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Vacation 1999 Page 1

Sue, Molly, I and our cat Socks started for Boiling Springs State Park near Woodward Oklahoma about noon with plans to just hang out and enjoy the wooded park before leaving the next day for Clayton Lake New Mexico.  This would be our first long trip in the Sportsman RV.

State highway 412 west from from Tulsa would take us all the way to Guymon in the Oklahoma panhandle and on to Clayton New Mexico where we planned to spend the second night.  We entered the Cimarron Turnpike (Hwy 412)at 10:45 making good time.  We stopped in Enid for gas, bathroom break, and ate our lunch in the RV.  Just as we got a few miles west of Enid Sue discovered the cat had a large abscess on his head.  The next priority became "where the heck is a vet".  Going on with a sick cat was not a good option.  We turned around and headed back to Enid and were really really fortunate to find a vet's office just outside Enid where we could just wheel the RV in and park.  It was a pretty good sized vet's place that was obviously accustomed to taking care of large stock and trailers.  We took the cat inside and they graciously agreed to have a look at the poor thing.  They took the cat into their work area behind some glass windows where we could watch the whole thing taking place.  As we stood there watching the vet's lance the cats abscess we notice Molly teetering back and forth.  It soon became obvious that Molly was in the process of passing out.  We quickly sat her down on the floor and the vet's new patient was Molly.  They brought Molly some orange juice and crackers to sooth her symptoms and then went on with the cat.  We were all glad to get on the road again.  The next stop was at Glass (Gloss) Mountain State Park about 5 miles west of Orienta Oklahoma.  We took pictures and I picked up several small rocks with shiny minerals in them.  When you get into the area around Glass Mountain the ground takes on a sparkle like diamonds in the sun due to the minerals in the ground.  The roads in this part of Oklahoma are really nice and in good condition.  Out west of Oklahoma and the northeast corner of New Mexico is where the Santa Fe Trail runs and if you watch there is a place where you can stop and still see the wagon trail running through the hills.  We drove on to Guymon and stopped for gas and restroom break then crossed into New Mexico.  We found our RV park at Clayton Lake State Park New Mexico and had to turn our watches back an hour for mountain time.  Clayton Lake State Park was great.  We were here back in the 70's and it was a lot different.  There were no RV parking places, just camping spots and the dinosaur tracks had not been found.  This time there were a few RV parking spots, a new bath house, group camping facilities and a great archeological dig where many many dinosaur tracks have been found.  Here are a couple of maps that will be helpful.  Clayton Lake Map and Clayton Lake Park Information

Pikes Peak June 1999

The road leading to the train station is narrow and congested and RV parking is inadequate.  So we recommend that you not bring your travel trailer, fifth wheel or class A just because maneuvering will be difficult.  A small class C might be OK.  In this picture of the train station, the parking area is directly behind the photographer, so as you come up the road, the parking area will be on your right.    Get your tickets early and reserve a few days ahead of time if you can.  It's chilly going up on the train and when you arrive at the top (especially if it's windy), so take a jacket.  Seats next to the windows provide the best view and we chose the left side (as you look up the mountain) because the right side faces the mountain most of the time. Windows are lowered at the bottom of the mountain but will need to be raised when you get to the top due to chill winds. Watch for Marmots, Mountain Goats and other wild life along the way. On the way up the oldest water driven electric generator in the U.S. will be pointed out on the left side of the train.  At the summit of Pikes Peak, Katharine Bates was inspired to pen the lines to her most famous poem, "America the Beautiful." She was overwhelmed by the sights of vast, open skies, planted fields, and the majestic Rocky Mountains.  On the summit there is a beautiful monument that overlooks the mountains and the valley in honor of Katharine Bates.  By the way, here is a link to a camera that is pointed at Pikes Peak.  Sue and I were huffing and puffing at the top due to the thin air and believe it or not, it seemed worse inside the gift center. Someone told us that it really is harder to breath inside the gift center because it was so full of people that they were using up the air and exhaling carbon dioxide, so,, your body didn't have as much oxygen to use.  It did seem easier to breathe outside but maybe it was my imagination.  Two ways up, by dirt road (and yes boys and girls that is an outhouse anchored down by guy wires. We are told that it sways in the wind.) and by Cog Railway.  You must get your picture taken at the summit in front of "the sign" that will show an altitude of 14,110 feet and how short of breath all the adults are.

Telluride Colorado

    This place is absolutely gorgeous in the summer months.  I haven't seen it in the winter but can just imagine that it is even more beautiful with a full cover of snow on the mountains.  We got here just after a big Fourth of July parade put on by celebrating locals.  I never saw so many dogs dressed ready for a 4th of July ball in my life.  Lots of revelry and the whole town seem alive with excitement.  This quaint little village is probably a blast during the skiing season.  The down town area is on a gentle little hill that rolls off toward the end of the valley ending in a beautiful narrow water fall topped with a home.  Yes, someone lives at the top,, in the middle of the falls or so it seems!!  I saw something on the home a few weeks ago and will continue to try and find the article again.  Here is a link to a Wikipedia article.  At the end of the valley and near the falls there is a road that zig zags up the hill (mountain) toward the top of the falls.  The only vehicles we saw going up this super steep incline were 4 wheel drive and better.  As a matter of fact, one of the gals who was a jeep passenger refused to go any further with one of the groups and got out of the vehicle prior to it's ascent.  I kid you not,,, this is a steep one.

    The summer we were here the ski lift gondola's we free to ride either to the top and back again or across the top to Mountain Village.  The picture on the left is shot of Telluride from the ski lift and the picture on the right is of Mountain Village.  All of Mountain Village seemed very new and was full of small specialty shops and trendy boutiques.  Very nice!

Gondola entrace going back to Telluride

This is Ridgeway Colorado (made for the movie True Grit).

Hoover Dam July 1999

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Grand Canyon July 1999    Is this place crowded or what?

          When we started driving from Cortez Colorado after touring the Cliff Dwellings at Mesa Verde for a few days we were heading down US 160 toward Four Corners and the Grand Canyon.  We hadn't been to Grand Canyon before but my dad had told me about it many times before and I had seen all the pictures.  To me it was just a big hole in the ground and I really didn't have much interest in seeing it.  The trip down highway 160 was pretty neat with lots of unusual terrain and sights. Past Shiprock in Colorado, the "Sleeping Ute" (Ute Mountains), Four Corners at the border and on toward Flagstaff.  Even highway 160 had some interesting things in store for us.  It had an undulating surface and on occasion I would have swore was going to toss us right into the air.  As it turned out it indeed tossed some of our dishes in the air in the cupboards.  Our fifth wheel has a kitchen in the rear and I suspect this is just one of the disadvantages of a rear facing kitchen.  Sue was really irritated when she found some of her "unbreakable" Corel dishes in a zillion little shards.  The landscape is pretty unusual in a lot of places from Cortez to Flagstaff, pocked with strange rock formations and a multitude of colors.  There seemed to be lots of Indian heritage here too with many places that still had what appeared to be Hogan's in their yards.  Just as we pulled into Flagstaff late in the summer evening it started to sprinkle.  We stayed at a KOA called Williams/Circle Pines which turned out to be a beautiful spot to stay in.  Being imbedded in the middle of a large stand of tall pine trees about 1/4 mile off the highway made it very quiet and all the goodies such as the office, gift shop, game room and indoor pool were all located in one building in the middle of the whole thing.  Great camping site.  Nice trees.  Nice park.  Nice people.  Pull thru's in the pines.  Horse back riding.  Flagstaff.  You can't beat it.

          Keep in mind when you get to Flagstaff that there is a train (Grand Canyon Railway) that runs from Williams (just west of Flagstaff) to the Canyon and back.  Might be a good time to take a real train ride.  Somewhat like the Durango Silverton railroad, there are a number of different rides.  One way, round trip (this is an all "dayer"), stay at the Fray Marcos hotel on the Canyon rim, take guided tours of the rim, etc.  The Grand Canyon Railway has a number of travel/touring packages available.  And, don't forget the helicopter rides, airplanes or horse back to the bottom.  I now wish we had taken the helicopter ride.  It would have been spectacular.

          I almost forgot, river rafting! Mild to wild as they were saying in Durango.  And, I'm not a snow person but in the winter months there will be lots around here.

          Driving into the Grand Canyon National park area from Flagstaff is over a really well maintained black top roads winding slowly in and out of the tall thin pine trees is and truly a fun trip.  I was surprised at the number of helicopter rides, hotels, eating places and shops we passed once we got through the Forrest.  There's one place where the road widens to about 4 lanes and there are shops on both sides of the road.  Be sure and make time to either stop on the way in or the way out 'cause there are lots of nice things to look at.  Eye candy as I have always called them.

          When you finally get through the typical National Park "red house at the gate" your adventure will begin.  We were there Sunday July 11th and it was elbow to elbow people and vehicles.  I didn't know so many people all wanted to see the Grand Canyon nor how few languages I spoke.  Seemed like I was the only one that was not bilingual.  The first two major overlooks were so full that there were no parking places.  We continued on until we came to the visitors center which thank goodness had some parking areas on the left side of the road.  The area on the left turned out to be a large parking lot suitable for RV's of all sizes surrounded by shops, at least one restaurant and guess what?  The bus stop for the rim tours.  So, you can walk over to the visitors center which will be guaranteed full, pick up a brochure or two and get the heck out.  Sit down somewhere and read the map carefully.  There are all kinds of information in the brochures that will make your visit more enjoyable and you won't get so hung up in the people traffic.  You need to understand the symbols on the map to understand how the buses work so take a few minutes to figure those out.

          Next - going on the tours - Get ready for the crowd!

          More later - Dave, Sue and Molly

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