Monday, August 19, 2013

Westcliff, CO

We met Lloyd and Joyce for lunch in Westcliff.  The drive there along the Arkansas River was very scenic but there weren't good placed to stop for photos.

Lloyd letting Parker finish off a strawberry ice cream cone.

Lloyd, Joyce, and Parker headed home to Buena Vista but Galen and I stayed at a B&B.  We explored the charming downtown after an excellent dinner at the Feed Store and found the former jail.  There was room inside for only two inmates.  We went window shopping and just for kicks checked out the real estate offerings in the area.  We can't even afford the land!  The prices of many homes matched or exceeded the million dollar views of the mountains.

Hooper Pond

There is a lovely pond across the road from the pool where we like to take evening walks.  The pond is chuck full of frogs that sound like squeaky toys when we walk by and disturb them.

This cute little guy is trying to hide from us so we didn't tell him we could see him.  :-)

Mama and baby ducks.  They have grown a lot just since we arrived.

I shot this photo of a black crowned night heron from too far away to get a good photo but you can get the general idea.

San Luis SP to Hooper Hot Springs Pool

One last sky shot from our site at San Luis SP.

The fires in late June really hurt tourism in the San Luis Valley this summer.  Most nights we'd have only a couple of campers in the park and it was getting too hard to find things enough things to do to get in our 20 hours a week so we moved to a small RV park at the hot springs pool in Hooper.  The cabin isn't finished yet so we need to stick around a few more weeks.  No complaints though.  It is quite nice to walk over to the pool whenever we like.

Pretty flower

The size of the sites is a lot smaller here but many of the sites are empty except on weekends.  We are the only ones here today.

That little oasis of trees on the right of the photo is a more distant view of our present home.  Not too shabby, huh?

Cumbres & Toltec - On the way back

This is the train we were on headed on to Chama.  We didn't get a photo of the station at Osier where a whole lot of people were efficiently fed a very nice lunch.  After lunch we boarded the train going back to Antonito.  We had assigned seats on the way to Osier but the train back was less crowded so we sat where we liked.  We sat on the other side of the train and saw all the scenery we missed on the way up.

Placed at the edge of the Gorge in memory of President Garfield.
An extinct volcano.

This 600' deep gorge was cut by a river.  This is some of the oldest exposed rock on earth.

People were free to move about the train after tickets were punched and many opted to ride in the open car where they could unobstructed views if they were tall or in the front row.

This section of track goes along the gorge.

Way back when, this is where the guys who maintained the track lived and maintained the tracks for 5-10 miles in each direction.  They shoveled snow off the tracks in winter and repaired tracks in summer.  This was and still is a very long way from any kind of town.  A decision was made to just let the buildings fall down but Friends of the Cumbres & Toltec have maintained them so we could enjoy them today.  We stopped here briefly on the way up the mountain to get more water for the engine.  

Cumbres & Toltec - Scenery

This has got to be a drop dead gorgeous trip in the fall after the many, many aspen trees have turned.  I took many, many photos of aspens but will just share this one.

I wish I knew more about geology so I could appreciate these rock formations even more.

This section of track is called the Whiplash.  It gets pretty steep right here so there is a three layer switchback to keep the steel wheels of the train from sliding.

The first tunnel.

The second tunnel.

It got pitch black inside both tunnels.  Galen used a flash to get this shot that shows how close those tunnel walls are to the train.  There were a number of places along the way where it was very wise to keep arms, heads, and cameras inside the train!

Cumbres and Toltec - Antonito

Instead of gifts for our 47th anniversary, we decided to take the Cumbres & Toltec train from Antonito to Osier, have lunch, and take the other train back to Antonito instead of going all the way to Chama and taking the bus home.

Close up of the steam engine.

Karen in need of a haircut.

And we are off!