact that I have always had children in my life. I have five best friends with children. I like going to Colorado, especially when I take people to places they have never seen. I’ve only gone to Colorado with adults. Time for a change? I asked my friends if I could take their children to Colorado for a week. My perfect plan called for four people, me, dad, and, 2 children. One couple agreed, but Mom was feeling left out. I’ve been on vacation with Mom and had a blast so why not? Actually, I’ve been on vacation with all the moms except one.

When do we go? The kids and I want snow. I want to do the Alpine loop in a Jeep. I have a family reunion of sorts planned in the last week of June. Let’s go the week before, carry my bike in the bed of Dad’s truck and we’ll split up after a week and go our separate ways. A little chancy on the Alpine loop being open so early since they had so much snow this year, but eventually we’re off with all five of us in one truck. The plan, stage one: Motel in Santa Rosa, stop in Albuquerque and ride the Tram up, continue to Silverton and our rented house, Alpine loop, Black Canyon, Box Canyon, Hot Springs, horseback riding, Old Hundred old mine tour, museum tour, alpine slide.
The plan, stage two: Ride to my brother’s house in Taos, NM and help him build a work shop.
The plan, stage three: thankfully modified from the original plan which will be explained later: Meet my family in Buena Vista, Hot springs, throw snowballs, ride some, camp, see ghost town, roast marshmallows, ride DRZ400 home to Bryan.

Day 2 (day 1 spent driving)

One of the reasons for this trip. Brooke, 9 years old.

The other reason, Sabrina, nearly 7 years old.

Our first “fun” thing. Ride up the tram to Sandia Peak

The other way up the mountain when there’s enough snow to ski. It’s an 8 mile walk up the trail when the lift is not working. The taller people are Maurice and Melissa.

The attraction of the day. Last year, Maurice and I stopped at the rim of the Black Canyon and met a couple from Pennsylvania. While they were looking over the edge of the canyon their son, about 6 to 8 years old, was playing in the sand at their feet. My nightmare was the girls would not see the mountains and canyons the way I see them. Their enthusiasm towards the lady bugs increased my fears.

Onward to Silverton. In the valley north of Silverton, we saw more than 20 elk eating and bedding down.

Of course, a stop for pictures at Molas Pass is mandatory. My fear of the girls not liking the mountains has been alleviated.

Another with Mom and Molas Lake in the background.

If you follow that trail for 408 miles, you’ll be in Denver. Molas Pass was the end point of my hike on the Colorado trail 13 years ago. I started near Denver and walked 345 miles after skipping a couple of sections. I recommend you do likewise. Walk the trail, not skip sections. It will be one of your life defining moments.

We got to Silverton and found the house around 9:00 PM, after the girl’s bed time. Something is wrong!!! The key was not where it was supposed to be. Phone call. We’re not supposed to be there until tomorrow? Not true, the agent had made a mistake and the house hadn’t been cleaned. The cleaning lady came and changed the sheets on the one bed that had been used and a more thorough cleaning would take place tomorrow. Cleaning was not really necessary since the previous occupant had not messed up anything, but several hours were spent doing something. Anyway, the owner apologized and refunded $200. All happy, especially me with $200 in my pocket. I went next door to introduce myself to the people on the front porch. They had bought food to cook on the grill, but forgot to get charcoal. The new Colorado marijuana law does have an affect. I was offered beer in exchange for charcoal. I had no charcoal, but enjoyed their beer anyway. I got up early the next morning and went to a local café for coffee where I met a Harley rider that had bought 40 acres in 1980. I should have done the same. 1980 was my first trip to Silverton.
Oct 16, 2008
Bryan, TX
Day 3
We decided to do a little exploring in the truck today.
Christ of the Mines above Silverton, taken by 6 year old Sabrina. Several miracles have been credited to the shrine. If you care to read about them, http://www.villadallavalle.com/christ-of-the-mines-shrine.html

The statue’s view of Silverton, with our house in the center.

Our first snow bridge over the headwaters of the Animas River. This is the same river that was heavily polluted last year by a mine. The snow bridges are caused by deep snow deposited by avalanches.

The road up to Animas Fork, a ghost town.

Sabrina on rock

Brooke at Animas

Me on toilet

Snowball fight

Cold hands

View out the front door

Brooke finds out how cold the water is

It’s getting close to the 4th of July

Our guide in the Old Hundred Mine

Watching a demo. When the guide tells the children to cover their ears, cover yours also. They use actual air hammer type drills and they are LOUD.

An operating drill.

That was fun

Some early mining equipment, some like the round lunch box is still used today. Trivia: Remember the song, “went to California with a banjo on my knee.” Well, it turns out that a banjo is not a musical instrument in a mine. In a mine, a Banjo is a round pointed shovel.

Miners lantern powered by acetylene generated by slowly dripping water into calcium carbide. The open flame caused many explosions when a pocket of natural gas was encountered.

Panning for gold. The mine puts in copper, silver and a little gold. It’s obviously a salted mine since all except the gold is in little round balls of various size.

I joined in.

More toe touching of the very cold water.

Sabrina gritted her teeth and joined right in.
Oct 16, 2008
Bryan, TX
Day 4? We’re going to drive the Million Dollar Highway through Ouray and go to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison.
Me and Melissa at a scenic turn out. Melissa has a fear of heights, like a lot of people, and was not enjoying the Million Dollar Highway. We had ridden it once several years ago on motorcycles, but the enclosure of the truck and the limited view over the hood must have brought out her fears. I comfort her.

Sabrina has no such fears.

I saw several signs like this in the 2 weeks I was in Colorado.

Sabrina and Brook get their first look at the canyon.

We lucked out and got to the first scenic turn out just as this park ranger, I believe her name was Mary Jane, was giving a lecture on how the canyon was formed. Unlike the Grand Canyon, this one will always be much deeper than it is wide. The rocks are some of the oldest and hardest on earth so most of the canyon was carved by large rocks being propelled down the river by flash floods. Some of the rocks are known to have been over 5’ in diameter.

Me and two of my favorite people at one of my favorite places. Next year I plan on hiking down the 1700 feet to the river. On the east end, near the dam, you can drive down. It’s not as dramatic.

Looking over the edge. It’s still possible in many places to get this close without guard rails. Keep your children under control so it will remain that way.

A little cactus bloom near the edge.

Maurice hanging on tightly, thinking, “If I go, you go.”

Mineral bearing rocks were everywhere. She wasn’t very happy when I told her she couldn’t keep it.

Sitting on a fallen tree behind a sign that says, “fallen tree.”

What looks like Blue bonnets, but are actually called Blue Bells. The ones that look like Indian Paint brushes are indeed Indian Paint Brushes.

Mo contemplating whether he wants to give up his engineering job.

Why not?

Heading out of the park with our home away from home behind those snow capped mountains.
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Oct 16, 2008
Bryan, TX
Day 5 We decided to rent a Jeep and do the Alpine Loop. Sabrina was sick and Mom was elected to stay at the house while we drove the loop. The plan was to go up 110 to Hurricane and California Pass, south to Animas and back to Silverton to see if Sabrina was feeling well enough to go for a bumpy ride.
Still on the easy part.

A 9 year old looking too grown up with Scott’s avatar in the background. If you want a MUCH harder route than coming straight out of Silverton, come from Ouray on the road that branches to the right.

We stopped to take a picture of scenery and Brooke spied this Ptarmidgan

There was a little more snow than there has been in past trips up to California

No motorcycles, but I have a motorcycle T-shirt.

Erasable graffiti

We head down to Animas. Shortly after this, I asked Brooke, who was riding in the back seat, if she wanted to sit in my lap and drive. Her response was, “No, I’m comfortable back here.”

Lake Como

Another snowball fight. Not long after this, Brooke asked for her dad’s jacket.

Looking east from California. I don’t know why Brooke doesn’t want to drive.

The road to Animas just to my right.

They used really big nails. There is at least 10” hidden in the timber. I had to fight the urge to take one home. I know how the girls felt when they were told they couldn’t take rocks from Black Canyon.

I can’t go to Colorado without taking a picture of Columbines. They would outshine our Texas Bluebonnets if they grew in large fields like Bluebonnets.

We went back to town and Sabrina was over her upset stomach so we all went back toward Animas fork and up to Maggie Gulch. I’m driving and for some reason Melissa is calmer.

Mr. Marmot was at the old rock crusher. Actually Mrs. Marmot was also there, but didn’t want to be photographed.

The temperature was a little cool so Sabrina added my rain suit jacket to her light jacket.

Not exactly a wall of snow, but graffiti seemed appropriate.
Oct 16, 2008
Bryan, TX
Day 6 We decided to spend a little time horseback riding down around Pergatory. The horses will sometimes see wild mountain goats and sheep as well as domesticated llamas. To keep them from being spooked, the stable keeps a goat and a llama at the stable.
Billy the Goat

Tony the Llama. We all thought it should be named Dolly Llama.

Looking on in nervous anticipation. The two girls had ridden a little. Melissa is an accomplished rider. I haven’t ridden since college.

Sabrina was comfortable from the start and led the pack from about 5 minutes away from the stable until about 10 minutes before we got back to the stable. Brooke led the final 10 minutes.

Family portrait. That’s me and Flop on the right. When I would trot out front so I could take pictures, his ears flopped so much I thought they might fall off. I don’t know what his real name is, but he will always be Flop to me.

We became attached.

Next up, the alpine slide across highway 550 at Pergatory. Brooke and I raced and she accused me of cheating because I didn't slow down for the "slow" sign.

Of course, they had a gold (mineral) panning area) which was a highlight for the girls since it took way less time to find the large mineral rocks than it did to find the small particles of copper and silver.

Eureka, I’m rich.

We also met this engineer and his boiler tender woman.
Oct 16, 2008
Bryan, TX
Day 7
The next morning was going to be my last with my adopted family so we decided to go to the Silverton museum. Later that day, they would go to Ouray for the Box Canyon and Falls.

They had an original can of Campbell’s Prune Soup.

They also had some old pictures of a sheriff and his killers.

Matt Dillon and John Wayne always stopped the lynchings, but I guess with the sheriff dead!!!!!!!


The girls enjoyed the museum much more than I thought they would. It was a mining museum and one of their favorite thing was the mine and panning.

Literally hundreds of old wrenches, blacksmith tools and woodworking tools.

Steel traps, lead melting ladle and ice tongs

Small pistols galore.

Going to work in the 1800s

A “modern” washing machine.

A little less “modern”

I believe Brooke could be a gourmet cook if she had this stove.

If you go to Silverton, I highly recommend the museum. It’s $8.00 and well worth it. I went a couple of years ago and I was very surprised how much it had changed. I asked and a lady told me the town had a lot of retired miners that volunteered at the museum. It shows.
A last meal before I reluctantly leave to go help my Brother build a shop.
Oct 16, 2008
Bryan, TX
I worried that I wouldn't be able to entertain the girls for 6 days. I was wrong, they seemed to enjoy all the activities, especially the horses and the mine. They also enjoyed the snow and the Jeep ride, but not so much the snow covered mountains. On one drive on 550, they asked if they could watch a movie, an activity they had done several times on the drive from Texas. Maurice suggested that they look out the window at the mountains and the reply was, "We already saw them once." It was hard to leave, especially knowing I was headed to do slave labor for my brother.
Oct 16, 2008
Bryan, TX
Day 8
I’m alone and on my DRZ400 now. I decide to take a short cut over Cinnamon Pass. Being alone, I didn’t want to do Engineers that late in the day. Another reason for not doing Engineer was my gearing. I had a +1 tooth sprocket on the front and stock rear.

Headed up.


Alone at the pass. It’s late, rainy and cold, but very beautiful.

And, going down the east side.

This fella was fine with me taking pictures while riding by, but he wouldn’t let me stop beside him. I just rode back and forth and took several pictures.

There’s a not so nice story behind this sign. You can google it if you want.

Probably not one of Alferd the Cannibal’s victims, but it was right beside the sign.

Somebody else recently posted a picture from this very site. That’s highway 149 to Lake City.


The devastation caused by the pine Beetle.

A waterfall along 149. I’ve been down to the bottom before and it’s getting late so I took this one from about ½ way down. People at the top for scale.

Somebody illegally parked this motorcycle in front of the Creede fire department.

I had my wife google motel rooms in and around Alamosa, but everything under $150+ tax was filled. A rodeo and something else was in town. I rode on to Antonito.

My bed for the night. $54 including breakfast. I got there after 10:00 and there was a sign on the door that said, “Do not ring the bell unless you need a room or it’s an emergency. Ice is NOT an emergency.” I later found out they have a 420 room that comes with complementary marijuana. It must be paid for in cash and no internet reservations. $75/night including tax. For all who are interested: http://www.narrowgaugerailroadinn.com/420-room.html
Oct 16, 2008
Bryan, TX
Llamas beside the road

I stopped at the cemetery in Taos to visit my dad. He knew he was dying and he made his own steel headstone, except for the death date and I never asked who cut that.

I spend a lot of time in cemeteries an wonder about things like this. Why different? The one on the rock is the same as the ones on the steel posts. ??? I guess I’m easily intrigued.

My youngest brother. We met at my next to youngest brother’s house to help him build a shop. Shop is in the background.

What happens if you wear a mesh hat in the New Mexico sun.

Bonus, I get to see my newest grand nephew. I have lots of nieces and nephews, lots.

Heading back to Colorado to meet up with my family. Stopped at the Rio Grande Gorge.

My brother was a Taos fireman, on the search and rescue team, and he hates this bridge. I like it.

John Dunn Bridge. There are hot spring just downstream from the bridge, clothing optional. My next older brother’s ashes are also around here. One of his favorite places. I’m sure the hot springs had something to do with it being one of his favorites.


In Texas we have roadside markers for relatives that died in car wrecks. In New Mexico they get a little more elaborate. Artificial turf.

And solar powered lights. As I’ve said in older posts, I’m fascinated with graves and graveyards.

Upstream from John Dunn Bridge is Rio Grande Del Norte national Monument. It’s big and this is part of it.

Great Sand Dunes National Park as seen from the waterfall just south of the park entrance.

Zapata waterfalls after a brief but chilly walk in the river.

I found about 100 miles of dirt roads between Taos and Buena Vista and these yellow flowers were everywhere.

The road doesn’t appear that interesting, but appearances can be deceiving.

It’s not long before I’m in beautiful aspen forests.

It also wasn’t long until I found this wood carver’s place in Pitkin.

Headed uphill.



Looking down from Cottonwood. It’s getting late and I’ve ridden 450 miles today with slightly over 100 on the dirt.

Camp and about 25 family members await me just outside Buena Vista.
Oct 16, 2008
Bryan, TX
I have another week of riding to report, but I ran out of free room on Photobucket. I'll decide whether to pay for Photobucket and get more space or go to SmugMug and pay. Last week will be in another thread.
Oct 16, 2008
Bryan, TX
This one only has about 8,000. I bought it 10 months ago with slightly over 1500. My last one had about 26,000 miles on it. I sold it to a friend about 2 months after I bought this one. The old one was using about a quart of oil every 1,000 miles. Turned out to be a leaking seal. I should have paid more attention before I spent $3500.