7. Utah, Nevada, California & Colorado…May/June/July.2018

Day 45 7.4  Happy 4th of July!
For a person who really really really loves fireworks, I wont be seeing any tonight.  Most years when Im here for the 4th, they dont have fireworksbut one time they gave out glow sticks!  The fires here in Colorado are horrible & have burned thousands of acres & hundreds of homes.  Theres been a burn ban on for weeksso no campfires, but I can use my backpacking stove to cook with.

I was in town early, grabbing a good parking space, placed my chair for the parade, & grabbed coffee from Rumors.  Its a beautiful cool morning & town was hopping.  The runners that take part in the 1/3 marathon from Gothic were starting to come up Elk AveCBs main street, almost done with the race.  I ran this race about 4 years ago & thought I was going to throw up by the time I reached the finish line.  This year I felt great as everyone else crossed the finish line!  I walked & bought ice & talked to Danny on the phone, who is back at home from his time at the lake.

At 11:00 the parade startedI love this parade.  Its so unique & quirky & fun…a perfect reflection of the town.  Here’s some pics of this funky celebration!

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So, next up is a super duper wonderful kind of trip magic!  For some years, I’ve been following a travel blogger named Sherry Ott of Otts World Travel & Life Experiences.  She’s a international traveler & I love her writing, her honesty, her fun loving way of seeing the world.  She moved to Denver last fall & I had messaged her that I’d love to meet up for a beer or a drink sometime when we’d both be in Denver.  Then last week she posted that her & a couple of friends would be traveling around exploring Colorado.  I messaged her & said if she was anywhere near CB, I’d love to meet her.  She messaged right back that that’s where they were heading.  

Today, she invited me to join them for lunch in town & wow!  I was so excited.  She’s so much fun to talk to & so are her friends.  I was pretty starstruck! (Could my smile be any bigger?)

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After my ‘fan’ experience, I walked across the road to the Brick & had another WWS.  Dan, one of the owners came out after a bit & visited with me.  We caught up & he invited me back to have a beer with him when the town calmed down after the holiday.  He also eased my guilty conscious of drinking three World Wide Stouts in the 6 day’s I’ve been here, telling me the keg was almost empty.

Then, I headed out to the Lower Loop trail that takes me down by the Slate River.  I really miss my old camping spot, but the current new one is so much more private, less nerve racking & will work for when Jill’s brings out her travel trailer.  The hike to the river was so quiet.  It’s close to town & is usually kind of busy.  I suspect everyone was napping this afternoon.  Once down at the river (there was one other family there) we all spotted a really big beaver which kept us entertained for quite awhile!


After my hike, I headed up the road to Mt. Crested Butte for a free concert.  I got there for the end of one band & the beginning of the next one.  The crowd is really different up here from the concert crowd in town, but I liked the music & watching all the kids play on the side of the mountain.

As the sun set & night began to cool down & it was time for me to head back to camp.  As I end most nights, I talked to Danny on the phone, turned on my twinkly lights & read.

Day 46 7.5  
There are two hikes right up the rugged road from me & I always hike them once by myself, once with Jill & once with Danny.  This morning as I was putting on my hikers to drive up the road, I got a text from Sherry Ott.  The three of them had decided to hike the same hike & she was wondering if their rental car could make it up the road.  I hadn’t been on the road yet this year, but it’s always in bad shape & I don’t particularly love driving it. (But, as stated earlier, I drive it a few times each year anyway.) I told them I wasn’t sure, but offered to take them up to the trailhead, if they wanted to park at my campsite & squish in my 4Runner (I have no back seats in it when I travel.) They said yes & would be out in about 45 minutes.  In the meantime, I got to FT with Claire & read her more books.  I’ve been to the library since our last FT, so I have a new selection.  Then I cleaned out my front seat & floor, storing some of my stuff in the tent.  They were easy going with two people being squished in the back & Michael up front.  

We had a wonderful hike up the 403 to the viewpoint.  It was so great hiking with these three:  telling them all about the mountains, the trails, the scenic drives (you know it’s my favorite subject) & listening to their stories, talking about gear, about travel life & just visiting.  For me, it was Trip Magic on steroids!!!

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While not near as many flowers were blooming as there normally are, we still got to see some along the trail.

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And, I never get tired of seeing these views & I know they enjoyed them too!


After the hike, we went back to my camp & chatted for a few more minutes.  It had rained on us a little bit (more like a slush than rain) & no one knew what the skies were going to do.  They’re here for another day & I hope they love all that they do, eat, drink & see here.  It was super special to get to know them all a little bit & I’m so glad I got to hike with them in my awesome home away from home!


Sherry Ott of Otts World

After they left, I moved the stuff out of my tent & back into my car & drove to town.  I managed to get lunch from Momo’s which is soooo delicious & cheap.  I talked to Jill the whole time I ate, as she follows Sherry Ott too & I wanted to tell her all about it.  She would have loved to have been here too!  She was on her way back from picking up her trailer & will be soon be packing it up & join me out here on the 13th.

Now I’m at the library, working on the site, & getting power back in all my chargers & trying to convince myself not to go to the Brick for a beer.  It looks like the sun is back out.

Day 47 7.6  
I was in town early & grabbed a coffee at Rumors, a bag of ice from the hardware store then I was off to one of my most favorite hikesScarp Ridge!  I knew I had to find parking early since two years ago the rich conglomerate monster of the town (my opinion) cut off all the parking (yes, it is on their property, but its an old lodge that isnt in business anymoreso much for communityerrrrr!)  This hike always kicks my butt & has me sounding like a freight train as I climb the 1,800 to the topbut I LOVE it!  The views are incredible & I just sat at the top for the longest time!  A couple of couples showed up, asked if Id take their photo, then hiked back down.  I love this place.  I was even able to Face time Danny from the topIm sure he & I will hike this fantastic trail again when he comes out at the end of the month.

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As I descended, I took the trail on the left to hike the loop.  It’s a fabulous hike that goes right along the ridge with great views down into Peeler Basin.  Danny & I have hiked down there before…a hike to remember since the way we got into the basin from the bottom was one of the scariest hikes I’ve ever done.  Off trail…through waterfalls…rock climbing…it’s the only time I thought I might have to press the ‘red button’ on my SPOT GPS finder.  While I’d love to hike through Peeler basin again, I’d never go into it the way we did before.


Then the trail splits, & I took the downward trail towards the trailhead through some beautiful wildflowers.  On the way down, you get great views of Irwin Lake & the Elk mountains in the background.


As I was headed down, I stepped off the trail for a couple hiking up.  As the woman passed me she said, “We met you at the concert the other night”.  I remembered that Kent had introduced us, so I said, “Your friends of Kent”.  The guy, Michael, is Kent’s brother & the woman was his wife Carol.  We chatted for about 20 minutes right there on the trail.  I love these conversations!  They  live part time in San Francisco & part time here.  Michael still works part time.  We talked about Kent’s big trip he was now on, & all of our mutual love of Crested Butte.  I left them smiling, happy as always to meet new people in this wonderful town I love so much.

Once back at the car I drove into town & got a To-Go-Mo at Momos…yum yum!  I stayed in town just enjoying people watching them went into Third Bowl which has the best ice cream in the state!  It took me awhile to eat my small portion, but eventually I ended up to the Brick…& then things got a little bit crazy.  I sat at the wonderful outdoor bar, but a few minutes after I ordered a beer & old guy sat down next to me right on the corner of the bar.  On the other side of him, were three locals that were friends with Angela, the bartender.  The guy, Richard, was in town for three days from Moab.  He looked ‘rode hard & put up wet’ as the old time saying goes & was a bit inappropriate with his dialogue.  I brushed it off, since I was surrounded by people, but was nice to him & visited with him anyway.  He soon told me, & the other three local women, that he’d come to CB to avoid the Gay Pride events going on in Moab this weekend.  Oh Boy…he was talking to the wrong group of people & had come to the wrong town.  CB is an open minded town…welcoming to everyone.  I was just listening at this point, when one of the women took special interest in Richard & moved closer to him.  Long story made shorter, his daughter was gay.  The local visited with him, patiently, asking him questions, he continued to drink more & more, she convinced him to order some food, he offered me 1/2, I declined…it was an interesting afternoon.  She leaned across the bar & asked me my opinion…I said LOVE is good no matter what race or gender.

Her name was Tracy.  We eventually just let Richard drink, & her & I became fast friends.  It turns out her & her husband own the liquor store up on the mountain.  She gave both Richard & I a token for a free 6 pack of beer.  I asked her how she felt about the Vail takeover of the mountain & a wonderful conversation ensued.  Then her husband, Justin showed up & I was introduced to him.  Tracy & Justin told me all about their recent travels to France with their two children & encouraged me to travel abroad (I don’t need encouragement…I need the money!)  Then as Tracy took Richard back under her wing, Justin & I had a great conversation about Crested Butte.  It turned out to be a lovely evening, even though I was hoping not to run into Richard a second time,  when I left Tracy hugged me & said she’d love to go hiking or traveling with me sometime!  Yay!  I so love the people of Crested Butte!

I left with a big dopey smile on my face, glad to have met new friends, & headed back to camp to tuck in for the night.

Day 48 7.7  
I spent the morning in camp being lazyI have not been sleeping well at night, so mornings feel difficult.  I decided to hike the Meander trail todayeasy & short since I was pretty tired.  But the trail meanders above the East River ValleyI love these views & these mountains!


There is one mountain that is always calling to me.  I know nothing about it, but everytime I see the valley in between these two mountains, I want to explore it.  There arent any trails up into this valley…at least not on any of my maps, but EVERY SINGLE TIME, I see it, I wonder what’s up that valley.  Today, was no exception.

Here’s the zoomed in photo of this valley.  When am I going to explore this?????


For lunch I went the The Steep.  I’d stopped in the other day, but they were packed.  The Steep is owned by a couple of KC brothers & we’ve made friends over the years.   Today I scored my fave spot outside at the corner bar, with a view onto the busy Elk Ave…the main street of CB. I ordered the Ryder Burger...a big huge (too big really) burger with cream cheese, roasted pineapple & jalapeño peppers & fries.  I took 1/2 my burger to go & headed towards another trail.

I was hiking the Brush Creek trail but for some reason I always call it Ditch Road.  I can’t even remember why I started calling it that.  The trail follows an old jeep road on the other side of the East River Valley….I thought I’d combine both trails today that follow the river.  But I hadn’t gotten more than 1/2 mile, before huge black storm clouds were rolling in from the south over the mountains.  I sat down in the middle of trail taking about 50 photos trying to catch the lightening, but never could capture it.  Finally the storm was getting close enough, I thought it was a good idea to head back to my car.   I pulled my car around, backed in so I could face the storm; ate the other 1/2 of my burger as the skies grew dark & stormy!

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I went back to the Brick for a beer.  I sat at the indoor bar since now it was raining outside & had a nice conversation with a couple visiting from New Jersey.  Then I headed back to camp under rainy skies, tucked into the 4Runner & read a book.  It continued to rain into the night.

Day 49 7.8  
I made coffee in camp then proceeded to tear my car apart looking for my oh-so-loved bamboo reading glasses.  I never found them!  UGH!  I headed into town to the Paradise Cafe…my fave place for breakfast.  The owner greeted me sweetly with a nice, “glad to have you back!”…breakfast was delicious!

I drove back out to Ditch Road to complete the hike I’d been turned around on yesterday.  You can see the big mountain, Teocalli, peeking up above the hills.





The flies were wicked along this hike though.  When a fly bites me, I get great big welts.  This made a lot of the hike not too enjoyable.  Also, the fly bites just make me itch all over…I really have no tolerance for the pesky little insects.  I came off the trail, kind of annoyed & welted (is that a word?).

I drove back out to camp & then it started to rain…& then it started to hail.  I love watching these storms from inside the 4Runner…so much better than being in a tent.  But I was still itching.  After the storm, I drove back into the town & went to the Hostel & bought a shower…I had to get this fly juice off me!  I scrubbed & scrubbed & was wonderfully clean!  

I drove to Bonez, a yummy mexican restaurant that has a fabulous happy hour.  I had 4 minutes to spare when I ordered a yummy margarita & white cheese dip.  After my dinner, I had a FT call with Claire which lasted about 45 minutes & I loved every second of it!  I headed back to camp, read more, slept for a couple of hours & then tossed & turned for several more…sleep was just not coming for the 4th night!

Day 50 7.9  
Wow…50 days on the road!  While I certainly miss Danny & I miss my cats, I could so live on the road forever!  I know I don’t miss being in Kansas…& the 90-100 degree temps don’t really have anything to do with it.  But, lets move on….

I got to start the morning FT with Claire.  I dont have great service where my 4Runner is parked in camp, but down the road its pretty good.  So, when she called, I grabbed some of the books I brought & some I’ve checked out from library & walked down the road to find a decent rock to sit on & read to this precious little girl. 

Then I headed out to Gothic Roadall the way to the top where it had been closed.  The snow plug takes its time to melt every year (it never melted out last year while I was here), & I had thought it was still blocking the road.  But as I parked & about 10 cars passed me continuing on the road, I guessed it was open.  But, this road…formerly referred to as the ’scary road’ I like to hike so I can see what shape it’s in before I drive it (yes, I’m a road-wuss).  

The road leads to several really awesome hikes & some of those are on my list for later.  So, I walked the road as cars continued to pass me.  I soon came upon Emerald Lake which is always beautiful! 

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I kept walking along the road, until I reached Schofield Pass.


Then I turned off & hiked up & up & up the forested 401 trail until I got to the magnificent viewpoint!  Just breathtaking!  I’m hoping Jill & I can do this trail when she comes out…she’s not gotten to hike this trail or see this awesome view & I know she’d love it!

Then I headed back down the way I’d come, until I got back near the lake.  There’s a steep cut off trail you can take that takes you right down to the lake.  When the lake water is low, as it is this year, there’s a road you can drive around the lake.  I walked that back around the lake & was thankful I did…the wildflowers were spectacular!

Then it was time to walk the road again & it actually looks in pretty good shape.  It doesn’t mean I still won’t be a little anxious when I drive it…you just hope you don’t meet another car & be the guy that has to back up! (It’s a big big drop off if you go off the edge!)

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The next trail I took was just down the road…it’s a super popular hike…all uphill to Judd Falls.  

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I headed back to town, stopped at the library for more books for Claire & another one for myself & then to the Brick for a sandwich & a beer.  It was Monday night, so there is a free concert in the park.  I walked the several blocks to the park & found myself a seat on the bleachers…& ended up right next to Michael & Carol!  That was great & we chatted during most of the concert.  The music was too mellow for this group, but we enjoyed watching the two little kids dance anyway!

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We visited & found out the things we have in common…huge Toyota fans & both interested in Sprinter-type campers.  They were so much fun to visit with & invited me to sit with them at the concert next Monday!    I headed back to camp & spent the night reading….& not sleeping much.  My body is pretty good at adapting to little sleep…it’s had a lot of practice over the years.

Day 51 7.10  
I started the morning catching up with my Mother in Law, who is doing well.  Then I drove up to Snodgrass Trailhead & started my days hike. Snodgrass is a super popular trail for both hikers & mountain bikers…unless you take the cutoff up the mountain road, which is the way I like to go.  It’s also the way the horse rides go for awhile.  It was mid morning, so I had a couple of trail groups pass me coming down.  The flies were bad at the beginning of this trail so I was swatting like crazy, determined not to cover my pretty-clean body in bug dope.  But once past the turn around point for the horses, which is about 1/2 way up, there is never anyoneno other bikers or hikers.  Last year I lost a pendant while hiking this trailcame back the next day & hiked it all over again looking down the whole hike for this special piece of Crested Butte-made jewelry Danny had given me …but never found it.  So, as I hiked this year, I couldn’t help but look down hoping by some miracle it would surface; I also fingered the replacement he lovingly bought me about 100 times, determined not to lose this second one.

It’s a 3+ mile hike to the top which has kind of closed in views.  But, the view is still pretty awesome…with the tip of one of the Maroon Bells at the top & the tiny town of Gothic far below.

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I have also seen foxes along this trail, but didn’t spot any today.  It’s so strange though, there is one place along this trail that I always get the heebie-jeebies…don’t know why, but it always happens.  I just keep going, but it happened again today.  There is one other trail here in CB that I hike that really creeps me out on about 1/2 mile section…I figure the only thing to do is to keep going & try to ignore the crazy feeling…it’s just a weird thing!

On the hike down, there is a cut off you can take that takes you along the popular mountain bike trail.  I took this just for something different & forget about the ups & down of this section (if you take the road it just goes down all the way!)  The trail ends with beautiful views of the East River Valley.  Today shadows were dancing across the mountains!

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I drove back to camp & watched as the late afternoon storms rolled in.

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My camp neighbors, Jerud & Ching came over for a while & we visited under the screen tent until it started raining harder.  They invited me back to their sweet & huge & really cool decorated RV & we chatted about travels in the warm dry space that is their home while the rain continued to fall outside.  

I left after about 45 minutes & tucked myself in my sweet little home-away-from-home & read until late into the night.

Day 52 7.11  
I drove into Paradise Cafe & ordered a combo plate…my favorite Virginia pancake, two eggs & bacon & ate it all…I would soon be sorry I did.  I visited with Rachel, one of the servers, who had greeted me with a big smile & a “Welcome Back!”  Have I mentioned I love this town & it’s people???

After my breakfast, I drove south of town to the trail called, Whetstone Vista.  I’d been on this several years ago & had recently read about it, but obviously didn’t retain the necessary info I needed.  Once on the short trail, my stomach began to protest.  I kept hiking.  I was supposed to run into an intersection after a mile, but at 1.5 miles I hadn’t found it.  In the meantime, my stomach was killing me.  I won’t get into detail about my eating issues, but my stomach was ruling the roost today & it was very unhappy.  I finally turned around, not finding the connecting trail to the loop & headed back down to the car. (No Vista pictures!)

I kept driving south until I got to Gunnison, went to the Rec Center & showered.  Yes, I know, it’s the second time this week (as Danny pointed out)…wow!  that’s a lot for me! I went to the grocery store, filled up with gas, ran a couple more errands.  Then headed back towards dark skies to Crested Butte. 

I was wearing my grinch green shorts..these are my desperation shorts.which means it’s laundry day!  The high point was getting to talk to Sara while I was there.  After it was all washed, I headed out to a sunny camp!  I strung my clothes line & hung the clothes to dry, drank a beer & read & loved this beautiful afternoon!

Day 53 7.12  
When I woke up at 2:30am, one of the things that popped into my crazy head, was that I had left my laundry bag at the laundromat…idiot me!  So this morning, I took off early, hoping I’d find it there when they opened at 8am.  Yay!  Someone had folded it neatly & laid it on the table.  I went to Rumors, got a coffee & tried a donut from the new donut place in town.  It was pretty bad & I ended up throwing most of it away.  I headed out of town up Kebler Pass 12 miles to the Horse Ranch Park trailhead.  This is a sweet little trail to a really pretty viewpoint.  The best thing about this trail is that it winds through the largest contigous aspen forest in the country….it’s such a lovely little hike!

It was noisy as I started out on the trail…horses & sheep!  This is sheep herding country & cow country & horse country!  I had a group of riders pass me early on the trail, but I love to watch these beautiful animals as they pass by!


The trail goes through the forest & up the mountain.  You pass beautiful meadows with big views along the way & so much wonderful forest!



There’s a big pile of rocks that is the ‘viewpoint’ for this trail & you can climb it & see for miles!  I sat there a long time, trying to figure out where the trail when after this point & all the landmarks I could see…some of which I’d hiked & some I hadn’t.  After about 40 minutes, I climbed back down to the trail & a woman was headed down the trail.  I stopped her & asked her where it went.  We had a wonderful conversation for about 20 minutes.  She was one of the people brought in to teach for the Wildflower Festival that’s currently going on in CB.  We talked about trails & traded trail info.  I would love to hike with her someday…she carries cocktails with her on some of her hikes!

There were lots of wildflowers along the trail too!

I drove back into town under darkening clouds, went to the Brick for a burger & beer as it poured down rain outside.  I stayed in town for awhile dealing with some medical stuff for Danny’s mom, talking to her & getting to FT with Claire & Emma.  I made a quick run into the library to turn in a book & find a new one.  

Then I headed back out to camp to find sunny skies!  I washed dishes then dived into the screen tent to avoid be eaten alive by some hungry flies.  I sat & read in my fly-free zone & texted back & forth with Danny.  As evening fell, I drank a beer, then finally headed to my 4Runner.  I’ve been working on the website as it’s begun to rain outside & the skies have grown black…no stars right now.

I’m super excited for tomorrow as it’s the day Jill arrives!

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