As discussed in my last post…on Sunday we decided to forego the trip down to Great Sand Dunes National Park and have a rest day on Monday…so that’s what we did. Didn’t set an alarm…but still were up by about 0730 or so…and did pretty much nothing all day.
Neil did get a few chores banged out on our list…replaced our door lock which is on it’s last legs, put down plastic wood in the joints that need it in the new flooring, modified our new fridge door trick to keep the door closed and that was about it except for eating dinner. We did have two really good dinners though…grilled pork with grilled pineapple and grilled onion tacos on corn tortillas that he also grilled a little to make ‘em taste even better on Sunday and a steak on Monday.
Tuesday was errand day for us. First up was Neil’s appointment at 0800 at the Rocky Mountain Eye Center…he needed a followup on his left eye vitreous separation that happened the week we were leaving North Fort Myers. That went fine…all is well with the eye and he’s past the primary danger zone for complications…but the opthalmologist told him to keep watching for symptoms for another little while. He asked the doctor if the right eye vitreous was still attached…the reply was that it had already detached some time in the past…but Neil never noticed it. The doctor did notice a small discoloration way out on the edge of the retina in the right eye…he said it could either be a small hole from the vitreous detachment in the past or just a pigmentation spot…but it was healed and needed no worrying about.
After that…a haircut for Neil, nails for Connie, filling our almost empty propane tank, and getting Neil’s wedding ring stretched from 8.5 to 9.5 as it was getting too small for him. His fingers have expanded a bit as he’s gotten older as has the knuckle on that finger so it just needed to be bigger. With all of the done…we went home, had a nap in the afternoon then we went back down to town to the Elks Lodge for Taco Tuesday for dinner…spent an hour or two talking to the bartender and another member then had dinner and came back to the rig.
Wednesday…it was time for the Royal Gorge Railroad tour…a 2 hour train ride through the gorge and under the bridge. We had reservations on the Vista car…that’s the one with the windows on top…for the 1230 trip although Neil spent most of the time out on the open air car taking photos…and Connie came out for a bit as well. We had lunch on the train…Disneyland prices Ima tellin’ ya…30 bucks for a beer and a mediocre sandwich that they split.
We did get some really nice photos though.
Here’s the open air car where Neil spent most of the trip…there’s another one towards the rear of the train. The Vista car we were in is a couple cars ahead of the open air car to the left.
Heading into the canyon…you can see one of our two locomotives…we had one on each end as the trip is an out and back route…and you can see our Vista car being taller and having the windows on the top. We were sitting towards the front of that car on the left (south) side.
Looking back towards the rear of the train as we entered the canyon…really brilliant blue skies today.
A couple of kayakers resting after finishing the class V rapids on the Arkansas River…4th longest in the US. There is one set of class V that are there all the time and another 3 or 4 when the water is high after rain or in the spring runoff.
Part of the abandoned water pipe that tapped the river to server Cañon City.
Looking up at the bridge some 950 feet above the river.
Looking downstream at the class V white water.
Better shot of our outbound locomotive…the train had one on each end so that since it can’t turn around the engineer can see where he’s going. Seeing both of them reminded Neil of an old story about the meanest animal in the jungle…it turns out that it’s not the lion but the Wild African Duwalley…which has a head on each end. One wag asked if it had a head on each end how would it poop…the answer is that he don’t…that what make him so mean.
Connie took a few foliage shots as we passed.
The side of the gorge…the dark band towards the bottom is a layer of volcanic ash at least 50 feet thick I guess.
The accommodations for the caretakers of the water supply pipe…I guess it’s a fixer-upper. The shack to the right is their dynamite storage shed…seems kinda close to your house to me if the stuff went off by accident.
The upstream diversion point for the pipe…some of the river’s slow was diverted here to supply Cañon City.
Our train whistle scared up a Great Blue Heron.
At the turnaround point…looking back towards the former rear and our return trip locomotive.
The trees have a really saturated green color here along the river. Those are cottonwoods…which according to the docent on the train drink up 1,000 gallons of water a day.
And the return trip begins…we’re about a mile or two upstream of the gorge as we started back.
We spotted a kayaker tacking the class V on the way back…there was also a larger raft with 3 folks on it heading downstream as well.
In the upper part of the gorge…a couple of shots to show you how deep and narrow it really is. At its narrowest it is about 20 yards wide at the bottom with steep walls…the bridge is 880 feet between the two towers as seen in the 2nd photo following.
This photo was borrowed from the Royal Gorge Bridge wikipedia page and is by By Bkthomson – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19218575.
And no gorge is complete…naturally…unless there’s a troll under the bridge…so here’s a rock formation named Shrek. It wasn’t quite under the bridge…but close enough for gummint work I say…his face is to the left.
We had originally planed on visiting the Colorado Prison Museum in town on Thursday…but on further review as the replay official would say decided that none of us really cared about it and at $14 for the adults the Fun Stuff© to cost ratio just didn’t make it for us. So we cancelled that…which means today’s activities will be going to Walmart for groceries and buying diesel for Big Red. Then we’ll put the grill, stove, and outside chairs away and get ready for our travel day over Monarch Pass (11,312 feet) to Gunnison for a 3 night stop where we’ll visit Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and it looks like the special event I talked about the other day will happen so I’ll report on that later.
The weather looks good for our transit over the pass tomorrow…there’s been some rain over night the last couple of nights and with the elevation there a little slush on the top of the pass…but today and tonight look better. We’ll carefully check the Colorado road conditions map and web cams and make sure the way is clear before heading out. With only 110 miles to go…we can afford to leave a little later to let any moisture dry up in the sun/wind before we get there. At worst…we have an alternate route planned…about halfway from Cañon City to Gunnison on US-50 we’ll take a left on US-285 south at Salida then a right on CO-114 at Saguache to intersect 50 about 13 miles east of Gunnison. The alternate route is 169 miles instead of 110…and goes over 2 passes instead of 1…but both of those are 1,500 feet or more lower than Monarch is and from Connie looking at the webcams this week both of those have been consistently dry. Neil had asked on one of the RV forums he’s on back in March about possible alternate routes to Monarch if weather made it not optimum…a member there who is a CO resident recommended this and said he had been over it many times with his trailer. Neil took a look on Google maps and the satellite view showed 18 wheelers going over CO-114 so it will be fine if we need to take it…lower elevations and a little less grade.
Interesting things found on the net.
And finally…thanks Captain Obvious.