Friday, October 9, 2015

Pueblo, Colorado - Part 1

September 28 - October 5, 2015:

It was a beautiful drive on route 50 along the Arkansas River, but too many curves to relax much.  We planned to stop at the Royal Gorge Bridge and take a walk across.  I have done it a few times some 20 plus years ago, but was not prepared for the changes.  The last time I was there it was easy, you parked near the bridge and just walked out onto it.  I don’t remember even a charge to go there.  It has now been turned into a mega tourist attraction with a large visitors center, a souvenir shop, multiple thrill rides and it cost $20 a person just to walk across the bridge. I was repulsed by the crass commercialism of it all, took a photo of the bridge from a distance and left.

Royal Gorge Bridge

We have reservations for a week at Lake Pueblo State Park.  We have saved considerable money with the annual Colorado State Park pass this year.  It is also considerably warmer here, may be air conditioning weather.  Lake Pueblo is part of the Fryingpan - Arkansas Project.  This is a trans mountain water diversion project that diverts water from the Frying pan river and Hunter Creek through the Continental Divide via a tunnel to the Turquoise Reservoir, then through the Mt. Ebert conduit to Twin Lakes and then into the Arkansas River and finally into the Pueblo Reservoir. Pueblo Reservoir is used for irrigation along with water storage for businesses and homes and recreation.

Lake view

The Dam

View of the campground from a trail

I spent about 20 weeks in the early 1990’s and then another 6 weeks in 2006 in Pueblo on assignment for NJ Transit witnessing railcar track testing at the US Transportation Technology Center 20 some miles outside of Pueblo.  It was one of the best assignments I had working on the railroad and I loved the time spent in Pueblo.  That’s why I’m back !

The biggest change to Pueblo over the years is the building of the Riverwalk area and an attempt to get an artistic district going.  The Riverwalk area seems to be successful while the arts district, I’m not so sure about.  The other thing is that the trees along Union avenue have grown so large that they now hid the beautiful architecture of the old buildings.  Pueblo has a large number of buildings on the National historic register.

Great building architecture all over town

Pueblo Chile is added to everything here

The Pueblo Riverwalk

Art in the Library

Old postcard view of Pueblo, sadly the lasting
prosperity ended with the closure of the Steel Mill

A Monster steam locomotive under a partial restoration

Nice art work on the windows, even the broken one

Steel Strong in Pueblo

Premium advertising space in Pueblo

After about three weeks, Twinkles has finally determined that her wrist injury is more than a sprain.  It gives me some pleasure, I have to admit, to tell her I told you so !  She initially had insisted it was merely a sprain, no exam necessary, she would be fine with a brace from the drug store.  Then after three weeks when a big bump still remaining and it still hurting she decides there might be more to it.  So we go to the West Pueblo emergency room where X-rays reveal that she has an axial fracture of the lower arm and a cracked ankle bone.  There seems to be mixed opinions on this with some people impressed by her tolerance for pain and others thinking she is pretty stubborn ?  The ankle seems to be no big deal, will heal on it’s own with a brace but the arm is more serious.  The next stop was a local orthopedic surgeon for a professional opinion who scheduled her for surgery on the following day.  The surgery was mainly to get the bones back in proper alignment and put a cast on it. It’s now done, but will be about six weeks before the cast comes off.  It’s the left arm and she is, of course, left handed so it’s going to be awkward. We are also going to be hanging out here in Pueblo for another week for a followup office visit with the surgeon. 

Twinkles showing off her new accessories

There are lots of hiking and biking trails at Lake Pueblo, I've been out on a few of them.  You can take trails all the way to downtown Pueblo.

There were thousands of these sunflowers blooming a 
short time ago, all dying off now but the large seed 
heads are still beautiful

Nice rock formations

View from the trail

We have had short mild thunderstorms almost every evening and this one resulted in a great rainbow.  The eclipse was OK too !

Double Rainbow

The eclipse is underway

On Wednesday night I ventured to the Rainbow Bar, in one of the seedier areas of downtown Pueblo, for live music featuring Joe Puck with opening acts “Burns like hell”  and “Haj Paj”.  I usually avoid these types of bands, but occasionally it’s interesting to see how the other half lives.  The Rainbow Bar was nicer than expected, actually a rather nice establishment.  The patrons at this event were naturally a rather unattractive group, (hope they don’t read this) who then go the extra mile to further uglify themselves with all sorts of excessive tattoos, piercings, ear plugs and ridiculous attire.  It’s downright nasty, (to me), but I feel that they see themselves as the people who “get it”.  The opening bands were the standard Monster metal (or whatever they call it) sound with the deafening wave of sound and screaming incoherent vocals.  Joe Puck, the headliner, seemed to be revered by this crowd.  He is a long time punk rocker, now approaching middle age with a Hank Williams country twist.  He was doing a solo performance, playing guitar along with a kick drum setup that was easier for me to appreciate. I could actually like some of his stuff.

Interesting showbill

Joe Buck

I also checked out Phil’s Bar and Music on Friday night which is a live music venue that was having the Mallet Brothers Brothers Band who are from Maine.  They are a country, bluegrass, rock band, but not new country, more of a north Maine woods country, strong playing and vocals with much potential.


The Mallet Brothers

Always on the lookout for a good burger, I visit “Burger Bingo” in downtown Pueblo.  They specialize in burgers and do them very well with a build a burger menu with local organic food products, fresh cut fries, special sauces, local chili peppers of course, micro brews and specialty drinks.  What a concept !

Pueblo has a very impressive county courthouse that I went into to look around, I was surprised that you can just walk in, no metal detector, I didn’t even see a security guard. There are many interesting old photos of Pueblo and portraits of former city or county leaders inside and has a beautiful rotunda.

Pueblo County Courthouse

We have had great results at Colorado libraries and Pueblo is no exception.  The state of Colorado really seems to support their Libraries and they are usually state of the art.  They even have a 3-D printer here which is pretty cool. I stopped to add some photos to my Flick’r photo website which has been terribly neglected. I left my camera on the seat covered by a shirt, but still sort of in view.  As I sit in the Library, this guy starts talking to a library worker about someone stealing his jacket in the library recently and someone stealing his bike off the rack on his car in the past.  She then tells him about her car being stolen from the parking lot and how she doesn’t leave her car in the lot anymore. He then tells her that in Pueblo they steal everything that is not locked down and the library is a good target.  OK, I’m now shutting down the computer and heading quickly back to the jeep and to my relief finding everything still there.  Theft is probably about my biggest fear in full time RV’ing as RV door locks and windows are not even remotely secure, I need to think about a built-in safe ?  

I’m getting a TV station here, a PBS affiliate called First Nation Experience (FNX) which is a totally Native American.  As I am a dedicated Indian lover, I like it although once in a while it gets even a little too Indian centric for me.  One of my favorite things about traveling around the country is the history and the stories of the people, fantastic stories of people who you will otherwise never hear about.  FNX had a segment on one of them, Andy Payne, a poor Cherokee Indian who had a gift for running.  His parents took out a mortgage on the farm to pay his entrance fee for the Trans-American Footrace in 1928 from LA to NYC.  He thought he had as much chance as anyone else to win the $25,000 first prize .  It was a brutally long distance race, 3,424 miles total, before the days of the race support teams, much of it alone with meager equipment, meals, medical and  sleeping conditions.  There were days when they had to run 70 miles to the next checkpoint. He won the race becoming quite famous, went home, paid off his parents mortgage, bought them a new house, got married to his sweetheart and bought a car. He eventually went to law school and became the clerk of the Oklahoma Supreme Court until his retirement.  He understandably became a huge inspiration and hero of the Cherokee tribe. 

We make a big move across the campground to another loop tomorrow where the campsites are non-reservable, as this loop is all reserved for the coming weekend.  We needed to hit the dump station anyhow so it’s no bid deal !

Going nowhere,
Twinkles and Slick 

1 comment:

  1. I didn't realize you were in Pueblo. I'm in Pueblo at least until we take delivery of our MH later this week. I'asked a guy I work with what's going on in the local music arena this week. He plays in a couple of groups. There is a top notch sax player, Carlos, who has retired here. The Riverside usually has something going on. 4th street across the Arkasas River bridge.
    Pueblo is known for the Slopper, a hamberger smothered in green chili. Grey's Coors Tavern was highlighted on the Travel Channel's Food Wars a couple of years ago. There are a ton of mediocre Mexican Restaurants. Rojas in Pueblo West is better than most.