Monday, June 19, 2017

Independence Pass, Colorado, Part One

I'm so sorry for my two week absence from blogging.  My new computer took longer to arrive than I anticipated and then I had a problem with being unable to download the Google Picasa editing program, which I have been using for ten years, as Google no longer offers a download of the program. I tried their new Google Photos format and did not like it at all for editing. In my opinion it is much less user friendly than Picasa. After much searching of Google forums I did find a Picasa download I could trust, offered through a third party, so I'm happy to say I'm back in business!

Whenever my husband and I drive west on I-70 we reach a portion of the road where this view of the Rocky Mountains--seen in the photo above--is ahead.  It always reminds me of the John Muir quote: "The mountains are calling, and I must go." At the end of May we heard that Independence Pass had opened for the season, and we decided on the spur of the moment to take a drive there, as we've heard from many people what a beautiful drive over the continental divide it was! Come along for the ride, as I'll take you with me through my photos....and remember, all photos and collages will enlarge when clicked on.

We soon passed through the Eisenhower Memorial Tunnel, The highest vehicular tunnel in the world, at 11,013 feet elevation.

There are steep grades of descent after coming out of the tunnel, which always raise the hair on the back of my neck in terror, so thankfully my husband remains well in control as the driver while I take photos....

,,,,and soon we are passing ski resorts...

...and breathtaking mountain scenery.

We were supposed to enter Independence Pass going west near the town of Leadville, but we made a wrong turn which lead us away in the wrong direction, so instead we decided we would continue west to Glenwood Springs, and then turn back towards Aspen and drive back through Independence Pass going east.

We passed some beautiful and interesting topography along the way. Living in this state makes me wish I had a degree in geology so that I would understand all the different rock formations that I see.

We entered the Glenwood Canyon Area--excuse the glare on the car windshield in this photo.

Driving through the canyon made me feel like I entered the world of J.R.R. Tolkien. High and deep craggy canyon walls surrounded us at times and mesa steps covered with moss and shrubs.

I almost expected to view a Hobbit, or two, waving at me from one of the ledges!

Distinctive reddish sandstone cliffs surround Glenwood Springs

We drove through the town without stopping, and turned east, but we have a trip planned to visit Glenwood Springs later in the year.

Soon we had a beautiful first view of Mt Sopris.

Mt Sopris is a twin-summit mountain in the northwestern Elk Mountain range of the Rocky Mountains. The 12,965 foot (3,952 m) mountain is located in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness of White National Forest.

Soon we entered Aspen. At slightly less than 8,000 feet elevation the snow had almost disappeared from this world renown ski area. 

This view near the town reminded me of a scene from Europe.

We passed through the town...we will definitely return again one day...

,,,and headed east on Highway 82 towards Independence Pass

We passed many magnificent aspen groves along the way, which made it apparent how the town of Aspen had gotten its name.

Highway 82 also passes through the White River National Forest topped with snow capped mountains...

...and even more aspen trees that were in spring bloom.

At certain points the highway narrows down to one lane and reduced speed is required

Cars stop to allow opposite traveling cars pass by.

All the while the views surrounding us are endless!

Highway 82 is twisty curvy but does not feel dangerous. There are pull offs where one can camp, picnic, find restrooms and take hikes. The Grottos Trail is popular and passes a waterfall.

As we continued to drive to higher elevations we began to see snow on the ground, even though this was late May. Because of heavy snowfall in this area Highway 82 is usually closed sometime in October through mid to the end of May.

We saw another 14,000 foot mountain, La Plata Peak ahead. 

When we passed the ruins of an old mill alongside the highway we knew we were approaching the ghost town of Independence.

Please click on photo to enlarge
We pulled off to a parking area to explore this once thriving mining town of 1,500 people and over forty businesses.  

I'll show you what we saw in my next blog post, Part Two of our journey over Independence Pass!

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Saturday, June 3, 2017

Spring Ends, Summer Begins

The end of May was a busy one for our family with end of school festivities for the grandchildren, a holiday weekend trip to another beautiful Colorado destination (future blog post!) and a birthday celebration for my husband. In between it all I discovered my laptop computer screen was broken. It was not cracked, but displaying blank spots and multi colored lines across the screen. In trying to troubleshoot the problem I attached a monitor to my laptop, which worked perfectly, with a clear display. That was a signal that my laptop screen was caput--gone--an expensive repair. So instead of repairing an older laptop I ordered a new one. It seems sadly that the more sophisticated electronics become these days, the less long lasting in durability they seem to be. 

Spring in Colorado is never dull weather wise.  We had a few storms in May that brought snow, and in some areas large damaging hail. Happily, Spring snow melts quickly along the front range. Only the higher elevations stay cold and snow filled longer. I took the photo above with my cell phone, as my husband and I drove north on CO State Highway 470. You can see the famous Red Rocks Amphitheatre in the distance, nestled in the red rocks below the snowy foothill above it. My husband and I attended a concert there recently, to hear Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull perform with the Colorado Symphony.

Spring snow also meant some pretty background scenery as we watched our grandsons play sports this spring. One played soccer and one played flag football and both had a good time. As you can see by the young mother's attire on the sidelines of the soccer field, we can have snow on the hills and still be warm. It's that extra warm Colorado sunshine we have living at over a mile high in elevation!

Spring also lit our sky with many bright rainbows ...

...and brought baby bunnies galore.

May brought apple blossoms... well as the first Columbine flowers in our garden.

The beginning of June now brings hints of summer. The days grow longer and warmer. There will be hikes and barbecues, road trips and swimming, camps and vacations. Much to look forward to, much to enjoy!

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