After the beauty of the areas of Ouray I was disappointed as we entered the high desert type area before Gunnison. At least the Blue Mesa Lake made a pretty blue oasis in the dry scrub brush and barren rolling foothills.
At those times when I’m missing the beauty of my surroundings I always tell myself to look a little closer. Sure enough, Colorado Columbine of all colors was in bloom around the spot where we parked. There were also paths lined with rocks. Someone had placed their Colorado rock collection of sparkling colorful rocks, and crystals all around for me to enjoy.
As evening arrived blue birds and many others swooped by as if I were sitting in their favorite café. The sunset was spectacular.
After so much activity we planned to take two weeks in Gunnison to take a little rest. But we didn’t want to miss anything there was to see or do either so our first day we drove into town to see the Pioneer Museum we had been told not to miss.
The county supports this impressive museum that has at least ten buildings that hold their collection of most everything from the past from trains to photos. The majority of the items have been donated by the local community.
I especially enjoyed the old wedding gowns donated by families from the area. They were exquisite and reflected the wealth from the early days. There was also clothes made from animal skins that I think are extinct.
Back at the RV we met George and Kay Smith who wanted to travel the areas four-wheel trails but wisely knew it was best to go out with another Jeep so we spent two days wandering the mountains where the aspens were gloriously golden, orange, and red. We drove through them. Looked across at the yellow covered mountain sides, and then down on them as we lost the blue spruce tree line. The sun and blue blue sky created a spectacular accent for the fall leaves.
Kay and I share our name. She is Marian Kay. Here’s a picture of the two Marians.
These Rubicon friends invited us to go with them and another couple on some difficult trails. We decided to pass because our trail book said our little Jeep would drag on some of the rocks and we didn’t want to take a chance of damage.
Gunnison (population under 7,000) has an impressive airport for such a small town.
Western State Colorado University (aka Western) boosts that number by 2500 students. It looked like a great college and we saw signs for free student ski passes. The town also has a bus to take students and the employees to the slopes for free.
There are always treasures to be found in the little communities. Traders Rendezvous was a strange looking shop but everyone we met told us not to miss it. The place was filled with beautiful taxidermy animals that were for sale. All sorts of different kinds of antlers were everywhere. Some had been made into chandeliers and furniture. It was an intriguing place to wander about. I’d never considered you could just go into a store and buy your trophy animal without any hunting effort.
With no time pressure we thought we should include the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park with our back road drives. Again we peered over shear walls into what seemed a black abyss created by the shadows of the close walls. I was fascinated that so much of the stone was really pink with crystal pieces shining in the sunlight. We started visiting with another couple from Cologne, Germany who were also intrigued by the beauty of the rocks and the wildflowers that grew in them. There we all stood with a famous canyon behind us checking out rocks and flowers.
Jim had spotted another road that went down into the canyon. The dirt road had a 16% grade and hairpin turns. I thought it was the best part of the park and we ended up at the river where people were fly fishing.
We stopped in Montrose for lunch and must share the amazing Cinnamon Rolls we found. The container is dinner size (maybe twelve inches). For a treat that delicious we had to pay $2.29 which seemed very reasonable. That works out to less than $.01 per 100 calories I think.
In Gunnison we were told to try PowerStop for the best hamburger ever. Two brothers wanted to turn a gas station into a fun place and had created unique hamburgers. Their prize winner was a spicy Hawaiian so we tried it. High quality organic beef, fresh homemade buns spread with cream cheese, a grilled pineapple slice, a layer of grilled jalapeno peppers, and a red pepper sweet mango sauce. It was delicious, but oh so hot.
Sunday we went to River of Life Church where Mike and Becky Darnell are pastors. They also own the True Value Hardware store in town. To provide resources for the community they also have a little store that carries Carhartt clothing and Redwing boots and shoes. They added appliances to their store and even included a Blue Bell ice cream shop which wins best ice cream shop in town. They are the only people who carry that brand outside of Denver. I was so impressed with their creative ways of making Gunnison a great place to live.
At church one of the students from the college told us he had a home game the next Saturday, so we decided to go. Mike and Becky said to come early for lunch. When we arrived the parking lot had long tables of food for everyone who came to the game to enjoy. We sat on dark green plush grass on a hill and enjoyed a picnic in the shade of a very old fir tree.
The game was excitedly tense but they won by one point and took home a trophy the school hadn’t held in fifteen years. The students went wild and it was fun to be included. The football field was reported to be the highest college football stadium in the world. It certainly felt like it.
I love the beauty of the mountains but the downside is the air is so thin. The altitude requires drinking lots of water to keep from getting headaches. Walking up a hill is exhausting, and there are hills everywhere.
The other thing that took adjustment was seeing the temperature at 45o in the morning and stepping outside to a perfect day that feels like 75o. And it didn’t take long at all for the sun to burn our skin at those highs.
I love the sense of humor of Americans. We stopped for lunch in Lake City and noticed a chainsaw bear looking in the house next door. While riding in the mountains feeling as if we were far away from everything we found a large round rock. Someone had taken the time to add more rocks to make a happy face. Fellow Americans keep us smiling.
Traveling Blessed USA