Cowboys, Indians, and the old west

If you have been following along you probably have figured out by now that we love our National Parks. CanyonLands was no exception. Located seventy miles south of Moab, this park has wild west written all over it with its towering canyons, deserted cowboy camps, open ranges, free grazing cattle and indian petroglyph (a fancy word for drawing on rocks!).


Hand prints on the wall from long ago

Hand prints on the wall from long ago

Hiking in the back country we get a real feel for what it must have been like living in this harsh land and surviving on the few resources that were available. Cowboys found shelter in the rock alcoves where water seeped from the rocks. Black  from old camp fires still stains the cave like ceilings.

Under the rocks where angel hair grows

With the little water that seeps from the rock life finds a way!

And when living here became impossible for what ever reason……they just left. This site has not been touched, staged, or restored.

Deserted cowboy camp

Deserted cowboy camp

This area gets very little rain fall. Only about 10-15 Inches per year. So imagine how many years it took for the falling rain to create these pot holes in the sandstone. They began forming  when dinosaurs roamed here. Personally, I thought it looked a lot like Michigan roads!

Pothole Point

Pothole Point

Ravens are considered sacred by many Native Americans. This fellow was just about t0 leave a little “sacred” on this guys bicycle seat!

A Raven with a sense of humor!

A Raven with a sense of humor!

The park is located 38 miles off the main road. With so many cattle from private ranches roaming the open prairie, getting up close and personal is pretty easy!!

The sign said 'Open Range watch for Cattle crossing'. It was right!

The sign said ‘Open Range watch for Cattle crossing’. It was right!







What a difference a 100 miles makes!

The Courthouse

The Courthouse

Traveling from Colorado to Utah, the lush green of the mountains ranges is gone and the rock and sage brush of the desert is now in our window. Our destination is Moab Utah. Off in the distance, red rock plateaus, huge rock spires and deep canyons dominate the landscape. Entering town, we cross the Colorado River and pass Arches National Park.enter-custom-name-here2016-october-colorado-river_10-14-16_6315

It seems that every other vehicle  here is set up for off roading. Jeeps, trucks, quad runners, side by sides, and dirt bikes are everywhere! Our Ford Focus is a little out of place! Mountain bikes are popular as well. You want outdoor adventure? Moab is the place!

Arches National Park is one of the most visited parks in the country and the day we were there was no exception. Cars were backed up from the entrance 3/4 of a mile! Once past the gates we could see why. This place is beautiful! Erosion from millions or years of wind, sand and water has sculpted the sand stone in unique ways, some even defying gravity.

Mother nature even has a sense of humor by carving some of the towering formations in the shape of animals and native indians!

Driving through the park we see just how it got its name.

Turret Arch

Turret Arch



Can you see the 2 rock climbers?

look close! Do you see the climbers?

Our highlight of the day was hiking to Sand Dune Arch. The trail started like this….Trail into the Sand Dune Arch

And then went to this….The one person at a time passage to the Dune Arch

And finally to this!Sand Dune Arch

These folks thought it was a good place to test out their art skills. I looked……Nope! No numbers! 2016-oct-arches-nat-park_10-12-16_6268

We had the bad fortune of experiencing part of the reason this land looks the way it does. On our last night here, the night was clear, the moon was full, stars in the sky…….45-70 mph winds!! Needless to say we didn’t sleep well!!

Colorado River

The Colorado River carving its way

Moab has bike trails everywhere. This trail started by crossing the river. How do you make a bridge look different than any other?Foot bridge over the Colorado River

You add art!

Driving along the river, the road has little to no shoulder. Wandering off the road here will surely mess up a paint job!!River walk/bike path

Sometimes the road is the destination

We look at the map and decide to head in a certain direction with a specific goal in mind. Maybe its a National Park, or a certain city or quaint town. There’s plenty of literature advertising, and websites for these but the road there is just a line on the map!

So off we go with no expectation of what the miles will bring, just about how long it will take to get there,.. give or take. No where in the advertising did it say that around each corner the view out the windshield will astonish you! No where did we read that along the way we will find some place to stop and just marvel at the landscape and be grateful for the opportunity to share in this beautiful country. And no where did we read that at the end of the day we would find ourselves miles from the hustle of the cities and surrounded by nature with painted trees and  crystal blue skies.


Don’t go to Colorado!

….If you don’t want to enjoy beautiful mountains, incredible vistas, deep canyons and views that are quite frankly breathtaking! This is Colorado National Monument. The one thing I say over and over is that it’s hard to comprehend the vastness and size of this area. By comparison we are just a fly Spec!

The first overlook view. Not very high up yet and can still see forever!

The first overlook view. Not very high up yet and can still see forever!

The drive through this park is 24 miles along the top rim of the canyon. Are you afraid of heights? Don’t look down!! Some curves look as if you are driving off the edge of a cliff and the bottom is some 900 feet straight down! Venturing down in the canyon as a hiker requires a great deal of stamina as most trails are very strenuous.

The 'owl' rock from another point of view

The ‘owl’ rock from another point of view

As we took a break for lunch, we had a curious visitor lurking in the tree a few feet from our table. It turns out it’s a Scrub Jay very similar to a Blue Jay that we see in Michigan.  Maybe he’s just looking for bugs to eat…….or maybe a small lizard……..2016-oct-colorado-national-monument_10-09-16_6041

NOPE! …Corn Chips!

I think the little bandit has done this before! Let’s see how brave he really is!

It never failed! Each time I held out my hand with a chip he would fly to my hand, grab the chip and off he’d go. the bird definitely knows how to get a free lunch!

Colorado! A fabuous place to be!

“Top of the world Ma…..!”

I had to steal the Jimmy Cagney line from the 1949 movie “White Lightning”  (no I’m not that old!…just saw it on TCM!) because it really describes what it’s like standing on the top of Pikes Peak @14,115 ft. It’s COLD! -9, and it’s incredible! You can drive a car up or take the cog train as we did. It doesn’t take long to feel the effects of the high altitude. Walk a few steps and stop to grab a breath of very thin air! It takes this train 1 1/2 hrs .each way to make the trip. 45 minutes at the top is about all us flat landers can take!!

Our ride to the top.  One of only three cog wheel trains in the US.

Our ride to the top. One of only three cog-wheel trains in the US.


At the top! Nearly level with the clouds and you can see the curve of the earth at the horizon.

As luck would have it the day was clear and we could see 5 states. On the other side of the viewing platform you see here was a drop of 3000 ft……straight down!


This is where the maintenance crew for the railway used to reside when the train was steam-powered! They had one amazing front yard!! By the way, it wasn’t unusual to have 15′ of snow pile against the front door!! NO THANKS!!!

A bridge too far!……



…..when it’s 1,053 ft above the canyon floor, the wind is blowing at 45mph, and we are about to walk across it!!  Wait! Is it moving up and down in the middle? Why yes it is! The bridge is Royal Gorge Bridge in Canon City Colorado. A walk across it will, undoubtedly, put you stomach several notches higher, put a quiver in your voice, and a weakness in the knees!!

(Click smaller pics for a larger image)

In 2013, a wild fire swept through the canyon and burned all the buildings at the park and destroyed 13000 acres. The only survivor was the bridge sustaining only minor damage. Everything else was toast!

If you travel Colorado, this is a must! If you are really adventurous, there is a zip line that crosses the gorge and yes you are dangling over 1000 ft. Unfortunately on the day we were there the line was closed due to high wind. Would I have rode the zip line?? You Bet!!! It’s added to the bucket list!

Rocky Mountain High

Breckenridge Colorado. Elevation 9600 ft. What a view! It’s known for ski resorts and gold rush history. If you are into skiing, hiking, biking, this is the place! We were here in mid and late September and the Aspen trees were in full color. Mother Nature at her finest!2016-september-breckenridge-co_09-25-16_5148


Hiking for us “flatlanders” is not without its challenges. Especially since we were novices and not used to the altitude!(pant! pant!) Finding the trail head was not an easy task either. Did the directions say “look for the teepee?” Nope!2016-sept-hiking-in-breckenridge-co_09-26-16_5237

Our trail brought us to this abandoned gold mining dredge which last operated in 1922. These things were earth eating machines digging their way through the valley in search of gold. The piles of rocks (or tailings) you see behind are what was discarded after the gold had been separated.


“click” for larger view


It’s easy to see why so many love the mountains!