Painting

We are retired, we love to volunteer, we love to be part of a bigger picture and sometimes we find ourselves doing the craziest of jobs…..and laughing at ourselves and enjoying the ride. Cliff has painted gates, signs, and posts at just about all of the locations we have volunteered.  Take a look at the gates Cliff has been painting:

 

And me, I have been painting quarters. You read that right, painting quarters a bright bluish, purple color. I could probably be arrested for something here but I will just claim innocence or possibly ignorance. All of the volunteers staying in the park get free showers and to keep the quarters heading back to the volunteers we paint ’em making it easy to spot when we start running shower quarters through the quarter counter. Some volunteers, like us have their own shower in their trailer but some don’t and it is a perk. So, if you come visit us and sleep in your tent, we will treat you to a free shower every day. What a deal…..we will also feed you so the deal is even better.

And, here is the beauty shot! Cliff took this picture on April 29, just past the gate to the Park and on the way to Ouray.

Cliff and Cyndy

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Ridgway State Park 2017

We’re back at Ridgway State Park! That’s right, about two weeks ago we got a call from our summer boss asking if we could return before mid-April. One of the winter campground hosts developed medical problems and had to return home so the park was looking for someone to fill-in. Let’s see, we were enjoying temperatures in the 70s while living in Mesa, AZ and now we have a choice to return to the mountains of SW Colorado during the winter. What’s wrong with this picture? We said yes and a week later parked our trailer at an elevation of 7,000’ near the foot of the San Juan Mountains.

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The rangers had plowed our camping site and it was dry when we arrived. That next day we got a couple of inches of snow, but it was gone by that evening. The good news is that Colorado is experiencing unseasonably warm weather so the highs have been in the 50s and the snow at our elevation has mostly melted.

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Cliff  is back to being a campground host but there are only a few campers right now so he spends most of the time doing maintenance projects. Cyndy is working at the Visitor Center and will work with the revenue staff in the summer months. We are both helping with a research project as the park looks at changing up some of the informational materials at the Visitor Center.

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It is great to be back on the western slope of Colorado. Life is quieter and a bit simpler, well at least for now but when the park is in full swing, say in July, it will be a different story!  The mountains are so beautiful and we see wildlife every day.

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How about you come and visit us?  And you can wait until this summer if you would like!

Cyndy and Cliff

 

Winter Wonderland

October 7, 2016

Yes indeed, staying in the Colorado mountains is a bit risky if you don’t like snow. We do like snow and yesterday morning we had some on the ground. The park and the surrounding mountains became magical. Cliff captured a few of the sights:

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We have loved being here in the fall and now we see what it might look like in the winter.  Our plan is to head  to St. Vrain State Park the end of October, spend the month of November taking care of doctor appointments, visiting family and friends and then head to Mesa for the winter.

We hope you enjoy the winter pictures!

Cliff and Cyndy

 

 

Silverton

June 9, 2016

Summertime in the Rockies! The wildflowers, the intense blue sky in the morning, the afternoon showers that bring delightful evenings, the camping and the smell of wood fires – we are enjoying all of these things. We are settling into our jobs and the life of the park and finding out that if you work with reservations for the Colorado State Parks you probably have a crazy job. Most of the camper issues center around a foiled reservation or one that the camper wants to change (days or location). Most of the citations issued are about leaving a fire unattended, driving too fast or damaging the forest by taking down a tree for firewood. It is a mix of meeting wonderful people, families and a few rotten eggs that just take more work for everyone!

We did manage to get a few days off over Memorial Day to attend the wedding of my son David and his beautiful bride, Christine. The wedding was at Snow Mtn. Ranch near Fraser, CO and as you can see the weather cooperated for a few hours on Sunday afternoon for the ceremony. We spent the weekend with family and friends and enjoyed being in the mountains on the other side of the state.

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My sister Deb and brother-in-law Mike returned to Ridgway with us and became our official first visitors! We did not have any time off but Deb, Mike and dog Beau are pretty self-sufficient and went off mountain biking and touristing every day. We had evenings for dinner, conversation and watching movies. It was a great week!

There are lots of birds in the park. We told you about the 3 baby owls in the tree by our trailer in the last blog installment. Now those babies are getting flying and hunting lessons from mom and dad and they have moved around to the other side of our trailer. We caught sight of a very large owl just sitting and watching our trailer and it made both of us nervous about letting our cat Zoe out.

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The other birds we see every day are the pesky bluebirds. The ones that sit on the truck mirrors and then get so excited when they see themselves in the mirror that they poop all over the mirrors. Cliff has been pulling the mirrors in at night and that seems to keep them off, now we just need to remember to bring the mirrors in!

We used up our days off for the wedding so this week we were back on schedule with Wednesday and Thursday off. We decided to head to Silverton on Wednesday. As in many places, summer time is road repair time. We waited about 20 minutes in this spot and about 10 minutes in another spot. The drive was spectacular but we expected to be wowed because they call this highway, The Million Dollar Highway. It is part of the San Juan Skyway Scenic Byway and it takes you over Red Mountain Pass.

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The town of Silverton is the destination for the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad and brings lots of tourists to town. This shot was taken just before the train arrived and it looked very different a few minutes later!

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We had our pick of lunch places and we settled on the Avalanche Brew Pub. Lunch did not disappoint and we were soon on our way looking through the town. Cliff did a little shopping and we shared an ice cream before we headed home. From Silverton you head north on highway 550 to the top of Red Mountain Pass.  There are over 100 mines on the mountain and you see evidence of it in every direction.

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As you begin to make the descent toward the town of Ouray you cross over Bear Creek, thundering down the hillside.

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This road makes Trail Ridge Road look like child’s play. Similar to Trail Ridge, there are no guardrails on the road and if you are drive south up the mountain you do a lot of praying.

There are hundreds of waterfalls and this one was so spectacular that I had to stop and take its picture.

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Before driving through historic Ouray you stop at this pull-out to take an amazing picture of what is called “The Switzerland of America.”

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Beauty everywhere, come and see!

Cliff and Cyndy

 

 

 

 

 

Western Slope of Colorado

May 10, 2016

We are excited about living on the western slope of Colorado. We both grew up on the front range and made a trip or two to the Western Slope, usually for camping, fishing or picking peaches. As we look at the maps of this area we start to plan what we want to see on our days off.  We may not get it all in during the 6 months that we will be here because there are so many beautiful places to visit.

This view is looking almost directly south from Ridgway State Park and that big mountain is Mt. Sneffels (14,150), named after a volcano in Iceland.

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The picture below was taken in late April and the aspens were still bare. The Visitor Center at Ridgway is pictured below and has a nice gift shop with several displays of local wild wildlife. That’s our golf cart parked in front of the VC which carries the tools of our trade. It has a top speed of maybe10mph if your driving downhill with a tail wind.

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That’s another view of the San Juan’s taken on a bluff overlooking the south end of the Ridgway Reservoir. The reservoir is 5 miles long and was just stocked with 6,000 Rainbow Trout.

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The picture below was taken in the Dakota Ridge Campground (our campground) and that’s snow on the Cimarron Mountain Range.

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Ridgway State Park has 3 different sections.  We live in the oldest and main part of the park which has 2 different campgrounds (Elk Ridge and Dakota Terraces), the Visitor’s Center, a boat launch and a dock. We are parked at site 50 which is the very first site in the Dakota Terraces Campground. Our entrance station is called the “Dutch Charlie” entrance station which is the name taken from an early explorer who ran a trading post near this site.

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We would like you to meet our neighbor. This mountain bluebird loves to sit on the mirror of our truck. Not bad looking for a male. The last picture is Zoe enjoying her new backyard. She is on a leash and cannot quite get to the ravine where all the good stuff might be. So she sits and watches, waiting for that one stupid mouse to come a bit closer and to date, she has “played to death” 4 mice.

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Come enjoy this country with us.

Cliff and Cyndy

Exploring Ridgway

April 26, 2016

We love wildlife! This travel blog is filled with pictures of the wildlife we have seen over the past 2 1/2 years, from bears to alligators and my favorite, the wild turkeys in Idaho. Today we got up close with new wildlife, owls! Within 10 feet of our trailer there is a pinion pine tree that is home to a mama owl with 2 owlets.

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One of the babies (white and fluffy) is next to mom on her right. The daddy owl has been spotted in the area and he is taking care of feeding his family. Zoe does not understand why she cannot be outside but we think daddy owl would love to scoop her up and serve her for dinner.

Our spot in the park includes an extra table, fire pit and space for a tent. Perfect for guests that have a tent – let us know when you want to join us!

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We wandered into Montrose to explore our new grocery store and pick up what we needed. We had some snow and rain this afternoon just to remind us that it is still winter in the mountains. And speaking of winter, we have great views of the high mountain ranges from our campsite and it is winter up there.

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Cliff and Cyndy

Ridgway State Park

April 25, 2016

Ah Colorado, our home state and so totally unpredictable when it comes to weather! We packed up this morning and left St. Vrain State Park under a bright blue sky, we noted that the eagles were once again not in their tree and we joined the long stream of cars heading down I25. It is always interesting heading up into the mountains on I70, noting the newest mansions perched on the top of the ridges, looking for the buffalo herd and just marveling that this incredible highway makes its possible for us to see the big mountains. We made our way over Vail Pass and then through Glenwood Canyon. Both roads were controversial when built but today we don’t remember the issues, just note how both roads seem to fit into the surroundings. Ah Colorado….

We turned south at Grand Junction and the weather changed. Rain clouds were hanging around and they mixed in with the storm clouds, doubled in size and suddenly we are traveling through a storm. The smaller towns of Delta and Olathe looked like interesting places to explore but when we hit Montrose we were home. Montrose will be our go to town and we noted the stores and restaurants where we will find all that we need over the next 6 months.

Ridgway Park was next and the rains were getting more serious. We found the Visitor Center and a staff member to show us where to park and give us a hand backing in the trailer. We have the perfect spot! Lots of trees and an extra entertainment area with another table, tent pad and fire ring. Plenty of room for visitors!

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So tonight it is cold, rainy and windy but we are here and excited to start our work as campground hosts in this beautiful place!

Cliff and Cyndy