Friday, August 31, 2018

Berthoud Pass — 11,307 Feet

At Sunset Point Campground, Lake Granby, Colorado


The first time I can remember going over Berthoud Pass was in early April 1972, mom, dad, Sandy and I coming from the Kansas City area back home to Sacramento.  Dad, Sandy and I drove our Plymouth Fury 3 out to KC, while mom flew in later in the week.  Sandy and I were on Spring Break, and I think we left on a Friday after dad got off work.  He drove us up over the pass to the Reno area, and handed the keys over to me somewhere past Reno…next thing he knew we were on the Salt Flats headed for Salt Lake City.  “Made good time I see…”, said dad.  Boy, that car handled nice!

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On the way back home we just happened to have very good early spring weather, and mom suggested that we take I-70, a much prettier route…and then later, US-40 over Berthoud Pass, all the way to I-80 just above Salt Lake City.  That’s what we did…and I cannot remember being at 11,000+ feet before…WOW!  Snow all around, the sky as blue as I could ever imagine…  So I suggested to Marcia that we take the drive to Berthoud Pass, and this past Tuesday, that is what we did.  I did not get a chance to post pictures from that trip before going back into the National Park and over to see where Terry’s ashes were spread up in the Rocky’s, and I decided that post (My Brother-in-Law’s Resting Place…in the Rockies) was more important than the our trip the previous day.


We drove all the way to Berthoud Falls, where we found our future house…boy, it is going to be cold there in the winter!


Coming and going we drove through Winter Park…back in ‘72 about the only thing around was the ski resort…now it is a city of 1,000 people and 2,500 residences.  Gee, you think there are a lot of second homes and rentals in Winter Park???


The best part of the day was Marcia finally getting to see and take pictures of the herd of Pronghorn Antelope that I had gotten pictures of the other day.


Here, the one standing up in the far left of the first picture has decided to lay down too, and she got her just as she started to go down.


And my favorite…every man’s dream…alone surrounded by women.  (OUCH, now why did you hit me Marcia?)

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As night was coming, the wind had picked up considerably.  I went out to try and get pictures of Osprey flying around…the adults seemed to have been near, but away from the nests…

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…as at least one young one tried out their wings, but remained glued to the nest.  I really thought it was going to take off…but it did not.  However, the Osprey will all be flying soon…flying south for the winter.  By November, many of the nest will become habitat for the 15 or so Bald Eagles that live in around around Lake Granby, Shadow Mountain Reservoir, and Grand Lake during the winter.  In fact, they close down the area to humans along the Colorado between Lake Granby and Shadow Mountain Reservoir…however, there is a viewing station just outside the closed down area by Shadow Mountain.  Lake Granby is a favorite Ice Fishing place during January and February.  For us…we will be cutting out on Tuesday right after labor day…the lows of 34-36 for the past few nights (not last night, it was only 40) are a bit much…however, it warms up quickly in the morning, and we love the nice 70-80 degree temps during the day.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

My Brother-in-Law’s Resting Place…in the Rockies

At Sunset Point Campground, Lake Granby, Colorado


In 2003 I got one of those phone calls that everyone dreads…a member of the family had passed away.  My sister Patti married Terry around 1994, he quickly adopted her daughter Ashley.  Terry had been plagued with Cystic Fibrosis for many years, most of his life.  Around 2001 he had a lung transplant, and all was going well.  One day, either a Thursday or Friday, he was at work at a Counseling Center…within just a couple of days, he died…complications from the transplant a year or two earlier.  No signs before this…it just happened.  We were all devastated.  Stephanie and I drove up to Kansas City area where mom and dad lived, and the four of us drove out to California for the funeral.  Years later, Patti finally made it to Colorado, with daughter Ashley and Terry’s two surviving brothers and other family members of his, to spread his ashes into a pond near a lodge he worked at in Colorado, and to celebrate his life.  Terry’s oldest brother died at age 1 months, Christmas Eve, most likely of Cystic Fibrosis…and he had another brother who died of Cystic Fibrosis about 10 years before Terry did.  What a terrible disease that is…


Meeker Park Lodge is located on highway 7, near the foot of Long’s Peak, the highest point in the Rocky Mountain National Park at 14,259 feet.  The lodge itself has 8 sleeping rooms, a restaurant, a store, and there are also numerous rental cabins on the property.  Also on the property…a large pond…which contains the ashes of many longtime locals, including Terry.  The Dever Family has owned and operated the lodge since 1922.  I stepped into the lodge, made my way to the store, and inquired as to if the young worker was part of the family that owned it.  She acknowledged that she was, and another older lady says, “And I am the Aunt…”  I explained who I was, and mentioned Terry’s name….  “Oh, what a sweet young man that Terry was…and your sister came through a few years back.”  Terry had worked at the lodge during the summers that he was in college.


At the spot where I took the first picture are these markers, Top Left: Keith Dever, 1923-2011, Marian Dever, 1927-2017, Bottom Left: Bambi Darnell, 1978-2012, and the large one: Crete Dever1892-1993 and Danny Dever 1885-1973.  However, the ‘Aunt’, who I assume is Laura Dever, the general manager of the lodge, said that countless number of people have had their ashes spread at the pond…she wishes that they had a list of all the people over the years.  (You are permitted to scatter ashes on your property that you own or other private property with the permission of the owner.)

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The entire time Patti was married to Terry, and during the time they knew each other before marriage, I was living far away from Sacramento.  Yes, I met Terry a number of times, but we never had the opportunity to become close.  At his funeral I learned more about him from friends and family and the Priest who performed the service than I had ever known about him…for that, I was always sad that I never got to know him better.  You always think, “There will be time…”  Well, that is not always the case.

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Just down the highway from the lodge is Chapel on the Rock, officially named Saint Catherine of Siena Chapel.  What a pretty Catholic Church built in 1936, but first envisioned by Monsignor Joseph Bosetti in 1916.  It is still in use today, and if you click on the far right picture, you can even see some people coming out of a church service as we drove by.


And here is a picture of Long’s Peak along highway 7.  Colorado has 58 mountain peaks exceeding 14,000 feet, and Long’s Peak is the farthest most northern peak that is over 14,000.  Long’s Peak is named in honor of explorer Stephen Harriman Long, a U.S. army explorer, topographical engineer, and railway engineer, and is featured on the Colorado state quarter. 

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It was a 65 mile trip over to Meeker Lodge, and on the way back we took a side trip up to Bear Lake.  Today we saw two moose, three deer, three or four elk (only showing picture of two), and a family of turkeys…that is momma turkey in front of that bus shutting down the road while the babies have just crossed (babies along the right side of the roadside).


Bear Lake is a very pretty place, but getting a parking place, even on a Wednesday afternoon, is very difficult…easier for us with the ADA parking tag. 


Other lakes we passed included Mary’s Lake…


..Lilly Lake…

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…and a few un-named (to us at least), high altitude (11,500 feet level at least) lakes, some of which were green due to the glaciers which feed them.


Our trip today took seven hours, most of it spent in the car driving and/or viewing.  The Rocky’s are so massive, and so is the Rocky Mountain National Park, where vehicle speeds are normally 35 mph, with sharp turns, and amazing views. 


We both feel that it probably ranks in the top ten of places we have been…if you lump the Alaska trip into one big place.  Although we are here at Lake Granby for another five full days, due to the crowds of Labor Day I doubt we will enter the park again on this trip.  Yesterday (Tuesday) we went to Berthoud Pass, and I will post a blog about that on Friday or Saturday.

Rest in Peace brother Terry…I know you are enjoying the view….

Monday, August 27, 2018

Willow Creek Campground and Reservoir, Pronghorn Antelope

At Sunset Point Campground, Lake Granby, Colorado

Willow Creek Reservoir, Colorado

Willow Creek Reservoir and Campground is about 3 miles down a dirt road off of the highway that leads from Granby to the National Park, and is about 4-5 miles from our campground.  The National Forest Campground is larger than the one at Sunset Point, but the dirt road seems to hamper some people from going over there…it shouldn’t, because the dirt road is in excellent condition, although the one lane road over the dam might scare some people off.  To get around that, if one turns to the right at the dam, it will take them to a wide turnaround, which will give them a straight shot across the dam so they don’t have to worry about negotiating a turn and a narrow road at the same time.

Willow Creek Reservoir, Colorado

The Willow Creek Dam raises the water about 175 feet, allowing for gravity flow into Lake Granby, which assists in the diversion of water through the Alva B. Adams Tunnel under the Continental Divide to the east side of the Rocky Mountains. 

Willow Creek Reservoir, Colorado

The lake encompasses about 300 acres, motorized boats are not allowed, and it seems like a nice, peaceful area to camp.

Willow Creek Campground, Colorado

The Willow Creek Campground has 35 campground sites, all of which are first-come, first-camping.   When I drove through today (Monday), the park was about 35% full at most.  There are many sites which could handle our set-up, and at least a dozen that could handle a 40 foot motorhome or 5th wheel.  No electric, water or dump station, at a price of $21 per night, along with the access fee to area which varies depending upon how long you stay.  With a senior pass, the access fee is waived, and the per night fee is cut in half.  Had we not gotten a site at Sunset Point, I wouldn’t have minded camping at Willow Creek at all.

Willow Creek Campground, Colorado    Willow Creek Campground, Colorado
Willow Creek Campground, Colorado

Above are three examples of empty sites which one could have picked today.  All long enough for large RVs, and two had some view of the lake.  Please note, there is NO water intake for RVs, only for filling containers for washing dishes, drinking.  There is NO dump station, despite a few Internet Sites which say that there are.  I talked to the camp host asking about a dump station, and he said there has never been a dump station at Willow Creek Campground in Colorado.

Pronghorn Antelope near Granby, Colordado

Yesterday when I went to the library to post the blog and download some music for Marcia, I spotted a bunch of Pronghorn Antelope in a rancher’s field on the way to Granby.  Today, on the way to do laundry, I saw only about six in that same field (there was around twenty yesterday), so after unloading the clean clothes, I went back and got this picture. 

Custom Trailer

This is our new neighbor, I think his name is Mike.  A few years ago he bought this empty cargo trailer, and converted it into a slick camper trailer.  He was (he is just over 70 years old now) a general contractor, and on the inside is the nicest woodwork that I have ever seen in a conversion like this.  He said that it cost him less than $5,000, and took him a week to put the inside together, except for the back shelving which is behind those two back doors…he did that the next year so that he could store everything he needs right in the trailer and not haul things in and out of his truck all the time.  The Kayak is about 10 years old, and he comes up to Lake Granby from the Greely area about six times per year to paddle around the lake.  He said that 10 years ago he could do it all in one day, now he does half one day, cutting across the lake to come back to the campground, and then the next day he starts out the other way and does the same.  Well, today’s winds took its toll on him, and for the first time he had to call for assistance from a local marina to come pick him up.  He started out at 7 am, and by 10 am the wind was blowing so hard it knocked him sidewise for a bit.  Trying to paddle against the wind, he said in 5 minutes he had only traveled about a yard…so he gave up.  Normally the winds don’t pick up until around 2 pm or after…but not today.  He is headed home tomorrow.

Pop Up Trailer

Three times on this trip I have watched people either setting up or tearing down their pop-up tent trailers.  I am convinced that I will NEVER have one of these…it took these folks two hours to break camp yesterday, wow!

Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel, Lake Granby, Colorado
There are a bunch of these little critters running around the park…the Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel.  One day when I was sitting out without my camera, three came very close to me…would have had easy camera shots of them.  Went and got my camera, and now they are camera shy, staying a long way away.  Funny thing, just a few hours before getting this shot, I was over talking to Mike about his trailer and a Golden Eagle was on the same fence, just three posts down from where this critter is sitting.  Of course, I did not have my camera…shucks.  Never been that close to one in the wild before.

Lake Granby, Colorado

It sure seemed like it was going to rain a couple of times yesterday afternoon…but other than a drop or two, it never hit us.

Lake Granby, Colorado

Sure can make for some interesting pictures though…

Lake Granby, Colorado

When we woke up and took the dogs out at 7:30, there were water puddles on the street, and the car and motorhome were covered in water droplets. Funny thing, neither Marcia nor I heard the rain during the night.  Today’s high winds have kept the threat of rain out of the forecast this afternoon…steady winds around 20, gusts hitting 30 mph, according to Mike, with 40-45 gusts up at the passes.  But the temps have been around 74 today for a high, but will dip down to 40 tonight.