Click on picture to read Chaco's poems

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Garden of the Gods


We now no longer camp as for a night, but have settled down on earth and forgotten heaven. ~Henry David Thoreau

Today we stayed in Colorado City so we could visit Garden of the Gods Park. It is a free city park and has many unique rock formations, hoodoos and balance rocks. We wanted to go up to Pikes Peak but the road is closed at 12000 feet due to high snow drifts. We also checked on the Cog Train and it was only running up to 12000 feet for the same reason. We decided that it was no use going unless the summit was open so we settled on Garden of the Gods Park for today. The park has an great trading post and visitors center and alot of the trails are paved to make it more accessible for many people. As much as I despise the hords of littering, loud and annoying tourists and their young primate offspring that don't know how to act in public, never mind refusing to stay on the marked trails and trample all the surrounding vegetation making the paved pathways even more of an eyesore, I understand that these place belong to everyone and I guess must accomodate even these hords of locusts swarming in every season to spend their money! Its getting harder and harder to find truly wild natural places anymore. Oh to have lived 100 years ago! Anyways....we did manage to see some spectacular scenery of red rock landscapes with snow covered Pike's Peak in the background within a 15 minute drive of downtown Colorado Springs. Tomorrow its on to Canyon City to see  the Royal Gorge bridge and I am sure....more tourists! And to think we visit these places in the off season.....I would jump off the Royal Gorge Bridge if I had to come here in the summer.

Pikes peak in the background

Rock Climbers

Aboriginal didjeridu player

ChocSox with Spires in background

Toesox & Pikes Peak in Siamese Twins Window

Chaco with one Siamese Twin Tower


Whatta view......mountains nice too!

Toesox and a little boy try to balance a rock!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Rocky Mountain National Park

Some national parks have long waiting lists for camping reservations. When you have to wait a year to sleep next to a tree, something is wrong. ~George Carlin

We just got into Colorado Springs, Colorado after spending a day and a night in Rocky Mountain National Park. The park is beyond description, 14000 foot peaks all around you, covered in 20 feet (yes thats FEET) of snow with hurricane force winds whipping spindrift off the tops and 100 foot Ponderosa Pine forests, rivers, streams, ponds and lakes. The park has all the wildlife....Bighorn Sheep, Elk, Bear, Mountain Lion and Mule Deer, Beaver, Pikas and Chimpmonks. Black and white magpies and bright blue Stellar Jays everywhere! When we first got there we drove up as high as was allowed because most the roads in the highcountry are closed all winter dues to heavy snows. We drove up to Bear Lake and took a short hike but we did not have snowshoes, so going very far was out of the question. The sights were still out of this world and we soon drove back down to lower elevations, made camp and packed some gear to go out on a day hike. In this country even a day hike requires you to bring the 10 Essentials (map, compass, first aid, extra clothes, rain gear, shelter, hat/gloves, sunscreen, food and water). You never know what can happen in remote areas like this and a simple twisted ankle or wrong turn and you could be facing a night or two in the woods. Forget the stuff they show in those fake survival shows, going into the backcountry without proper gear and knowledge is inexcusable. I would not like to have to face a rescue team coming in to retrieve my butt and them seeing that I didnt even have the sense to bring a warm jacket or water! This kind of thing happens all the time and those idiots should have to pay for their own rescue costs! We hiked the Cub Lake trail but did not reach the lake because we started too late and it was tough going, not being acclimated to the 9000 foot elevations. We decided to turn around and make it out of the woods before it got dark. That was a good plan because we did not  know at that time that 50-60 MPH winds would be ripping through our camp that night. When we got back to camp we made a quick dinner and were soon safe and snug in our trusty winter tent and warm down sleeping bags. We had trouble sleeping at first I think due to the elevation as we were sure tired enough after our hike, but the moon was full and it never really got dark. With the moonlight and the deep bright snow you could have walked into the surrounding woods without even a headlamp! Soon the winds starting picking up and the tall Ponderosa pines were soon swaying back and forth about 10-15 feet I would guess and the noise it made in the trees and on our tent made it hard to fall alseep. The winds kept building all night and in the morning we found our camp chairs were not where we left them and the covers for them were never found! Our trusty little REI winter tent is made for this kind of weather and it was rock solid the whole night and had seen this kind of wind before in Guadalupe National park in far west Texas. I felt sorry for anyone else camping that night with a Walmart tent. When we packed up camp and headed down the mountain into Estes Park this morning we noticed a guy in one of those "pop up" trailer tents trying to anchor the whole thing to the ground with a huge rope and some stakes! We stopped at the Visitor's Center on the way out to buy some postcards and a sticker for our cartop box and the lady Ranger told me that the Bear Lake area where we were yesterday recieved 37 inches of fresh snow last night and the winds up there were even worse. RIght now we are in Colorado Springs and just found out that Pikes Peak's summiit that we hoped to go up to tomorrow is closed at 13000 feet due to blowing snow and avalanches. Now we are trying to come up with Plan B.

Toesox looking out to 14000FT Long Peak

Elk in the Moraine Meadow

Toesox at one of the beaver ponds

Camp cook...."Death from Within"

Toesox heading for the Continental Divide

Farkus guarding camp in bear country

Bear Scat and Ponderosa Pine Tea!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Devil's Tower

This morning we left Wall, South Dakota after spending two days there waiting on getting Farus the Focus a new battery and alternator. We headed for Casper, Wyoming but stopped to hike and check out Devil's Tower 30 miles north of Sundance, Wyoming. You might remember Devil's Tower from the old Steven Speilberg movie "Encounters of the Third Kind". Actually it is the country's first national monument, a climbing haven for rock climbers and still sacred to the local Indian Tribes. Right now we are in Casper for the night and plan to bike the Platte River Trailway tomorrow before heading to Cheyenne and then into Colorado.

Interesting legend of the Devils' Tower

Toesocks getting ready to hike!

One  of  many deer we saw up close

Yes this one could be Bambi

Big BLUE Sky Country!

Farkus waves goodbye

Friday, March 26, 2010

Rushmore and Badlands

The Pigtail Bridges near Rushmore are a real engineering marvel and were fun to drive over as they loop over back under themselves.

This Mountain Goat was just wandering around at the visitor's center. We arrived late and didn't have to pay to get in. There were still several people at the monument and one gift shop was still open and we bought a few postcards.

Carhenge and other sightings along the Gypsy Road

We stopped in Nebraska when we spotted this neat roadside display in the middle of a cornfield. It reminded us of Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas.

 Nebraska Rest Area

Wind Cave National Park

Some wildlife along the way and a mountain lion track

Stuck in Wall South Dakota

Time to catch up this blog, we are now stuck in Wall, South Dakota waiting on an alternator for the Focus (Farkus). We made it to Badlands National Park yesterday with plans to camp out and hike as much as possible for a day or two. The Badlands are amazing with all the colors of Arizonia's Painted Desert but even more brilliant, if that is possible. We stopped at all the viewpoints along the road through the park on the way to the visitor's center and saw thousands of black-tailed prairie dogs, some even have their burrows right next to the roadway. This is the only place in the world where they have reintroduced the black-footed ferret that was all but wiped out in the 70's from dog distemper, habitat loss and reduction in prairie dog numbers. The ferret preys on the prairie dogs and actually take over their burrows for a place to live. It would of been very lucky of us to spot a black-footed ferret and we never did get a chance. We also saw lots of mule deer, some bedded down right in the prairie grass alogside the road! Right as we puled into the visitor's center the car died and would not restart! After I let it sit awhile it did start back up but died before driving fifty feet. We did manage to get towed into Wall and dropped the car off at a small repair shop and the owner was good enough to stay open until we got there. After testing the battery and alternator he confirmed what I already knew...both were bad! Luckily there was a small 35 dollar motel just a block away and here we still sit waiting on an alternator to arrive.  This is a very small town and they have to ship parts in daily as needed, so we should be fixed back up and road ready by tomorrow morning. I am also having problems with this blog posting properly and Sheila has no cell service wayout here. I will try to post some pictures and catch up the places we have seen so far.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Gypsy Tribe ChocSox Spotted in Ogallala!

Well yes we woke up the other day and decided that since we had to leave the InTown Suites motel we we staying in, that we should make good our escape from Dallas, at least for a short time! We left Dallas it only yesterday...and drove to Wachita Kansas. This morning we left Washita and headed north again and now find ourselves in Ogallala Nebraska! It has been almost 900 miles of mind numbing rangy cattle and grey fields of corn stubble with nothing along the way to even consider taking a picture of. We have spotted many turkey, prairie hawks and even a bald eagle soaring above the barren plains looking fo anything to kill and eat! Our plan when we left was no plan at all, just drive. Now we have formed a plan along these lines but anything including the changing weather and dropping temps could change it to Rapid City, South Dakota and see Mount Rushmore, Badlands and Wind Cave National Parks, then head west and south through Wyoming into Colorado and see Pikes Peak, The River Gorge Bridge and as many others things to see as possible before returning to Dallas for Sheila's doctor appointment on the 7th of April. Hopfully we will have some pics and stories worth sharing on theis blog as the ttrip continues...stay tuned!

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Painted Desert

“To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.” – Bill Bryson

Last night we backpacked into the Painted Desert Wilderness north of the Petrified Forest National Park and camped out in what they call The Badlands. We had the entire wilderness area to ourselves as there were no others taking out backcountry permits at the Ranger Station yesterday. I carried and extra two gallons of water in a big jug just in case tthe 4 liters we had in our hiking bottles was not enough. The weather was cool up on the rim but I was afraid that once we hiked down into the winding canyons we would need all we could carry. There are no water sources out there in that section of desert. When we got down into the badlands the winds were still blowing about 40 miles per hour and it was still cool so we first looked for a place to basecamp and where I could drop the extra 16 pounds of water! I would have liked to camp up on a bluff but the winds had us looking for a tentsite lower down out of the wind if possible. We finally found a place in asome little sand dunes that gave us some protection from the winds but it meant camping in a a very sandy area and we knew everything would soon be covered with sand. Soon we had our tent pitched and started hiking in the surrounding bluffs and canyons exploring old dams and the many areas with huge trunks of petrified wood. The colors of the surounding rocks due to the different minerals gave the desert its name..The Painted Desert. We hiked untill we were tired, returned to ur base camp and ate a few Cliff Bars, out only food for the trip. After a little break we headed out again and explored in a different direction. That night the temps dipped into the 30's and our tent was covered in frost as we woke in the morning. It had been a great day in the desert and the stars that night were amasing in their brightness and quanity. Living around city lights you soon forget how truly plentiful and brilliant they really are!