Saturday, September 29, 2012

Go West Old Man – Our First Day In Denver, CO – 2012

After the previous long driving day, our first morning in Denver was a time to relax and go out to breakfast and as usual Bev found a place by using the Yelp website.  Chia's is a newly opened place hidden in a three business strip mall but the word is getting around as Lea Ann had already heard of it. 

Bev had her normal breakfast burrito and I had the corned beef hash and both were delicious.

Our main reason for stopping in Denver was to meet up with blogger buddy Lea Ann Brown (Cooking On The Ranch), who I felt I already knew, and her husband Bob.  So around 1pm, we headed down to their place in Highlands Ranch to begin our visit and we were quickly introduced to Chile and Zia.

It’s easy to see why they are so adored at Brown manor – I didn’t get a shot of her, but they also have a cat that’s just a little smaller than a lynx – maybe a little exaggeration, but it is huge – not fat just huge.

Then we went by the Highlands Ranch – 23,200 acres at its peak - and got a look at the 22,000 square foot mansion – have a look at these web images.  Then we went to their favorite spice store, The Savory Spice Shop in Littleton so we could buy a few things to take back home. 

After shopping, we went back to their very nice home, sat out on the deck, and sipped wine while dinner was cooking – actually Lea Ann was mostly in the kitchen while Bev, Bob, and I did the sipping.  Lea Ann sat a beautiful table and served a very nice salad followed by chicken enchiladas.

It was great to finally taste some of the delicious looking southwestern food she regularly posts on her blog – the enchiladas were outstanding.  Please stay tuned for the rest of our time with Lea Ann & Bob.

We actually got home yesterday but will continue with our trip report interspersed with other stuff.

Photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.


9/19/12 event date

Friday, September 28, 2012

Go West Old Man – Headed Up To Denver, CO – 2012

Bev and I agreed we could have spent more time in the Durango area but, alas, we had reservations to keep so we headed out Monday morning for the 377 mile drive up to Denver.  Lea Ann Brown, HighlandsRanch Foodie, had mentioned that the Great Sand Dunes were a must see and I wasn’t sharp enough to stop there during our 120 mile shorter drive into Durango, so we stopped on our way north.

With Lea Ann’s recommendation and the view from Google Earth there was no way to by-pass it when we were right there and it added only an hour to our trip.  You can see the dunes from US-160 and it’s hard to believe it’s a 19 mile drive up to them.  They set up against the west side of the Sangre de Cristo Range and per Wikipedia “The dunes were formed from sand and soil deposits of the Rio Grande and its tributaries, flowing through the San Luis Valley. Over the ages, westerly winds picked up sand particles from the river flood plain. As the wind lost power before crossing the Sangre de Cristo Range, the sand was deposited on the east edge of the valley. This process continues, and the dunes are slowly growing. The wind changes the shape of the dunes daily.”

We just drove thru America’s newest national park and snapped a few photos as we looked in awe.  The people who looked like ants walking on the dunes gave us a perspective as to their size (I didn't have enough lens for you to see them) and Lea Ann was right – must see.

While much of the San Juan Valley is irrigated, this part near the dunes was not and it gives you an idea of vastness of the area – reminds me of the African Savannah.

We rolled into highly rated Dakota Ridge RV Park in Golden, Co around 6pm (yep, we hit Denver at rush hour), set up, and sat comatose until bedtime.  I didn't get any shots of the park as I was disappointed in how crowded together we were, but there were some real high dollar rigs sitting around.

Photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.


9/17/12 event date

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Go West Old Man – Our Last Day in Durango, CO – 2012

I was pretty tired on Sunday with a long drive facing me on Monday, so we decided to forego a visit to Mesa Verde (we’d toured Anasazi ruins before at Montezuma Castle NP) and do some things for the RV then go out to dinner.  Bev had done some research and wanted to go to the Diamond Belle Saloon located in the historic Strater Hotel in the old part of Durango.  Room 222 in the hotel is the Louis L’Amour Room where the author did much of his writing – especially the series about the Sackets.

If the saloon customers were dressed for the 1880’s, the saloon may have looked as it did then – the servers actually were.  The first two shots are from the web.

Note the saying below the balcony in the above shot.  One of the big attractions for us was the Ragtime Piano Player during happy hour.  This is the player for the night then joined by a part time player (when he's not in college) who just happened to be in the audience. 

They were each very good, but it was awesome when all four of their hands were banging on the ivories.  We had a drink or some then shared a Margherita Pizza

 and later shared the pot roast special

Both were just pretty good but the pot roast was very tender - we weren't there for the food anyway.  The place was about half full when we arrived but was soon packed due mostly to a tour group from Britain and they seemed to be having a good time. 

After dinner, Bev hit a few stores in the old part of town

and I took a few shots of the Durango/Silverton RR rail yard as the maintenance and clean-up crews took over.  It's a bigger operation than I expected and likely keeps Silverton alive with it's three train/day schedule.  They have a little switcher to move the cars around the yard.

Photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.


9/17/12 event date

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Go West Old Man – Ouray, CO – 2012

This is the Part II of our day trip to Silverton and Ouray, CO in the mountains north of Durango.  New feature beginning yesterday - I'm going to try to reply to your comments within a day so if you get a chance stop back by.

We got to Silverton about 1:30pm and decided to look for the restaurants I'd researched the day before only to find a line out the door at all of them - others must have done the same research.  So we just drove around town and snapped a few shots with Bev's phone - I'd filled the card in my camera and the spares were strategically located in Tennessee.

We decided that since we were so close we would drive on up to Ouray and I just thought I’d been over a curvy mountain road getting to Silverton – the Million Dollar Highway was a death-grip-on-the-wheel road with the hundreds of feet drop-offs beginning at the white line at the edge of the pavement and very few guardrails – but the scenery was still spectacular.

Ouray (2010 population of 1000) appears much more prosperous than Silverton, likely due to its easier access from the north and the re-opening of a silver mine – only the main street in Silverton was paved.  Unlike Silverton's location in a large bowl, Ouray is located at the head of a narrow valley with mountins closely located on three sides.

Heading into Ouray, I commented that a little hole-in-the-wall burger joint would work for me and there it was Maggie's Kitchen - voted best burger in town.

We both had the green chile cheeseburger and they were delicious as were the homemade onion rings.

We saw some fabulous scenery and I was shocked at seeing a few class A motorhomes along the road – not in a million years for me – the Silverton/Ouray road was just barely big enough for our little Honda hybrid.

Photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.
Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.
9/16/12 event date