September 09, On the Road Again...


We finally left Houston on August 26. Saying "goodbye" to great-grandbaby Jonny was not easy. We miss him a lot. Glad we will be back in Houston in late December.


Margie & Jonny almost 6 months

Riley & Jonny


Jonny trying to stand

Sitting alone--Riley's not touching, just guarding

On leaving Houston, we spent several days in Austin with Richard and Beverly. Lloyd and Ferrell were vacationing in the Ozarks, but we did get to see them the last morning we were there. Weather in Austin was hot, hot, hot--over 100 degrees! Rather than walking at the lake or the sewer ponds, we walked with Richard at his local mall where it was air-conditioned. Yea! While visiting with Leslie, she introduced us to "Icy Blue," a blue stuffed monster toy that we will be carrying with us as we make our way to Seattle and back. He'll be sending reports to Leslie's class about his travels. You'll see him in various pictures--he likes the camera.


Riley, Margie, "Icy Blue" and Leslie

Richard, Beverly, Margie & Riley

We stopped in Llano to visit my Uncle Bobby and Aunt Eileen. They had just moved into a new assisted living apartment and didn't have a phone, so we just dropped in. They were happy to see us. It is a nice place that provides them with meals as well as laundry and maid service. I think it will be a big help to them as both are getting somewhat frail. Uncle Bobby still does some limited driving--very short distances. We had planned to stop in San Saba, but Sharon and Doug were in San Marcos that day visiting his sister, so we kept on traveling and spent the night at the San Angelo State Park.


San Angelo State Park--Icy Blue in tree; reservoir in back

Wind farm north of San Angelo

We decided to forgo the Black Hills this year and visit Colorado instead. As we came through the northeastern corner of New Mexico, we stopped by the Capulin Volcano National Monument. We've driven by it several times before, but never stopped. There is a road going up to the top of the crater, and a hiking path down into the crater and one around the crater rim. I was having some difficulty breathing so we didn't do much hiking. I keep hoping I will acclimate to elevation, but it hasn't happened yet; both my blood pressure and my blood sugar have gone up. Last eruption for this volcano was some 60,000 years ago. I don't think they expect it to erupt again ever.


Capulin Volcano

Pinyon Pine growing out of lava "squeeze up"
In Colorado, we have been following a path that we have traveled before, but I never cease to be amazed by the awesome scenery in this state. We have visited Garden of the Gods again, and ridden the Honda motorcycle up to the top of Pike's Peak. This time I wasn't terrorized by the road. Quite a bit of it is paved now--all but about 4.5 miles. It was the third time for us, and will probably be the last--I still get a mild elevation sickness at 14,110 feet and it's just not worth it to do again. We also visited the Helen Hunt Falls, also in the Colorado Springs area, which we had not been to before. I had seen a picture of it that Richard & Beverly took the last time they were in Colorado and decided we should pay it a visit. We took a short, but steep, hike up to another falls--I didn't make it all the way, but Riley did. The upper falls was not as pretty as the lower one.


Garden of the Gods--broken spires

Riley at Balanced Rock


Margie & Icy Blue at top of Pike's Peak

Riley & Icy Blue at Helen Hunt Falls

After Colorado Springs, we spent three days in Great Sand Dunes National Park. The dunes here are so amazing. Every afternoon, storm clouds would start building up, and by 4 or 5 PM, it would be raining. The desert was loving it. Using the motorcycle, we rode up to the Zapata Falls area and took the half-mile hike back to the falls. When we were here before the falls and the upper portion of the creek were frozen; we had to walk over the ice to reach the falls. We knew we would have to wade the creek this time, so we took water shoes with us and were thankful for them, as the creek was very rocky and cold. Because it was a holiday weekend there were a lot of people there and several were climbing back into the throat of the falls. It was a wet, slick, risky looking climb. It also made it hard to get a picture without a lot of strangers in it. Back in April, 2006, we were the only ones there.


Great Sand Dunes in front of Sangre de Cristo Mountains

Riley & Icy Blue at Zapata Falls

We drove from Great Sand Dunes to Gunnison along highway 114, a new road for us. It was a great drive--would have been fun on the motorcycle--lots of great views and not much traffic. From there we drove down highway 149 and had lunch in Lake City, then spent the night near Pagosa Springs. Just before we reached Lake City, we were hit by a hail storm--ice pellets the size of peas. It was coming down so hard and thick that Riley pulled into a turnout to wait it out. We saw lightning and heard the thunderclap almost simultaneously--it was close and loud! Scary! The hail destroyed our spare tire covers, but otherwise did no harm. Highway 149 provides lots of beautiful mountain views and has many flat valleys where there are cattle ranches. We assume the ranchers pasture the cows at lower elevations in the winter.


Mountain view from Lake City Hwy.

Lake San Cristobal

After the night near Pagosa Springs, we drove over to Durango, then up Highway 550 through Silverton, where we waved at the Durango & Silverton narrow gauge train. We had given some thought to riding it again for the beautiful scenery, but prices had gone up and it had already been expensive. We decided, though fun, once was enough. Besides, as it turned out, it was raining when we got to Silverton, which would have made the train ride not so pleasant. No ranches on this road, it runs along the side of the mountains and is quite scary in places if you look over the side of the road and see how far down it is. We are camped now in Ridgway State Park, one of our favorite parks, which has also raised it rates considerably. We paid both camping and day pass fees for three days, and then they wanted an additional three day pass fees if we took the motorcycle down and used it! If we had paid the motorcycle fees, it would have come to $30 a day--way more than we are used to paying for this type of camping. Oh well, we do love it here. It is at around 7000 feet in elevation, and there are nice hiking trails, as well as a lot of wildlife. I'm interested to see what type of birds are here this time of year.


Engine of Durango & Silverton train
We miss everyone in Houston and hope everyone is doing well. I love the extra communicating I get with those of you who are also my Facebook friends.

Love to all,
Margie & Riley


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