Durango daydreams

Durango, Colorado

June 28, 2015

As we depart Durango, I thought I would leave you with some images from the area. Have I mentioned that I love these old Iron Horses?  Chasing the Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad as it head out of Durango on it’s way to Silverton is one of my favorite endeavors.  This is county road 250 with it’s green horse pastures.

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We explored the Missionary Ridge area of the San Juan National Forest and learned some history. When the Missionary Ridge Fire erupted in June 2002, it was hardly a surprise. Conditions in Southwest Colorado and across the West were tinder-box dry and warnings had been issued far and wide about taking great care with any potential fire source. Still, the speed and scope that the Missionary Ridge Fire took on was difficult to anticipate, respond to and recover from. Its impacts are still felt today and will be for decades to come. Throughout the 39 days that the fire gripped the region’s attention and resources, it consumed nearly 73,000 acres, including 56 homes.  Sadly, one firefighter lost his life.

This is my impression of the new growth that is evident in the area.  A burnt fence post with a coil of barbed wire in a field of lupines.

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Rotary Park is a great base camp for watching the train cross the iron trestle or start a walk along the scenic Animas River walkway.  Had to hurry this shot as the morning yoga class arrived for a session on the green grass.

_DSC5741_2_3_2015-06-27-DSNGRR-Rotary-Park-orton2 Summer flowers were just starting to decorate the area near Santa Rita Park.  They have a lovely flower garden here.  A wonderful place for a picnic along the River and the constant entertainment of rafters running the rapids.

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Haviland Lake is great picnic and fishing spot in the San Juan National Forest.  The wildflowers were gorgeous along the water.

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a perfect Colorado day

Animas Forks, Colorado

June 17, 2015

We enjoyed a perfect Colorado day exploring the old mining town of Animas Forks founded in 1875.  By 1885, the summer population has reached 450.  Few people braved the harsh winters at this elevation since many of the mines where shut down.  The town weathered the boom and bust cycles of mining until the 1920’s when the price of metals fell worldwide and began it’s slow transformation into the ghost town we see today.

_DSC5459_60_61_2015-06-17-Animas-Forks-sepiaAs the snow melts the land begins to green at the head waters of the Animas River….

_DSC5507_8_9_2015-06-17-Animas-ForksBrad enjoys the view from Animas Forks.

_DSC5480_1_2_2015-06-17-Animas-Forks-Brad-jeepGoing over Molas Pass on the return trip to Durango offered a panoramic view from 10,550 ft elevation.

DSC-5531-34-37-Molas-Pass_PanoAt this high elevation, the aspens are just putting out leaves.

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Riding the Iron Horses

Durango, Colorado

June 15, 2015

Spending a day riding the Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is a step back in time.  These old steam trains were working these tracks from Durango to Silverton back in 1800’s.  The line was built when the mining boom of the late 1880’s struck the San Juan Mountains of Southwest Colorado.

In preparation for our 8 am departure, our Brakeman uses hand signals to the Engineer as he backs up to lock on to the rail cars.

_DSC4829_2015-06-15-DSNGRR-brakeman-482A snap of the Engineer who is in a happy mood.   A good job if you can get it.

_DSC4830_2015-06-15-DSNGRR-482-engineer-This one is shot along the High-Line.  The most difficult portion of the line to build.  It was cut from the canyon walls in 1882 at a cost of $100,000 dollars per mile.  Due to the narrow track winding 400′ above the Animas River, the engineer is restricted to operate the train on a permanent “slow order.”  The view looking into the San Juan National Forest is just amazing.  In 2012, the park service released dozens of Rocky Mountain Big Horn sheep in this area and they are thriving on these cliffs.

_DSC4957_2015-06-15-DSNGRR-Hi-LineHere is a view as the train steams through a rocky canyon in the San Juan National Forest.  Lots of spring greens but still patches of snow in the high peaks as rain threatens our ride.

_DSC5191_2015-06-15-DSNGRRDeparting from Silverton after a 2 hour layover for lunch and shopping, we boarded the train with engine 473, a Alco-K28 class.  Ten locomotives of this class were built in 1923 by the American Locomotive Company.  They were numbered 470-479.  The locomotive weighs 127 tons and will develop 28,000 pounds of tractive effort, translating to approximately 900 horsepower.  Have I mentioned that I love these old iron work horses?  The “chuff, chuff, chuff” the rocking cars, the slow pace and the coal cinders in the air all add to the fun of hearing the train whistle blow.

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The Vast Valley Blooms

Monument Valley, UT/AZ

May 5, 2015

We had a beautiful afternoon ride in Monument Valley.  The spring greens were so fresh and varied in tones.  The yucca blooms profusely here.  The cows that free range love the delicacy, so one has to photography them before they are eaten!

A view from the panoramic Artist’s Point of Merrimack Butte and other monuments.

_DSC4487_8_9_2015-05-04-Moument-Valley-artist-pt-lmSpearhead Mesa with tortured pine tree.  Life can be very difficult here.

_DSC4434_5_6_2015-05-04-Monument-Valley-Spearhead-Mesa-ortonRain God Mesa with yucca in bloom.

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Moab Magic

Moab, Utah

April 29,2015

Spring has come to Moab with a desert beauty that is a joy to behold.  After a night of rain, I headed into Arches National Park for sunrise.  The potholes were still filled with rainwater.  These life-giving potholes are a very important part of the ecosystem.

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An image of the famous Courthouse Towers in Arches NP on a lovely spring morning.

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Canyonlands National Park viewpoint looking into the vast layers of the canyons.

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Grandview Point always offers a panoramic view into Canyonlands.

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a new day dawns

Monument Valley Tribal Park

Utah/ Arizona border

 

April 6, 2015

After a much needed rest, we are back on the road again with many great travel plans for this spring, summer and fall.

Caught these early shots of the sunrise at Monument Valley.  The blue hour overlooking the West Mitten, East Mitten and Merrimack Butte.  It is a magical place with only the sound of the winds gusting over the vast valley.

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As the sun rises at the West and East Mittens…

_DSC2683_4_5_2015-04-06-Monument-Valley-sunrise-wrmThe golden suns rays reach the horizon and a new day dawns.

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