John & Anne Wiley

2014/06/29

4C to A1

Here’s (probably) my last post about our Four Corners (4C) Adventure. Our last day began in Flagstaff, and flying essentially West we encountered the haze that typically blows in from Phoenix and SoCA. There’s an austere beauty here much like the terrain spreading beneath most of our trip.

1908 Dry Vista

1908 Dry Vista

After crossing the ribbon of green where the Colorado River divides deserts and states we paused in the heat at Victorville. We took advantage of the FBO cheap fast food and drinks, then waited as military helicopters departed ahead of us presumably for desert warfare practice.

1971 Desert Training

1971 Desert Training

Soon the air around us got more moist and cool, and then our beloved California Coast came into view luring us past Ventura homeward.

2052 Cool Moist

2052 Cool Moist

Descending toward SBA past Carp the blues and greens washed the arid desert from our eyes, and filled our hearts to overflowing with a colorful welcome.

2108 Rating: A1

2108 Rating: A1

Of all the places we’ve been, this gets our top rating. We love the people, places and things here so much that coming Home is always powerfully thrilling.

For anyone curious about our route on this 4C Adventure, here’s a map you can click or download to examine in more detail. Often when we return from an amazing exploration like this, people immediately ask what we’re planning next. Right now we’re planning to enjoy Being here in paradise for a while. 🙂

4C Route Map

4C Route Map

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2014/06/28

New Day, New World

Meanwhile, almost two months ago now back on May Day we flew from Denver to Flagstaff in a few hours. It never ceases to amaze us how much variety a few hours in Tripp can scroll beneath our wings. Taking off we enjoyed our last look at Denver on this our first Tripp trip there.

0986 Denver Farewell

0986 Denver Farewell

With mountains so near, it was little surprise that after a 20 minute leisurely climb toward home we were over the high mesa at Woodland Park enjoying this closer look at majestic Pike’s Peak.

1202 Pike's Peak

1202 Pike’s Peak

Another 20 minutes of various fascinations found us over famous Royal Gorge that Stacey & Cam had so wanted to share with us.

1287 Royal Gorge

1287 Royal Gorge

Now I have to confess first that it is indeed striking, enhanced by both the slender suspension bridge and the nearly vertical funicular that’s barely visible in the notch on the left side here. That said, it doesn’t particularly stand out from the innumerable geological wonders we’ve seen from the air. It’s not that we’re jaded or elitist, just that we have the vertical freedom to amaze our eyes on every flight. Yet in a way it’s like Big Sur: different and more immediate from the ground, so in some ways better there and in other ways better up here. 🙂

1336 High Dune

1336 High Dune

I’d been curious about a sand dune on the aviation chart near Mosca Pass, so after a brief stop to stretch and give Tripp a little more fuel we saw the sand rippling at the feet of the range we’d just crossed. In the high wide valley beyond there were of course more interesting scenes like this colorful collection of ponds drying in the sun.

1398 H2O+Minerals+Life

1398 H2O+Minerals+Life

After about four hours of flying on a languorous zigzag route with innumerable vistas and famous places including some I’ve already shared in prior 4C Adventure posts, we were again over magnificent Monument Valley.

1759 Monument Valley

1759 Monument Valley

It’s not just the towering spires and buttes we enjoy in Tripp there, but quiet marvels in the surrounding area like this shady spot next to a dune that few outsiders ever see.

1769 Oasis

1769 Oasis

Continuing on a now more direct path toward Flagstaff I was struck by this line defining two quite different vast areas of desert.

1845 Divided Desert

1845 Divided Desert

We got another look at some of the ruins in the Wupatki National Monument, looking similar to Chaco and other ancient sites in the 4C region.

1867 Wupatki Ruins

1867 Wupatki Ruins

Then to complete the vast variety of landscapes from Denver to Flagstaff was this moonscape of cinder cones close to our day’s destination.

1876 Volcanic Vista

1876 Volcanic Vista

In just a few short hours, our hearts had been treated to a thrilling array of experiences and we were ready to explore Flagstaff before settling into our last night of dreams before home.

2014/06/21

Last of First

Going thru our hundreds of glorious pix from our first real time in the Denver area, I found these last “have to add” few. Starting with “Goat Gal” Maddie, who so generously and playfully showed us not just her magnificent goat and truck farm but also some highlights of Boulder.

0791 Goat Maddie

0791 Goat Maddie

One of those highlights was strolling downtown with her, singing along with the “Globe Man” and then sampling brews at some of the local hotspots.

184139 To Life!

184139 To Life!

The next day we drove up to Nederland “on our way” back to Castle Rock, and it looked legendary across the alpine lake as we approached.

0891 Nederland

0891 Nederland

After a hearty lunch we drove along the icy river and paused to tour the freakish town of Black Hawk. It was probably a forgotten village a few years ago, but now there are lots of new casinos with names like Crook’s Palace and pristine sidewalks along streets with names like RichMan into the main town much larger than this residential side of the highway.

0911 Black Hawk

0911 Black Hawk

Further along the river we paused at many scenic spots like this one where colorful lichens tag the vertical rock wall rising from the far bank.

0946 Organic Graffiti

0946 Organic Graffiti

Leaving the Rockies we paused again to explore the fascinating little frontier town of Golden.

0977 Golden Life

0977 Golden Life

Back in Castle Rock we took a sunset stroll with Cam and Stacey, feeling both excitement to fly the Rockies again on our way home and at the same time wanting more time with the wonderful people in beautiful Colorado.

194942 Return Invitation

194942 Return Invitation

2014/06/20

Wild Colorado

So after we’d flown the Rockies to the Denver area, we spent several days basically exploring on the ground. As with Durango, the cities on the East side of the Rockies are surrounded by wild lands inhabited by wild critters. On one of our strenuous excursions I got close enough to this herd for a telephoto shot.

0693 Wild Sheep

0693 Wild Sheep

My stalking skills are pretty good, but they clearly knew I was there and that I couldn’t pursue them up that steep slope. I must confess though that Cam did most of the stalking in this case, with both Stacey and Anne next to us. In their car. Yes, this was next to a mountain road along this icy river.

0701 Wild River

0701 Wild River

Closer down to Denver we took a detour to the small town of Morrison for dinner, and this wild beast was coldly eying us for a possible meal.

0714 Wild Eyes

0714 Wild Eyes

At the delicious Mexican cafe Cam chose there was a wild cowboy dummy in a seat hanging from the rafters behind the dummy on the left (me) in this pic.

161044 Wild Dummy

161044 Wild Dummy

Even in town, there was a wild bunny in the yard looking cuddly and moving slowly to belie the fact it could transform to a furry blur and vanish in a heartbeat.

0716 Wild Bunny

0716 Wild Bunny

Driving Denver by night we saw this sedate building all decked out in wild colors, with a tree that went all “icy” in the camera flash.

0727 Wild Colors

0727 Wild Colors

Before heading home for the night we stopped to stroll the 16th Street Mall, but after this drunk charged us looking for a handout and we looked around at some of the other wild denizens we decided to forgo night life for something quieter.

0746 Wild Wino

0746 Wild Wino

2014/06/13

Two High

After our wonderful 4/23 overnite in Durango (we want to go back!), the 4C Adventure continued with our first foray into the high Rocky Mountains. As you’ll recall from the quick 4/24 post I did during the trip, after breakfast in Durango we did a quick detour to check out Chimney Rock and then got this high overview of Durango on our way to the first of two high passes on our way to Denver.

0267 Delightful Durango

0267 Delightful Durango

Though we totally trust Tripp and keep her tip top, as extra insurance we followed the highway north. It was tempting to detour through the valley where the Durango tourist train goes, but we got a distant glimpse and this more direct main valley was quite pretty enough.

0275 Climbing

0275 Climbing

By now we were already quite high, so opening the window for snaps like this was invigorating. 🙂

Another temptation was the high pass to Teluride, which would have been a fairly short detour but with no major highway to follow and winds predicted to increase if we delayed.

0305 Teluride Temptation

0305 Teluride Temptation

Soon we were surrounded by frozen lakes and snowy peaks that were wearing dust from Arizona and probably a few planes that had flown this route in less favorable conditions.

0310 Rock, Snow, Dust

0310 Rock, Snow, Dust

We were glad to be in trusty Tripp, following a major highway, and in unusually good weather. 🙂

Before long the pass opened out into the high plain where we soon turned east toward Monarch Pass for our second scoot thru the Rockies.

0318 Leaving First Pass

0318 Leaving First Pass

In a few minutes we were following the highway along Blue Mesa Reservoir, where we saw tributaries with rapids and some small frisky waterfalls like this.

0355 Small Falls

0355 Small Falls

Approaching the pass more mountains loomed, as we climbed a little more and nudged closer to the highway for the high point of the day.

0371 Nearing Monarch

0371 Nearing Monarch

Around the top we were surprised to see drive-in theater screens like these.

0378 Not CA

0378 Not CA

No, we’re not in SoCA so those are certainly not for movies. I guess maybe cell towers, microwave relays or something to do with radar? We never did find out, but they sure look odd and must take a lot of work to build and keep functional where wind and weather are often so extreme. We loved finally flying the Rockies, were glad conditions made it so easy and comfortable without need to stop to wait out unexpected weather, and enjoyed watching the terrain open out as we followed the highway and river out of Salida.

0387 Salida Satisfaction

0387 Salida Satisfaction

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