Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Monkeying Around - Part II

Note: Some how this post went live after I added all my pictures but before I added any text. Darn those little internet gremlins.

Our weekend jaunts continued when we drove Greg's parents to Chama, New Mexico to ride the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad on August 15th. The four of us have taken this trip a number of times and were very excited to repeat the experience. But, this trip was extra special as it was the Saturday night train which stops at Cumbres pass for dinner and a concert by Chris Collins. Greg found out about the train and found a discount coupon online! Greg's mom LOVES, LOVES, LOVES John Denver. Always has and always will. She met him once and he kissed her on the cheek. A moment I don't think she will ever forget. Chris Collins does a John Denver tribute.

We loaded onto the train about 5:00 p.m. and started out of Chama, NM. But, after we crossed over the highway, with next to no explanation, we backed all the way back to the train station. There was a leak in the first engine so we had to wait while they tested it and eventually switched us to another engine. But, once we got started the second time, things went smoothly.

We had a great train ride at sunset. The dinner was delicious, plentiful and well organized. Chris Collins is a very good singer. The crowd enjoyed singing along and Greg's folks were thrilled when they got called up to join Chris in a song and dance number. Chris even sang the John Denver song that Greg and I got married to - "Annie's Song" and ended the evening with everyone's favorite Rocky Mountain High. It was dark when we got back to the station at about 9:30. Then it was a couple of hours back to our home in Los Alamos. Such a fun and memorable evening.

Going around the bend

The views from the train are amazing

Greg scored a seat right by Chris Collins and Greg's folks and another woman got
picked to dance and sing with faux JD. They had a blast!

One of the wonderful things about living in Northern New Mexico is that I can take off at 3 p.m. on a Friday and we can get to amazingly, wonderful places for a quick weekend getaway! We are so fortunate to live where we live since we can't take off full-timing just yet. So, on Friday the 21st, I left work a little early and we headed northwest through Gunnison to Ouray.

Blue Mesa Reservoir outside Gunnison, Colorado

We have stayed and soaked in the areas around Ouray, but this was our first time staying in Ouray. We had a nice dry camping spot at the 4 J + 1 +1 Trailer Park. It is in the perfect central location for having fun in Ouray. We asked about the name. The owners originally were the 4 J and then had their third and then fourth child. All six of their names begin with, you guessed it - the letter J.

The park has very nice amenities including a laundry room, large bathrooms with showers. It is located along the river. There are full hookups, but we chose to stay in one of the dry spots which was less expensive.

Our very nice campsite at 4 J + 1 + 1

Within walking distance of the campground is the downtown Ouray park and they have a gazebo

We had a wonderful time in Ouray. We walked around town, had an evening soak at the Ouray Hot Springs Pool and ate a delicious dinner at Buen Tiempo Restaurant and Cantina. 

But, the highlight of the trip was hiking the Ouray Perimeter Trail. The hike begins across the road from the Visitor's Center. It is about a 4 mile loop hike.

The hike start across the road from the Visitor's Center in Ouray

Great views from the hike of the town park, Ouray Hot Spring Swimming Pool
and beyond it the campground. 
Hey look - it's Box Canyon Blog Mark & Bobbie's house. We stopped to catch our breath toward the beginning of the climb up the trail and recognized the blue house from Life's Little Adventures' blog.
We resisted knocking on the door and simply admired their killer view from afar.

Trail's edge looking down at Ouray, Colorado

Awesome views from the narrow trail
Waterfall selfie

The hike starts on a cliffside and then moves into a beautiful forest

Loved the river sculpted rocks

Views along the Ouray Perimeter hike
As you loop back toward town, you can walk by the canyon that is a favorite for climbers in the winter. We noticed all the piping that clearly shoots water down the edge of the canyon to enhance the ice. I can't imagine the guts and skills it takes to ice climb down or up this awesome canyon.

Million Dollar Highway from Ouray to Silverton. Can you tell that one whole lane is literally gone? No idea how they will fix it since it is a sheer drop into a canyon with a rock wall on the other side. During the day this drive to Silverton and then on to Durango isn't so bad. You can see that you are on the edge. But, we have also done this drive many times VERY late at night. As you make the tight turns there are often a variety of animals around the corner. We've seen deer, elk, marmot and a skunk. I don't mind driving the million dollar highway, but I have to admit it is a little hair raising at night.

Greg and I sort of stayed home for Labor Day weekend, but not really. Greg's folks also live in Los Alamos about a 4 minute walk from our home. They were going up to the Jemez Mountains to camp at San Antonio campground. One of their favorite spots. During most of the summer, San Antonio is on a reservation only system and they usually are booked solid. They have a variety of electric/water, no electric and walk-in campsites. There is a short, paved trail along the river filled with wildflowers. We came up on Sunday, brought dinner to cook, went for a walk along the river and then had a campfire. We stayed the night and got up early the next morning to say our goodbyes and then drive to nearby La Cueva for breakfast at the Ridgeback Restaurant. We highly recommend it. Excellent food and a really good price. But, don't be in a hurry.

Karen, Jack and Frances. Jack is Greg's parent's Bishon
Yes, that is a dog stroller. Jack is totally blind and has trouble walking.

Greg and his parents on the trail. Jack loves his stroller. 

San Antonio campground

The boy never leaves the man

As with much of New Mexico and southern Colorado, we have had an interesting summer with more than our usual amount of rainfall. The normal monsoon season seemed to last all summer with beautiful days and late afternoon storms. I never get tired of our beautiful, New Mexico skies.

New Mexico is known for our amazing skies and sunsets. 

Storm rolling in to Los Alamos, NM making Pajarito Mountain look insignificant


  1. I love your pictures. We will be leaving the ABQ area heading towards cooler climes around Lake Abiquiu. Sorry we weren't able to connect around Crestone, Co. We passed through there two days before you got there. Maybe some other time.

  2. Hi Evie- somehow this post went live before we wrote anything. LOL
    Lake Abiquiu is a favorite spot. There are spectacular hikes at nearby Ghost Ranch. Enjoy. We will hook up sometime!

  3. Oh my, the million dollar hwy looks like a tough fix! Fortunately we will be able to avoid it this fall.

    You've had some great adventures this summer...you are so right, you live in a fantastic place to branch out from. That was something that was a pain living in San Diego, we had the ocean on one side, Mexico on another, and Los Angeles on the third, making it difficult to get to new places quickly for short get aways.

  4. Lisa - we've had some great vacations to San Diego, but I know what you mean about landlocked. We will probably continue to spend part of our summers in NM and CO even once we start full-timing.

  5. OK ... it was me ... I accidentally published the photos before Karen had a chance to add the descriptions. My Bad!


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