Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Rocky Mountain High - Taylor Park Reservoir

Our View!
Hi all, Dianne here.  Roger and I just spent four relaxing days at Lakeview Campground in the Gunnison National Forest.  We have a great view of Taylor Park Reservoir just down the hill.  It's a good thing we are just relaxing here, because at 9,400 feet elevation, we've both been short of breath just walking around the campground!  

Bandido Looking for Grasshoppers
It's a beautiful spot.  We've had sunny, 60 to 75-degree days and nights cool enough to run our furnace in the mornings to warm things up.  No mosquitos, either!  We have had afternoon showers most days this week, but they really haven't been a problem since we're just hanging out anyway.   We have the same beautiful view out our side windows as from the patio area.  No water or sewer hookups, but 50-amp electric and a clear sky for our satellite.

Roger had a good time setting up our spacious patio, complete with his hammock strategically placed under the Sunbrella for shade.

Charlie the cat even had some quality time outside.  This setup worked really well until one afternoon Roger heard strange noises and realized Charlie had managed to catch a mouse!  I guess you can take the cat out of the farm, but you can't take the farm out of the cat!  

We never tired of the view -- it was different every day, depending upon the cloud height, sun, fog, etc.  We got lots of reading done, plus crossword puzzles (Roger) and sudoku (me).  

An added bonus were the variety of mountain hummingbirds that frequented my feeder.  This rufous hummingbird practically became a pet while we were here.  I also saw a calliope hummingbird and a broad-tailed hummingbird.  I got good looks at them and added all three to my life list, but wasn't quick enough to get photos of the other two types.

We always keep a squirt gun handy to give Bandido a squirt if he starts to bark or "growl" at passing dogs outside the RV.  Last evening he started in with his low, rumbly growl and Roger went to the window and said, "Bandido, there's nothing out there  -- oh, wait a minute!  Yes, there is!"  

This pretty deer came right up into the campground and was grazing between the sites.  

He stayed around for quite awhile -- didn't seem the least bit afraid.  Bandido was so interested in watching him through the window that he forgot all about growling at him.

We wondered if we'd even make it here, because once we passed through the last small town on our way (Almont) there was serious road construction -- we're talking down to the dirt -- between Almont and Taylor Park Reservoir.  A 23-mile drive took us over an hour.  First there was no pavement, only dirt.  Then there was a flagger and a pilot car through a blasting zone.  

Here and there we passed through soft patches of dirt, and had to weave around construction equipment.
This went on for more than eight miles.

The motor home actually slid a bit in one soft section.  Other sections of the dirt road were very washboard-y.  It wouldn't have been fun in a pickup truck or Jeep, let alone in a 36-foot motorhome.  It was so bumpy that when we finally arrived and tried to put out our bedroom slide, we heard a strange noise and it wouldn't go out all the way.  Roger got up on the bed with a flashlight and saw that the wood trim strip from above the bed had been jiggled out of the wall and had fallen behind the slideout.  Luckily, we stopped it in time that it didn't break either the trim or the slideout, so a quick hammer project from Roger made it good as new.  

We both worried with the daily afternoon rain storms that this route back out would become a mud pit.  It was bad enough dry!  Roger spoke to another camper who suggested we take a local (dirt) road over Cottonwood Pass to get to our next destination, Chalk Lake.   Not wanting to drive the motorhome on a dirt road over the Continental Divide just on a stranger's suggestion, we did a trial run in the Matrix this afternoon to see if it was feasible.
Wow!  What scenery!  It would have been worth the drive even if we weren't checking it out.  I'm really glad we didn't miss it.

The road itself was dirt all the way to the summit, but it was graded and in much better shape than the construction zone.  

It was 13 miles from Taylor Park Reservoir to the summit.  The road was wide enough, a few pull-outs here and there if we need to let traffic pass, and not too many sharp curves.  

We switchbacked up the mountain and reached the timberline that we'd been viewing from our camp site for the past few days.

Soon we reached the Cottonwood Pass summit (12,126 feet) and parked to stretch our legs and give the "kids" a quick walk.

We were above the tree line at this point and took a short hike up a hill from the parking area.  We didn't go far, because the daily storm clouds were gathering and we wanted to make it back to the RV before the rain began.  The temperature up there was a cool 51 degrees.

I took a few photos from the summit:

Dirt Road Western Side
The road up the western side of the summit is dirt, but the road became paved at the top and is paved all the way down the eastern side.  We didn't go further than the summit, because we knew if we could make it up there on the dirt road that we'd have no difficulty going down on the paved road.

Paved Road Eastern Side
Roger had the Matrix in third gear going up, but we both agree that the motor home should do just fine in low gear.  There is very little traffic on the road, but what traffic we saw included several travel trailers and fifth wheels.  Roger even posed a question on Roads and Trips message board, and the consensus was that we could do it.  It will also shave about 60 miles from our trip today.

Just a FYI, for the next four days we'll be off the grid with no electricity and therefore no internet.  We'll check back in when we reach Colorado Springs next week.  If you post a comment on the blog, just know that it might be several days before we are able to see it, so it might not show up for a while.

The pet photo of the day is a shot I took through the passenger side mirror of Tequila enjoying the mountain air from the back seat as we drove to the summit. 


Pam and Wayne said...

According to the mirror, Tequila is closer than he appears! Glad to know the temps were so comfortable as we're doing Colorado Springs to Gunnison to Crystal probably this same time next year! I wanted to know who the manufacturer is for you Sunbrella....I really need one of those and yours looks nice and sturdy.

Diana said...

Looks like you finally found the cool!

Patty w/ Joey and Scout, the greyhounds said...

Beautiful photos! I have my hummingbird feeder out here in Houston, but no visitors. My research shows that they are only here in Spring and Fall. In Missouri, we have them from April to September.