June 27 - July 5, 2015:
We leave Montrose on route 50 through farming country and then the beautiful town of Delta, stopping to take a photo of a great mural and then on to Grand Junction, Colorado. We skirt through Grand Junction, Colorado next next to it’s massive rail yard, going past about 100 Diesel Locomotives all lined up in a row. We then get on I-70 for a couple of miles to exit 19 for Fruita, Colorado, where we find the James M. Robb State Park. James M. Robb was a local mover and shaker in the area who had something to do with the development of this park system.
The state campground is very well manicured with level concrete pads, paved roads, fire pits and covered Ramadas in each campsite. Also a nice laundry area, bathroom and shower room. After three days with no power or water, the amenities feel real nice and since it’s 100 degrees outside, we immediately crank on the air conditioning. Also nice to have a phone signal again and ability to get WiFi nearby. The Colorado River flows right behind the campground along with a small fishing lake. It’s kind of wasted on us as we don’t fish, maybe some day we will try that ?
Downtown Fruita is a charming small town with a nice park, several nice restaurants, a music club, two breweries, a bike shop and a huge community center. Mountain and Road biking rules here and just about everything downtown is bicycle centric. We had an early dinner at Sud’s Brothers Brewery which is a very popular spot in town, it was very nice but Twinkles meal unfortunitely was not to her liking. I returned downtown latter in the evening for live music which was playing at three different places simultaneously, either feast or famine. The only problem was they all ended at 10 PM, as it's mostly for the dining crowd. I was liking the music at the Copper Club Brewing Club, someone called Gigi Love, (must have had hippie parents) but they were sadly done at 9 PM. The Copper Brewing Club is really the happening little quirky spot in town, I also went to their Thursday music jam session which wasn’t much of a jam session, the same four people played constantly, but it was entertaining.
|Dinosaur in Fruita's town square|
|Grain Co-Op even has a biking sign|
|The happening bike shop in town|
|This sculpture is in front of the Copper Brewing Club|
On Saturday morning, I went to the Camilla’s Kaffe where I had an excellent omelet for breakfast, best I’ve had in a very long time ! I also made use of the beautiful modern library for WiFi which is part of this community center complex with indoor and outdoors swimming pools, skate park and much else.
The Colorado National Monument entrance is only a few miles from the campground and it is spectacular. We toured about half of the Rim Road stopping at most of the scenic vista viewpoints. We also did the 1 mile Canyon Rim trail from the visitors center and were getting awfully warm in the near 100 degree heat. The Colorado National Monument is very close to Utah and the geology is similarly impressive. This National Park exists in large part to a quirky character, John Otto, who many people thought was slightly crazy, but he tirelessly promoted the place, built trails and roads, lived in a tent there and eventually saw it become a National Monument.
|On the park road coming to a tunnel|
|A scenic vista with the road just traveled below|
|Another view from the rim|
I decided to get on a trail built by John Otto early Monday morning for an aggressive 7 mile round trip hike to the Independence Monument. Twinkles smartly passed on this hike. It’s a hike that starts at the top of the canyon rim and then goes about 800 feet down to the canyon floor and then proceeds relatively flat the rest of the way. It was a beautiful hike, but at near 100 degrees, so very hot and by the time I had to do the uphill portion back to the canyon rim I was exhausted, totally wiped out. I had luckily done at good job on water management, didn’t run out, but struggled weakly back to the Jeep. I got in the Jeep, drove out of the park, went straight to the local connivence store and bought two large bottles of Gatorade. After drinking about a gallon and taking a cool shower I have vowed to give up lengthy hikes in this heat of the day. On the 4th of July, climbers scale Independence Monument to raise the US flag on top, a tradition started by John Otto.
|A trail view starting down|
|At the bottom you are walking among these|
giant rock formations
|This is Independence Monument|
|This one is called kissing cousins|
Twinkles and I returned to do two other beautiful trails, Otto’s Trail and the Coke Ovens trail, on another trip into the park.
|Another Independence Monument view from Otto's trail|
|Another view from Otto's trail|
|The view from the Coke Ovens overlook|
We were unable to stay in the State Park through the July 4th weekend, as everything is reserved, so we moved across the road to the private Monument RV Park where we will stay to July 6th. We are partially under a shade tree there which should help with the heat and there is a pool and hot tub which will definitely be nice. The view out our windows is of the dog walk area, but you can’t have it all, hope it doesn’t smell.
I watched a PBS show about the oil Industry in South Dakota. A very sad, depressing true story on a current situation. I couldn’t help but see the similarities between this current “oil rush” and the past “mining rushes” in the recent Colorado towns we have visited. It’s history repeating itself, filled with poor desperate people (not the best types) trying to get rich quick, wealthy speculators, greed, violence, with little to regard for the environment impact.
The heat is brutal here this week, so for relief on Tuesday afternoon we went to the movies to see “Jurassic World” in a nice cool theater in Grand Junction. The plot is basically the same old story as the earlier movie versions with the exception of 3D. The movie does resonate in this as Dinosaur fossils have been found all around this area. They even have a giant Dinosaur statue in downtown Fruita. A few miles from the campground is Dinosaur Hill where in 1901 Paleontologist Elmer Riggs excavated a 70 foot long Apatosaurus. It was removed and shipped back to the Chicago field museum where it still remains on display. There is a loop trail there which we hiked, not much to see really, but the hill was somewhat strange. A few miles away, is the Fruita Paleontological Area which claims to preserve a greater diversity of pre-historic life from the Jurassic period than other known place on Earth !
|Dinosaur Hill trail view|
|This is the modern Dinosaur, it is real !|
Grand Junction Colorado has an exceptionally nice clean vibrant downtown area loaded with many stores, restaurants, pubs and galleries. They have an art project, mostly sculptures, must be 100, sprinkled all around the downtown area. We visited the excellent Museum of the West, which was wonderful. We then did lunch at Main Street Bagels, Bakery and Cafe which has become a favorite of ours.
|Bikes are all over Grand Junction also|
|A noted Grand Junction screenwriter immorilized|
|The Quincy Bar has a great sign|
|A chrome Bison|
|The current Union Station|
|The old Train Depot virtually next door is for sale|
|The Museum of the West|
Another interesting nearby town is Palisade which is known for it’s fruit orchards, wineries and farms. We bought fresh from the tree peaches, cherries and Apricots. They were yummy !
We seem to be following trends this year, first it was Route 66, then narrow gauge railroad lines, then old mining towns and now it seems we are into Dinosaur lands.
Next stop is Dinosaur National Monument,
Twinkles and Slick