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Colorado Pics! 9/16/12


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#41 laming

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 04:54 PM

There was a lot of very cool stuff descending the east slope. However, that sense of urgency thing was really motivating us to get our butts to Poncha Springs and beat the rain!

Fortunately, it did NOT rain on the way over to Poncha Springs. We had a great meal at a small convenience store, fueled up, and almost ran non-stop back over the pass. It was getting REALLY cloudy... with some intermitten sprinkles even.

Then, as we neared Sargents, magically it cleared and the sun came out! I decided to explore and see if I could find some old railroad artifacts. Eureka! I located the old water tank and what appears to be some railroad buildings....

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#42 laming

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 05:01 PM

From the railroad findings, it was back over to the general store at Sargents for a quick stop. We were only at the general store for a few minutes, but when we came back outside... the sky was completely overcast again... and it was pouring buckets up toward Marshall Pass summit where we had just been!

We decided it was time to BOOK IT and ride non-stop back to Pitkin. I remember turning north on Black Sage Pass road and looking back toward the Sargents area... it was now pouring there, too.

On we rode like madmen! (Madwoman?) Finally, our cabin came into sight and we pulled in... still dry. No sooner did we get off the bikes and started taking our helmets off... then the rains begin! We had beat the rain by about 3 minutes! That was CLOSE!

Seeing as the forecast was calling for RAIN now for the next 24 hours, I went ahead and pushed the bikes up onto the front porch so they could be under the porch roof.

The forecast was calling for big time rains tomorrow... and we were SUPPOSED be going over 12,000+ foot Cumberland Pass to the old town of Tincup and onto Taylor Lake.

Hmmmm.... this ain't lookin' too promising!!!

To be continued.

#43 laming

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 06:59 PM

The last forecast we heard before returning to our cabin for the night was pretty dismal:

Highs in the 40's. 70% chance of rain. Snow in the higher elevations (above 10,000').

Once back at the cabin Honey Buns and me had a pow-wow. We both decided tomorrow would be a down day and we would piddle around in the Blazer, maybe head back east to check out Salida, over to Gunnison to go through the Pioneer Musuem, etc. As we relaxed in our cabin, the rain started in earnest... some fairly moderate rain was hitting the metal roof. Now that the rain had arrived, it was to be here a spell.

Soon, it was time to retire. Snug as a bug in a rug in our bed, with the windows cracked open a bit... once again I drifted off to sleep to the serenade of a rushing Quartz Creek just outside our window. Good stuff Maynard!

Sure 'nuf, upon arising Wednesday morning, the rains were still on. Plus, there was heavy icing on the Blazer's windows. The temps were in the low 30's. NOT a fun day to be riding high mountain passes!

We headed for Salida... then on our way back to Gunnison, I begin to notice several types of classic and antique sports cars... heading our direction.

Could it be?

You see, many years ago, when Sharon and I was doing our first September Colorado vacation, we came upon a classic/antique sports car rally known as the "Colorado Grand". It was a bunch of old sports car enthusiasts that ran a 1000 mile loop through Colorado, stopping at a park each night to display their vehicles while eating supper prior to retiring for the night. Apparently, we had timed it just right again! Their lunch stop was at Gunnison. We got there just in time to see the last of the cars before they too, left for the evening stop.

Here's a couple of pics from that little serendipitous encounter...

First up is a fabulous 1950's Ferrari Testa-Rosa racing car...

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#44 laming

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 07:00 PM

We also saw a genuine Ford Cobra! (NOT a kit car!) Here it is:

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#45 laming

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 07:03 PM

In all, our "Down Day" turned out to be a great day in all! We had a delicious lunch at the Tic Toc Diner at Gunnison (I ate a fantastic grilled pastrami n' swiss on toasted rye topped with sauer kraut.)

Coming out of the diner... we noticed some more "Adventure Bikes" had shown up... though I didn't see their riders....

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#46 laming

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 07:21 PM

While eating lunch, I enquired if there was a seafood place in town. (We were both kind of in the mood for some seafood... or in my case... perhaps some fried trout?)

Indeed, there was reputed to be an EXCELLENT seafood and steak house in Gunnision, named "The Trough".

As the day progressed, I happened by a motorcycle dealership. Out front were some very serious dirt bikes by the name of "Husaberg". Like a siren song... I was lured inside. (I LOVE to hit bike shops. Love the smell of a bike shop and the fun of looking over all the shiney new motorcycles.)

Small world! The fellow that owned the shop was an acqaintance of mine and a good friend of one of my good friends! His name is Fritz Kadlec, and he is one whale of an off-road rider, having ridden professionally for decades. However, now he's out of that scene and sells bikes an' stuff.

While visiting with him, Fritz asked where we would be riding at Crested Butte (Friday's ride). I told him Kebler Pass to Ohio Pass, then over to Gunnison for lunch, and return. With that, he pulled out a map and begin to highlight stuff that was even better! Needless to say, I purchased the map, and thanked him profusely. Cool! We just improved Friday's ride on a happenstance stop! Below is a pic of Fritz and his shop.

Our supper that night was fantastic! We indeed ate at "The Trough", a seafood and steak house. We both ordered boiled shrimp.

My lands... there were half dozen of them per serving, and they were the biggest shrimp we had ever seen! I kid you not, each shrimp was as big as a fried chicken leg! Sharon only ate two of hers and I only got three of mine down! By the time we had gotten our large salads down, savored the taste of The Trough's home-made poppy rolls... then topped it off with as many huge shrimp as we could eat with a delicious smothered baked potato on the side... we were stuffed!

We boxed up the leftover shrimp n' rolls and some cocktail sauce, and presto: A King's lunch for Alpine Tunnel tomorrow!

Ah... almost forgot:

While at the Pioneer Museum, I saw a Denver South Park & Pacific book I didn't have. It's a new release by the title of "South Park's Gunnison Divison Memories & Then Some". After a few inquiries, we found the campus book store (at Western State College) had them in stock. It was off to the book store and a copy was then in my possession!

That night at our cozy warm cabin, Sharon and I curled up with a book and relaxed like nobody's business. Let it rain!

Ah, speaking of rain. That was to end during the night. The rest of the days we were to be in Colorado was to be clear blue sky and temps in the 60's! PERFECT!

Eventually we were ready for bed. Tomorrow was going to be one of our most anticipated events: The trek to Alpine Tunnel via the roadbed of the DSP&P. It had been YEARS since we've done this... and we were both looking forward to it. Plus... we were going to lunch in high fashion at Alpine Tunnel, courtesy of The Trough!

Yes indeed, big doin's tomorrow!

To Be Continued.

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#47 laming

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 04:55 PM

Thursday morning:

After raining off and on all yesterday, and most of the night... Thursday dawned crystal clear and colder than a well digger's patootey! There was ice on all the Blazer's windows. As the Blazer warmed up and defrosted its windows, we were packing our lunch and getting pumped all over again about what lay before us today. We both love the area we were getting ready to experience again: The climb on the old DSP&P grade from Pitkin to Alpine Tunnel.

Ever since I begin to appreciate Colorado narrow gauge (1990?) and begin to acquire books about same, the DSP&P has been one of my favorite Colorado narrow gauge lines. Sharon and I first explored the Alpine Tunnel area in about 1993. We were in our 1992 Buick Century. We drove the road bed as far as we could (stopping and gaping at the sights along the way)... only to be stopped by a snow slide that we could not cross with the Century. So... we got out and hoofed it the remaining 2 miles or so to Alpine Tunnel! It was great!

Soon, we were ready to take off. Ahead would be something like 13 miles of one of the most historic and amazing pieces of railroading and railroad engineering ever accomplished in North America.

I took a TON of pics. Of course, like almost all things Colorado... pictures just cannot EVER do justice to actually standing there and experiencing it for yourself. An online acquaintance summed up railfanning in Colorado in one of his replies at Elvas Tower by saying that "it was almost a religious experience". I agree! Although there hasn't been a train over Alpine Pass in over 100 years... it was still a stirring experience to see it once more.

So... the Blazer loaded, our jackets on, and camera in hand... it was off for Alpine Tunnel.

All along the way, there are these facinating little "mini-scenes".... maybe a rock outcropping (as pictured below) or a histroical area (typically now with signs/makers interpreting the area)... then entire area is just steeped in history and "atmosphere".

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#48 laming

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 04:59 PM

We hadn't been motoring very far when a scene would open up that illstrated how FAST altitude was being gained. 4% grades will do that!

The aroma of the aspens and spruce were WONDERFUL as we slowly moved along. We savored the trip, the sights, the smells... all of it... every foot of the way.

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#49 laming

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 05:04 PM

A look back at a fill. There was a neat burbling brook tumbling down the mountainside here. In fact, most times when you stopped... you would hear the sound of rushing/tumbling water. That's cool, too! cool.gif

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#50 laming

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 05:05 PM

And here's the tumbling water we were enjoying!

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#51 laming

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 05:06 PM

Just pick a direction, take a gander that way, and it was gorgeous... without fail!



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#52 laming

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 05:09 PM

Looking upgrade not far from the Woodstock town site. See that distant peak on up ahead? The roadbed will be on that soon!

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#53 laming

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 05:11 PM

We were so fortunate to time our vacation time just right so we could enjoy the aspens in fall foliage again. We've only timed it this way once before. It was spectacular almost everywhere there were aspens!

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#54 laming

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 05:15 PM

More ruggedness from near the Woodstock town site.

See that rock face up above?

If you look REALLY close (up top and on the right)... you'll see one of the palisades (rock retaining walls) that were used to hold the grade in place on the rugged mountain side. On the DSP&P, that area was referred to as "The Palisades".

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#55 laming

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 05:17 PM

One of the neatest things about the Pitkin to Alpine Tunnel grade is that history preservationists are doing their best to stabilize, and in some cases restore, the historic artifacts that remain. Here is the Williams Gulch water tank. It used to be at the townsite of Woodstock, until that terrible avalance wiped out the entire town. More on that in a bit.

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#56 laming

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 05:20 PM

Looking over the rugged granduer that comprises much of the climb to Alpine Tunnel. Again, if you look close, you'll see two levels of roadbed: The one we're on (it's in the foreground to the right)... and the one way up above! (You sort of have to know where it's at.)

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#57 laming

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 05:35 PM

This is the site of the old town of Woodstock. Woodstock was an interesting place in the early 1880's. It was extremely remote and living there was very rugged. The railroad was the only means of contact with the outside world.

The boarding house at Woodstock was run by an Irish widow that had six children: Mrs. Marcella Doyle. The DSP&P Telegrapher there was J.S. Brown.

Sadly, a catostrophic avalance took place here during the winter of 1884. I will quote from Mallory Hope Ferrell's book "The South Park Line":

"The South Park's worst disaster occurred at Woodstock about 6:00 PM on March 10, 1884. A huge avalance roared down the steep mountainside above Missouri Gulch, completely burying the town and killing thirteen people. Included among the dead were telegrapher Brown, and all six of the Doyle children, who ranged in age from 10 to 23 years of age. Also killed were saloon keeper Joseph Royegno, Jasper Caswell, James Tracy, George Alexander, Michael Shea and Joseph Gerazo. Mrs. Doyle and three others were buried under the snow and not resuced for almost twelve hours... only to then learn of the horrible tragedy that had befallen the others."

The disaster wiped out the town of Woodstock, and it never regained its former size.

So sad.

This much I know. IF I ever build a virtual version of the Alpine Tunnel area... Mrs. Marcella Doyle and her six children will be safe and sound thereon, enjoying the virtual landscape and still tending the travelers that happen to be boarding at her boarding house.




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#58 laming

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 05:36 PM

Looking upgrade from the Woodstock townsite...

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#59 laming

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 05:38 PM

Now we come to Woodstock Loop, later called Sherrod Loop. The rails of the DSP&P had to make almost a complete loop in order to make its final assault to reach Alpine Tunnel.

If you'll look closely... you'll see some rails have been relaid to help aid the historical significance of the area!

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#60 laming

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 05:39 PM

Here's a closer look at those rails...

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