From the moment we landed in Grand Junction, Colorado, all I could say was “wow!” Every direction I looked, there were mountains. I took out Katie’s Panasonic Lumix and started shooting as we left the plane and walked to the terminal.
I knew this was going to be a great trip.
It takes about 30 minutes to get from the airport to the house we were staying at in Mack, Colorado. We were out in the desert and only six miles from the Utah border. As we got to the house, sun was setting and they were starting to feed the horses. I figured I’d waste no time and start photographing ASAP.
After feeding ourselves, it was time to light the bonfire. I’ve always lived in cities and suburbs so I had never experienced a private bonfire. Living on seven acres in the desert gives you all the privacy and independence you might want and need. Again, I grabbed my camera and tried to do a wide shot of the fire. This was my first test for my TC-80N3 cable release.
I really shouldn’t have been this excited but when I saw my first tumbleweed, I nearly screamed! I reacted to memorialize this moment in the parking lot of the Plum Creek Winery in Palisade, Colorado.
After visiting a few wineries, we drove up into the Colorado National Monument. It was absolutely breathtaking. I got out of the car at some points and did short hikes along the cliff sides.
Off to Utah. We took off in our early 80’s Ford van and headed for Moab, Utah. We stopped in the middle of the desert at a place known as Fisher Towers. While the towers weren’t that impressive, our huge van dwarfed by the expansive desert was.
After making a short pit stop in Moab, we headed to Arches National Park. On the way in, we stopped at many of the roadside pull-offs to take more photos.
Eventually, we actually made it to part of the park with natural land arches. Katie and I took off on a hike to get close to the arches.
After hiking for what was probably close to half an hour, we found a sign that said “Primitive trail back to parking lot.” Ok. Sounds good. The only problem was that the trail disappeared. We were walking on the backside of these arches with no visible trail. We practiced how we would defend ourselves from mountain lions, just in case. Eventually, we found a sign pointing us in the right direction.
After stopping at a few more places in Arches National Park, we drove up the road to Dead Horse Point. The area got its name when starving horses jumped off of the cliff to drink out of the Colorado river below. The drop is probably around 1,000 feet.
Believe it or not, I didn’t take any photos on day 4 of our trip. We all slept in a bit and took our time getting ready. In the early afternoon, we took three horses out for a ride. Of course I brought my camera. I put it in a padded bag that attaches to the saddle horn. We rode in the Colorado National Monument at a place called Devil’s Canyon. Being that this was my first time doing trail riding on a horse let alone one of the only times I’ve ever been on a horse, I never did feel comfortable enough to take my camera out, especially since we were running up and down hills, climbing rocks and crossing streams. It was tremendously fun. It was very beautiful as well. Katie’s aunt took a picture of us with Katie’s camera.
We left Mack and headed into the mountains towards the town of Ouray. It is pronounced yur-ay.
Ouray is known for its ice climbing and its hot springs. We went to Orvis hot springs. It was beautiful and relaxing. Unfortunately I can’t show you. It is a clothing optional hot spring and no cameras were allowed in. For the record, I opted to leave my swimming trunks on.
On our final day, we headed up to Mesa Lakes to do some snowshoeing. Again, we drove up into the mountains. The lodge where we rented our snowshoes from was at just under 10,000 feet in elevation. Once we got going, we estimated that the snow was a minimum of five feet deep in some areas. You would not want to sink in. At one point, we came to a bridge we had to cross. It had a foot and a half of snow on top with a very narrow flat surface. Katie and her aunt crawled across while her uncle and I braved walking across…very slowly and very carefully.
The trail winding through the trees was very beautiful.
After we finished a loop of one lake, I continued on alone for another twenty minutes or so because I was having so much fun. I decided to take a self portrait in front of one of the snow-covered lakes.
That was all she wrote. The next morning, we headed back to the Grand Junction airport — an airport so small it only has six gates. Oddly enough, I couldn’t remember which gate the lady and the check-in counter said we needed to be at for our flight to Denver. When I saw this sign, I guessed we were at the right one.
I loved every part of this trip. In fact, I would love to live near Grand Junction. The outdoorsman and adventurer inside me would be busy all of the time. I definitely think another trip is in order to see more of the beautiful scenery and do more of the outdoor activities that appeal to the mountain man inside.