Ridgway State Park: June 24-29, 2019



Ridgway State Park is conveniently located between Montrose and Ouray. When we arrived the lady at the entrance gate was super chatty. She told us the state parks only allow 3.2% beer, but they are not really enforcing it, wink, wink, just be careful. Noticing our bikes she also told us about the RAT Trails, but more on that later.

Colorado is finally evolving with their liquor laws. It always struck me as strange that you can buy weed legally (and I guess now shrooms in Denver), but you couldn’t get a real beer in the grocery store. As of January 1st that law finally changed. Now all the supermarkets are advertising real beer for sale. Sadly though the selection isn’t that great, too bad, Colorado has a lot of good breweries. Maybe they are all struggling with the distribution. It’s silly the state parks are still stuck in the 3.2% era.

The campground was exceptional: full hook ups, affordable, and plenty of space between sites. I’d rate it 4.5 out of 5. The minor negatives are too close to the 550 Highway and not enough shade. It hit 90 degrees a couple of days and we had to turn on the AC. The other bummer, the state parks charge an $8 per day use fee, on top of the camping fee. But if you are a resident, for $40 you can buy an annual pass, non-resident is $80.

The RAT trails are amazing! Another great trail system on BLM land. At the main trailhead sign it had directions for putting together different rides and travel directions for the trails. What a great idea. Hopefully more biking areas start doing the same. It was fast, flowing single-track. A little reminiscent of Phil’s World. All the trail names were rat themed. If you can’t have fun, then what can you do? Unfortunately there wasn’t a Socrates or Ben trail. They need to get building, because certainly those two famous rats deserve their own trail.

We put on our tourist hats and did a couple of day outings with Sara. One was to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. It’s dramatic, not too well known, extremely steep, narrow, and quite different from the Grand Canyon. Our pictures really don’t do it justice.

Then one evening we drove up the Million Dollar Highway from Ouray, past Red Mountain Summit, almost to Silverton. As advertised, it was steep, plenty of S curves, no guardrails, terrifying, and at the same time beautiful. I don’t think we’d ever tow on it. On the way back we stopped at Red Mountain Brewery for dinner and beer. The little town of Ouray has three breweries, but only Red Mountain allowed dogs, and only on the patio.

More often than not, I celebrate my birthday on the road. I’m pretty sure I turned twelve in Elko, Nevada. This year I turned fifty-nine at Ridgway State Park, Colorado.



Site 236


Geez, finally


View from Rat Trailhead


RAT is Ridgway Area Trails



Rat Trap Trail


Ridgway Reservoir

Another one bites the dust.  Amelia said it’s time to get rid of my 25 year old Dipsea shirt from 1994.


Black Canyon of the Gunnison


One of the many overlooks


The Painted Wall, at 2,300 feet it’s the highest cliff in Colorado


Old Juniper with Painted Wall in the background


A viewing platform on the Million Dollar Highway, Amelia is looking down on a raging waterfall.


There’s a Red Mountain #1, #2, and #3. This is #3.

Remember the TV Series McCloud?  This is one mile north of Ridgway.


Uncompahgre River, don’t ask us to pronounce it.


Kind of a decent sunset

Salida: June 16-24, 2019



Salida is a cool little town. My first impression was: it’s like a beach community because of all the people riding around on their townies and beach cruisers. It has a different, better vibe than most mountain towns. The Arkansas River is the center of attention and all the activities that go with it. Mountain biking is also big. The town has a population of around 5,300 and three bike shops!

Way back in December of 2014 we met a couple at Catalina State Park in Arizona from Salida, Tim and Lisa. Of course Amelia has kept in touch with Lisa. The first thing we did in Salida was visit her at their house. Amelia really wanted to see her work studio and figure out when we could meet up with them. One of the memorable lines from Lisa was, “The deer aren’t cute. They are pests.” We certainly saw a lot of them, especially where there was green grass and shade. It was so common we didn’t even bother to take any pictures. I guess the cuteness wears off when they are tearing up your yard.

Our first two rides were unguided with us relying on the Trailforks app and a bike shop map. It seemed like all we did was climb and go the wrong direction. We did not have as much fun as we were expecting. I kept saying I’m going to reserve judgment until the end of the trip, but I certainly wasn’t seeing the goods our friends in San Diego had been hyping. Then I hooked up with Tim for a Saturday ride. Wow, nothing like having a local guide you around. The hype was real. This place is fun! On Sunday Amelia joined Tim and me for a shuttle ride. I drew a little blood, but the route was awesome. Thank you Tim!

Originally we booked five nights at Mt Shavano KOA, ten miles west of Salida. What a dump. You’d think we’d be happy because it was virtually empty, but the emptiness gave the park a creepy feel. After three nights we bailed and went to Four Season RV Park on the east side of Salida.

What’s a trip in the mountains without unhitching or hitching up at least once in a deluge? That’s what we experienced when we unhitched at Four Seasons. We got soaking wet, but we were happy to be out of Charlie Manson’s campground. (That’s what I was calling the KOA. Amelia didn’t like me saying that). And we had a nice view of the Arkansas River twenty yards from our bedroom window.

The one ride we really wanted to do, the Monarch Crest, was not open. There’s still too much snow at 11,000-12,000 feet. Oh well…



The KOA. It looks nice in the picture, but it wasn’t.


Cool butterfly donation box at one of the Methodist Mountain Trailheads.  


The landmark S-Mountain


You gotta love a Big Lebowski reference.


Amelia on one of the exposed trails.


Nice little brewery. We met Lisa and Tim here on Friday night.


Get off the table!  On Saturday while I was riding with Tim, Amelia was getting the Airstream ready for our short drive to Four Seasons.  So the table was cleared off of the usual stuff like fruit bowl and flower vase.  When she got out of the shower, there was the Puggle.  There’s no denying her the morning sun.


Four Seasons RV Park. Close quarters but better than Charlie’s campground!


Our view of the Arkansas River. 


This pest didn’t make it through the winter. Now he’s a greeter at a trail intersection.


Tim and Amelia on the Sand Dune Trail


Looking towards Monarch Pass

Great Sand Dunes National Park: June 16-19, 2019




We love sand dunes.  There’s just something about being on them.  It’s a different sensation than any other outdoor experience.  And it’s a super workout trudging uphill with the reward of running down them.

We were here in 2000 for just a few hours with our friend Dianni.  That was before it became a national park; back then it was a national monument.  I’m pretty sure it wasn’t as crowded in 2000.  If you want to attract large crowds all you have to do is attach national park at the end of a name!

The unusual thing about this national park was we didn’t see a single Euro or Asian.  How strange.  I’m guessing 75% of the visitors were Coloradoans.

There’s a main dune access area where all the families go to pretend they are at the beach and to climb the lower dunes and sled.  What an awesome thing for families to do. There’s also a primitive area 4 miles north, of which 1.5 miles is a 4×4 recommended dirt road.  There are no crowds, but if you do happen to see someone the dunes are so expansive you never have to cross paths.

The most amazing thing is this time of the year Medano Creek pulses with rhythmic waves called surge flow.  I was calling them mini tsunamis.  The creek would be calm, then out of nowhere you could hear, then see a surge coming. The surge occurs when the antidunes in the creek bed break.

And now a little humor.  It’s so entertaining observing the going ons of a campground.  I have no doubt our fellow campers get a kick out of us.  My favorite observation this stop was when a wife stuck her head out of their fifth-wheel and yelled, “Honey fire up the generator I need to use the microwave.”




Pinyon Flats Campground site 17


Surge flow on Medano Creek and Mt. Herard in the background.


Nothing like a wide open expanse of sand dunes to make one feel small


This brazen mule deer was coming right at Amelia and me while we were sitting outside.  Sara was in the Airstream having a conniption fit.  So I leashed her up and brought her out.  She’s a big talker while in her Airstream, but she didn’t say boo when face to face with the deer.


Medano Creek looking downstream from the main dune access area


Early bird gets the worm. On our second day we got up early and went to the main dune area so we could hike up to High Dune.  When we came down the crowds were forming like a summer day in Pacific Beach.



Crazy scene: families setting up for the day with chairs, blankets, water toys, and implements for digging in the sand.  Just families having fun.


Folks streaming in as we were leaving.


Campground sunset


Amelia trying to follow my footsteps


Our deepest crossing


Narrowleaf Penstemon


Early evening after a thundershower



Pagosa Riverside Campground: June 14-16, 2019


It was an above ground pool.  I haven’t seen one of those in years.

Our friend, Needles, gave us the hot tip about Pagosa Riverside Campground. It’s just a few miles east of Pagosa Springs. He said as long as you get a riverfront spot it’s a good stop. So we made reservations months in advance and got one. He was right. It was a good two-night stop.

The weather was perfect for sitting in front of the Airstream under the awning. It’s quite relaxing listening to and watching the San Juan River flow. Because of the big snowmelt it was running high and fast. Occasionally some rafters would float by, we would wave and they would wave back. That was how we spent most of our time.

When not doing that we putzed around the Airstream and did chores like checking all the screws inside to see if any of them had loosened. Real exciting stuff.

The only time we left the campground was to go into town with Sara and walk the Riverwalk Loop. We didn’t spend the money to soak in any of the famous hot springs. Commercialized crowded hot springs aren’t really our scene, though I’m sure it probably would’ve felt great.





And walking Sara

Little libraries used to be the cool thing, now it’s bee hotels!


This dark ominous cloud amazingly enough only produced a few sprinkles.


The Mother Spring. It sources all of Pagosa’s hot springs. Guinness Book of World Records claims this is the deepest hot springs aquifer in the world, at least 1,002 feet deep.


One of the hot springs resorts.


Occasionally the vibrations of the road will strip a screw and it needs to be repaired. Jam wood glue and toothpicks into the hole. Let dry over night, snap off the toothpicks, file smooth, then replace the screw. Problem solved.


One of the fun things about traveling is sampling the local beer. I rate this one 6.5 out of 10, but the name an 11!


Morning sun on the San Juan

Cortez, Colorado: June 11-14, 2019


Phil’s World, a singlespeeder’s paradise


From Prescott it took us seven plus hours to arrive at the KOA in Cortez.  Amelia is enamored with the brothers that own KOA Cortez and they are enamored with her.  It’s quite a little mutual admiration society.   And why not, all three have the same personalities: friendly, always greeting people, waving, and smiling.  The two brothers, Shawn and Bernie, run the best campground we’ve ever visited.  I had no doubt they would remember Amelia.

While Amelia went to the office to see her guys and check in, I was walking Sara around. I just had the sense something was different.  Amelia finally came out of the office with a disappointed look on her face.  The brothers had just sold the campground; escrow had closed over Memorial Day weekend.  We hope they got a bundle.  They really did a terrific job building up the business.  We miss them.  Hopefully the new owners can maintain the high standards.

Phil’s World is our favorite mountain bike ride.  I refer to it as singlespeed paradise.  I could go on and on with flowery adjectives and probably bore all the non riders to death.  Well, our favorite place just got better.  They’ve added more trails!  It’s a long haul from San Diego but we’ve got to figure out how to get a group of friends out here.

Up next uncharted territory!  How exciting 🙂



Site 24 KOA Cortez


Amelia on Lemonhead trail with Sleeping Ute Mountain in the background.


Smooth Spreading Four O’Clocks dotted the landscape.




Female Cabbage White Butterfly on a Sunflower


Scarlet Globemallow


They are big on bones at Phil’s World.


Sego Lily


Wow, brand new trailhead, brand new trails, with more new trails to come!


What a great use of BLM land!


Amelia on the new Highline Trail


Amelia said it’s time to get rid of this t-shirt.  What the heck it’s a perfectly good shirt for biking.


We hit one brewery in Cortez: Wild Edge Brewing Collective.  Their IPA’s weren’t quite up to San Diego standards, but Amelia loved their sour beer, Razzmatazz, so much so she got herself a 32oz Can’teen to go.


Sara goes absolute nuts over soft serve ice cream.  We had a nice lunch at Burger Boy.



Evening light on Mesa Verde



Prescott, Arizona: June 7-11, 2019


Sara’s bliss. Seventy-eight degrees, fifty-five miles per hour, eyes squinting, ears flapping and nose working overtime.

Prescott, the first stop on our big summer of ’19 trip.  The majority of our time will be spent in Colorado.  Prescott is about half way.  It took us eight hours.  The boss has put her foot down and said, “Never again will we drive that long.”

That’s probably a good idea. We were pretty tired when we arrived, so tired we got ourselves into a tight spot with a tree while trying to back into our site.  It was nearly a disaster.

The first three days the weather was in the mid 80s, which is manageable.  Our last day it was over 90.  No bueno.  The Airstream feels like a cave with all the windows closed, blinds down, and the noisy AC cranking.

We did three rides.  The first two rides we’ve done before, which helps eliminate the bickering on the trail about directions.  There’ll be plenty of time for that when we hit all the new places in Colorado.

The third ride was a new area called Spence Basin.  A fellow mountain biker in the campground gave us the tip.  He even gave us an updated map and laid out a trail by trail course for us, but we still managed to get turned around which led to some quality bickering.  Spence Basin was super fun.  If you mountain bike, put it on your list.

And remember kids, Prescott rhymes with Biscuit.



Point of Rocks RV Campground site #54.  Same spot we had two years ago.


The old girl swaying in the morning sun.


Goodding’s Verbena lining the Badger Mountain Trail


Some old guy I’ve never seen before trying to help us fix the drawer under one of the kitchen seats.  He couldn’t help us.  It’ll be one of those things that gets addressed when we are back in town.


Finally someone saying something about the fake service animals.


On the Pipeline Trail some clever person put little figurines of three people, a park bench, trees, and shrubs inside a broken portion of the pipe.


West Side Story in Spence Basin





Ha, ha, ha, Russ T. Fender Trail in Spence Basin


Tatanka Trail, guess where?  Spence Basin!  We really enjoyed it.


New Mexico Locust


Our last day it was ninety-one shitty degrees with eleven percent humidity.  At least the biking clothes dried super quick.


Once the afternoon chores were done Amelia treated herself to an ice cold Tecate with salt and lime.

Hurricane: April 12-16, 2019



Our girl


The more days that pass after a trip the harder I find it to write about it.  Right after Hurricane we went down to Cabo for a wedding.  And just one week later my perspective of the Hurricane trip has changed.

Two weeks before the trip our sweet little Puggle Sara was diagnosed with Transitional Cell Carcinoma.  She has a small cancerous mass in her bladder.  She’s probably 10 years old, so we decided against any invasive surgery and/or chemo, instead she’s taking an NSAID, Piroxicam, and Misoprostol to protect her stomach lining.  Piroxicam can sometimes slow down the growth, and in some instances reduce the size of the mass.  It’s hard for the vet to guess how much time she has left.  It could be six months, or more or less.  So this trip was very melancholic.  We were also struggling with the thought of leaving Sara for the first time ever when we went to Cabo.  She’s never been without at least one of us.  It all probably sounds silly if you have kids.

We were joined in Hurricane by our friend Michelle and her dad Jim.  We stayed at WillowWind RV Park and they were across the street at a new hotel.  It’s always a blast riding out there.  We had dinners together at the Airstream, told stories, Amelia and Michelle reminisced about all the girls they used to ride with, and we all learned a little more about each other.

A couple of noteworthy things occurred on the trail.

On day one, before Michelle and her dad arrived we rode Gooseberry Mesa.  Immediately we ran into a bunch of people wearing bib numbers and walking.  What the heck?  We’ve only ever seen bikes on the awesome Gooseberry rock.  We asked one of them.  It was a 50K run.  How strange seeing people not on bikes.  And they were always coming directly at us.

On day three, we rode the J.E.M. trail, a super fun, one direction, downhill single track with wide open vistas, and beautiful scenery.  It’s a grinning ear to ear, hauling ass trail.  The kind of trail you relive as you fall asleep on the day you rode it.

So I’m flying down the trail and in the distance I see a large group of riders.  As I get closer I can see that they are coming towards me!  Hello! One way downhill!  There were three families, some trying to ride and others pushing their bikes.  I slow down so I won’t send them all flying like bowling pins.  Then a mom says, “Please be careful, there’s a little five year old girl coming.”

Good God, why aren’t you people at Disneyland?  I know I sound like a sourpuss, but what the hell are these people doing?  It’s totally dangerous going the wrong way on a one way trail.

If you really want to hear a rant ask Amelia about all the new cheater lines on the Hurricane Rim Trail.  That really burns her up.



Site 122.  WillowWind is looking more and more like a Motor Coach Resort.  There were many of these big $$$ rigs like the one next to us.



New singletrack signage


Gooseberry Mesa


Three of the 50K walkers in the background


Trail marker art


Michelle and her dad Jim at Churchrocks



Who’s who?  These girls have great form.



Michelle and Amelia, Little Creek Mesa


The amazing rock of Little Creek Mesa


Fremont’s Barberry Bush


We saw a lot of trees in town with Western Tent Caterpillar infestation.


How about them Canadians, eh?  What a great license plate.


I think this is the first time we’ve seen Clear Gas Ethanol-Free, whatever that is.



Gould Trail

Mel Brooks


California Poppies


The super bloom is going off in the greater San Diego area!  There’s a mountain biking spot out by Santee Lakes that’s called Mel Brooks Trail System.  The names of the trails are Mel Brooks themed.  There’s Blazing Saddles, Candygram, High Anxiety, and Space Balls to name a few.  All of these pictures were taken there on Saturday April 6th and Tuesday the 9th.

Please let me know if I’ve misidentified any flowers.  Enjoy!



Blazing Saddles trail marker


Purple Owl’s Clover


California Sun Cup




Deerweed lined trail


Blue Eyed Grass


Amelia splashing through a creek on Saturday. 






Meadow of Purple Owl’s Clover and Goldfields


Common Phacelia


San Diego Pea


Small-flowered Catchfly


Colorful singletrack


Bush Mallow


San Diego Goldenstar


Red Bush Monkeyflower


Thickleaf Yerba Santa


On Tuesday, poor Amelia was at work while I had fun with Bill and Marianne.




Ground Pink


Black Sage


There were fields of Blue Dicks.  Here’s a lonely one.


Redskin Onion


And finally my new favorite, Johnny-Jump-Up

The Largest State Park: March 8-10, 2019


The blogger and Judy Taylor performing “Ring of Fire” in the Agua Caliente County Park Clubhouse.


Lucky us!  The largest state park in the contiguous United States is in our backyard.  Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is over a 1,000 square miles.  It is one fifth of San Diego County.  We’ve been visiting it for years and still haven’t come close to seeing all there is to see.  This trip we met another family at Agua Caliente for a too short of a weekend trip.  Agua Caliente is a San Diego County Park.  It’s right next to and surrounded by Anza-Borrego.  This was our fourth visit with the Airstream.  And it’s the most flowers we’ve ever seen at this end of Anza-Borrego.

With the flowers come all the Painted Lady butterflies.  There must’ve been a bazillion of them flitting around.  While we were off roading, Amelia and her friend would flinch and be bummed every time we hit one. On Sunday as we were leaving, we killed so many it was crazy.  The windshield, front grill, and front of the Airstream were covered in the yellow green pollen guts.  I didn’t take any pictures because I assumed you wouldn’t want to see the carnage.

It’s really refreshing to observe and interact with people that are enthusiastic about their jobs.  We met two such people this trip.  The first was the young lady working the booth at the campground as we pulled in early Friday afternoon.  She was so happy about all the flowers.  Her fervor was infectious.  She went above and beyond her duties as a Ranger and took a bunch of little Home Depot landscaping flags to identify the flowers along the 1.4 mile Moonlight Canyon hike.  Just like two weeks ago, it was windy this trip and Allison was concerned her flags might be blown away.  We only found one that was uprooted and Amelia replanted it.  Kudos to Ranger Allison!

The second was Judy Taylor.  A professional entertainer, musician, leader of The Wild Oats, an all girls western swing band. She’s also a wild west performer, doing fancy rope tricks, gun spinning, and bull whips!  I have no idea how much the county paid her to show up and entertain their guests for an hour at 3pm on a Saturday, but in front of 25 people she was engaging and very interactive with the audience.  A pro’s pro and you can tell she really enjoys it.




Site #100


Super job Ranger Allison!



Ghost Flower fun fact: the inside looks like a she bee to attract the he bees.


Bigelow’s Monkeyflower


Desert Holly



Shrubby Deervetch


Booth’s Evening Primrose


I love this picture! In the background that’s Amelia, D, J, and A walking up the trail


Rock Daisy


Pygmy Poppy


This isn’t a dead end.  The slot turned left.  It’s just one of many slots in Canyon Sin Nombre.


Common Phacelia


A cool collapsed mud cave in the Arroyo Tapiado area.  We also went into a pitch dark mud cave.


Bristly Fiddleneck


J and Amelia hugging the tallest barrel cactus any of us ever remember seeing.



Fishhook cactus, one tough son of a gun, growing out of a rock.


If you pay close attention you can find pottery shards from the Native Americans.


Half Beagle


Buddy and A 🙂


D, Buddy, and Sara.  Buddy is a Tibetan Spaniel.  On Friday night Sara got jealous when Buddy sat next to me!


Nice humor

First Bloom Pulse, Anza-Borrego: February 15-17, 2019



A Borrego bouquet


It has been an abnormally rainy year for us in San Diego County.  For our followers not from SoCal you’ll probably just laugh when you read this, but we received over three inches last week from just one storm!  Out in the desert, Borrego Springs received over two and half inches.  That’s a deluge for us.  The rainfall has been nicely spaced out, creating a rare first bloom pulse that’s peaking right now.

The more common spring pulse will be a monster bloom in a few weeks.  It should rival the super bloom of 2017 and last even longer.  The city of Borrego Springs swears they are ready this time for the onslaught of people, aka flowergeddon.  I hope so.  Meanwhile, we caught a really nice early show without huge crowds.  The desert floor may not have been a multi-colored carpet of flowers, but the flowers were still plentiful and beautiful in spots.

The weather was cold and windy.  For us that means daytime temps in the low 50s with 20 mph winds.  Not exactly sit in front of your Airstream in the evening, sip beer, wave to passersby, and watch the sunset weather.

Our nephew, T, and his girlfriend, D, came out on Saturday and spent the night.  We played tour guide and showed them around.  After dinner and multiple games of Uno it was time to call it a night.  The young lovers moved their truck to the leeward side of the Airstream.  Then crawled into their sleeping bags under a mound of blankets in the bed of the truck.  The wind was howling.  It was cold and the sky bright from the near full moon.

The old lovers took a nice hot shower in their Airstream, jumped into their comfy bed with a warm quilt cover, turned off the lights, and it was dark.

Of course, Amelia was worried sick about them.

I wasn’t.



Not so dry Clark Dry Lake


Even the Puggle couldn’t believe it.


This is what it almost always looks like.


Rockhouse Trail Boondocking


A cactus farm we stumbled upon at the end of Borrego Valley Road.


San Diego County’s newest library


It’s nice checking out books and DVDs in Borrego and then returning them to the county library two miles from our house!


Wind bent Desert Sunflowers



Arizona Lupine and Amelia in the distance


Orcutt’s Woody Aster


Dune Evening Primrose


Amelia, D, and T in the South Palm Wash Slot


California Spectacle Pod


Desert Tobacco


Desert Lily


Up close shot of Sand Verbena


Sand Verbena grows in the sand, duh!


The young lovers in a field of flowers at Arroyo Salida


Wild Heliotrope


Desert Chicory


Desert Gold Poppies



Old girl trying to warm her old bones on a cold windy day.