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Road Trip~ Treasure Fall and Lobo Overlook

26 Apr

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

 

Day 14, September 20, 2017

 

Tomorrow we would be packing up and heading to the Denver airport, ending the fun week we spent with Rebekah and Pam. Since this was our last day in Pagosa Springs, we decided to stay close to our home base and explore the mountains nearby.

After browsing our accumulated tourist brochures, we decided to visit Treasure Falls, then drive up to Lobo Overlook and have a picnic. There were two trail options to reach the falls. Rebekah and Pam chose one route and husband and I chose the other. Even though it was a very nice trail, it wasn’t a good walking day for my husband. We found a bench where we could rest and enjoy being in nature.

 

 

Rebekah and Pam made it to the trail end and shot some pictures of the falls. I read a hiker blog post about viewing the falls in winter. He said it was 70 percent ice and 30 percent flow. I would like to see that!

 

 

Next stop, Lobo Overlook.  HikingMike.com describes the overlook:

Lobo Overlook with a 3 mile dirt/gravel road leading up – Forest Road #402 is an easy, slow drive (4wd not required) that winds about 1.5 miles to the very top of the 11,760 ft unnamed peak north of Wolf Creek Pass. In winter, snowmobilers take this same route to the top. If you want to go on foot, you can hike the road up, or hike the Continental Divide Trail which starts just west of the road and tracks just west of the overlook. By the way, heading south on the Continental Divide Trail lets you head up the ridge to the summit of Alberta Peak, the top of Wolf Creek Ski Area.

Once you get a chance to look around, you’ll find great views of the San Juans all around. There aren’t many places where you can drive to the top of a high elevation mountain on the Continental Divide!

 

Living in the Western North Carolina mountains, we are accustomed to winding gravel roads.  Although I do have to confess that they still creep me out a bit. As we climbed, Pam wondered if the road might be the one that her son-in-law traveled on horse back with an elk hunting party just weeks earlier. After returning home, she spoke with him and it was indeed the same place. Another similarity is that we didn’t see any elk and they didn’t take down any elk.

The view from  Lobo Overlook gives a spectacular view of the surrounding peaks of the San Juan Mountains and lands that lie within the San Juan National Forest (including Weminuche Wilderness) and Rio Grande National Forest. Near the parking area was a convenient vault toilet. It turned out to be an amusing experience due to the location of the toilet and the swirling winds.

 

 

Nearby there were some picnic tables, and a rough fence surrounded the overlook area. The temperature and strong winds made the air dramatically colder prompting us to pull on jackets over our short-sleeved shirts.  I was in my element, high above the valley, embracing the strong winds and chill.

 

Fun!

 

Unfortunately, the altitude of 1,760 feet taxed my husband’s breathing and we made a hasty retreat to the car, foregoing our picnic. On the way down, we saw this interesting bird. Can you tell me what kind of bird it is?

 

 

We came across these cuties at one of the pull outs.

 

 

Two random pictures taken from road pull outs.

 

 

It was a long, but good day. I was thankful my husband’s breathing settled down and he was able to drive us down the winding gravel road. We were sad to be leaving the condo at Pagosa Springs,  beautiful area and beautiful memories.

 

 

Road Trip~ Mesa Verde National Park

12 Apr

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

 

 

Day 13, September 19, 2017

Another beautiful morning at the condo in Pagossa Springs. After a day of feeling wonky, I felt better and ready for another day of exploring. Today our plan was to visit Mesa Verde National Park. A nice check off on my husband’s bucket list. But first, I need my coffee and quiet time.

 

Coffee at Mesa Verde

 

The drive to Mesa Verde took around an hour, maybe a little more. We weren’t in a hurry and I enjoyed the drive through Durango. I let my imagination roam to cowboys and the wild west. But the people of Mesa Verde pre-date the cowboys by multiple centuries.

From the National Park Service website:

Ancestral Pueblo People of Mesa Verde

About 1,400 years ago, long before Europeans explored North America, a group of people living in the Four Corners region chose Mesa Verde for their home. For more than 700 years they and their descendants lived and flourished here, eventually building elaborate stone communities in the sheltered alcoves of the canyon walls. Then, in the late A.D. 1200s, in the span of a generation or two, they left their homes and moved away. Mesa Verde National Park preserves a spectacular reminder of this ancient culture.

Once we arrived at the entrance to the park, it was another 2o miles to the museum which is a must stop. There you can pick up literature describing the drives and if you have an inclination to take a ranger guided tour, you can pay for your tickets there.

 

Before we made it to the museum, we made a comfort stop. The husband is an experienced outdoors facility judge, so we take a picture of the ones he rates. LOL.

 

Pam and I stayed in the truck!

 

Rebekah and her ever-present camera.

 

Along with picking up brochures and maps at the museum, we stopped in the cafeteria to pick up a necessary adventure supply, I had forgotten to pack.

 

I’ll leave it to you to imagine which one represents me!

 

The park contains over 5000 archeological sites across 40+ miles of roads. After leaving the museum, we chose one of the easy drives through the park. We were there in off peak season so places to pull over were readily available.  There were a lot of Pit houses preserved under shelters.

 

 

Eventually they moved from the Pit houses to tree houses, built into the overhang of cliffs. It must have been exhausting climbing up and down and dangerous as well. I couldn’t imagine a mother trying to keep her children safe. Then for unknown reasons around 1200 A.D. the people let, just disappeared.

Rebekah and her dad. They share a love of photography.

 

 

On a previous trip west we had planned to visit Mesa Verde but the park was hit with a serious forest fire.

 

 

It was a nice walk out to the fire observation tower.

As we were driving slowly along the Navajo Overlook, we felt as if we were being followed. Pam’s sharp eyes found our stalker.

 

 

 

Tree Houses

 

 

 

 

Pam and I taking a break while Mike and Rebekah snapped photos

 

Spruce Tree House

 

Spruce Tree House is a favorite ruin to explore as there is an easy walking trail for closer viewing. Unfortunately, the trail was under repair so we had to view it from this building, which in my opinion was more pleasant than walking!

 

 

We didn’t see all of the sites as we drove through the park. Dusk was approaching and we didn’t want to be driving on unfamiliar roads after dark. We enjoyed a quick meal back at the museum before driving down the mountain. Sunset would be a magical time to drive down, but we were a bit too early.

 

My shadow stalking me!

 

I found Mesa Verde a fascinating place. Echoes of ancient times seemed to whisper in the air. Why did they move into the cliffs and why did they abandon them in a mere hundred years? Where did they go?  The park website has some incredible photos and videos. I encourage you to visit it at NPS.gov

5 Apr

Onisha Ellis

On the Porch

 

I love this verse more every year.The boldness of the statement makes me feel brave. “For I am convinced that nothing can separate me from the love of God.  No wiggle room or hedging. I am loved by God and  N O T H I N G can change that.

 

For I am convinced

My Sin

30 Mar

Jesus gave himself for our sins to rescue us. Galatians 1:4

 

 

I  sin daily yet He loved me so deeply that He took on my sins to himself. Amazing love.

Road Trip~Chimney Rock Monument

29 Mar

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

 

Day 12, September 18, 2017

This morning my body decided to rebel  and sent me to rest for the day. Not wanting to ground everyone else, I suggested they visit the nearby Chimney Rock National Monument.

Since I was not on the trip, I am relying on excerpts from the website:

This undiscovered gem is an intimate, off-the-beaten-path archaeological site located at the southern edge of the San Juan Mountains  in Southwestern Colorado. You’ll walk in the footsteps of the fascinating and enigmatic Ancestral Puebloans of the Chaco Canyon, following primitive pathways that haven’t changed for 1,000 years. Archaeological ruins and artifacts, abundant wildlife, and its setting in the breathtaking San Juan National Forest make Chimney Rock a must-see. 

 

Also from the monument website:

Chimney Rock is the highest in elevation of all the Chacoan sites, at about 7,000 feet above sea level. From the base, the hike to the top is just a half mile and it’s rewarded with dramatic 360-degree views of Colorado and New Mexico.

 

 

If you enjoy photography, Mountain Photography has a collection of breathtaking photos.

 

They returned from their adventure with stories to tell and I enjoyed hearing them and felt confident I would be feeling better for our trip to Mesa Verde the following day.

Here is my favorite picture of the day.

 

Rebekah and her dad

My Ransom Was Paid

28 Mar

But this I know with all my heart…

 

It’s Spring, It’s Winter, No Wait, It’s Spring Again.

23 Mar

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

 

Our daughter has been visiting with us this past week. Although the weather wasn’t the best, we had enough fun to keep me from having time to pick up where I left off on our road trip.

Before Rebekah arrived, I noticed a sign advertising a u-pick farm located on the outskirts of town that grows tulips, hyacinth and daffodils. When I mentioned it to Rebekah, she was keen to go.  We ventured out on Monday, before the rains began only to discover the farm was closed on Mondays. We were determined, though and  Tuesday morning dawned sunny. Rebekah loves tulips so she was in her element.

 

 

Wednesday we awoke early and the temperature had plunged.  The rain began shortly after our weekly breakfast with friends. On our drive home we saw a few snow flurries, but the ground was too warm for any accumulation. By lunch time the snow was beginning to fall steadily and we decided to drive highway 441 up towards Cherokee to see if the snow was “sticking” there. This was the first time I had experienced fairly heavy snowfall that melted upon hitting the ground.  I found it to be kind of weird.

In Cherokee, the temperature was colder and while the roads were clear, snow covered the tress and buildings. It was beautiful.

 

 

Snow covered solar panels at the Visitor center.

 

Highway 441 which travels through the Great Smoky Mountain National Park was closed 4 miles north of the Oconaluftee visitor center. We were good with that. Being raised in Florida, icy roads terrify me. Rebekah wanted to take pictures of the pioneer village in the snow, so I bundled up and joined her, while hubby stayed in the car. He has a lot more common sense than I do!

 

 

I love the homestead picture. The wood was damp enough to allow the color of the wood to pop. In the Summer sun, it is not as obvious.

On our way back through Cherokee we stopped to get a picture of this painted bear. He is beautiful. I wish the camera on my phone had been able to capture the art.

 

 

Thursday, it was as if all the snow and cold temps never happened. The sun was bright in a beautiful blue sky. We decided to take a drive to our favorite waterfall in the area, Cullasaja falls. We love it in every season.

 

 

We seem to be physically incapable of visiting Cullasaja without continuing on up the road to Dry Falls. I went with Rebekah to the overlook, but it was cold and I decided to pass on walking down to the falls!

 

Rebekah

 

Rebekah will be returning to her home soon and we will be settling back into our life in the mountains. I will need to readjust to the slower pace-no more power walking in the grocery store!  I will need to remember to meet the eyes of the people I see in the shops and to SMILE. Don’t get me wrong, Florida people are friendly. Growing up in the 50s, everyone smiled and said hello but we have lost the art of saying howdy.

 

 

 

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