Motoring Across America

With James "Alex" Alexander

with James "Alex" Alexander


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Blog 151: Duck Race Double Dipping

Salida to Buena Vista
If you like the outdoors, the area in Colorado we have been staying (Salida/Buena Vista) is just about Nirvana: rafting, hiking, paddling, kayaking, hot springing, goat milking, bingoing, mountain viewing, mountain climbing, duck racing, jeep off-roading, ATVing, fly fishing, and more can all be done via the Arkansas River, National Forests, and really big mountains. The people are colorful as well. Here is a pic of a couple of locals who stopped for “breakfast” at the Coyote Cantina, a joint we frequented.

Cantina Cowboys

Duck Race Revenge
Our campground sponsors an annual Memorial Day Duck Race and it is a blast. The rubber ducks navigate a narrow, skinny creek that goes right behind our RV site.

Now, Jan and I are no stranger to duck racing, having been involved in the Calusa Pine Island Duck Race for 15 years. During that time we have bought hundreds of tickets and never won squat. Here at Chalk Creek we both bought one ticket each, and I placed third and Jan won! Yes, young man, persistence does pay off! Here is a shot of Jan the winner and a few more.

Jan the Winner

My Duck

Finish Line

Life Is Sweet

While we were there, Buena Vista hosted its annual PaddleFest.

Paddling Pups
Here are some pics of pups that attended, and one shot of Austie taking his first kayak paddle.

PaddleFest Pup #1

PaddleFest Pup #2

PaddleFest Pup #3

PaddleFest Pup #4

Austie's First Paddle

Hamster Balls
As part of the Paddlefest fundraising, there was a “hamster ball” concession, where kids (or anyone) could step into a plastic bag the size of a huge ziplock, have it blown up with air to form a ball, then be pushed into a pool of water and try to run like a hamster on a treadmill. Here is grandson Austie giving it a try.

Hamster Ball #1

Hamster Ball #2

Move to Crawford
After the Memorial Day crowds had dispersed, on Tuesday we broke camp and motored our way south from Nathan on 285 South, turning west on U.S. 50 at Poncha Springs, stopping at Gunnison for subs, continuing on through the Curecanti National Recreation Area. Instead of following the most direct route, we picked up 92, going west and north along the West Elk Scenic Byway and the east side of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. The mountain roads where as crooked as a politician in an election year. Snowy mountains, gurgling creeks, greening hills, and black and deep canyons bordered our way the last 30 miles until we set up camp at Crawford State Park.



Campsite View

Arrowleaf Arnica #1

Arrowleaf Arnica #2

Scarlet False Mallow

Black Canyon East Side
Late afternoon we drove the dozen miles to the east side of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park where we took a short hike and then drove the park road stopping at overlooks. This is one impressive gorge. We’d been to the west side twice before, but this side is superior--great views and very little traffic.

Gunnison National Park

Black Canyon Hike
Early one morning we drove to the North Rim Ranger station to hike four miles at 7,700 feet on the North Vista Trail, going to Exclamation Point and back. On the way we saw deer and elk. The muddy trail took us through meadows and woods with several vistas overlooking the canyon. We shared the experience with bunnies, chips, meadow larks, magpies, and falcons as we wandered among lupine, larkspur, early paint, cannis, spring beauty, false lupine, and flowering cactus. There were no other humans in sight.


Meadow View

Indian Paintbrush

North Vista Trail

Hike Vista

Hiking Tree

Foxes at Play
On the ride back to camp, we ran across six young foxes playing alongside the road. I was lucky enough to get a few shots of these playful pups as we watched them romp for a couple minutes.


Back to Highline Lake State Park
Two years ago we camp hosted at Highline Lake State Park about 30 miles northwest of Grand Junction, close to the Utah border. While there, we made great friends with our camp host colleagues and wanted to see them again. To get there, we decided to once again take the road less traveled, taking 65 North, the Grand Mesa Skyway.

Grand Mesa #1

Grand Mesa #2

Grand Mesa #3

After setting up camp at Highline, we reminisced over dinner and s’mores over a campfire. The next morning, I hiked the trail around Highline Lake along with my small buddies, Mitzy and Jerry.

Highline Lake Weed

Blooming Catus


Jan’s Old Signs
Here are two old signs that Jan selected and I shot.

Old Sign #1

Old Sign #2

Old Trucks
Here are five old trucks from Colorado.

Old Truck #1

Old Truck #2

Old Truck #3

Old Truck #4

Old Truck #5

See you next week.