Motoring Across America

With James "Alex" Alexander

with James "Alex" Alexander


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Blog 288: Old Trains and Blue Spruce

Chalk Creek to Blue Spruce

On to Vallecito
From our Nathrop campground we headed south on 285 for 80 miles, west on 112 for 31 miles, took 160 west for 99 miles, then 501 for 18 miles, and finally took 500 for 1.8 miles. Lots of up and downs, around and overs, as we herded the coach over some of the most gorgeous terrain in the country. We ended up about 30 miles northeast of Durango, adjoining the San Juan National Forest and the banks of Blue Spruce Lake.

Blue Spruce RV Park
Previously, we had stayed five times in the general area and twice at this RV Park. Yes, we love the area and this park is one of our favorites. Once again, we were at 8,000 feet in this beautifully shaded campground with enough hummingbirds to sound like a drone convention. Along with the hummers there were hundreds of chippers and squirrels, deer galore, and many, many yellow-bellied marmots. Both Vallecitio Lake and nearby Lemon Lake are great places to picnic, stroll, and let the Pups run down by the water.

Flying Hummer

Lake Vallecito

Vallecito Lake View

Wood in the Water

Storm A-Coming

Old Train
One of the most famous attractions in this area is the Durango-Silverton train. The Pups and I dropped Jan and visiting friend, Bert, at the Durango Train Station, and then we drove up to Silverton. Three hours later we picked them up, had a nice lunch, and then drove back to Blue Spruce. The scenery is magnificent and the train ride a must-do.

Train Pulling Out

Train Coming In

Happy Passengers

While touring Silverton, we found some nice views, including this old door.

Silverton View

Old Door in Silverton

One of the very nice things about this area is the abundance of trails within the San Juan National Forest. Just one mile from the campground is the Vallecito Trail, located in the Weminuche inside the San Juan National Forest. Also, several trails are located along Middle Mountain Road that eventually leads to the ghost town of Tuckerville. One day Jack and Mitzy and I drove to the barricade and hiked our way back into the setting where this town once existed.

Wilderness Sign

Tuckerville Road Closed

Old Pot
While picnicking at Lake Lemon, Jan found this treasure of an old pot, which quickly became a flower repository.

Jan's Old Pot

Old Trucks
Here are two old trucks taken in Silverton.

Old Truck 1

Old Truck 2

See you soon.

Travel Blog 267: Mountain Bluebirds and High Meadow Wildflowers

Paria Guest Ranch to Gouldings to Sundance RV to United Campground to Ridgway SP
Monument Valley
From the hot desert of the Paria Guest Ranch we traveled to Goulding Campground in the hot desert of Monument Valley that straddles Northern Arizona and Southern Utah. The location of some famous John Ford Western movies, the dramatic landscape is awe-inspiring in the right light and weather.

Monument Valley Sunrise

Monument Valley
Mesa Verde
After a couple days in Monument Valley, we headed north and east to Sundance RV in Cortez, Colorado. We took some short trips, including a tour of Mesa Verde, a wonderful national park that we had not visited in several years. Here is a shot from the Park plus one of Hunting Jack from a morning stroll.
Hunting Jack

Mesa Verde
From Cortez, we took the short trip east to United Campground in Durango. What makes this campground special is that the famous narrow rail Durango-Silverton train runs right through the center of the place! So every morning and every evening campers walked down to the train track to hear the whistle, smell the smoke, and view the trains chugging along…actually, it is quite addictive!

Durango-Silverton Train
From Durango we made our scenic way to Ridgway State Park, just north of the town of Ridgway and close to the great towns of Ouray and Telluride. This is one of our favorite areas in all of Colorado, and that says a lot.
Our large, wooded campsite was full of birds, and we spent much time viewing their antics. Especially fun to watch was the large number of bluebirds.

Male Mountain Bluebird

Female Mountain Bluebird

Pine Sisken

What Does It Take to Get a Drink Around Here?

White Breasted Nuthatch
Owl Creek Pass Day Trip
We took a wonderful trip up into the mountains to Owl Creek Pass. From there we headed north and east on to Silver Jack Reservoir, especially enjoying the wildflowers--Indian paints, cow parsnip, bull thistle, larkspur, daisies, scarlet gilia, penstemon, goldenweed, elk thistle, hawksbeard, fireweed, and on and on. This is the same trip we took a few years ago where we spotted our first mountain lion.

Owl Creek Pass Wildflowers

Morning Walks
Every morning we took the Pups down to the Ridgway Day Use area along the reservoir. Since there were only a few fishermen up at that hour, we let the Pups run loose. Jack chased everything that moved, including chippers, birds, and grasshoppers. Mitzy strolled along sniffing and peeing as the mood fit her. When she got tired we put her in her buggy and gave her a ride. One morning we saw a red fox, and the next morning we saw two of them together. We watched them jump, box, and chase each other as they played in the morning sun. I did not have a long lens, but I did at least capture the solo fox the first day.

Jumping Jack

Mountain Jack

Racing Jack

Run Jack Run

Brindle Pup

Jogging Mitzy

Smiling Madeline

Ridgway Fox
In the town of Ridgway there was a really cool mural and a really neat old truck at the train museum. Just a wonderful area.

Ridgway Mural

Old US Mail Train Truck
See you soon.