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Trip Report - NC to NM/CO in an '84 Westie
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b00t
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2012 12:47 pm    Post subject: Trip Report - NC to NM/CO in an '84 Westie Reply with quote

The Trip Report:
A Summer Trip from Asheville, NC to Ojo Caliente, NM to a loop around SW Colorado to Taos, NM back to Asheville, NC.

When:
July 20, 2012 - August 20, 2012

Who:
My girlfriend, Leanne, of 4 years and myself, Ryan.
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What:
Artie McParty the VonderVagon - '84 Wesfalia, 1.9 Purchased 2 years ago from 2nd owner for $4800 and roughly $2000 in work/upgrades.
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Prologue
This spring I was given the opportunity to take some time off. (OK, I was laid off from my job.) But, the good news is that now I have time to spend with my GF and put into action a plan I have been formulating for a while now - a cross country trip in Artie our 84 VW Westie and a few other surprises (foreshadow;).

I was lucky to find a job before the trip as a Application Specialist for a large health system here in the SouthEast, but that was going to throw off plans for this trip. I wasn't about to let that happen so I ended up negotiating the time with my new employer (without pay) and I was given one month to do what i needed - no more, no less.

Leanne is a counselor at a Middle School, so she has summers off. However, she crams a lot into the summers so before leaving included a kayaking trip, a drive up to PA for 4th of July, Indianapolis for a christening of new niece...and that is just the start. Add to that school start for her on August 20th, so she has to get back, PERIOD.

So, this is the trip report of our adventure - the campsites, the people, the surprises, the parties, the VW and more. Stay tuned...I got a lot of pix!


Last edited by b00t on Fri Oct 05, 2012 1:28 pm; edited 1 time in total
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b00t
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2012 1:15 pm    Post subject: The Long Hot Drive Called 1-40 West....To TEXAS! Reply with quote

The plan was to get on I-40 out of Asheville and haul as much (as a vanagon will allow) all the way to Santa Fe, NM. We had a reservation at the Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs just north of Santa Fe in 5 days. We were expecting to take every bit of that to get there.

Leanne Drives Artie for the First Time:
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In 2 Days after camping the first night in Memphis,TN we had made it to Lake Eufaula State Park, OK. It was beautiful, but for some reason no one in OK camps in July, we were the only ones. I guess the 100+ heat was keeping them away? Well I take that back, the family next to us were camping but they had an RV with AC. We ended up getting frustrated because there they had all that AC and were hanging outside. Oh well, we hang out and enjoy the wine...


Momma Likes her Vino
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That night it didn't get below 90 degrees
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We didn't sleep a bit that night. Got up at 6am and decided to drive to Texas and get a hotel room with AC (Yes, we only made it 3 days without AC, but you try and drive across the midwest in mid july, no bueno!)

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Safety First, 10-2,eyes on the road
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The heat will make you do crazy things...
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You all recognize this view
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Finally, across TN, AK, OK and to Texas. Next stop NM!

I think that person was peeing, not sure? Must not like TX
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Leanne doesn't drive a stick, never really has. But I was tired of driving so we would get on the exit ramp, talk her through how to clutch it. Well we must be in TX because Artie was bucking like a bronco most of the time..but once we got on highway it was fine sailing and I got to take a break.

Like an old hat at this
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Another view you all may recognize
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Leaning Water Tower of TX
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Lo and Behold the Promised Land - AC, Steak, Pool, Beer!
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Big Texan Steak Ranch
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b00t
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2012 7:44 am    Post subject: Big Texan Steak Ranch to Santa Fe, NM Reply with quote

So, relief was found in the form of AC and a dark room at the big Texan steak ranch...the home of everything big and texas.

We got a room and didn't come out for about 4 hours while we cooled off...then off to the Ranch for steaks, beers and old time music!

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I wanted to go for the challenge but it didn't happen. I figured I could eat the steak but the rolls, salad and jumbo shrimp appetizer would have put me over the top.

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A texas shaped pool? Really?!?
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Big BooT!
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Holy COW that's big!
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Leanne in Big Chair
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Steak Ranch Row
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This guy did the steak challenge, was a trooper but much meat left with 3 minutes left to go! (See the clock in the background) Right after this picture he picked up a bucket and let it hurle...cleared the room quickly.

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Time to Go Though, say good bye!
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ON TO NEW MEXICO!!
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Still Flat though
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Real Flat
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But, soon enough we took a right in New Mexico and headed up to Santa Fe. After 1500 miles on I-40 and 4 days, we were ready for a change...Welcome to Santa Fe!!!
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Santa Fe is where I started to realize the toll that altitude can take on power! Bus was not idling and dying on me, had no power, thought we were in big trouble.

Called some peeps, called the local shop (super cool and helpful), they all assured me that this is how they run, maybe a little tune up could be done but for the most part welcome to High Elevation. Anyone have tips on this for on the fly? The highest elevation I go here is 6k. I think this started at 7k in santa fe...any ideas on this for next time?


So, while trying to up my idle in a parking lot ran into this Doka, beauty! I am sure they are on Samba, post up if you read this...nice ride
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But first local Food and Beer. Stopped by Maria's Kitchen for our first taste of Christmas...man I am in love. On top of that Santa Fe Pale Ale...excellent combo.
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Stayed up in Hyde Memorial State Park. Probably the nicest park we stay in the whole trip. Went mtn bike riding on the loop and almost coughed a lung. The altitude really takes its toll.
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Great camp here, flat paved lots, great bathrooms, tables are well built very clean very quiet....
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Next Up! Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs!
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peaceful warrior
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2012 9:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I saw you just made this trip. Too bad you didn't get up to Taos, and drop by for a beer and BBQ.
Hope you had a great trip. Very Happy

BTW, I cannot stand that drive on I-40 either.....boring! Wink
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Last edited by peaceful warrior on Tue Oct 23, 2012 8:30 am; edited 1 time in total
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debbiej
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2012 8:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

whew. it was really hot then.

NM is really an enchanting place, and even when it is flat on the bottom, the sky is amazing. as is the food.

looks like a great adventure.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2012 8:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

debbiej wrote:
whew. it was really hot then.

NM is really an enchanting place, and even when it is flat on the bottom, the sky is amazing. as is the food.

looks like a great adventure.


X2 Very Happy
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b00t
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 23, 2012 6:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

peaceful warrior wrote:
I say you just made this trip. Too bad you didn't get up to Taos, and drop by for a beer and BBQ.
Hope you had a great trip. Very Happy

BTW, I cannot stand that drive on I-40 either.....boring! Wink


Stay Tuned...more to come. Laughing

I-40 is ridiculous, I think next time we weave a little more north/south. Although, it is nice to think you can wake up in Asheville and by the end of 2 days later be in the West. In the end, you earn every mile you drive in July across 1-40!
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 23, 2012 6:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Racerrojo wrote:
debbiej wrote:
whew. it was really hot then.

NM is really an enchanting place, and even when it is flat on the bottom, the sky is amazing. as is the food.

looks like a great adventure.


X2 Very Happy


X3 - We love NM! You will see why coming up soon!
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2012 2:14 pm    Post subject: Ojo Caliente, NM to Pagosa Springs, CO Reply with quote

Packed up on a beautiful morning - ready to go to Ojo Caliente, NM where we have reservations for 2 days stay at the Inn.

Pano from above Ojo Caliente
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Let me tell you real quick about Ojo Caliente...5 different mineral springs each different minerals. An amazing restaurant, a historic hotel, all about 30 mins from Tucson. One of the most relaxing places I have ever been...

Another shot looking down from a hike
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Went Hiking
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From inside the spa area
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So, that night after dinner at the restaurant, over wine and truffles, I asked my Girlfriend to Marry me in the Courtyard. It was well planned out and I had lots of help from the management at the spa, they hooked us up with all the stuff we needed for a romantic evening in the gardens. So, luckily Leanne said yes to my proposal. This is what it looks like during the day, very nice at night.
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We ended up partying the night away in a private mineral spring - it was awesome. Then over to the Bar at the historic Inn to enjoy each other's company.

If anyone is looking for a great place to relax and get away, go check out Ojo Caliente, NM. I am just glad that for anniversaries and what not we get to go here...Love NM!

So, we leave Ojo and head north through the desert to Colorado! We had been relaxing for 2 days at the spa and were ready to hit the road. Not to mention we were newly engaged so life was good!!
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Artie is really starting to hate the hills and altitude as we move North...but he plugs along and does a great job.

Finally CO!!
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The ubiquitous Colorful Colorado Shots...

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The First shot with the engagement Ring! (You will see this from now on as my Fiancee became a pro at dropping it into every shot...photobomb anyone?
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So next thing you know we are camping at Cool Pines Campground just outside of Pagosa Springs. This place is awesome. Its like a retirement community only an RV park and everyone is amazingly nice. Within 10 minutes everyone was coming over since they heard we were newly engaged...great people!! That night the owner let us into the community center to watch the opening ceremony of the Olympics. We sat and lounged and enjoyed the nice room and comfort of watching TV on a sunday night. It was great...

Here is the bulletin board:
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Deer first thing in the morning
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Our Camp - Site 12 - Compared to all the other full timers we were pretty small potatoes.
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These are all of the friends we made at Cool Pines Campground - every saturday they had breakfast and coffee in the rec room and enjoyed company and fun. They all had so much advice for a newly engaged couple and we just loved hearing it...
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We wanted to stay another day but figured why not move on with such a high note...hope to go back someday though!

Next Stop - Downtown Pagosa Springs for the annual Cruise-a-Thong race!! If anyone has been post up, cause it gets crazy!!
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2012 3:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Congratulations to the two of you... you certainly look very happy and your van looks great too!
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2012 10:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Awesome! Congratulations! I love Ojo Caliente (and Pagosa too)--reading your post reminds me that it's time for a trip down to New Mexico!

We live at 9000ft and the altitude does seem to be a killer for these vans. I didn't realize it, but going over the passes around here is slow (and I mean real slow.)

I think we will try to avoid interstates on our cross country journeys if we can--they are boring and I don't feel like we can go fast enough to be truly safe out there with all the semis and crazy drivers.
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2012 12:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

maryloucb wrote:
Awesome! Congratulations! I love Ojo Caliente (and Pagosa too)--reading your post reminds me that it's time for a trip down to New Mexico!

We live at 9000ft and the altitude does seem to be a killer for these vans. I didn't realize it, but going over the passes around here is slow (and I mean real slow.)

I think we will try to avoid interstates on our cross country journeys if we can--they are boring and I don't feel like we can go fast enough to be truly safe out there with all the semis and crazy drivers.


Tell me about it! We were 2nd gear on all the passes for Million$ Hwy! Yes, lots of crazy drivers out there, but I wasn't about to spend any more time than necessary in OK in July...
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2012 12:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cruise-A-Thong Time! A Race for The Average Joe
We read about this while doing research on Pagosa Springs and we were in... Love tubing, love cruiser bike riding and certainly walking. Why not looks like a good time. And it was. The winner is the average time for all entrants and I can tell you it is not a race for the faint of heart...this is about drinking.

If you are ever in Pagosa Check it out - http://www.cruiseathong.com/

Arrived in the morning and got a great spot right in the parking lot for the event.
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The race is about dressing weird and having a good time, we met many friends along the way...
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At the event, the drinking started early with a bloody merry competition. We made fast friends with pretty much anyone within 10ft. The guy in the back is Ryan (same as me) he was our local guide on all things having fun to do with this race.
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After a long day we decided to stop at the Pagosa Springs Brewery for some Beer and Pizza. They had a great beer garden and after a day of racing was very relaxing.

Artie waiting Patiently


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Then we drove down the road a while till we hit Piedra River. Took a rigth and went until we found the Sheep Creeek Trail Head
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We had a great camp, just off the road and ready to go
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Made some dinner of salmon and corn cooked in our dutch oven
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The moon that Night
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We loved this site and ended up staying there for about 3 days while we relaxed and enjoyed the peace and quiet. One day we hiked down to the hot springs down by the river but honestly after being in Ojo, it was tough to get into the mud pits.

After that we packed up and headed to Durango...camped just outside of town and went out that night. Ended up at Lady Falconburgs for a beer night special and had a blast. The pictures got real bad 'cause the beer was definitely flowing. Here is a picture of the bathroom. Enjoy.
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From here we hit the Million Dollar Hwy and the passes as well as a surprise (well no surprise if you drive a Van) Stay Tuned!
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 28, 2013 5:38 am    Post subject: Million Dollar Hwy and Camping at Little Molas Lake Reply with quote

From Durango we start to head up Million Dollar Hwy...big grade and artie at altitude we are looking at 2nd gear on a few spots.

And unfortunately tragedy hits...on one pass straight out of Durango my dash lights up like christmas! I look behind a ploom of smoke coming out the back of Artie Shocked

Jump out and there is coolant all over the road and leaking from the van...assess the situation

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Looks like a shredded fan belt and so the pump blew and we went crazy with the coolant (that is technical for saying not that bad)
Leanne has AAA on speed dial and is itching to call...


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Crazy thing was, right before we left i said to myself, "Self, you may want a fan belt in there just in case all that strain on the grade shreds it up!" sure enough, I grabbed on and was commenced to working! Leanne held the alternator while I tightened it up...also had some coolant in the van as well since we had just topped up after coming across 40W for 1500 miles.

We were down for about 30 minutes, this is my "I got this face"
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In the end we made up Red Mtn Pass - the biggie
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Camped at Little Molas Lake - 10,900ft - we were rewarded with this

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Woke up to this...and seriously, this is not photoshopped. Just an HDR
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Calls for French Toast and Coffee

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Next Up, Coming Down the Mountain,,,
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 28, 2013 5:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Heading down the Pass we stopped to take some pictures. At this time we had been engaged for a week and had not told any friends or family, just the people in our travels.

We took this picture and posted to facebook...let the craziness begin


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Artie got in on it as well

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Finally Made it here
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Ouray, CO!
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Time to kick back at the brewery and enjoy a cold pint

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Ran into this beauty syncro

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Stopped by Mr Grumpy Pants brewery as well...my best grumpy face.

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From here we made our way down the hwy to a hot springs a friend had told us about...Orvise. He said it is like the garden of eden. And he was not kidding - its clothing optional. Leanne and I are not prudes so when in Rome right? Plus camping over night with full access to the hot springs was like $30 bucks!

So these are all the pictures you will get of our trip for about 2 days. Razz

Artie at Camp Orvis

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Gathering the liquid courage to go hit the hot springs

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peaceful warrior
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 28, 2013 2:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great photos and looks like a great trip, less the minor coolant setback.
Congratulations on your engagement! Very Happy Very Happy
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 28, 2013 2:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What a great post, and thanks for the long-awaited return to wrap it up!

I loved seeing your take on my backyard, which stretches from south of Santa Fe and up to Ouray.

Congratulations!
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 28, 2013 3:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I hadn't seen the thread until the finish line.

Congratulations, thanks for one of the best trip accounts (and photos) in a long time. A great read, but sorry you guys didn't have more fun.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 30, 2013 6:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks everyone! This has definitely been a drawn out trip report! More to
Come though..we were a month on the road...this is week one .
We love this whole area and can't wait to make it back again!
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 04, 2013 1:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So, if you have been following you know I got engaged on this trip...well that being said I have been working on that and finally got married 2 weeks ago on September 21st.

Took a lot of time to do that so haven't been able to add to the report...now that's done, here are some more pix!!

From the Orvis Hot Springs we drove up to Montrose and decided to stay at Black Canyon of the Gunnison. I had never seen it even though I lived in Gunnison and it is absoluely AMAZING!

Leanne on our Hike
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Pano of the Canyon
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Leanne and I hiking
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Love this Shot of Leanne in front of a bush along our hike
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At camp that night we had deers just saunter on by, not a care in the world!
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Camp Artie!
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Our Shower Set Up...worked really well with a gravity fed shower bag
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Up close of Shower
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Leanne Making Dinner...I mean mama drinking vino
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Pasta and Sauce (notice the cruise a thong shirt from earlier pix
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Dinner is Served
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Squirrel hanging out under the van...seriously, just laying there without a care
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So from there the next day we drove up to Blue Mesa Reservoir to camp at a way off campground up a gravel rd (721 i think)
Nobody was there and the water was way low...but we had the place to ourselves and it was a beutiful view

Sunset
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Campsite was the Host Camp spot...we deserved it

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Campsite from the restrooms down the hill
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We had a great time there, very peaceful!!

Next up - Crested Butte, probably our favorite!!
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