Another month has flown by and we are still on schedule. We did manage to complete the Arapaho and Routt National Forests in Colorado. That means we have completed ALL the National Forests (NF) in Colorado. With only the Shoshone NF in Wyoming to do, and that should be done by mid-July, the Rocky Mountain Region will be completed! A region completed - a reason to celebrate!!!
Traditionally, we celebrate the completion of a forest with a nice dinner out. But our plans were changed for the Arapaho. We celebrated with a trip to the Emergency Room. Somehow, while working on the Arapaho, Suzi managed to contract pneumonia and, as you know, Suzi does very little by halves. With a fistful of pills and orders to rest, the doctor sent Suzi "home." Poor Fred had two weeks of double duty but things have gotten back to normal now. Although Suzi hasn't recovered all her energy or
weight, she is much improved.
We did manage, early in the month, a drive to the top of the 14,000 ft. Mt. Evans which towers over the surrounding landscape. We had a very pleasant conversation with local Mountain Sheep, who seem to have a very strong sense of roadway ownership, and enjoyed the panoramic vista. It was neat to identify mountains from Spanish Peaks to Longs Peak and say, "We've been there."
During this same time period, we paid a visit to the community of Black Hawk-Central City. The hills around Central City reminded us of Bisbee, AZ with homes snuggling the nearly vertical slopes. But the "downtown" sections of this community were like nothing we had seen before. Building after building was one casino after another. All had slot machines at ground level, "games of chance" on the next, and the restaurants (although your local Mall's Food Court would be a step up for these places) were all
on the top floors. Everywhere we turned there were baskets of pre-moistened towels for cleaning your hands and a grey cloud of tobacco smoke. We thought of it as a once-in-a-lifetime experience, thank you very much.
A portion of Suzi's recovery was spent at the Steamboat Springs KOA (which after weeks in National Forest campgrounds it was something like using skim milk rather than cream in your coffee). Now most of us know Steamboat Springs for its skiing but this community is developing into a "year-round" vacation spot. One of its many endeavors is an "every-weekend-of-summer-softball-league." The town fills with softball players of all ages, sizes, and genders and most seemed to camp in the KOA. So here
we are after several weeks in uncrowded Forest Service campgrounds in a KOA filled to the brim with every size, shape, and nationality you can imagine softball player. And highway traffic zips past constantly just out front of the campground. Plus there is a stop light on almost every corner. What a culture shock! Who would have thought, ten years ago, we would be anxious to get away from civilization and back into the woods.
Do you remember last year's comments about a wonderful area called the Flat Tops Wilderness? Geologically it's an amazing place. In our opinion, it is one of the more attractive locations in Colorado. Well, we got to see it from its eastern boundary and our opinion didn't change one bit. It is magnificent - towering black lava flows that were uplifted tens-of-thousands of years ago and then carved by massive glaciers - it simply "knocked our socks off."
Our time in Colorado did provide us with an interesting perception of its National Forests. The Roosevelt and Arapaho, like most of Colorado's National Forests, has an almost urban feel. With tons of tourists flocking to see the magnificent and world famous sights, there is little elbow room. Plus there is an up close and "in your face" feel to them. The transition from
the other National Forests in Colorado to Wyoming's was eased by our time in the Routt. The Routt has no major highways or cities nor huge world-famous mountains. It feels like the little forest that was forgotten so the transition from the Routt to the Shoshone in Wyoming wasn't that great. Both have vast sage brush plains with magnificent mountains one must drive over using long, slow grades with few cars getting in the way.
Perhaps the thing that has struck us about Wyoming is a difference in the feeling of space. It is like seeing a picture of something and comparing that feeling to standing in front of the same place. Plus nothing seems to be right on top of you so one has time to look and appreciate it. Our visit to the Buffalo District of the Teton (as in the Bridge-Teton) National Forest is
a case in point. About half of our travels were within sight of the Grand Teton National Park's "skyline." Imagine driving along, enjoying views of Nez Perce Peak, Middle Teton, Grand Teton, Mt. Owen and Teewinot Mountain first from this angle then another. Then, the view goes from a hazy dream scape imprint on the sky to a sharp towering cluster of mountains. And we never got closer than twenty-five miles to any one mountain! That's what we mean when we say it seems you have time to enjoy what you see.
In July, we are looking forward to 4th of July celebrations in Cody, Wyoming, visiting with Dahlia, Suzi's daughter, completing the Shoshone, Bridger, and Teton NFs, and beginning the Caribou National Forest in the southeastern Idaho. It should be a busy, productive month. Hope yours is the same.
Suzi and Fred