Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Estes Park CO, Las Vegas NM, Gallop NM, Winslow AZ

We left Twin Lakes at 75 degrees headed backed to the Elks Lodge in Westminster arriving to 100 degrees!  The only spot available was a 30 amp, we hooked up but with the extreme heat we didn't have enough amps to run the AC.  The camp host made the big units run their generators, the other units were only allowed to run one unit allowing us to run our AC.  Wow we were impressed because there was one way we could stay without AC in the awful heat wave. I want to go back to the                                                                                      mountains!!!
A couple of days later we move to the Boulder County Fairgrounds RV Park in Longmont which is                                                                       northwest of Denver.

50 amp, water and a dump station for $20 a night plus overflow parking for my trailer at no additional cost.  It's located in town close to everything and there is a great bike/walking trail system right next to the fairgrounds.  CO has it going on for trails everywhere, I just love it.  I clocked alot of miles on my feet and our bikes.  We would definitely stay here again.

From Longmont it is about an hour drive to Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park.  Estes Park is a popular summer resort area and the location of the headquarters for Rocky Mountain National Park. Being that there is no lodging available in the park, the town of Estes Park is a base camp with all the modern amenities one could want.  We were looking for areas to do some boondocking but couldn't find anything that would accommodate us.  
The park is located in the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains and it is just beautiful.
The park ranger told us to drive the Old Fall River Road which is only open during the summer.  From 1920 to 1932 it was the only route across the Rockies.  Today the route is open to uphill traffic only with steep grades, narrow lanes, and hairpin curves as you ascend more than 3,000 feet to the pass at 11,796 feet.

Along the way you will find Chasm Falls, again note the lack of guardrails!

Starting to see some snow as we reach the top.

Once on top you are rewarded with spectacular views.
Note the lack of trees on top, tree line marks the highest elevation at which trees can grow, which is about 11,400 feet.  What trees you do see struggle to survive as they can't grow with temperatures below 50 degrees F in the warmest month.
We continued on to Trail Ridge Road which is the highest continuous paved road in North America, reaching 12,183 feet.  In the spring it takes road crews 6 weeks to reopen the highway plowing through snow drifts that can reach 35 feet tall.

On the other side of the mountain the scenery changes.  We were lucky enough to see elk.

This guy was all by himself than we rounded a curve to see a herd of them.

One last picture of this beautiful national park.

The temperatures remained high during our stay in Longmont so we stayed inside during the day playing cards, backgammon and working puzzles.  We also went bowling alot as some alleys had $1 games and $2 beers, works for us!

The rainbows in CO are fantastic!


We made a short move to the Elks Lodge at Northglenn CO.

30 amp and water for $10 and a very friendly lodge.  

Took a trip to Golden to see the sights.  First stop was Buffalo Bill Museum & Grave at Lookout Mountain, what a beautiful ride up the mountain.

3 June 1917 Wild Bill Cody was buried on top of Lookout Mountain overlooking Denver and the Plains.  
Leaving the mountain we took the Lariat Loop Scenic and Historical Byway that is a 40 mile route in the foothills.

The Loop encompasses parts of Denver's original "circle drives," within the unique Denver Mountain Parks system designed by F.L.Olmsted in 1914.

Next stop was the Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum, Wow is all I can say about all the gems and gold!


On Saturday the Elks Lodge had their annual picnic for members.  Great food, beer, people and fun!  And yes it remained hot outside so we spent a few days at the bowling alley.

Time to move onto Colorado Springs Elk Lodge.

During the drive we passed the Oscar Meyer Wiener!

We arrived at the lodge to find out they didn't have any spots available so we dry camped in the parking lot with another couple.  No spots til the weekend so we stayed one night and moved on to the Elks Lodge in Las Vegas NM.


This is a small town but once was thriving when it was a stop on the Santa Fe Trail, in fact it was bigger and richer than Santa Fe and Albuquerque.  We spent one night here on our way to CO and decided it would be a good stop on the return trip.  The lodge is super friendly with 30 amp, water and sewer hookups for $15 a day.  We are in monsoon season so it rained once in a while but we were lucky to miss some of the hail and wind storms.

You may not know that the town has a long history with the film industry.  Recently, the TV show Longmire is filmed in the downtown area and in the surrounding plains.
Mark is standing in front of the sheriffs office door and on the second floor above the local shops is the sheriff office on the left.

Across from this building is the Plaza Hotel.

This picture is taken from the doorway where Mark was standing.  The hotel opened in the 1880's and was called the "Belle of the Southwest".  Several movies have been filmed here, Easy Rider was one, and it is said to be haunted by one ghost.  This is where the actors and film crew of Longmire stay.  

On Friday nights there is music in the Plaza Park and people cruise around in hot rods, motorcycles, jacked up cars, big trucks and vintage automobiles.  It reminded me of when I was in high school.

We got the motorcycle out of the trailer for the first time all summer.  Traffic in the Denver area was crazy and we didn't feel safe but here it was nice to ride around and the weather was good.  

Montezuma Castle, originally known as Montezuma Hotel, is 5 miles north of town and was constructed for the railroad in 1882.  It was a popular stopping point for travelers and the area was known for its hot springs.  90,000 sq ft housed a casino, bowling alley, polo fields, ballroom, stage, stained glass from Europe and staff hired away from the best hotels in New York and Chicago.  It closed in 1903 and served several purposes before becoming the United World College.  This is the only UWC in the states.  Unfortunately you can not tour the castle.

Adjacent to the train station is the La Castaneda Hotel, built as a Harvey House in 1898.  It was the first of the Harvey House Hotels.  This hotel was used in the movie Red Dawn. 
The year it opened Teddy Roosevelt held a reunion of his Rough Riders.  It closed in 1948 and the building was mostly abandoned and boarded up for 70 years.  In 2014 it was purchased by Allan Affeldt, who with his team restored the legendary La Posada Hotel in Winslow AZ, which is another Harvey House. We looked forward to seeing it restored.

Next we took a motorcycle ride to Taos NM driving through the Santa Fe National forest which was beautiful.  On Saturday there was a benefit ride for a local man battling with cancer.  Nice group of folks and a good cause.  We enjoying doing these kind of rides.  On the previous Saturday the lodge had their annual picnic with authentic mexican food, oh my the red and green chili!

We had a great time in Las Vegas staying 10 days and would certainly come back.  Another reason I liked it so well was the fact the Patrick Swayze owned a ranch here, love me some Patrick Swayze!!!


The caravan moved onto to Santa Fe staying at the Elks Lodge, no hookups but the evenings were cool, donation asked.  

Santa Fe is the oldest state capital in the United States and the oldest city in NM.
It is known for the arts with one of the highest concentration of artists in one area.
Canyon Road is the place to go to visit tons of art galleries.

Our favorite was the Wiford Gallery with its fabulous wind sculpture garden!
There is tons to do and see also in the Plaza for the art minded.

There is a website called www.roadsideamerica.com  that tells you about strange things to see across the country.  
The above pictures are of a 30 ft tall Robot, an elephant-size green eyed coyote, and a giant tarantula all made from scrap metal.


We moved onto Albuquerque for a few days than proceeded to Gallop NM.  Found a great county park called Red Rock Park just east of town on I-40.  Water and 50 amp for $20 a day and gorgeous great cliffs of red sandstone and the Zuni mountains to the south with an elevation of 6,900 feet.

There are two hiking trails in the park, Church Rock and Pyramid Rock, both are moderate and offer wonderful views.

Wander downtown and check out the beautiful murals, 11 in total, this is just a sample of the talented artists.

As you check out the downtown area you will notice "Trash Can Art", isn't it wonderful!

Gallop was voted the Most Patriotic small town in America and the Veterans Walkway at the courthouse plaza is a must see.

On Friday nights at the courthouse square from Memorial day to Labor Day there are Indian Dances every night.  Saturday mornings there is a flea market that offers a variety of goods and services from the local native people.  
The Red Rock Balloon Rally is the first weekend in December and is the 2nd largest balloon rally in North America.  With rodeos, motocross tracks, hiking trails, trading posts and opera, Gallop has a lot to offer.  We only planned on camping 2 days but stayed 4 and will definitely stay in this charming friendly town again.


Our next stop was Winslow AZ as my maiden name is Winslow!
As we rolled into town the first street sign we noticed was...

our union was meant to be!

We camped at the Elks Lodge with 50amp and water for $10.

Of course our first stop was...

We then strolled to to the First Street Pathway Park which is located 2 blocks from "the corner".  It runs along the railroad tracks.

Peter Toth carved this totem pole that is part of a series he did called the Trail of the Whispering Giants.  He made one for each state to honor Native Americans.

The lovely mural depicts how important the train was to these small towns.

Later that night at the lodge there was Bingo, I had to play, and I won big!  Thanks Dad.

Next day we had to go to the La Posada Hotel which was the last and most elegant of the great Fred Harvey Hotels built by the Santa Fe Railroad.

Mary Colter, the greatest architect of the Southwest designed it as a fabulous Spanish hacienda.  She is famous for lots of designs but La Posada was her favorite.
Passengers from Los Angeles to Chicago stayed here but then air travel took over and the hotel closed in 1957.  The railroad tried to sell it but with no buyers they gutted it and turned it into offices.  In 1993 the railroad decided to move out and was going to tear it down, the National Trust for Historic Preservation bought it to the public's attention.  That's how Allen Affeldt found out about it and after several years he bought it and restored it back to glory!  I have no inside pictures as they just don't do this masterpiece justice, trust me it is fabulous and a must see!  Allan and his artist wife Tina live in the hotel and her artwork is an integral part of the experience.
Remember this is the couple that bought the La Castaneda Hotel in Las Vegas NM and are renovating it back to glory as well.  Thank god for people with deep pockets and vision!


The 9/11 Remembrance Garden on the outskirts of town depicts the twin towers, made from girders from the tower, standing 14' and 15' tall.  

The town of Winslow dedicated this memorial one year after the tragedy.   
The Chamber of Commerce claims they are the largest debris pieces provided to any
 town in America.


20 minutes north of town is the Little Painted Desert County Park.  It is said the views here are as good as the National Park and it is free.  The best time is just before sunset, unfortunately a cloud came over when we were there but none the less it was pretty cool.  These are photos someone else took, impressive.

We chatted with some folks on the "corner" that told us about McHood county park where the camping is free and it is located on Clear Creek Reservoir.  It's about ten minutes out of town and a great place to kayak, so we moved to the park the next day.

There are no hookups but there is flushing toilets.
Once setup we launched the kayaks and headed out on the most beautiful paddle we have ever taken.

                 What an awesome day!!!

Our time spent in Winslow AZ was very enjoyable.  Some small towns really do have alot to offer, you just have to stop in and say "Hi".

From Winslow we are headed to our winter location in Wickenburg AZ.

Thanks for following our travels!

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