When we first arrived we had elevensies in Turtle and watched a teen girl’s softball tournament; that was great, and the best part of Steamboat as far as we could see, since the town seems to be mostly about boutique shopping and real estate, neither of which interest us. The weather was deteriorating by the minute and we were told not to attempt Rabbit Ears pass after 3pm. We looked all over town for unsecured wi fi and failed, went to the overcrowded library (bad weather drives active people into the library) and finally decided on such a day there was nothing for us in Steamboat. We decided we’d try the pass and give Steamboat a chance another day. We had wet snow and slush at the top, but nothing to worry Turtle. Not what I had in mind for my birthday, but things improved on the other side of the pass. We found a fine quiet boondock in Walden, along our original Zippy (tandem bicycle) route around the U.S. in 1975, and shared memories of that very special time in our lives. We has a special dinner and slept well.
We parked at an overlook near the top of Douglas pass, and after a run-in with a curious cow butting Turtle on the grill, had a peaceful, cool night in aspen country. The next day we spent the morning of June 4, hiking and photographing Freemont rock art of Canyon Pintado for a future story. Then we drove to Dinosaur National Monument Canyon Area visitor center and decided to explore the Harpers Corner road and hike the trail to the Green/Yampa River overlook, a truly spectacular vista of colorful rocks and deep gorges. It was nice to change the sagebrush juniper scents for the pitchy scent of pinon pine and crisp air of 7,000 feet. There were new wildflowers, or perhaps stunted versions of familiar ones; the globe mallow that grows to four feet in Tucson and was maybe four inches here. I would consider this canyon section of Dinosaur NP to be a real hidden gem of the park system. Most people go to the Vernal, Utah entrance where the dino bones are kept, and though nice, it is not as spectacular or remote in feeling as the Canyon District. Having BLM nearby for bush camping is a plus.
June 2. McInnis Canyons arches mountain bike ride.
No epic mountain bike this time, just a couple of challenging climbs, and lots of wildflowers to cheer us on, the scent of sage and the expansive Colorado Plateau vistas that we love so much. The arches were fun, if nothing compared to the ones in Arches NP, but the hike from the end of the track was pleasant, and one sliver-rock arch was a hoot; we felt like kids, inching up on the thin part, teasing about causing it to collapse. I told Claire to tell all my friends my demise was, if premature, spectacular. What a treat to return to Turtle for a warm shower and icy drinks from the refrigerator. We are spoiled.
The downtown of Grand Junction is in fine revival, sculptures everywhere, traffic calming and lots of places to eat and walk. We took a break from working all day (third day) in the library and walked around downtown taking pictures of sculptures for a story on NW Colorado for an RV magazine.
On the way to our fourth overnight here, we saw a man crossing the street in a powered wheelchair and he had a fluff duck in his pack. We like people who like fluff animals. Good folks. It takes guts to show your fluff-head buddies in public.