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Kickin' up the Dust in Durango - Part 2

View 2018 on mrb430's travel map.

Before we pick up the story, I have a rant and an observation. First the rant, VERIZON CELL SERVICE SUCKS WEST OF THE MISSISSIPPI!

Not kidding. We have both been loyal Verizon cell users for years but coming west has been an eye opener. Ruby has AT&T for her wifi and they kick Verizon's a$$ out here. We often have NO SERVICE on the phones and 3-4 bars in the truck. Now some of that may be her antenna but seriously?! Verizon needs to step up their game. And this isn't just in the mountains. It was in Fort Collins!

And the observation...dry heat really is different. After years of pooh-poohing people claiming 100 degrees in Utah was just not as hot as 100 degrees in Florida, I must eat crow. I think the real issue is that you don't sweat out here (I mean, I know you do but it evaporates instantly) so a.) your body may cool more efficiently, and b.) you don't feel a sticky mess. You do feel dusty, however! I'm gaining an appreciation, which is good because I'm fairly sure this is how Mexico will be!

Okay on to Arrradventures!

Colorful Colorado Backroads

We headed up to do a series of roads that started at Animas Flats Ghost Town and then went up California Gulch, over California Pass (12,930 feet), over Hurricane Pass (12,407), and down Corkscrew Gulch. The latter goes up and over and then down between the red mountains. Just incredible beauty. Scott's brother Carl joined us and it was nice to share it with him.

I tried something a little different. This first video is a series of photos and short videos, sort of a "slide show".

Check it out. There were just too many great shots to choose just a few but here's a teaser.

And this is a short video of what it was like to drive the shelf road down Corkscrew Gulch with, as promised, more Joe Walsh.

It begins to capture the heart-stopping nature of the shelf you drive down and the curves. The most amazing thing about it is that it is an actual county road, CR20. They basically keep the road carved out of the side of the mountain, remove any slide debris, and fix washouts. Again, this is off-roading Mecca!

Eric's Awesome "Let's Go See Cool Shit" ATV Tour

And last but not least, Scott and I took an ATV tour on our last day. When we showed up, the guide asked if we'd been out at all yet. When we told him where we had been he had to think fast because he was planning on taking us on the exact tour we did the day before to California and Hurricane Pass. In the end, he took us to spots he liked, visited, and thought were cool but didn't usually take tours. We saw some amazing places and drove roads we never would have found on our own. It was awesome! We told him he needed to use it again and name it the "Let's Go See Cool Shit" ATV Tour.

First we headed up toward two lakes. At the first, we ran into this guy taking photos for the historical society on a vintage camera. He was definitely suited to the work and dressed the part.

The second lake was really beautiful.

We went up to Buffalo Boy Mine's Headhouse. This was a typical mine in these mountains where the mines were up high and they brought the ore down on trams like these.

This head house loaded the trams.

Visiting all of these mines and ghost towns gets you thinking about the men and women that worked these mines, ran the boarding houses, and built the towns. They lived in the harshest of conditions and endured hardships unimaginable to us. I've mentioned before how we think about those that came and settled the West often but it strikes you especially here because the things they built remain and you can imagine easier what they must have gone through. Imagine maintaining these rails, or building that head house at 12,550 feet!

Finally we headed out Cunningham Gulch, which had a stunning view looking back. From here you could also see an old boarding house that was way up on the side of the mountain. The men and supplies reached it by riding in the tram buckets!

We also stuck our heads into a mine opening and saw what it must have been like, in a very minor way, to work inside them.

Check out this video for the down and DUSTY!

If you're ever in Silverton, make sure to look Eric up at San Juan Backcountry Tours and tell him we say hey!

Next up, Bonneville Salt Flats Speed Week! Remember to follow us on Instagram @arrradventures for more real-time updates and photos.

Posted by mrb430 13:47 Archived in USA Tagged mountains colorado off-roading Comments (0)

Kickin up the Dust in Durango, Part 1

View 2018 on mrb430's travel map.

First things first, I have a favor to ask you dear readers. I'd love some feedback on the blog. Too many or too few photos? Do you watch and/or like the videos? Do they play okay for you? I'd love to hear from you. You can just use the comment feature to give me some input.

And on to the stuff you came for...

As I may have mentioned, so far on this trip Wyoming has been our favorite place. Especially the high, dry north-central basin but also the Tetons. Well, the San Juan Mountains gave it a run for its money. If we had known, we would have planned to spend two weeks there instead of three nights! It is an off-roading Mecca and for good reason. From Ourey, through Silverton, and down to Durango, the towns are chock-a-block with 4x4s, ATVs, motorcycles, side-by-sides, mountain bikes, and every variation of machine to climb and traverse the hundreds of roads and trails available. Oddly, or maybe not so much, very few hikers are to be seen.

And the trails! They range from dirt/gravel county roads to ruts just big enough for an ATVs but they all inevitably climb up into gulches and over mountains passes and they are almost all ROCKY! The ability to relatively easily get to 12,000+ feet is amazing. It feels like being on the top of the world.

Passes and Gulches and Mines Galore

Yankee Girl Trail
One of the really cool things about this area is all of the historic mines and mining equipment that is still standing. Happening upon them out on the trails is really fun. Some are just ruins and some have been "restored". And there is evidence everywhere of where they were even if there aren't buildings anymore. You can see the slopes of tailings that spilled out of the mining process on almost every mountain, sometimes two to three tiers as they moved up the seams in the mountains. It's weird because in a way they "ruined" the land but for us it was really interesting and beautiful.

The first trail we took went by numerous mines, including the famous Yankee Girl Mine, which has been restored. There's something about the weathered old wood that just seems "natural" here.

The colors of the tailings are so rich from the ore it's just like waterfalls of golden and red rock down the sides of the slopes.

The US Basin
The next trail we took went up to the US Basin, a high mountain basin above 12,000 feet. The views were just amazing.

Remember the Red Mountains from the last post? Well here they are again.

Take a look at this video to see some of the road.

Narrow Gauge Railway

We also took the narrow gauge railway from Durango to Silverton. It follows the Animas River all the way up through the very narrow gorge it has created. Quite a feat of engineering. It's steam powered, which is interesting if you're a history buff. For me it meant smoke and black soot everywhere. I actually can't believe there aren't OSHA issues with people working on it. Nevertheless, it made for some amazing scenery and, thanks to Scott's brother Carl for suggesting it, we got to enjoy it. I've neglected to mention so far that Carl joined us in Durango, which was a treat, and he's meeting up with us here in Bonneville.

Here's a ten second video that gives you the idea - make sure you have the sound on. I'm not sure if it's intentional or not but the color of the train is the color of the iodized rocks along the river and that blue reminds me of the glacial lakes we saw in Canada.

This whole area really shows why they call it Colorful Colorado.

Next up Part 2 featuring the second half of that awesome Joe Walsh song, more amazing views, and an ATV adventure. Remember to follow us on Instagram @arrradventures for more real-time updates and photos.

Posted by mrb430 19:27 Archived in USA Tagged mountains colorado off-roading Comments (2)

Crushin' on Colorado

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The last three weeks have FLOWN by! Its unbelievable our month long respite in Fort Collins, Colorado is over next Wednesday. We are in love with this area and have been having such a good time. Why, you ask?


Days are between 85-95 and the evenings are in the 60's. Perfect! It's almost always sunny and when it rains it's only for a brief time, usually in the afternoon. Since we understand that the East Coast is having nothing but rain, it's even more sweet to be out West. Of course, when you venture up into the mountains, the day time temps are more in the high 60's or low 70's so packing a jacket for our touring and off-roading is a must. Needless to say, we are VERY happy we made the decision to come south. Look at these blue skies!


It's been such a pleasure to have this extended time with my mom and dad. I am fortunate to have them both still with us and there's nothing like moving in with them to make us appreciate them even more! As they tell it, they couldn't refuse taking in their "homeless children"! As serendipity would have it, my mom had foot surgery during our stay, so Scott and I are able to help out in ways she likely wouldn't let us otherwise - grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning up, etc. It's nice for us 'cuz we don't feel like total freeloaders! At 81 and 88, they are still an inspiration. Here's a couple photos of them from their recent trip to Scotland and Norway.

We also had the pleasure to have my cousin Carol and her husband Jim come down from Laramie to visit. It was really nice to catch up with them again. And as I write this, we have our friend Steve Lowe out from Maryland for a week's visit. It's nice for Scott to have someone to play with other than me! Ha!


We wouldn't feel right if we didn't spend five hours driving Ruby through the open country once in awhile. To that end, we've climbed Mount Evans...

Yes, that's the road! Better suited to mountain goats than cars!

This is the highest paved road in North America and the only place you can get to the top of a "14'er" without hiking.

Of course there were wildflowers and alpine lakes!

But there are also Ponderosa Pines that are hundreds of years old!

Rambled through Rocky Mountain National Park from the valleys of the Falls River Road to the heights of the Alpine Lodge...

And driven part of the Peak-to-Peak Scenic Byway.

The amazing part of these drives, other than the mountain scenery, are the canyons that you navigate to get up from the plains into the mountains. We have a debate about our favorite but they all have their own beauty. The Cache de la Poudre, the Big Thompson, and the Saint Vrain - you need to see them all! Here's some footage of the Cache La Poudre to wet your appetite.


For the first time since taking Ruby to Pennsylvania just after we got her, we've had to air down to drive off-road. They don't call them the Rocky Mountains for nothing. We've had some "take your breath away" moments, for sure and nothing but fun getting onto the Colorado trails. We're looking forward to more of it next week as we head to Durango. We never tire of the country around here. Scrub pine, sagebrush, grass lands, wild flowers, and ROCK! This was out favorite trail so far


This is the West after all and what better way to celebrate it than with cowboys and country music. After missing the Stampede in Calgary, we were pleased that we finally timed an event right and made it up to Cheyenne Frontier Days for the rodeo and two concerts. We borrowed my parents motor home and parked up in Cheyenne, Wyoming for the weekend. It was a blast!

The Rodeo was great fun.

We saw Toby Keith Friday night... large_IMG_1382.JPGlarge_IMG_1388.JPG

...along with, strange enough, Bobby Bones and the Raging Idiots...
What a weird show that was!

Kip Moore and Dierks Bentley were on Saturday.

Drunk on a Plane!

We had "Fun Zone" tickets both nights, a.k.a. "the Pit" and boy was it on Friday night. The pit was on the rodeo track and the mud was ankle deep on Friday!

It's been such a great three weeks. One more then we're off to:
Durango, Colorado
Bonneville, Utah
Las Vegas, Nevada
Nashville, Tennessee
San Diego, California

and then MEXICO!

You may notice we updated the map and the trip ends in Mexico now. We have five months to figure out what's next - and that's the fun part.

Don't forget to subscribe to get updates and follow us on Instagram @arrradventures.

Posted by mrb430 09:45 Archived in USA Tagged mountains colorado wyoming off-roading Comments (0)

The Canadian Rockies Do Not Disappoint - Part 2

View 2018 on mrb430's travel map.

For Part 1, check out https://arrrblog.travellerspoint.com/61/.

After leaving Canmore, we relocated to a chalet halfway between Field and Golden, British Columbia, in Yoho National Park. We were steps from the beautiful Kicking Horse River.

The best part? We finally had a fire pit again! We had our first outdoor fires since Apalachicola! Of course S'mores were in order.

This was our launching point for Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, and trail adventures. The road to Golden is one of the most beautiful we drove along and definitely worth a detour if you are ever in the area. Glaciers, jagged peaks, high passes, winding mountain roads, railroad tunnels through the mountains, and the extra-wide Kicking Horse River valley where the river branches constantly creating a flat basin. Not to mention lakes and waterfalls.
Spiral Tunnel Mountain

Lake Louise

We set out for Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. I was last here 10 years ago at the end of August with my mom, dad, brother and his family so I thought I knew what to expect. NOPE! Having planned to do Moraine Lake first, we got to the turn-off and realized it was closed due to the high volume of visitors. Not deterred, we headed on to Lake Louise. After parking in the furthest lot, we made our way through the throngs down to the lake. Here's the crowd in 2008. In 2018 you couldn't see the lakeshore for all of the tourists!

We made the best of it though. Hard not to in such a beautiful place! Scott and the girls hiked the lakeshore trail and Cadeau and I wandered a bit and then sat in the shade.
That's Mount Victoria at the back of the lake with Victoria glacier. Close ups follow here.


Fairmont Hotel - originally built in the 20's.

We headed back to Lake Louise Village for lunch. Note when you stay up to watch it get dark at 12:30 (AM!) you get up at 10:30 and have breakfast at 11:30. That puts lunch at 5:30! After "lunch" we headed back to Moraine Lake and finally got in, it's about 7:00 now, and just as we did they closed it down again! So worth the effort though! The girls decided on a rock scramble and Scott and I hiked the lakeside trail (Cadeau slept peacefully in Ruby).

Moraine Lake

This has to be one of the most beautiful spots in the entire park. It really is more beautiful than the pictures!

After another fire, more S'mores, and a good night's sleep, it was up early for...

Trail Rides!

We split up with Morgan and I doing a beautiful horseback ride in the Blueberry River Valley in the morning and Scott and Courtney doing an ATV adventure in the afternoon. Everyone was happy! In between, we had lunch at an outdoor cafe in Golden and visited their famous covered pedestrian bridge.

Morgan argued that horseback riding was best! (Of course she didn't want to ride an ATV - ha!)
This was the normal state of Morgan's horse!


Here's a short video. Thanks for Mrgan for the Taylor Swift soundtrack ha!

Courtney argued that ATV riding was best! (Of course she didn't want to ride a horse - haha!)
Here's a short clip - you can mostly see over Courtney's handle bars haha!

Scott and I would have preferred to do both! We actually made it home in time to cook dinner at home (thanks Courtney and Scott!) and have a nice fire. We went to bed early because we had planned to drive the Icefields Parkway and had booked the Glacier Adventure for the following day but...


We woke to a text message from the airline inviting the girls to check in for their flight! WHAT?! Oh no, that pesky 12:19 AM Saturday flight. Is that today or tomorrow? Yikes! That's today, well tomorrow, but tonight - well you get it. Rather than needing to get to the airport just after midnight Saturday night, they needed to be at the airport just after midnight Friday night! Phooey!

So, change being the only constant, and relying on our adaptability and resilience, we packed up and headed out to trek back to Calgary. All was not lost however! On the way, we stopped at the natural bridge and Emerald Lake. Being in Yoho, the crowds were substantially less and the views just as beautiful!
Natural Bridge

Emerald Lake

The weather, however, was proving a challenge. Canoe rentals had been on the girls' bucket list but the lines and cost at Lake Louise had been prohibitive. Canoes at Emerald Lake were available and reasonable. The rain was intermittent, though, and they weren't letting canoes out in it. So the girls went on a hike around the lake, Cadeau had a nap, and Scott and I had lunch. By this time we had all settled into our comfort zones! After much patience and pestering of the attendants, the sun came out and they got their paddle in while I FINALLY beat Scott at Cribbage.

I was proud of us all for making the most of a bad situation and so grateful to the Canadian Rockies that missing one adventure is just an opportunity to experience a different one. The trip down to Calgary was beautiful and uneventful and after a nice dinner we dropped them at the airport, said "See you in Mexico!", and closed out a wonderful vacation.

We'll be in Colorado tonight and as I finish this up in Ruby she's saying the temperature is 100 degrees out there in Wyoming. Guess we're definitely going to be warm again!!

Make sure to subscribe for updates and follow us on Instagram @Arrradventures.

Posted by mrb430 19:58 Archived in Canada Tagged mountains canada off-roading Comments (0)

The Canadian Rockies Do Not Disappoint - Part 1

View 2018 on mrb430's travel map.

I have been delinquent in updating you all on our Arrradventures. Been having too much fun in the Canadian Rockies and focused on planning activities for us and the girls to stop and write. And truth be told I've been avoiding thinking too much since our little one has been suffering neurological issues but we're gonna ignore that for now and focus on the positive - a wonderful week vacation with Morgan and Courtney.

As I write this, we are on the road again, headed to Fort Collins. Two long days of driving ahead of us to reposition and then we settle down in Colorado for a month. Plenty of time to catch you up.

Canmore and Canada Day

After picking the girls up in Calgary, we headed to Canmore, Alberta. About a half hour south of Banff, it's also set right in the heart of the Rockies in the Bow River Valley. We had a beautiful condo with amazing views of the mountains up and down the valley.

This is a view of the Three Sisters from town - loved these mountains.

The best part was we were there for Canada Day! We went into town and watched the parade. They had pipers! and Mounties! and Stampede princesses! And it didn't rain on our parade!

And to cap it off we even had an awesome fireworks show that we were able to watch from our rooftop hot tub!

The girls were definitely in the spirit!

Canmore is just outside Banff National Park but it is surrounded by beautiful Provincial Parks. The girls got in a hike up to the Grassi Lakes and Scott, Cadeau and I did our form of hiking - we hit the dirt roads.

We took the 60+ km loop through Spray Valley Provincial Park and Kananaskis Country that passed by the Grassi Lakes, the Spray Lakes Reservoir, and wound it's way between snow covered mountain ranges. While the clouds were hanging low, the scenery was beautiful.

We even saw some elk. Wildlife viewings have been rare up here so we felt lucky.

Playing Chicken with the Weather in Banff

We had watched the weather forecast for our vacation closely and it looked like we were going to be totally rained out for the entire trip. As it turned out, we had more sunny/partly cloudy days than rainy ones but almost every day felt like playing chicken with the rain as almost everyday at least one shower would come through. I don't think we've used raincoats so much since Bocas del Toro! The days we spent in Banff felt especially touch and go. When you're trying to time going up in the gondola to the top of Sulphur Mountain, not a cheap endeavor, you don't want to get up there and be socked inn by clouds. We thought we had it timed just right but as it turned out not 10 minutes after Scott and the girls got to the top, they were in the middle of a thunderstorm.
What a difference a half hour can make!

Luckily it was lunch time so they grabbed some food and waited it out and were rewarded with awesome sunny pictures and views.

We also had beautiful weather to grab a cocktail on the deck of the Fairmont Chateau...

...to walk along the Bow River Falls... large_IMG_1033.JPGlarge_IMG_1037.JPGlarge_DSC_0123.JPG

...and vist the Cascade Gardens.

Courtney and Morgan

I would be remiss if I didn't include some thoughts on our daughters, yes I have finally accepted the term "stepmother" into my life. We are constantly amazed by both the inner and outer beauty of these young women (who I invariably refer to as "the girls"). Each time we see them - either in person or on FaceTime - their humor and intelligence, and their growing maturity strike us and make us glad they are a part of our lives. Our ability to participate in their activities this trip, especially mine, was limited by Cadeau's troubles but we all really enjoyed the time we had together.

We did hike the Fenland Trail along the Bow River...

...and drove to the Vermillion Lakes for a great view of my favorite mountain, Mount Rundle.

And they were troopers in pursuing activities other own like rafting, hiking, swimming in the hot springs, and shopping in Banff. They even took advantage of Canada's public transportation to do what they wanted when we couldn't be available or make the truck available. Here are some of my favorite pics of them from the trip.
Being silly...

Being Beautiful...

Being Sisters

Part 2 tomorrow takes us to Upper Banff, Field, Golden, and Yoho National Park. Stay Tuned. And don't forget to follow us on InstaGram at Arrradventures.

Posted by mrb430 19:54 Archived in Canada Tagged mountains banff off-roading the_girls Comments (0)

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