Colorado Sky, 2019

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Moving East: a Visit to Bishops Castle near Pueblo Colorado

We stayed one more day in Montrose, CO so that we could drive our Jeep to visit the less accessible North Rim of the Black Canyon. 

The scenery on the way was well worth the time and miles.

As we drove through the countryside in the Crawford area, I spotted Needle Rock in the distance.

Craig pulled over so I could get a better look and take some pictures. 

This is  zoomed in image of the rock. 

The North Rim has fewer viewpoints, and an unpaved road, but it was very well maintained and the canyon views were as spectacular as on the South Rim. All of the viewpoints were close to the road and had sturdy rails or fencing. We have been reading about stupid tourists falling into the Grand Canyon while taking pictures, so we appreciate these saftey measures and did not climb over them!

I definitly had the feeling we were looking below the "surface" of the earth. The flat plain of the mesa we stood on felt like the skin, and looking across the canyon reinforced the knowledge of how tiny we are. 

We have been enjoying some wonderful Colorado sunsets.

The sky seems bigger here!  I have also been amazed by how green the fields and hillsides are. Of course the brief daily afternoon thunderstorms give everything a nice daily drink, and the build up of the storm clouds is very dramatic.

On Sunday we drove 215 miles East to Haggard's RV Park in West Pueblo, CO. where we are staying for four nights. 

I am trying to be sure to leave reviews on CAMPGROUND REVIEWS this year, so if you are interested in knowing more about where we stay, check them out there. 

Monday, we drove the Jeep along the very scenic Highways 165 and 96 through the San Isabel National Forest. Our destination was Bishop Castle.

I came across a Google listing for it under "things to do near Pueblo CO".

I could write all sorths of words about it, but the online article at: Bishop Castle is well written and tells the complete story.

The Castle is right at the road's edge. The parking is just along the shoulder. The ground is a bit rough, and the signs warn "enter at your own risk."

The truely brave (see the tiny red figure at the top of the tower) can climb up the winding stair ways that slither around the outside of the structure to the base of the tower, and then continue inside the tower.

Personally, I stuck to exploring only the inside stairs and chambers.

Above is the outside view of one of the large windows. The lower half had a large open doorway and clear glass panels.

The inside view of the same window. It takes a bit of study to recognize the top six rows of smaller windows depicts a separate scene from the panels below them.

The windows in the opposite wall are mostly clear. I assume the plan is that additional stained glass will be added. Speaking of "plans" in the article mentioned above, it was written there were no plans or blueprints used. The creator of this place, Jim Bishop, built it based only on his visualizations that grew as the structure grew!

A fire breathing dragon head extends from the roof line. It was constructed from many donated stainless steel warming plates. On summer weekends it sometimes will breathe fire, thanks to a donated hot air balloon gas burner.  I sure would have liked to see that!

We made the loop back to our campground by going through Pueblo, stopping for lunch in town. 

Today, Tuesday, is a rest day, and tomorrow we are planning to go to the Royal Gorge. 

Check back in a few days to read about it.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Montrose - Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Our last day in Grand Junction was pretty low key. We went to the Dianosaur Museum, which was almost across the road from our RV park. I guess we are still kids at heart.

Craig was also facinated by the sight of the Colorado River almost overflowing its banks. It too was very nearby the Monument RV Park in Fruita.

Then, on Wednesday, it was time to drive south to our next stop, a Jellystone Park in Montrose, CO. Because it was only an 80 mile drive, I had plenty of time to prepare one of my favorite comfort foods, stuffed red and yellow peppers when we got there. The first night it is good, and there is always more than enough for a second dinner.

When I was making our plans for this summer, I wanted to go to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. I had a litle trouble finding a place to camp. The campgrounds in the park did not seem to have available spaces for motorhomes, and the few closer RV parks that were listed online, had mostly long term renters. They are not always the most desirable places.

We ended up at Jellystone RV park, eight miles South of Montrose. It is about 26 miles from the South Entrance to the National Park. 

 On Thursday, I packed our lunch and we went off to see what we could see.  I was feeling better, but Craig started coughing, so we took it easy. Just driving, only short hikes to the overlooks.

We drove the Rim Drive and stopped at almost all of the 12 view points. Most required only a short walk to the overlook. The ones we skipped required more walking and it was hard for me to breathe at altitude.

The Black Canyon was carved by the violent waters of the Gunnison River over millions and millions of years.

At every view point we were awed by the dramatic rock walls. The power of water, wind and time is amazing.

This rock cliff, called the Painted Wall, is the tallest cliff in Colorado. If the Empire State Building was stood at its base, it would only be half as tall.

Signage at one of the overlooks explained why the two sides of the canyon were so different.  The erossion of the rock faces carved out by the river are effected by the different amount of sunshine each receives. 

It is called the Black Canyon because of the dominant color of the rock walls, but in places you can see lighter striations caused when another type of rock oozed up through the cracks while in the molten form and cooled there. This took place when they were both far below the surface of the earth.

We also drove down the East Portal Road which goes all the way down to the river.

Although the road was paved, it was still quite curvy and descended at a 16% grade.  We were glad there was not much traffic and we drive a Jeep.

I think it was a very nice day. Our travels are starting well and we are both very happy that we are still living the full time RV life after six years.  We have no time to be sick, so we have to recover quickly.  

Life is good.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Not really better, but ...

Briefly : I will live.

My doctor (actually a physician's assistant) said I do not have pneumonia. This is good.

I do have bronchitis, which in my thinking is just a very bad cold.

The "doctor" prescribed several meds and said I should be better in a few weeks at the most. I did a breathing treatment in the office, and will be using an inhaler for awhile.

I now am the owner of a Nedipot.  

I hope I get the hang of using it.

Enough about being sick!   

I will be resting for 2 days before we get on with our travels. 

Craig has succeeded in installing our new Xantrex charger/inverter.

Stay tuned to this channel!

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Colorado National Monument

Today we went for a 23 mile drive through the Colorado National Monument near Grand Junction.

The scenery was fantastic. Unfortunately I am getting quite sick. I started with a cold several days ago, and inspite of taking cold medications and spending the entire day in bed yesterday, I am getting worse, not better.

I plan on going to an Urgent Care first thing tomorrow. I don't think it is the flu, since we had our flu shots last fall. It might be pneumonialike I had a few years ago, but I haven't had some of the usual symptoms. No chills for example.

Craig and I took lots of pictures. He will provide the words below.   The images are in order on the road from Fruita to Grand Junction. 

Lots of bicylists on the main road.  Catching this one in this image was accidental.

Independence Rock is the CNM's best-known feature. The founder of the NM climbed it on July 4 after Pres. Taft declared the place an NM.  

Each July 4 a bunch of people climb it, plant a flag and (presumably) have a party. Limiting one's alcohol consumption when one had to climb down this 450 foot rock would be easier than at most parties. Perhaps no one brings any alcohol.

These formations look like things we've seen in Utah

Early settlers called these bulging cones "the coke ovens"

The arched shallow caves make this my favorite image of the day

The Visitor Center movie said each valley was carved by a tributary of the Colorado.
That looks questionable from here!

But the movie is right about this one.

Closer to Grand Junction, there were lots of other photogenic scenes, but not many turnouts at which to stop and take pictures.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Why? An " RV only" Blog Post

Well, we are on the road again.  The following short post does NOT include anything about our winter trip.  I have a few more posts to do about it, but this is about what we are up to now!

We drove from Jojoba Hills to Fruita (Grand Junction CO area) in three days. It feels great to be out again, and the scenery has been beautiful. We've had a few problems, but overall, everything will work out!

So, WHY does Craig have a fly swatter suspended from the pull string of the large shade on the driver's side window?

Because while we were traveling down the road a fly kept bothering him. 

He successfully swatted it, but in doing so the swatter got tangled up in the pull string on the shade. 

An amusing situation, but not permanent. We untangled it when we next stopped. And scraped the fly off the window.

Here's another one.  Why are the bedroom windows of the Alfa draped with a bedsheet? 

Because ... We took down all of the mini blinds so we could have them professionally cleaned and restrung using an Ultrasonic process.

After many years of having no more than a light dusting now and then, the blinds were getting quite gross. I had heard about this "Ultrasound" process, and had tried to get it done over the winter when we were at Jojoba. I called several companies, and either they did not service our area, or they did not return my calls. So I found one in Grand Junction CO and made an appointment for now.  I will let you know how it worked out in another post. We took them all down ourselves and took them into the company that will clean them. It will take two days, and although we don't mind if other campers can see into our kitchen at night, we really don't want them to be able to look into the bedroom. 

We started our summer 2019 travels four days ago. The first days of driving can often be extra hard as we get used to the travel routine and deal with mechanical failures or problems that so often happen after a long parked period.  

This time one occurred when Craig was leveling the coach on our second night of travel. We don't know if it was the leveling jacks that caused the problem, or just a timing coincidence, but as he was leveling we heard a horrible noise and smelled electrical burning from under the entry steps. Craig shut the leveling down and quickly opened the access door and saw black smoke coming from the Xantrex inverter/charger.  

Thankfully there was no fire, we did get leveled for the night, and were able to continue on the next day.  It was clear the Xantrex was dead and must be replaced. Craig tried to find someone in Colorado who could order a new unit for us, and install it in a reasonable time. No luck. Most RV repair places are booked out weeks in advance.  

Craig was able to find one on Amazon, and it will be here at our park on Monday. He has evaluated it as a simple installation, since the new one is exactly the same model as the old one. Meanwhile he bought a small charger to keep the batteries charged. 

One view from the tower at the Museum of the West
The scenery driving across the Eastern part of Utah and into Colorado was beautiful, and we look forward to exploring some of it by Jeep. 

Today we started our Colorado experience with a visit to the Museum of the West in Grand Junction. We have been to other Museums with similar objects, but it is good to refresh our feel for the history of where we are.

Check back for more news. 

Monday, June 3, 2019

Wonderful Whole Grain Bread! and #13 Back to Yangon, and the First Day in Vietnam

Sunday June 2:

We both spent the day taking care of any last minute departure details we could think of. I cooked a dinner (Chinese Fried Rice) that we could have more than enough leftovers for Monday. 

I also boiled the eggs for, and mixed up, a batch of egg salad so I could quickly put together sandwiches in the morning. We have found a wonderful whole wheat bread, at Walmart of all places. 

I have been using it to make avocado toast in the mornings, and am looking forward to trying it for our road-lunch sandwiches. 

Next Asian post: #13 Back to Yangon, and the first day in Vietnam. 

The drive from Inle Lake to Yangon was long, but it was on good roads. We stopped about half way to meet one of Joko's fellow instructors for a nice lunch, which gave us an enjoyable break. 

We stayed at an airport hotel so it would be easier to catch our flight out to Hanoi the next morning.

Including the afternoon of the day when we aarived, but not the day we all departed, we had five and a half days to do and see as much as we could in Vietnam. Joko had never been to Vietnam, so we relied on a guide book and the internet to decide which of many things we wanted to see. 

Our hotel was within walking distance to the heart of the Old Quarter of the city. After checking in we walked over to get tickets for the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre for that evening. It was highly recommended.  It is often sold out, but since January is not the busiest tourist time in Hanoi, we had no problem. It's one of those things you have to see to appreciate, and I find it hard to describe it accurately. It was charming and had an "old Asian culture" feel. 

The show was colorful and the music was pleasing. If you let your imagination rule, you might feel like you were being entertained 100 years ago. No photography was allowed, but I was able to get these two pictures from "images" on Google.

We got up early the next morning and really enjoyed our hotel breakfast. In fact we enjoyed all of our meals in Vietnam, in part because of the strong French Cuisine influence.

Craig had somehow lost his reading glasses on the plane, so our first errand was to find a new pair. 

The Old Quarter is a warren of narrow, streets and alley ways lined with small shops and eateries. We didn't see any eyeglasses at first, so we started to ask some of the vendors.  We were directed to a particular street and realized that every one of the dozen or so shops on the street was an eyeglass store. Apparently different streets specialize in different things. We had started on the streets that sold sundries and souvenirs.

Craig was delighted to find a shop that could put the right strength of reading lenses (+1.5) into a pair of (Italian) frames he liked. For $8.00 US he got a pair of reading glasses, better than any he could find on a US drugstore rack.

Next up was a walk to Hoan Kiem Lake, in the center of the historic area,  and the Temple there. 

We walked across this bridge to a historic shrine.

Here are a few pictures from the Shrine Grounds:

The inside was much different from what we had seen in Buddhist Pagodas. 

By noon we were getting hungry.

Photo by Sharon Chen on Unsplash from web
One of my favorite lunches when we are "out and about" back home, is a nice bowl of Pho. So it was natural for me to want to try "real" Pho in Hanoi.

Joko checked his phone for a recommendation and we found a nice, clean  restaurant. The Pho was just as good as it is in San Diego!

I liked the restaurant because it had actual tables and chairs. 

Many of the eateries only had little plastic stools outside for the customers to sit on. 

Note: We didnot eat here.

That afternoon we went to Hỏa Lò Prison. We know it as the "Hanoi Hilton" where John McCain and other American POWs were held. It is now a museum, and one section is devoted to the American prisoners. It was interesting to read the story from the Vietnamese view. 

This detail of the wall above is a jarring representation of the torture endured by the prisoners.  

The prison was built by the French in the late 1880's to incarcerate Vietnamese political prisoners. 

Most of the prison is gone, but in one of the remaining cell blocks, life-size statues are positioned to show what it must have been like.

But nothing can really show the pain, suffering or smell that pervailed.

Our visit there was a sombering experience. 

On the other hand, this more modern sculpture speaks of a strong and healthy young people. One thing I don't understand is what is the man in the center carrying? The young lady has a knife, the young man has a rifle, but what is that cone thing?