Camping & Wheeling in Montezuma

We celebrated our long Columbus Day weekend and welcomed the first day of Fall with an overnight camping and wheeling trip in the mountains.  Our trio was excited to get outside and breathe some fresh mountain air.

We started the weekend with a foliage filled drive across Loveland Pass and set up camp just outside of Keystone near Montezuma Road.

We spent the rest of the morning and afternoon taking in the scenery from a couple of 4×4 trails.  Our first trail was Chihuahua Gulch; It is a short drive, but one of the most difficult trails off of Peru Creek.  A rocky and muddy drive with numerous water crossings, the road abruptly ends after approximately 2 miles and turns into a hiking trail.  We already had a second 4×4 road on the agenda, or else we would have taken advantage of the hike which leads to a lake at the base of Grizzly Peak.

After heating up some chili for lunch at the bottom of Chihuahua Gulch, we traveled a few miles to the town of Montezuma, and headed up to Santa Fe Peak.  The trail climbs to the summit at 13,160 feet and provides some pucker factor for passengers with lots of switchbacks and exposed shelf roads.  However, the views make this drive worthwhile.

After a successful summit, it was time to head back to the campsite.  We fished (no bites), ate some bison burgers (lots of bites), and relaxed by the best campfire ever.


Here’s a short video of the adventure:

3rd Annual 100s in the Hills

After months of emails, texts and conference calls with the 3 other Co-Directors, it was finally time to hit the road. Bandit and I had the Cruiser and trailer packed up and we were off for the 3rd Annual 100s in the Hills event. Some of you might remember a few years ago a trip we took to the San Juans to camp and wheel with some friends. Well, this small excursion has grown significantly in the past three years to a nationally recognized event. This year we had almost 30 vehicles from all over the country, 65 people in attendance and twenty-three sponsors. Located in a remote area where everyone is to be self sufficient, we require all participants to practice the leave no trace principles. This event takes quite a bit of logistics and planning, which was completely worthwhile. No one left disappointed.

Unfortunately Kristy was out of town on business, but she is sure to attend next year. I wrote an article that was published in the November/December issue of Toyota Trails magazine on this years event. Please click below for the online edition of the article page 19:

Toyota Trails Nov/Dec 3013

Below are more pictures and a link to the 100s in the Hills Facebook page:

Facebook/100s in the Hills

Day #1: Clear Lake family fun run

Day #2: Ophir Pass & Imogene Pass

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Day #3: Black Bear Pass

Day #3 continued, Directors run back to camp and night run:

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The Denver Post Cheyenne Frontier Days Train

DSC02062What do you think about when you think about “The West?”  Maybe cowboys, trains, buffalo, wide open spaces???  J and I experienced a full day of wild west nostalgia on board The Denver Post Cheyenne Frontier Days (CFD) Train.  Thanks to The Denver Post we were thrilled to receive two tickets to the sold out 22nd annual event.  The CFD train was a tradition from 1908 to 1970 and then brought back to life in 1992 by The Denver Post publisher Dean Singleton and has been going strong ever since.  The train took us from Denver to Cheyenne, Wyoming where we attended the Cheyenne Frontier Days and The “Daddy of ’em All” rodeo.  Our day on the CFD Train was a day to be remembered and one we hope to be a part of again next year.

Since Union Station is currently closed for renovations, we met around 6am at the Denver Coliseum and took a shuttle to the nearby train.  We were surrounded by cowboys, cowgirls, and hundreds of other guests dressed in their western best.  We found our car, Car 6 – Sunshine Special, and climbed aboard.  Our early morning started with breakfast on the train and then a 3 hour scenic ride to Cheyenne to the Frontier Days celebration.  The train was led by Union Pacific’s steam locomotive No. 844, which has been in service since 1944.

You can't beat the view from a train!

You can’t beat the view from a train!

At 7am sharp, the train whistle blew, and the locomotive  wheels started turning.  The excitement of the train was apparent as soon as we left the Union Pacific (UP) Rail Yard, with a crowd of onlookers waving the train good bye.   As we traveled north towards Cheyenne, we were greeted by excited and waving crowds all along the tracks and at every train crossing and bridge.  This annual train ride is an eagerly anticipated event, as it is one of the only passenger trains that frequents this set of tracks.  It was truly special to be a part of this train ride and feel the excitement generated by the enthusiastic crowds waving us on.

DSC02167Upon our arrival in Cheyenne, we were welcomed at the depot by a band and friendly town folk, just like in the old days!  After touring the depot, we hopped on a bus, and headed to the Frontier Days grounds.  We started our time in Cheyenne with the Behind the Chutes Tour of the famous rodeo arena and then enjoyed some Cheyenne history at the Old West Museum.  By then it was noon, and we were ready for lunch.  The Denver Post knows how to treat a guest, by providing all train riders with a big BBQ spread, dessert, and beverages, all inside a nice cool tent.  During lunch, Colorado Governor Hickenlooper and Wyoming Governor Mead spoke and welcomed everyone to the festivities.  With satisfied stomachs we explored Frontier Days and then went to The Daddy of Em All Rodeo to see buckin’ broncs, barrell racing, calf roping, the wild horse roundup, and of course bull riding.  The Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo is the largest outdoor rodeo in the world.

With the close of the rodeo and storm clouds rolling in, it was time to head back to downtown Cheyenne to the train depot.  The train was leaving promptly at 5:30 pm and dinner and drinks were waiting for us on board.  We said “So Long!” to Cheyenne and enjoyed the evening ride back to Denver.  The Dance Car (Car 8 – Council Bluffs) was the place to be, with a live western band and bar.  There was so much excitement on board, that it was hard to say goodbye to our day on the CFD train when we reached the UP Rail Yard a little after 8pm.  The CFD train is a great experience and attracts train enthusiasts from all over the country.  We can’t wait to be a part of it next year, so mark your calendars for the 23rd Annual and ride with us on Saturday, July 19, 2014!

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Salt Spa and The Sink

For something completely out of the ordinary, we went to a Salt Spa in Boulder on Saturday.  K saw an advertisement, bought a Groupon and called to make an appointment.  We made the short drive to Boulder for our appointment at 1100am.  It was a small, typical doctor’s office from first appearance, but we had no idea what to expect…  We both did a little bit of research on the salt spa and it seems to be helpful for people who have chronic respiratory problems like allergies and also for some types of skin issues.  We spoke to another patient there who suffers from chronic bronchitis. She is very much into holistic medicines, so this is right there along those lines.  People also go to meditate and relax.  The salt is brought in from the Dead Sea in Israel and is broken into large chunks.  These different sized chunks are then ground into a fine sand, or coarse powder like substance.  This is then blown very lightly by a machine that ventilates it throughout the room.  An article from 5280 magazine (The Denver Magazine) that was framed on the lobby wall quoted the doctor as saying it is “East meets West” medicine. She stated that Western medicine is great for emergencies and saving life and limb, but lacks in the area of treating chronic diseases. Click here for another article from The Daily Camera in Boulder.  It is not a one-time cure-all, as these patients come regularly.  It was our turn to enter the salt room and we were given plastic booties and a hair net before we went in.  There was an area before you enter where you can store your shoes and coats and there’s room enough to put on your highly fashionable foot and headwear.

I think we were both surprised when we entered the room. It was covered on all four walls and the ceiling with what looked like ceiling popcorn, but it was salt.  The floor was covered in pebble sized pieces of salt and there were 7 very nice leather recliners on either side of the room.  We took our seats and awaited the 45 minute session to begin.  It was requested that no one talk while the session is in progress, as some people like to meditate and sleep.  The lights went dim and some peaceful eastern type music began playing.  I reclined and closed my eyes, as K read a magazine.  You could hear the slight drone of the fan, which was blowing in the salty air.  There was no odor and you really could not tell anything was going on.  Good thing we weren’t gassed, we would have had no idea…

After the 45 minute’s had passed the lights came back on.  I looked at my shirt and you could see a very fine dusting of white, which was the salt.  As we walked out and gathered our belongings, we were told to drink plenty of water throughout the rest of the day.  K and I got in the car and “reflected” on the salt spa.  We laughed at the whole experience going in not knowing what to expect, but we both felt like we could breathe better and it actually was very relaxing.

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It was about time for lunch, so we decided to try a restaurant that Guy Fieri had given two thumbs up to on “Diners Drive-Ins and Dives”, The Sink.  The Sink was originally the Sigma-Nu fraternity house at the University of Colorado, but has been a restaurant since 1923.  The current owners took it over in 1992 and didn’t change much, except maybe improve on the menu.

It is a very cool place and from the outside looks like your typical college street corner restaurant. When you walk in, the first thing you notice, is the low ceilings and the paintings on the walls. Patrons are allowed to write on the ceilings, if you can find a spot.  There are no pictures on the walls; instead, there are murals which were started in the 1950’s and additions are still being made.  Robert Redford played baseball at CU and even briefly worked at The Sink.  They have an impressive beer selection and are proud of the Colorado craft beers that they have available. The Sink is a “green” restaurant and they are 100% wind powered.  They also compost, recycle, use low flow water receptacles and feature local grass-fed beef and organic produce.  K ordered Herbies Combo, which is basically the original Sink burger and I ordered the Stuffed Blue Cheese Burger. The Blue Cheeseburger is marinated in a red wine and cracked pepper sauce and topped with crispy spinach and was excellent.  Nothing compliments a burger better than beer, so I had an Old Jubilation Ale- (Avery Brewing Co. Boulder, CO).  If you are in the area, check it out, we will definitely be back.

Click here to watch the Diners Drive-Ins and Dives episode on The Sink.


Mmmmmmmm, grass fed beef.

The good stuff.

Fishing the North Platte River, CO

Labor Day weekend, where to go???  We decided to pack the Cruiser and head even further away from humanity to a more desolate area of the state, North Park, CO.  We took the scenic route: 70 West to Empire, 40 North through Winter Park and Granby and then North on 125 through Walden to the North Platte River.  We had not been here before, so we scouted out our surroundings.  We found the ramp area on the river where I wanted to start fishing, so we needed to find a camping spot nearby.  Luckily, there was a forest service/4×4 road about 2 miles south of the Wyoming state line and decided to head up and check it out.  We were so glad we did.  There were three primitive camping spots on the ridge overlooking Northgate Canyon, called Mahogany Spur.  Unsure whether we would find anything being Labor Day, we were very glad to have found this area.  After we decided on a spot, we headed back to the river, ate lunch and geared up.  Furry B was frisky as the weather was a beautiful 70 degrees and I couldn’t wait to get the waders on and get a pole in the water. 

“The North Platte River is a legend – a river that pioneers used to traverse portions of the west – where Indians hunted buffalo along its shores. It is also a legend for fishing. Known for its good fishing in Wyoming, it starts in northern Colorado. A portion of this river has the distinction of being both a Wild Trout and Gold Medal River.”

K and Furry B headed down the trail next to the river; I got right in and started wading downstream.  I started off with a flourescent rooster tail and wasn’t having any luck.  Remembering reading something about orange being very good on this river,  I threw an orange Panther Martin on the line and after a few minutes, got a hit.  It was a small Brown Trout and the only one we got a picture of, as I was in the middle of the river and K was on the bank with Furry B.  We got him back in the water and I headed back out.  Caught a few more browns and then I spotted a nice sized rock down stream, so I worked my way towards it.  As I got closer I could see the other side of it and it created a nice pool.  I casted near the rock and a nice sized Rainbow took the bait.  I decided I should call it a day, as I had talked to the only two other fisherman I saw, one didn’t catch anything and the other only caught one.  I was ahead of the game and we needed to set up camp.

We headed back up the forest service road, pulled into camp and started setting up.  We sat around and enjoyed the scenery from the ridge: the Northgate Canyon and Medicine Bow Mountains to the east and Independence Mountain to our west.  Furry B wore himself out chasing all the chipmunks, which were in abundance.  The sun was going down, so we fired up the grill and made hotdogs along with blue cheese and bacon potato salad,which I thought was great!  K said it tasted like dirty socks, guess I like dirty socks…  As the sun went down, so did the temps.  We made a fire and turned in early.  When I got up with the sun rising over the mountains to the east, peaking in the tent window, it was 38 degrees.  K stayed in her warm sleeping bag and I got up to make some coffee.  We made a gourmet breakfast with scrambled eggs, mushrooms, asparagus and cheddar cheese, mmmmmm.  We were in no hurry to pack up, but we had passed a wildlife area coming in that we wanted to check out. 

After packing everything up, we headed south, back to Walden.  We took a detour on the right which was BLM area, McCallum Oil Field.  It began in 1926 and in 2007, North Park produced 96 thousand barrels of oil and 1.3 billion cubic feet (BCF) of natural gas from 153 wells.  Pretty vast area.  We also took drive through the Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge.  We saw lots of pronghorn antelope, prairie dogs and a sneaky coyote.  As we were nearing town, we saw an antelope that was stuck in some barbed wire, we stopped to help and as I walked back to the truck to get some gloves, K was getting a better view of it and it got loose, yelled at us and ran off to join the herd that was about 200 yards away.  We fueled up in Walden and took a different route home, through Wyoming and then south into Denver.

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