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Published by klump04, 2018-10-29 11:33:48

Just Around The Bend Episode VII Colorado Where Rivers Run Wild

JUST AROUND THE BEND

Episode VII








JUST AROUND THE BEND




EPISODE VII


2000 – 2017






COLORADO

WHERE RIVERS RUN WILD











RICHARD E. ZIMMERMAN


And

ARLENE M. ZIMMERMAN



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Episode VII

































































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JUST AROUND THE BEND

Episode VII








JUST AROUND THE BEND




EPISODE VII


2000 – 2017






COLORADO

WHERE RIVERS RUN WILD









RICHARD E. ZIMMERMAN

And


ARLENE M. ZIMMERMAN





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JUST AROUND THE BEND

Episode VII











































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Episode VII






JUST AROUND THE BEND

Episode VII

2000 – 2017


COLORADO

WHERE RIVERS RUN WILD



Copyright

© 2017 Richard E. Zimmerman and Arlene M
Zimmerman
All Rights Reserved

No part of this publication may be reproduced or
transmitted in any form or by any means,
mechanical or electronic, including photocopying
and recording, or any information storage and
retrieval system, without the express permission
in writing from the authors or publisher.

Cover and Cover Photograph by the author
All photographs Copyright

© 2017 Richard E. Zimmerman and Arlene M.
Zimmerman, December 2017


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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS


Arlene and I have written and printed several
books over the years. It’s been great fun, and
most of all the very same knowledgeable, and
generous folks have given their time and helped
prepare each one. Without them I’m sure we
wouldn’t have completed each one.
Our daughter Alyx has prepared our book
covers. It’s a long distance internet arrangement
that constantly try’s our expertise and proves her
patience.

Paul Klump has reviewed our work, made many
suggestions and created an E-book as well as a
Printable PDF version for us. In addition he
keeps our computer working.
Our printer, Athens Printing has been with us
every step of the way. They are responsible for
reviewing every photo and tweaking them to
more realistic color. They also keep encouraging
us to further edit the proofs.

Thanks to all of you for your help and support.








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INTRODUCTION:

Like the early settlers who first saw the Rockies,
miles away from the plains,. It was the amazing
appearance of the Eastern Front of the Rocky
Mountains. Once seen it would be days or
possibly weeks before they would reach these
towering Mountains. For us we too could see
them from a great distance, but we would only
drive for most of the day.

Colorado, like no other state in the Southwest is
in a very serious and strategic position.

We’ve been traveling through and around
Colorado over 20 years and always planned to
write about our experiences while enjoying this
wild and rugged state. Our original plan was
created when we wrote about the Southwestern
Deserts, from Texas to Arizona. We called it
Episode V in our ‘Just Around The Bend’ series
of adventures. That book was to include Utah,
the Great Basin Desert as well as Colorado and
it’s famous plateau.

Unfortunately, we encountered a couple of ‘to
big’ to be true obstacles with our printing
company. The Southwestern Deserts grew to be
more than 300 pages before we even started on
Utah. We felt that size book was too large to
keep any ones attention. Also, our print




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company had problems producing a ‘ perfect
bound’ book. Episode IV the previous book
came apart time and time again. Each time they
tried reprinting and rebinding it. Finely, they
solved their glue problem, but we had already
been bitten, and were afraid it would happen
again with Episode V. So instead of binding the
book in our preferred manner we chose to use a
‘ring binding’. We didn’t like it then and don’t
like it now. The printer claimed to have solved
the problem. So when we published and printed
Episode VI, Utah we went back to the perfect
binding. It seems to be holding up. Hopefully,
we will only have perfect bound books in the
future.

We could have combined Utah and Colorado,
but our enthusiasm for Utah continued to grow
as we developed it and soon realized we were on
the verge of two separate Episodes. Utah is
completed and we’re pleased to have separated it.
This is only a few of the tribulations of
publishing a book. They are not only behind us,
but as we begin to collect ourselves around this
great state and our experiences here we will
undoubtedly encounter more and different issues
before it’s finished.





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INTRODUCTION:

Colorado, has been the center of our travels for
years. Although, like many travelers before us, it
took us a number of trips before we realized that
it was not just a ‘pass through’ to other
destinations.

It has over the years grown on us and we have
visited, and camped all over the state.. We have
driven in and out of the state from every
direction. Which has caused us to focus on what
we believe to be one of it’s most outstanding
characteristics.

IT’s WATER.
It’s massive reserve of this resource is simply the
life blood of the entire Southwest of America.

We have lately heard that there is an eight foot
snow pack in the middle of June. This is good
news and as it melts it will give some relief to the
Southwest’s decade old drought.
Water and the rivers that flow out of and through
Colorado have been the leading paths and trails
forever. Our travels have been no different. We
have been on many, if not most of these rivers.
From their destination in the Gulf of Mexico or
the Pacific Ocean to their source in the lakes and
creeks. Following the rivers is how we usually
arrived in the State.




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INTRODUCTION:

Historically, in the United States, there have been
no more important rivers than the two that
defined the boundaries of our nation.
The first created the boundary between France
and the U.S. before 1803.

When Thomas Jefferson agreed to buy the
Louisiana Purchase the southern boundary of the
United States became the Arkansas River. Its
source is in the Twin Lakes near Leadville,
Colorado.
Our border with Mexico on the other hand has
been defined by the Rio Grande. For years the
Spanish navigated the waters of the Gulf of
Mexico, and the Norte Grand from Port Isabel
and Brownville west beyond Laredo.

During the Civil War the Union believed the
river could be navigated all the way to El Paso,
Texas. The Norte Grand on our side of the
border is the Rio Grande River whose source is
in the Uncompahgre Wilderness of Colorado
among those 14,000 foot peaks.

Several rivers are well known because of the
authors that have written ‘wild west’ cowboy
stories like Louis L’amour , and others for their
historical background like James Michener and
the Platte River.




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INTRODUCTION:

But today the river for the Southwest and
California is the Colorado River. We have traced
it from a trickle as it seeps into the Gulfo De
California south of Yuma, to another trickle at
it’s source. Across the Imperial Valley with it’s
many dams and canyons, and along it’s many
tributaries, to that small creek on the western side
of the Rocky Mountain National Park.

We tend to divide Colorado by it’s eastern front,
which is close to the Continental Divide. It
begins just east of Pagosa Springs in the south,
and runs up along the Rockies, through Pueblo,
Denver, and Fort Collins . Half of the State’s
population live along the Eastern Front. To their
East is the prairie. (Not a desert, desert’s don’t
get that much rain.) In a good year gets 15
inches.
Along the front in Boulder and Denver a snow
storm may be 2-3 inches deep. It may melt in a
day or two. 20 miles to the west the same storm
may pile up 4 - 6 feet. The mountains, many
13,000 feet high and some 14,000, the tallest in
the United States, collect this snow. This, the
snow pack, becomes the life blood of the entire
Southwest.

Colorado may be the best place for lawyers to
hang out. Because no place has such a
convoluted legal scheme around it’s water.


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It’s often described as ‘first come first severe’.
Water for Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas. Water for
New Mexico and Arizona. And above all water
for Southern California; Los Angeles, San Diego,
and the Great Imperial valley. Every drop of
water is accounted for.

So while we have traveled across and around
Colorado for over 20 years we have always been
conscious of the importance of this resource.
Their snowy reservoir.
Like many states in the west it has many federally
guarded and protected lands and State Parks. We
are not happy about their political position
towards Parks. Their fees are too high, and they
really don’t encourage campers, despite having so
many tourists and visitors. We therefore use
discretion about where we camp and perfer
National Forest’s or National Parks.

Like Utah we’ve traveled and camped across
every mile of Colorado as well. From Medicine
Bow Forest in the far north, along the eastern
front to the Sangro De Cristo Mountains, the
Great Sand Dunes, to Creede, Gunnison,
Durango and Mesa Verde in the south. Grand
Junction, Black Canyon and the northwest to
Dinosaur National Monument.




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INTRODUCTION:

We have followed many of their rivers from
different locations. The Rio Grande River from,
Big Bend and El Paso, Texas to it’s source in
Creede. The Colorado River from Yuma,
Buckskin State Park, Grand Canyon, through
Utah and Colorado to a small creek in the Rocky
Mountains. We’ve waded in the twin lakes that
empty through the Arkansas River onto the great
Plains. And we’ve followed the shallow Platte as
it splits and crosses the Dakotas to the
Mississippi. Yes indeed, this is COLORADO:
THE WATER STATE

We are summer time visitors here and
unfortunately, the other three seasons are just as
important to the thousands of visitors and tourist
that come to climb its mountains, hunt its large
animals, elk, deer, or big horn sheep. These
mountains have created a winter wonderland
where few ski slopes can rival the likes of Vail,
Aspen or Telluride.
Come along with us as we remember some of the
stories and experiences we’ve had traveling the
roads and trails of Colorado.

It’s ‘JUST AROUND THE BEND.’







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TABLE OF CONTENTS

Title
Copyright

Acknowledgements
Introduction

Table of Contents

CHAPTER 1
RIO GRANDE RIVER 21

Big Bend Nat. Park, TX
Leesburg State Park, NM

Albuquerque, NM

Santa Fe, NM
Cochiti Lake Campground, NM

Bandelier Forest & Nat. Monument,
Los Alamos, N M

Taos, Rio Grande Gorge, NM

Wolf Creek Pass, CO
Rio Grande Natural Wilderness











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TABLE OF CONTENTS

CHAPTER 2
SAN JUAN NATIONAL FOREST 63

San Juan River, CO

Navajo Lake State Park, CO
Texas Hole, NM
Navajo Lake, NM
Aztec and Farmington, NM

Durango, CO

Durango & Silverton RR
Silverton, CO

Gold Mine Disasters


CHAPTER 3
MESA VERDE 91

Culture and Civilizations

Anasazi, ‘Ancient Ones’
Cultural Development

Canyon De Chilly

Mesa Verde Nat. Park






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CHAPTER 4

SAND DUNES NATIONAL PARK 119
Prairie Lands

Sangre De Cristo Mountain Range
Sand Dunes Nat. Park and Preserve

Medano Pass Primitive Road
Medano Creek

Sand Dunes Hiking

Zapata Falls
Camera Calamity

Villa Grove

CHAPTER 5

Colorado’s Western Border 153

Dinosaur Nat. Monument
Douglass Pass

Colorado Nat. Monument
Ridgeway State Park

Black Canyon Nat. Park
Breakfast Excursion

Uncomphgre Nat. Forest Tour

Gunnison River Tour



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TABLE OF CONTENTS

CHAPTER 6

Gunnison 197

Our Town
One Mile

Lunch
Fishing the Taylor

Crested Butte

Lake Irwin
Camping Life

Tin Cup

CHAPTER 7
COLORADO RIVER 239

From the Gulf to Colorado

Gulfo De California History
Yuma to the Canyon
Grand Canyon
Lake Powell
The Great River Road
Leadville to State Bridge
Along the River
Source of the Colorado
Timber Creek Campground
Never Summer Ranch



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TABLE OF CONTENTS

CHAPTER 8

ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK 259
Milner Pass

Moraine Campground
Fishing

Bear Lake Hiking
Stars and Galaxies

The Big Thompson

Bierstadt Lake
Elk Manners

The Park


CHAPTER 9
NORTHERN POETRY319

Fort Badger

Flying J

Rawlings to Laramie
Cowboy Symposium









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TABLE OF CONTENTS

CHAPTER 10

THE EASTERN FRONT 335
Prairie Construction

Boulder to Denver

Colorado Springs
CHAPTER 11

ARKANSAS RIVER 347

Cottonwood Pass

Twin Lakes
U.S. 50 East

Wild Fires

Lake Pueblo
Kansas

Dodge, Kansas
Dodge, Rodeo

To the Mississippi

Appendix 1 (371)
Maps:

Appendix 2 (377)

Colorado Water Conservation Board
Appendix 3 (381)

How the West was Won

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CHAPTER 1

RIO GRANDE RIVER:
th
th
The Rio Grande is the 4 or 5 longest river in
the country. Depending on the time of year.
This is the beginning of our travels along this
famous river, from it’s Texas/Mexican border to
a humble beginning at it’s reservoir and creek
outside of Creede, Colorado..

Big Bend National Park, Texas :
Arlene, full of good cheer, as we drove down the
hillside onto the sand bank. It had been 130
miles from where our RV was parked.

Honestly, dear, we have just arrived at the
furthest point in our civilized lives and we may
not survive.
Aren’t you a little bit nervous? Most of the stories
about Big Bend are pretty bad, people often run out
of water, and suffer heat exhaustion.














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RIO GRANDE RIVER:

Not me. “I’ve got lots of water and the air is
working on the Nova.”
Okay. I was a little concerned that we had just
sunk our little car’s wheels deep into the sand. It
could be deep enough to keep us from leaving.
We were in a hundred and eight degree heat, with
no shade and thirty miles from the Rangers
Station.

Even with the cards stacked against us, we were
upbeat as the afternoon had just begun and we
were about to unload our two gray kayaks for a
paddle in the Rio Grande River. Our little car
made it easy to slide the boats off the roof and
carry them across the sand to the shore.
With our light weight type IV preservers, our
expensive carbon fiber paddles, adjusted, and our
SPF 50 see through jackets and French legion
hats all ready, we looked out across the river to
get our bearings.

In front of us was this thin ribbon of grayish
water with ripples of current running down the
middle. At it’s summer’s low, no wider than 40
feet, we had a pretty good idea about the stream.

A flat stream spread out across a wide area is
pretty shallow. That means it doesn’t have a





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strong current or under tow. In the Spring it was
probably more robust, and covered the sand
banks we had just driven down.
Across from us, Mexico, looked dry and hot. A
few trees skirted the shore, and was flat from
there to the edge of the mountain cliff. Several
hundred feet high it ran as far south as we could
see.

To the west it was several miles to the Santa
Elena Canyon. We were about half way between
one end of Texas and the other, El Paso and
Brownsville. 350 miles from each.
Long before the river was used extensively for
irrigation, it had a lot of commercial traffic.
During the civil war the Army, Corps of
Engineers’, enthusiasm exceeded itself as they
recommended dredging the 800 miles from
Brownsville to El Paso. Irrigation has rendered
the river useless for navigation. Not just along
the border but, from it’s source in Colorado all
the way to the sea.
Paddling and reading the river was easy, the
deepest part was where the current flowed,
maybe a foot, but usually less. The current
meandered, but was mostly in the middle. After
pushing off we stayed to the U.S. shore.




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It wasn’t that we were worried about security.
Neither, the U.S. Border Patrol nor any migrants
were anywhere around. Maybe it’s just to far
from anywhere. We headed up stream. It’s only
sensible to go into the current when we have to
return.

If on the other hand we had a pick-up truck we
could have left it in the sand and driven up river
toward the canyon. That would have been great
as our trip would have been much further and all
down stream.

As it was we had to battle the current. We’ve
done this often and in the beginning it’s not a big
deal as we are both full of energy. We got up
around the first bend and paddled on. From



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time to time we were encountering what the
‘Corp’ had never dreamed of, shallow water.
























Our 14 foot boats draw about 7 or 8 inches of
water. There length and depth are great for lakes
and long easy glides across flat water. They are
less maneuverable on rivers and it’s down right
hard when it comes to being aground.
Poor Arlene, her upper body strength was
challenged by the sandy bottom. She’d shove her
paddle into the sand and push forward, lifting the
boat and breaking the hold, scooting ahead. We
continued up stream before the heat took it’s toll
on our energy.

Turning around was great. There’s nothing like
going down stream, using the paddle as a rudder,

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to turn from side to side, and staying in the
middle of the current.



























Now was the time to take advantage of the
beautiful country we were paddling in. Sitting
back, viewing the high Cliff, flat waters, and
green shrubs lining the slowly curving river. It
was awesome.

It was only an hour toward the canyon before we
turned around, yet it seemed longer. Returning
was a dream but, to fast. Within half an hour we
were back in sight of the Nova.






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Our last effort was to power the boats into the
shore as far as possible. Although we could wade
across the river here, and most everywhere we
still liked securing the boats on shore.

After landing we took a moment to catch our
breath. It was then that we realized how hot it
was and that we were spent, exhausted.




























Years later we would see a couple of kayakers
crossing Rainbow Lake in New York State with
Spinnaker sails attached to their boats. Not long
after that we too had a sail. From that moment
on we really enjoyed both paddling into the wind
and returning with it, our spinnaker in full bloom.



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We struggled out of the boats, on to the sand. In
a while we dragged the boats over to the car and
raised them up onto the roof racks.
We know better than to turn on the air condition
when the temperature is over 95. Usually the car
overheats. Yet, Arlene climbed into the car
started it and cooled herself down. Meanwhile I
strapped down the kayaks and tied them to the
front and back bumpers.

By rocking the Nova back and forth we were able
to crawl out of the sand up the bank and on to
the hard road back to Alpine and our RV.




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This kayak trip was special to us. We have never
driven into such a forbidden place as the Big
Bend country, but proceeded to play and enjoy
ourselves like this.

This was a dangerous mission. Usually, we
consider our off course trips seriously. They
always have a destination. A target at the other
end. We really didn’t have that in mind.

The Rio was our target, but that was only half
way. Probably we should have given a little
more thought to driving 130 miles back in the
heat, with little gas. If the weather turned on us
we would have faced over 15 ‘fords’. Torrential
rains across roadways are as we’ve seen blind
alleys. Our check list from Anza-Borrego was in
tack, with several gallons of water, first aide and
survival equipment like blankets, food. At this
point we’d add flares, as cell phones or other
electronics wouldn’t be much help.

Our rating system, 1-10 where 10 was so extreme
that our survival was questionable we were
approaching 9. Had anything gone wrong we
would have had to rely on the Rangers
responding to our one day permit and come
looking for us.
We were leaving Texas, past El Paso, into New
Mexico. There were many spots to choose from,
the Flying J parking lot, ‘Camping World’ or even


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a camp ground. We’ve stayed at all of them. The
closest to the Rio Grande however, was at the
dam.
Leeburg State Park, New Mexico:

We stopped at the campground at Leesburg State
Park. It’s not very nice, as all the sites are in the
sun and of all places on top of the last Dam in
New Mexico. Below it, backed up for miles are
the waters of the Rio Grande. Irrigation from it
feeds the miles of Almond and Pistachio groves.
Each are known for their thirsty nature. A single
almond is said to need a gallon of water to grow.
South of the dam a trickle of water, leads into El
Paso, where it’s meager stream becomes the
border between the United States and Mexico.


















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Albuquerque, New Mexico:
We seldom stop in Albuquerque, usually it’s a
drive-by along I-25 from Santa Fe to I-40 toward
Gallop. Like most cities they were developed
along the water. Albuquerque is no exception,
it’s spread along the eastern side of the Rio
Grande River.

At different times of year there may be more
water, but for this summer, there are only a few
shallow braids weaving back and forth between
the 100 yard banks following one direction and
then another day in another.
Today most old towns are laid out for the
convenience of us tourist. Albuquerque’s is
small, there’s the town square, the oldest church,
dated 1706. An old cream colored stucco single
story buildings with their original logs holding the
ceilings. Around the square are the
traders, with bangles, silver, and beads.

We took to them right away. There was a Navajo
rug shop that we really liked. One of the
proprietors was blind. He, his wife and ancestors
had been making rugs for 7 generations,

We have a soft spot for rugs. Old and original
Navajo rugs are expensive. Among them were
newly woven rugs of many sizes. Our attention




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was drawn to small, place mats. They were wool,
rough to touch, but in every imaginable Indian
pattern.






















We chose four of them, but while looking around
changed our mind and bought another.
Out on the street we couldn’t pass up the silver
venders. Necklaces, rings, ear rings, and
bracelets. Arlene on another trip had bought a
squash blossom necklace. Today she liked only a
couple of simply designed bracelets.
Outside of Albuquerque, we stopped to visit with
one of Arlene’s niece’s, Betsy and her husband
Brian. They were so friendly, and invited us to
stay a couple of days. We did.

We were immediately struck by their collections.
We’ve often seen junk yards across the country,
and assume there is no trash collection. Or

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owners being derelict of hauling it to a larger junk
yard. But, until we had a garage mechanic tell us
all his old cars and trucks were his retirement, we
never appreciated the slew of things people
collected and kept outside.

Brian was a computer consultant, and often
worked at home. He never cut the grass, which
grew 2 feet tall, had a garden, and some play
equipment for their daughters, Megan and Katy.
Their 2 1/2 acres mostly held their collection.

A short list included a Suburban Chevy truck, a
Ford Escort, a Jeep Cherokee with 250,000 miles,
an Areo Trailer, a ‘fire wood’ trailer, one red
inboard power boat, a row boat with green ores,
a 15 foot canoe, several outboard motors, and
various other things in different states of repair.

They had built a two story garage. Upstairs was
Brian’s office with a computer, desk, and files in
one corner. A fly tying work space with a vice,
tools, and piles of feathers. The rest of the room
was open. That’s where the remote control race
cars were driven.
They encouraged us to buy fishing equipment,
taught us again to cast, and helped us get a
license.

We of course have had lots of help from
everyone with our casting techniques. My
brother Joe spent the most time and had the

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greatest patience. Each time we’d stop in
Lakeway, Texas he’d give us some backyard
training, and then take us out on the lake for
some real life experiences. Here Joe and Arlene
practice holding the line and casting.

We fished with Brian and Betsy in some out-of-
the-way mountain streams. It was so much fun
that we made arrangements to meet them later in
Creede, Colorado for more fishing.

A weekend of fun.




































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Santa Fe, New Mexico:
Just up the road from Betsy’s and Brian’s in
Tijeras, is Santa Fe. If we were to choose a
watering hole in the southwest, this would be the
place. From the first time we visited we loved it.
Food, trinkets craftsmen, architecture, and lots
of friendly people.
Our favorite restaurant is Maria’s with good Tex-
Mex food, lemonade to die for, and blue ribbon
winning Margarita’s. Tex-Mex may be what we’d
call Mexican like Chile Relines, steaming hot
steak Fajitas, or Quesadillas. Everything is home
made except the Tequila. It’s pure Agave from
Mexico.



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Santa Fe doesn’t rest on it’s fine food, no it’s
known for encouraging everyone, including
retirees with it’s famous, architecture. By law all
buildings have their characteristic, stucco, with
rounded corners. It’s wonderful, and the
buildings come in every southwestern earth tone,
light and dark tans, and some burgundy. All with
rounded edges and flat roofs.








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They have one if not the only round capital
building in all the states. Few visit it but, after all
the government was my livelihood. How could I
resist. We toured and sat in the chambers for
over an hour as the representatives droned on.

Back on the streets it’s only a few blocks to the
Old Town. Here, Santa Fe has out done itself.
It’s many blocks of sculpture and art galleries,
knic-knac shops all surrounding the square.
Hotels and tourist centers are nearby.
Parking is everywhere, but in the summer it’s
limited. Santa Fe solved the problem with an
above ground rail system. Of all things it’s called
‘The Roadrunner’.



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We always buy something in Old Town, from the
shops or more often in the square. All summer
long there’s a festival in the square. It’s filled
with vendors, their tents covered with paintings,
jewelry, silver, and other creative trinkets. We
bought a couple of the lightest, brightest ear
rings, made of titanium.

Those were nice, but the vendor with the most
creative knic-knac was one with little 2 inch
bags piled high with things that conjured up an
activity, like Yoga, Kayaking, or Swimming. The
little goodies pilled into the bag are all glued
together and we thought they would make great
Christmas ornaments or gifts. We bought
several.


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There are a lot of Greeks living in Santa Fe, and
each year they have a Greek festival, with meals,
sweets, gifts, music and dancing. We bought
tickets this time and had a great meal with Gyros,
Dolmades, Moussaka, Greek Beer and for
dessert Baklava.

Cochiti Lake Campground, New Mexico:
We always have a great time in Santa Fe, but it’s
impossible to park the RV, regardless of it’s size.
So we’ve found a place a few miles down the
road, Cochiti Campground. It’s a Corps of
Engineers camp and Dam on the Rio Grande
River.


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Cochiti Campground is high above the river. We
have always been fortunate to be half way up the
hillside and look over the backed-up water. It’s
plenty hot here and having a copper colored
canopy over the picnic table really helps. Each
camp site along the outside is a hard surface pull-
thru. The camps facilities rate a high mark, 4 for
their cleanliness and management.

To enjoy this area is to either be here in the fall
when it’s not quite so hot, or to get up and hike
before 6 A.M. and end it by 10. We were pretty
good at the latter.



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We’ve walked miles around the campsite. At the
top of the mountains, hill is the Visitors Center.
At the bottom, a steep hike to the water, beach
and boat launch.

There’s a strange interest in sailing boats here.
Beside the road to the beach is a pull off with a
flag pole and halyard gear to lift a sailboat mast.














Stepping the mast, with gear makes it easier.
However, we’ve stepped a few masts, of different
sizes. A sloop over 25 feet has a mast that really
needs help to raise it. These boats because of
their size are usually set up once a season and not
transported, but docked in a marina .

Under 25 feet the masts are less than 100 feet
high and 8 inches wide. They can and usually are
handled without gear. Their size particularly
when it’s the size of a 19 foot ‘Lightning’, is easily
tailored.




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That’s what’s so strange, to see this equipment
which is used for small boats. Upon
consideration we think it was built by a Boy
Scout or Explorer’s group. They are eager to do
things like that.

We’ve not seen many boats, sail or other on the
water. Maybe it’s too hot and even the fish don’t
swim around much.

Cochita Lake, our camp, is near several Indian
Reservations and equal distance from Santa Fe,
Los Alamos and Albuquerque. Equal distance as
the crow or eagle flies. But, not so with the
highways. To get to Los Alamos, would have
been easier to take a jet boat up the Rio Grande.
Bandelier Forest & National Monument

We otherwise would have to drive to the east or
west. East through Santa Fe then north then
west, about 175 miles. To the west we’d go
south to Bernalillo then north on route 550
toward Cuba then east on route 4. All in all
about 200 miles.

There was an alternative, a short cut that I wasn’t
excited to explain to Arlene. It ran straight north
through Bandelier Forest, about 35 miles to route
4, Los Alamos, and as a bonus Bandelier
National Monument. The latter is a well
preserved Indian cliff dwelling.


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To prepare Arlene for the ‘Fire Road’ short cut I
called on some local neighbors. The R angers at
the Visitors Center were not sure what the
condition of the road might be. There had been
a terrible wild fire in the forest the previous year
and they hadn’t been over it since. We also met
some others at the gas station. They knew all
about the road and fire, but hadn’t been over it
since the fire either and didn’t know if it was
open.

One guy, an obvious adventurer, or maybe, just a
local, use to such issues, suggested we try it.
‘Keep moving in the sand, and watch your
mileage.’ ‘That way if you get stuck you’ll know
which way to hike if you have to make your way
out.’
I considered his advice to be solid. This wasn’t
the Baja. And after all we’d survived Big Bend
miles away from anyone; beyond hiking or
walking to safety. So why not here?

Here’s a picture of the ‘Fire Road’ across the
Bandelier Forest.
The deepest sand we encountered was in several
ravines. We crossed sandy areas in Big Bend but
they would have been fordable. Here, they were
too long for anyone to cross and about 8 inches
deep.



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Arlene was content to keep the mileage, and
make occasional comments. For instance the
road had lots of gravel, causing our wheels to
spin whether we were going up or down hill.
Nor could we tell when we’d gotten to the top of
a climb. Her comments were like: ‘Keep it
going.’, or ‘Why are you slowing down?’.

We kept going, with the air conditioner off. The
heat was intense. Our last few miles before
meeting route 4 was filled with burnt out, trees
standing blackened. The ground was ashen;
cleared by the intensity of the fire of all brush.
Bandelier National Monument was a surprise.
First, the National Parks had closed it to


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individual vehicles. Busses on a regular schedule
took us in and out. We have been so glad to see
this happening and hope it will continue in as
many parks as possible.

Secondly, there has been a lot of work done to
preserve this canyon home of ancient Indian
cultures.

It was a grand experience, yet so hot, and after
driving through the forest without air
conditioning we were suffering from heat
exhaustion. We tried staying in the shade, and
used our wet scarves from a creek to wrap
around our foreheads.
This short cut was something, on our rating
system this time we gave it an 8. Well under our
Big Bend trip. Still we should probably stay
around or under 7.















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Los Alamos, New Mexico:
Although we tried to take care of ourselves we
continued to Los Alamos, but never really
recovered. Feeling tired and exhausted we
forgave a good trip around this incredible place
for another day, and returned to camp the long
way with air conditioning blasting .

Another day came several years later. Although
we stayed in the Cochiti Lake Campground we
didn’t take the short cut. This time we drove up
I-25 through Santa Fe.
Los Alamos, in the beginning, the 1930’s, it was
just a private school in the middle of nowhere.
The U.S. Government commandeered it and set
up a town so secret that inhabitants used
numbers instead of names. There wasn’t any way
to get there because it didn’t exist. Like ‘Area 51’
in Nevada.

Here is where the Atomic Bomb was developed,
at the Los Alamos Laboratory. It was an
coordination effort with Canada and England
participating. Russia also had their successful
spies, both American and British.

Two separate programs were developed. One,
not so successful created ‘Little Boy’. The other





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led by Major General Leslie Groves of the Corp
or Engineers and a team of Physicists including
Robert Oppenhiemer and Edward Teller. They
created ‘Fat Boy’. It’s amazing that the bomb
worked as the interior was all electrically wired.
Years would pass before we had printed circuit
boards, and transistors to simplify the internal
electronics.
















I had worked on very early computers then, in
the late 1950’s. They were large and used
vacuum tubes. For as little as 5K their size was
just smaller than an armoire. The largest business
machine in existence, at 250K was the size of a
volley ball court.

Here is a life size model of ‘Fat Boy’. I tried
getting Arlene to climb up onto it for this picture,
but she refused
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It’s a good thing this bomb wasn’t very large,
because the inside of a B-29 bomber doesn’t have
much room either.
Los Alamos is still a large government nuclear
facility and laboratory. Because it’s on the top of
a mountain and there are canyons crossing
sections it makes it easy to isolate certain areas.
Most of which are fenced off from the public.

The last time we were there the town which has
grown had a festival. We enjoyed walking around
and after visiting bought a couple of lunches and
walked over to a pretty park for a leisurely picnic
lunch beside a pond. It was a good time and
much better than when heat exhaustion had us
both by the neck.
Climbing down from the city we crossed the
plains toward I-25. On the way we took a bridge
over the Rio Grande and snapped this picture.





















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