Featured Touring Our Annual Tour Of The American Southwest: V.2022

Discussion in 'Rideouts, Trackdays, Touring & Spotted' started by Sandi T, Jul 3, 2022.

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  1. Sandi T

    Sandi T It's ride o'clock somewhere!
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    Thanks, @FellZebra! I'm doing my best to keep up day by day and hope I'm managing to bring our trip alive for you here on the forum--at least parts of it! Glad to know you're enjoying it. :)
     
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  2. Dawsy

    Dawsy Cumbrian half-wit
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    Alpheus G Rudd, what a fantastic name:grinning: sounds like a great guy too. as always @Sandi T another great read.
     
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  3. Dougie D

    Dougie D Crème de la Crème

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    Reminds me of the Blues singer/ songwriter Aurthur Crudup (another great name!) famous for writing That's all right mama and others that Elvis recorded during his Sun years
     
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  4. Sandi T

    Sandi T It's ride o'clock somewhere!
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    Yep, @Dawsy, that name absolutely suits Alf. When we met him last time we didn't see anything with his full name on it and didn't even think to see if he had a web site. It think we'd plan a ride to Buena Vista just to see Alf again! :)
     
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  5. Sandi T

    Sandi T It's ride o'clock somewhere!
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    #25 Sandi T, Jul 8, 2022
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2022
    DAY #4: Buena Vista, Colorado to Basalt, Colorado via Independence Pass and Aspen
    85 miles

    Today's ride was one our group had been eagerly awaiting. Steve and I had ridden Independence Pass back in 2013 with some other riding buddies, and Ron had been on this road, too. But Russelll had never been over this pass or to Aspen. Our buddy, Larry, who had started the trip but had to turn back, was another who'd never been over the pass or to Aspen and really wanted to do this ride. I guess we'll just have to plan to do it again! :)

    The total mileage today was low but the thrills and chills--literally and figuratively--were high. Plus we were in no rush to arrive at todays destination so we had built in time to stop at the top of the pass, in the town of Aspen, and at Woody Creek Tavern all on our way to Basalt.


    Day 4 to Basalt.png

    After a waffle breakfast--my favorite!--at the hotel, we finished packing up and left Buena Vista to temperatures in the low 40's. Very refreshing but a bit "nippy" for us desert rats. :joy: We gassed up on the way out of town and took off for Independence Pass knowing that our next step would be another 5,000 ft higher in altitude at the top of the pass.

    Twin Lakes is about 20 miles from Buena Vista and is an area with, you guessed it, two lakes that's at the start of road that goes over the Pass, CO #82.
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    The ride over Independence Pass from Twin Lakes to Aspen is just under 40 miles. Although some sections of the road are fairly straight, most of it is very narrow and twisty with many curves sporting 10mph speed limit signs. Ron was experimenting with a new GoPro on this trip and I was hoping he'd get video of this ride but things didn't quite go as planned. I did find this snippet of the road over the pass on YouTube. It's quite short but gives you a sense of our ride at the higher elevations.



    And here's a Google map of just the Independence Pass portion of todays ride.
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    Here’s our "biker gang" at the summit! The temperature was still around 40ºF, warmer than we expected. There was also a lot less snow this time around than back in 2013. But, thankfully, no wind today! :grinning: We met and conversed with a couple of great guys who were doing a Colorado motorcycle trip on their BMW--a 1250GS and a R1250RT.
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    It's always an interesting experience when you ride up above the tree line and this pass is well above the tree line. We saw a sign warning of avalanches and a minute or so later saw evidence that one had happened as some point in the past. The aspen trees were mowed down as if by some giant bulldozer. Independence Pass is closed each year from about the first week in November until the end of May due to snow and ice and treacherous conditions--including avalanches. And it's closed to vehicles over 35 feet long even when it is open because of very tight curves and areas where the road narrows to a single lane.
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    This is the highest my Street Glide Special has ever been! And he ran like a champ. :):kissing_heart: In fact, none of us had any bike issues related to being at altitude even once on the whole trip. And we spent a lot of time over 7,000 ft.
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    After spending a half an hour or so at the summit taking in the views, snapping some photos, chatting with the Denver beemer guys, and taking a break from the focus on the route, we headed down the other side of the pass and on into Aspen, Colorado. Steve lived in Aspen for four years some time ago and still has very fond memories of this little mountain ski town.

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    Aspen does need a qualifier. It is a VERY expensive little mountain town. The last time we checked a year or two ago, the median home price in Aspen was $1.4 million dollars. If that isn't stunning enough, I looked to see what it is in the current crazy housing market and the median home price has risen to a whopping and nearly unfathomable $2.6 million, up 85% from a year ago! Who are these people who can afford to buy these houses??:eek::scream: And Aspen is lovely but it's not like every house down every street is a mansion. This little house is a business but is representative of many of the houses in Aspen's central residential areas.
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    A fountain by the pedestrian-only area of central Aspen with some of the ski runs in the background.
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    A view down one of the pedestrian-only streets
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    .
    DAY #4 to be continued in my next post (tomorrow)
     
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  6. Markus

    Markus First Class Member
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    @Sandi T: Thank you Sandi for your previous descriptions and gorgeous photos of your tour! At the sight of the pizza I almost bit off my keyboard, so delicious it looks. I hope your "altitude training camp tour" continues as successfully as before! :kissing_heart:;)
     
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  7. Aaron Brown

    Aaron Brown apprentice mad reclusive genius

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    Independence Pass remains one of my top 5 favorite stretches of road I've ever ridden. So. Much. Fun.

    @Sandi T thanks for the great trip write up :)
     
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  8. Dougie D

    Dougie D Crème de la Crème

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    #28 Dougie D, Jul 8, 2022
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2022
    Crazy house prices in Aspen, reminds me of Whistler, me and Mrs D stopped of their for a coffee when we toured the Rockies, property their was silly money too. It always amazes me that the ski resorts in the US and Canada are so much smaller that the ones in Europe, just googled Aspen ski resort and it only has 675 acres compared to the likes of Les Trois Vallees in the Alps which has 600KM of runs! Whistler which is the largest in Canada has 8000 acres which works out about half the size of Les trois Vallees
     
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  9. Sandi T

    Sandi T It's ride o'clock somewhere!
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    What are you other favorite 4, @Aaron Brown??
     
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  10. Aaron Brown

    Aaron Brown apprentice mad reclusive genius

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    #30 Aaron Brown, Jul 8, 2022
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2022
    Hmm...

    In no particular order:
    • Million Dollar Highway (Colorado)
    • Pacific Coast Highway (California and Oregon)
    • White Rim Trail (Utah)
    • Blue Ridge Parkway (South Carolina and Virginia)
    • (honorable mention) 3 Twisted Sisters (Texas)
     
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  11. Sandi T

    Sandi T It's ride o'clock somewhere!
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    Day #4 continued
    Thanks, Aaron! The only other one I've done of those is the Million Dollar Highway. And I'll be reporting a bit on that as it was Day #6 of this trip. I was all excited when our riding buddy and travel companion, Ron, brought his new (operative word) because I thought we'd get some great video footage of that ride. But I think he either recorded in "hyper" something or other that seems only useful for documenting where you went but not really what it looked or felt like. But YOU know what it looks and feels like....amazing!!

    We do have southern Utah on our travel bucket list. Where it the White Rim Trail?
     
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  12. Aaron Brown

    Aaron Brown apprentice mad reclusive genius

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    Yah, the Million Dollar Highway is almost indescribable to someone who hasn't ridden it. It's one that I don't think I've ever seen anyone successfully convey the thrill of, regardless of what video camera they used. You just need to experience it in person.

    The White Rim Trail is probably one you're not going to want to try unless you've got a dirt bike, a scrambler or an adv bike in your stable. It's a 100 mile rough, unpaved loop in the back country of Canyonlands National Park, near Moab. It's utterly spectacular, but way way way out of the zone for a road bike :)

    In Utah, for road bikes, I'd recommend any of the highway stretches that intersect Zion or Bryce or Canyonlands or Arches or Capital Reef. And be sure to stop in and see Snow Canyon State Park while you're in that neighborhood. It's full of petrified red sand dunes that are hundreds of feet tall. Beautiful!
     
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  13. Sandi T

    Sandi T It's ride o'clock somewhere!
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    Day #4 continued: Buena Vista, Colorado to Basalt, Colorado

    We didn't spend a lot of time in Aspen were there long enough to soak in the "vibe" of the town. We did see some evidence of the Food & Wine Magazine "Classic in Aspen" event going on all week but not as much as we might have expected considering the astronomical prices being charged by the hotels. Well, perhaps that's why we didn't see all that much activity!

    We did enjoy strolling along the pedestrian areas and also popping into a favorite shop of Steves called Kemosabi. It's a very Western store with lots of cowboy hats, western garb, turquoise and Native American jewelry, and as it turns out, high end knives! Our motorcycle group has gotten sort of into knives over the past couple of years and we often compare what we're carrying over breakfast on our weekly Sunday rides. But these particular handmade Hardy knives were well out of our price range and not quite suitable for sticking in the pocket of one's riding jeans. :joy:
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    Steve's favorite bar in Aspen--and perhaps anywhere--is this bar in the Hotel Jerome. Being in Aspen, various celebrities tend to swing in there for a cocktail or two. We didn't imbibe as it was mid-day and we were on the way back to our bikes to continue the days ride.
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    Our next stop Woody Creek Tavern, was only 8 miles down the road. Steve and I had been there before but it was a new stop for both Ron and Russell. Woody Creek Tavern's claim to fame is that it was the longtime hangout of the writer, Hunter S. Thompson, who lived in the trailer park behind the tavern for many years. In 2005, when Thompson died by suicide, his ashes were shot out of a canon amid fireworks over his home in Woody Creek near Aspen.

    https://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-hunter-thompson-bar-20150529-story.html

    The short back road ride to Woody Creek Tavern is beautiful but I'd describe the tavern as "eccentric". We sat out on under an umbrella on the patio for lunch but I always have to step inside to check out the unique "decor" of this place. ;):joy:
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    Hunter S. Thompson was known for Gonzo journalism where the writer becomes part of his or her story and reports from a first person point of view. In the 1960's, Thompson lived for two years with the notorious Hell's Angels and wrote a book published in 1967 called Hell's Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga.
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    After lunch we mounted up for the 11 mile ride to our hotel for the evening, the Aspenalt Lodge. The name fits--the Aspenalt was definitely a great alternative to the $820 hotel (this year) that we'd stayed at on our previous trip to Aspen. :p And it turned out to have way more to offer than just financial savings. The Aspenalt Lodge sits right on the Fryingpan River near the confluence of the Fryingpan and Roaring Fork Rivers. Running water to sooth the souls of us desert rats who have been living in a drought for the last ten years.

    The river was literally about 30 feet from our hotel room door and we could hear it running when we opened our window. The town itself was lovely but small and didn't warrant too much exploration--which was great because we were content to hang out near the river. :)

    Russell on the bench on the bank of the river with our hotel building (Building A) behind him
    Screen Shot 2022-07-08 at 4.46.18 PM.png

    It must seem silly to those of you who live among lakes and rivers and who bemoan the amount of rain you get to see how much this river made us smile. :joy: We were in hog heaven! And to top it off, the temperatures were in the 70'sºF!
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    Fly fishing is very common and very popular on the rivers in Colorado. Both the Fryingpan River and the Roaring Fork River are well-known for world-class trout. Steve realized that he and his dad has gone flyfishing together not far from our hotel back in the mid-80's!

    IMG_0250.jpeg

    Day #4 continued in my next post
     
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  14. Sandi T

    Sandi T It's ride o'clock somewhere!
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    #34 Sandi T, Jul 9, 2022
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2022
    Day #4 continued

    Ahhhh...... :) Just soaking it in.
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    When our stomachs finally started rumbling we met up and did a little stroll through Basalt to get the feel of it. It's a nice little town and, although probably still very expensive, it seems like it's a bedroom community for Aspen and populated by lots of the workers who commute to Expensive Aspen. It's much more a "real town" and very livable--particular with not one but two rivers running through it!

    Lots of lush green foliage and beautiful flowers everywhere, too
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    Steve and Ron had struck up a conversation with one of the clerk's at Kemosabi back in Aspen and thought to ask her for recommendations for dinner in Basalt. We went to one of the two she recommended, the Free Range Kitchen, and she definitely hit a home run with this place. Lovely setting, great service, and delicious food. And a doggie "next-door-neighbor". :) Meet Harley (yes, Harley). One of the two young women with Harley had just bought the pup as a gift for her father.
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    Our server (who you can see coming through the doorway) was delightful and very interesting. She is from Acapulco, Mexico and had moved to Basalt in particular because she has family that have also moved here. She was still learning English but we told her that her English was WAY better than our Spanish! We asked why they would move so far from home.She sadly shared that, although Acapulco is safe for tourists, it's not safe for the Mexicans who live there because of the way the cartels do business. Tourists bring in business and so are profitable for the cartels who take a cut. But if you're a "lowly" local, things are different and NOT in a good way. :(

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    This restaurant sources much of the ingredients on their menu from local farms and gardens and everything definitely tasted very fresh and flavorful. I had the Roasted Chicken Pappardelle with Goat Cheese. Delicious!
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    We were continuing to dine at places with outdoor patios because, amazingly, poor Russell was continuing to test positive for Covid. So he was wearing his mask pretty much everywhere other than when we were outdoors which, fortunately, was most of the time. And the weather was very cooperative throughout our trip for us to be able to be outdoors. I did wander inside the restaurant to check it out and it was very hip and cool with a great vibe. Perhaps if we ride through Basalt again we'll return to Free Range Kitchen and dine indoors.
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    We all slept great since the nature of the small town, the temperatures, and the sound of the river allowed and enticed us to sleep with our windows open.

    The next morning we had the hotel-provided breakfast and packed up for our ride to Ouray, Colorado. The morning temperatures were brisk but we were all enjoying the coolness knowing we'd be back in 100+ºF temps soon enough.
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    Three little Street Glides all in a row with Mr. Beemer off to himself. :joy: I don't think that was purposeful on the part of the GS owner, Ron, but thought it was kind of funny when I glanced back at our bikes.
    Screen Shot 2022-07-08 at 5.32.03 PM.png

    To Be Continued Tomorrow with Day #5
     
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  15. Armando Morales

    Armando Morales Senior Member

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    Awesome , feels like I'm traveling with you all
     
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  16. Sandi T

    Sandi T It's ride o'clock somewhere!
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    Thanks for the info and recommendations, Aaron. Sounds like the White Rim Trail is out for us. Neither Steve nor I have an off-road capable bike and have no plans to get them. Our usual travel buddies are in the same boat. I'd bet, though, that our friends with a jeep who met us in Durango and then drove to Utah know all about that loop. I appreciate the recommendations for road biking in Utah for sure. As I said, that's high on our list. We're thinking fall--probably October--as the time to go. What are your thoughts on that?

    And.....you are so right about the Million Dollar Highway. I really think it's one of those experiences that you just cannot describe to someone. Videos don't do it either. Yep, you just need to experience it in person. I've now ridden it four times I think--twice in each direction. It will most likely be on the agenda for next year's annual summer trip, too. I think we may do things a bit differently next time around--ride to Santa Fe and stay there three nights, doing day trips with SF as a base. Then we'd ride over to Durango via Abique, Chama, and Pagosa Springs and use Durango as a base for three nights. It would be nice to not pack and unpack every single day. And we really like both Santa Fe and Durango and never seem to get to spend enough time when they're a one-night stop. If we do that, when we're in Durango we'll probably take one day and go up to Ouray via the Million Dollar Highway, then over to Ridgeway and Telluride, then down the other side of the San Juans along the Dolores River to Cortez and back to Durango. I think that would be a really spectacular day of riding! Have you done the ride from Telluride down to Cortez along the Dolores River? It's not as overtly spectacular as the Million Dollar Highway but it is an incredibly beautiful ride.
     
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  17. Aaron Brown

    Aaron Brown apprentice mad reclusive genius

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    I suspected you and Steve were not the off-road bike type, which is why I made sure to flash the danger lights about White Rim Trail :)

    I'll bet your jeeping friends know all about it, for sure. The Moab area is Jeep Mecca.

    I have not ridden Telluride to Cortez yet. I'll be sure to add that into my travels the next time I'm in that area. Thanks for the pointer!

    All of my riding in Utah has been late spring and early summer. Utah's about as diverse as Arizona: everything from forests and mountains to spectacular desert badlands. I suspect that October would be a great month to visit everything but the higher mountain areas, which will probably be starting to get snowed in for the colder half of the year.

    Utah would be pretty high on my list of most beautiful states, especially if you're a fan of rugged and bleak landscapes (which, given your home of Arizona, I suspect you are). As a photographer, I find myself pretty close to heaven on earth every time I visit the state...

    Can't wait to read your after-action ride report for what y'all discover when you go there :)
     
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  18. joe mc donald

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    Sandi T
    Another stunning write up. I felt like a kid again all those places i have only seen on tv and westerns. That does it I'm going to buy myself a Stetson and go out to play.
    Lots of Love and waiting for the next report.
    Joe.
     
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  19. RJinTX

    RJinTX New Member

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    Wonderful Write up of some of my favorite areas of the great SW.

    Northern New Mexico is a favorite retreat from the summer heat for numerous folks from the TX Panhandle, Southern Plains, and Permian Basin.

    I enjoy AZ, NM & CO.

    I do seem to get side tracked in NM unless I have a specific time and place I need/ want to be when I head to AZ.

    Thank you.
     
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  20. Sandi T

    Sandi T It's ride o'clock somewhere!
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    DAY #5: Basalt, Colorado to Ouray, Colorado
    155 miles

    It wasn't a long ride today (either) but it was a very beautiful one much of which was along the Crystal River. Speeds were relatively low but that was as we wanted it because it was one of those rides that you didn't want to end. Well, all except for the half hour standstill traffic stop for road work about 10 miles from our destination for the day, Ouray. When our lane finally got the go ahead to follow the pilot car through the road work area, Steve measured how long the line of vehicles was now waiting headed the opposite direction of us. It was a mile and a half long!
    Day 5 to Ouray.png

    A snippet of what the ride along the Crystal River looked like for nearly 40 miles! For most of those 40 miles the river was significantly wider. We had the major scare of our trip along this winding two-lane road. A yellow Porsche roared out of nowhere going at speeds that must have been 100 mph. The flow of traffic was about 60 mph. The driver pulled in between Ron and me and then sped around me and wedged his car in front of Steve and behind the car in front of him. Thinking he'd wait for oncoming traffic to clear, I tried to calm my mangled and jangled nerves but it got worse. He then moved into the middle of the road on the center line and raced on. Had the drivers in both lanes of traffic not moved as far as was possible to the edges of the road there would have been a massive head-on collision. It was truly terrifying. :mad::scream:
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    After going over McClure Pass which is at an altitude of about 9,000 ft, we dropped down to lower elevations and went through a series of small mountain towns. After filling our gas tanks in Montrose, we began the last leg of the days journey to the Colorado town of Ouray, one of our favorites. Ouray sits at an elevation of 7,792 ft and is nicknamed "the Switzerland of America". It is also sometimes called "the Recreation Capitol of Colorado". Although the towns permanent population is small at about 1,000 residents, it is busy with tourists year-round. In the winter it is filled with ice climbers and skiers and in the summer it is the north end of what is called "The Million Dollar Highway", tomorrow's route for our group.

    From Google Images (since I don't have a drone...or a plane)
    Screen Shot 2022-07-10 at 8.56.02 PM.png

    Ouray is located right on the Uncompahgre River in the San Juan Mountains and the Uncompahgre National Forest. We stayed at the far north end of town at a lovely hotel called the Hot Springs Inn since it's a stones throw from Ouray's Hot Springs. And the hotel is right on the river! We were so pleased that we stayed right near a river two nights in a row--that's a big deal for four folks from the desert. :)
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    This is the building that houses the office, lobby, and breakfast area. The Sportster out front belonged to one of the hotel staff, a delightful young man who was thrilled to have just recently gotten his motorcycle license--and his first motorcycle! :grinning: He was eager to hear about our trip and even more eager to begin doing trips of his own.
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    This place definitely had a Western theme and feel. That's Ron in his Beemer "outfit". Yep, he's gets a fair amount of grief for it...that and his camelback drinking system. ;):joy:
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    The hotel dog :):heart: Very sweet, very old, and v-e-r-y slow.:joy: But he has a good life so I'm sure he sees no reason to be in a hurry!
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    The building we were all assigned to. That mountain in the back is actually much taller than it looks in this iPhone panorama shot. The river is directly on the other side of this building. I have no idea what that geyser-looking thing is in the background. I didn't notice it when I took the photo. Lighting, maybe?? Aliens??
    Screen Shot 2022-07-10 at 9.10.45 PM.png

    The Uncompahgre River behind our hotel room. We were on the bottom floor and the river was just below the deck off our back door. It sounded glorious when we opened our hotel room window but was actually so loud that when we went to bed we had to close the window!
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    Day #5 continued in my next post
     
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