Well…last night it happened. Connie and Neil left Goodland KS for the 200 mile trip over to Golden just on the west side of Denver…and I gotta tell ya’…they became members of the Mile High Club.
Not that Mile High Club you perv…get your mind outa da gutter. Ima talking about being one mile in altitude…according to the Altitude app on Neil’s iPhone we were sitting in the Dakota Ridge RV Resort at 6,010 feet…and then we climbed another 50 feet or so up the hill to the Chicago Wrigley Bar and Grill for dinner…since we didn’t unhitch for an over night stop we just decide to walk the 1/3 of a mile or so up to the pub for dinner. Bad move I tell ya…we sorta forgot that Colorado doesn’t have any oxygen in their air.
Anyways…before I get to that…Dakota Ridge RV Resort. Overpriced at about $61 a night but it’s in the Denver metro area and there weren’t any cheaper options. The good news is that it was right off the interstate about a mile. The bad news is that the sites are crammed in like sardines…it reminded us of a lot of the campgrounds on our Alaska trip a couple years back…there was absolutely no It Factor at this place. Still…it was easy in and easy out and wasn’t out of line price wise with anything else in the Denver area…so it was OK.
After we setup…we walked up the hill to the Grill…Connie had failed to have afternoon snack and she needs that with her acid reflux to keep from feeling bad. Add in the severe oxygen debt from the climb and she was an unhappy camper by the time we got back. We shared a single appetizer of potato skins and she ate almost 1-1/2 of them before giving up. We walked much slower on the way back…with several rest stops for her to catch her breath…and it was downhill so that wasn’t as bad as the first walk. Neil fed her a bowl of cream of wheat for some more dinner…but an hour or two later that all came back up…she started getting the throat burning from the acid reflux…which when added to the very high grass pollen caused her to get into a coughing fit which caused her stomach to reject dinner. We headed off to bed early hoping she would feel better and by this morning she pretty much was.
We quickly got ready to go…didn’t bother with sewer or water hookups last night so it was just slides, power, and pull up the forward jacks and we were ready to go. One slight problem…our new power cord reel decided to quit reeling in the cord with about 6 feet left to stow…Neil will have to look at that tomorrow and see if it’s the fuse/breaker and take a quick look to see if a wire came loose. Then it will be up to New Horizons to figure out how to get it fixed for us.
Ok…we did see a few sights on the way over from Denver today. We faced the 13 mile long 7% grade up to the Eisenhower Tunnel at the top of Loveland Pass. This was the highest vehicle tunnel in the world when it was opened in the 70s with a maximum elevation in the tunnel of 11,158 feet at the western end. The eastern end that we entered was only 11,013 feet according to the sign we passed. Here’s a shot as we got to the tunnel…note the snow still on the slopes. It was down into the mid 50s at the top compared to the upper 60s when we left Golden. Maximum height in the tunnel is 13’11” so we cleared the top by 5”.
After the long uphill to the pass we still had a bunch of up and downhills as we headed through the mountains and then through Glenwood Canyon about 20 miles before our stop in Silt. Several 7% downgrades of 6-7 miles in length and a longer 10 or so mile one through Glenwood Canyon which was really pretty cool…quite narrow with towering rock walls on both sides and the Eagle River paralleling the highway…although actually the highway was built to follow the river, not the other way around. Don’t know why Connie didn’t take a phone photo for ya…I’ll chastise her and tell her to do better.
Before we got to Glenwood Canyon we passed an area known as The Summit…it’s just east of the Vail, Breckinridge, and Copper Canyon ski areas at 9,150 feet. From the scenic stop you can see 12 peaks over 9,000 feet and 9 of them are over 11,000 feet including Grays Peak which at 14.270 is the highest point on the Continental Divide. Here’s a pano shot of the twelve…Grays Peak is the third one from the left.
And a couple of closer shots at Grays Peak, Mt. Guyot, and Chief Mountain.
Pretty impressive views for our first day of actual Fun Stuff© this travel season…everything from departing Seminole to departing Goodland was pretty much maintenance related and definitely Not Fun to paraphrase Alton Brown.
We’ll be here in Silt 3 nights…tomorrow we are taking a trip down to Aspen just to see why yuppies want to go there and Friday we have a hike scheduled at a local state park to view Rifle Falls…then Saturday it’s off to Moab UT for Arches and Canyonland National Parks.
Bad Ass of the Week
OK…this might not actually be a weekly thing as I might not find one every week…but I’m hoping to make it a regular feature of the blog. After the guy who fed the mother polar bear in my previous post let me introduce you to this week’s contestant…Alex Honnold.
Who is Alex Honnold you say? Why I was afraid you would never ask. He’s a rock climber who essentially lives out of a van to climb rocks. I don’t follow rock climbers at all…but from what I read this week he’s apparently one of the best in the world and as you will see in a minute…he’s got a darned good claim on being the absolute best in the world…at least for this week.
Now every good movie needs a foil…a supporting actor…in order to be good so let me introduce you to Alex’s.
As many of you know…there’s this little known National Park out in the People’s Republic of California named Yosemite and located within Yosemite is the fellow above…his name is El Capitan. El Capitan sits on the north side of the Yosemite Valley as you enter from the west and is accompanied by his sidekick (not visible in this photo which I cribbed from the internet) Half Dome located at the eastern end of the valley. You can see Half Dome behind Alex in his portrait above. El Capitan is known as one of the meccas of the sport of rock climbing. It’s 3,000 feet straight up the face you’re looking at although it can be hiked up from the right side just along the ridge you can see descending to the edge of the frame. Neil would love to hike up there…but Connie absolutely, positively will not go with him.
If you visit Yosemite…you can almost always see climbers going up the face…but in rock climbing there are several different ways to do it. First there’s group climbing with safety gear…an ascent by a team typically takes 2-3 days. Then there’s free climbing which means you go up with minimal aid…just a few pitons and ropes to keep you from dying when you fall off. Then there’s solo climbing which usually uses safety equipment. Then there’s speed climbing which means you go up in pairs as fast as possible but with safety equipment…the current record is 2 hours 23 minutes…coincidentally this record is also held by Alex.
Then there’s Alex’s achievement this week. He climbed El Capitan in 3 hours 56 minutes. Alone. With no ropes. And no safety equipment. First ever ascent solo with no equipment except hands, feet, and chalk dust. He described several times where he was hanging by his fingers and several where there were no cracks so he relied on friction between his shoes and the wall to keep from falling off. With no rope. From several thousand feet above the ground. Take another look at that portrait above…you can see everything he took up with him in that shot sitting on the edge of the top.
National Geographic had a team there to film the ascent for a documentary…they rappelled down and then winched themselves back up the rope…and had trouble keeping up with him.
Best of all…his description of the climb…”It felt much less scary than a lot of other solos I’ve done.”
One more shot of Alex as he approached the top of the wall…nothing holding him to the wall except hands and feet.
Ok…interesting stuff found on the net this week.
What was this woman thinking when she wore this dress?
I feel for this guy.
Very specific speed limit.
Got this one from our friend Gail Mascari who’s an Elk down in Fort Myers. An excellent philosophy of how to live your life.
Another excellent life philosophy.