Monday, September 28, 2015

Weekend Highlights

Sutcliffe Winery, west of Cortez, had been on our list to visit since we arrived 2 weeks ago.  Located in the McElmo Canyon, our scenic drive to the winery was fantastic too.

We had to keep an eye out for the entrance sign as the winery is nestled off the highway near a high rise cliff.
We were greeted by the winery owner and our sommelier, John Sutcliffe.  We arrived at the same time as another couple from Ridgway so we were in good company.  We all really enjoyed ourselves! The stories John shared with us of his "rich and famous" lifestyle were as intriguing and entertaining as his outstanding wine.
What a great location for a wine tasting..a sunny porch, comfortable outside temps and fantastic views of the vineyard.

I spied a tree in the Vineyard's fruit orchard with blue fruit, it was unlike anything I had ever's Damson Plums.  John allowed me to select a few to take home.

The grapes for the Syrah wine are ready for picking now.  John explained that the timing for this step is important for making outstanding wine to ensure its quality taste, color and aroma.

We came home with a bottle of Sutcliffe Vineyard's
Cabernet Sauvignon and a bottle of
the Syrah.  We plan to enjoy them during a special occasion. 


Sunday was our travel day to Monument Valley Park.  We took Highway 160 west and with a couple of turn offs, we drove through the community of Bluff, Utah.  The Bluff Historic Fort lured us in with their signs on the highway of free admission.  Since it was a Sunday, the museum was closed but wandering around the historic buildings and displays gave us an opportunity to stretch our legs and enjoy some history too. 
This cabin was said to be one of the originals in the fort.  Bluff Fort was established in 1880.

The information placard described how this wagon traveled the famous "Hole-in-the-Rock" Route.
A reconstructed Bluff Fort cabin.
Cabin interior with period antiques.
Cabin interior with more period antiques.

One of Bluff Fort's interpretive volunteers told us not to miss the Petroglyphs at Sand Island.  We were driving by this landmark anyway and we were excited to see them.  What a special threat this was for us!  The petroglyphs were easy to spot and even easier to get a good, up close view of them too.
The info board stated that these Petroglyhs may be between 300 and 3000 years old.
Here is a close up view of a section on the rock wall.  I would estimate there were hundreds of drawings.

I could have used these photographs about 10 years ago in my art classroom!

Ronnie and I enjoyed our picnic lunch discussing these amazing drawings.  Afterwards, we drove on towards Monument Valley.  We drove through some incredible scenery.
Mother Nature's creative use of line and pattern in her landscape sculpture.

We drove by a road sign directing folks to Goosenecks State Park.  Ron asks:  "Do you want to go?"  Oh, Yes!
What a treat to see this amazing landmark.  I've read about this place and I've seen pictures, now I get to see it for myself.  
Panorama Photo
Warning..Do not get to close to the edge either.

We continued on down the road..when we realize we are seeing a view from the movies.  We recognize this spot from "Forest Gump" and maybe even a few television commercials.
Gotta get that photo...

Monument Vally was again special this second time around.  We visited this area around 1996 or so.  We revisited the Gouldings Trading Post and Movie Museum, drove through the campground where we stayed (boy, was it crowded) and reminisced about our first visit here.
Monument Valley is located on the Navajo Reservation.  We paid our entrance fee and received the privilege of driving through the spectacular eroded red rock scenery.

 We even enjoyed the lunar eclipse over the desert on the drive back home.

More later.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Autumn Gold Found in Colorado

Our home-base, Sleeping Ute Mountain RV Park in Towaoc, is centrally located near the places we want to explore.  We are close to Mesa Verde National Park, but have decided not to visit this trip.  We saw this outstanding Park in 2005, so we'll save it to "redo" another time.
We made a short visit to Hovenweep National Monument.  Their visitor center is very informative and the paved trail to some of the ruins was easy.  It was hotter than expected and we were not prepared for the full 4 mile hike that skirts the canyon.  That hike exhibits better views of the ruins, maybe next time.
"Hovenweep" means "deserted valley".  These archaeological sites represent the ancestors of today's Pueblo Indian tribes.  These remaining walls are ruins from the Square Tower area, circa 1200.

The ancestral Pueblo stone masons had remarkable skill.
A view from across the canyon of another set of ruins.

We wanted to make another visit to the Four Corners Monument.  The drive along Highway 160 was such a contrast from our time in Durango and Pagosa Springs.  I have always loved the desert landscape!

The Navajo operate the Four Corners Monument.  When we visited in 1984 and 2005, there was no charge to stand where the 4 states' borders meet. (Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico)  On this visit, we paid 5.00 each to enter the Monument.  We did notice newly built concrete and stone stalls where the Navajo sell their art.  They are out there selling year-round. We're sure they are more comfortable now, shielded from harsh weather, while they share their culture with visitors.
We were even fortunate to see Navajo Artist/Potter Bob Lansing.
His well crafted art pottery was unlike any we have ever seen and his friendliness made us feel even more appreciative to have met him.  Unfortunately the prices for his work were well beyond our budget.
Chimney Rock, just south of Ute Mountain Tribal Park.

We struck Autumn gold as we traveled north on Highway 142 to Telluride.  We suspected the Aspen might be showing their fall colors.
The Atlantic Cable Mine in Rico.
The further north we drove, reaching higher elevations, we saw the Aspen trees display more golden color.

Further up Forest Road 627, along Trout Lake, we discovered this old railroad trestle.  Built around 1891, it's part of the train and railroad track for the Galloping Goose, rail cars used on the track around 1936.

We traveled on northward to Telluride.  The landscape appeared more colorful and majestic.

One Telluride experience we did not want to miss this trip was a ride on the free Telluride Gondola. 
We rode all three Gondola segments: Telluride, Mountain Village and the Gondola Plaza.  We really enjoyed the ride and the view of the surrounding mountains.
Great views at the top!
The town of Telluride as seen from 10,500 feet.

Yep, we were thirsty again.  We happened upon Smugglers Brew Pub, off main street, on Pine Street, in Telluride.
An Excellent Happy Hour:  Shred Betty Raspberry Wheat and Debauchery
Our drive back to our home-base in Towaoc was bright with golden-edged roads.

More later.