Friday, November 6, 2015

Family Road Trip - 2015 (Part 3- Ouray, Colorado)

Day 3: October 17

We were truly sad to leave our campsite and the Colorado Springs area - there is so much we didn't have time to see and experience.

As I mentioned before, Grant made the run into town to get the battery changed while I fed the kids and supervised showers.

On our way back to the trailer from the showers, we were delighted to run into some beautiful (and very well fed) mule deer just roaming around the campground. They were completely unconcerned about our presence and basically just watched us.

"Never mind me....just grilling some meat here...."  

That was a fun way to start the morning!

Our drive to Ouray was one of the prettiest drives I've ever experienced. The six hours seemed to just fly by. Grant wasn't able to enjoy the scenery as much because he had to focus on driving that trailer through the mountains. He and the Sequoia did an awesome job. I'm sure glad I wasn't driving!

We drove alongside the Gunnison River for a couple of hours. 

Seen at a gas stop - I want one!

At the top elevation on this drive - Monarch Pass Summit. Elevation 11,312 ft.

We got to our RV park (a few miles north of Ouray) in the late afternoon. It wasn't a fancy park, nothing to write home about, but it was inexpensive, actually open in the late fall (most campgrounds in the area were already closed for the season), and boy, were the views fantastic. Here's a look from our campsite. 

The trailer next to us belongs to a permanent resident - fortunately for us, he was out of town for a month and the park owners allowed us to borrow his fire pit. 

Makes me want to move to Colorado. Except for that "snow for seven months of the year" business. I could do without that.  

That night I made a really simple dinner of chicken bacon Alfredo (boiled the pasta, opened a couple of jars of bacon Alfredo sauce and warmed it with two cans of chicken, then stirred in the cooked pasta), green beans, and garlic bread (frozen loaf, warmed in our itty-bitty oven.)  Super easy but my family felt like they were eating at a restaurant. hahaha!

Day 4: October 18
Morning selfie with the girls to text to the grandparents

I had grand plans for the day - and they most definitely did not include this. 

A completely flat tire on the trailer. One of the three brand new tires purchased right before our trip. Upon inspection, Grant found an enormous screw embedded in the tire and the patches he carries were most definitely not sufficient to mend it. 

To complicate matters further, it was Sunday. All of the tire repair shops we could find within a 30 minute drive were closed.

Well, there was nothing we could do about it. He put on the spare and determined we wouldn't worry about it until Monday, when we could stop somewhere on our way out of Colorado to get it fixed. 

So quick re-cap. 
We're on Day 4 of the trip, and so far we've had the following issues:
  • Replace the mass air-flow sensor on the Sequoia
  • New front brakes on the Sequoia
  • New battery on the Sequoia
  • Flat tire on the trailer 
On the upside, we were profoundly thankful that God had protected us through each issue and nothing had really affected us while driving. Everything was getting fixed at reasonable costs and at just the right time. 

So off we went, our packed lunch in the car, meatball soup prepped in the crock pot for dinner, and we were ready to go for a hike. 

That is, we thought we were ready for the hike. 

I had picked the easiest one I could find, one rated extremely positively on Tripadvisor. It was called the Perimeter Trail, accurately named as it circles around the town of Ouray for about 5 miles. We had no intention of doing the entire trail, but that was okay, since there were several places you could leave the trail and go back into town.  

Sounded great. 

The first section of the trail was just basically stairs and a gravelly path that kept going up. It wasn't long before Ellia and Miranda started to look at how high we were getting and the panic set it. They both started crying and refused to go further. With a little persuasion and in Ellia's case, talking her into pretending she was a mountain goat, we managed to proceed. 

Well, the picture doesn't quite do it justice, but eventually the trail became this single-file ledge on the side of a cliff. It was essentially a drop off on that right side. For what felt like 500 feet. Okay, it probably wasn't that far, but it was certainly far enough to be catastrophic if a person were to fall. Let's just say it was mildly terrifying to supervise 5 children on this trail, especially when Annika started to skip. SKIP!! down the trail. That girl has no fear. 

But the views.....Oh the views. You can see why they call Ouray the "Little Switzerland" of America. 

We finally made our slow and careful path to Cascade Falls, which was quite lovely. I felt like kissing the ground when we made it off that mountainside. Seriously.

We had our picnic lunch on the rocks beneath the Falls. 

And then we decided to take our leave of  the Perimeter Trail. There was a trail/road back into town at that point. Isn't this house cute? There were lots of Swiss-inspired cottages in Ouray. 

We celebrated our survival of the trail with ice cream. 

With the rest of the afternoon on our hands, we decided to attempt a journey to Yankee Boy Basin, a popular viewpoint up in the mountains that requires 4-wheel drive vehicles at the very least. Many people hire tour guides with Jeeps to take them up there. 

But not us! We have a Sequoia, remember. 
Since it  was late in the season (ie, very few tourists) and a misty day, we mostly had the road to ourselves. A fact for which I was profoundly grateful. 
See, it's a 2-way road, but in many places, it's just 1 lane. With a sheer cliff on one side. 

To say I was tense on most of this drive is a bit of an understatement. But again, the views were incredible. The first part of the road was just a dirt road that basically any vehicle could handle. Then we came to a section that said "High Clearance Vehicles, 4 wheel drive Only". 

We kept going. 

The road got more technical and extremely slow going as Grant maneuvered the Sequoia over large rocks that could barely be labeled a "road". 

Eventually we made it to the last .5 mile of the "road", but the sign there said, "High Clearance, Short Wheel Base Vehicles Only". Meaning, only Jeeps and 4 wheelers/quads could handle it. We had to stop there. 

It was misty and rainy, so our views were not as far as hoped for, but we had reached an elevation of over 11,600 feet (from the town of Ouray, which sits at 8,000 feet). 

 Our "Toyota commercial" shot. 

We were amidst the same snow capped mountains we could see from afar at our campsite. Alone at the top of the mountains, with the temperature hovering at 45° (20 degrees colder than in town), rain gently falling and the thin air barely filling our lungs, we just stood in awe. 
You can see we had made it to just where the tree-line stops. No more golden aspens up here!

And then took a family selfie with our waterproof camera. 

It was one of the most breathtaking moments of our lives. 

On our way back down the mountain, we stopped to get some photos of a waterfall we had bypassed on the way up. 

Again thankful for the waterproof camera, as it was raining pretty steadily. 

One of the more harrowing sections of the road, simply because of the SHEER DROP OFF on one side, the single lane road, and the fact that you CAN'T SEE if someone else is coming from the other direction. YIKES! (sorry for screaming....but it was scary. To me, anyways.)

One of my favorite shots from the day. I was standing on the edge of a cliff and the water was at least 200 feet beneath me. 

We made it back to the campsite just in time for dinner - our awesome meatball soup (I omitted the zucchini and added a can of cannellini beans). The rain had stopped and we enjoyed our soup around the campfire, soaking in the gorgeous surroundings before the sun set.

Despite the anxiety and hair-raising terror of the day (primarily of yours truly) , it really was one of the best days ever. 

Part 1: Background and the First Day
Part 2: Colorado Springs

Part 4: Zion National Park


  1. You guys are BRAVE to drive that suicidal road. Now I want to revisit colorado.

    1. To be clear, I would NOT have personally driven that "road". Not a chance. :) Grant has experience with that sort of thing from his high-school/college days and it really didn't bother him too much.

  2. Your photos are amazing! Oh, and I would have been a nervous wreck walking that trail with the kids!

    1. I would have enjoyed it more without the stress of watching out for the kids......but even for myself, it was a bit scary! I'm not so great with heights.


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