RV Livin' - Post #5: State Parks, a Winefest and a National Monument

September 22, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

So let's get into some more fun topics on this blog. 

Over the last week or so I have had the opportunity to visit two Colorado state parks, one state wildlife area, a national monument, a wine festival and a national recreation area.

Maroon_Bells_Fall_2015_1Maroon_Bells_Fall_2015_1A clearing storm provides the dramatic clouds at sunrise on the Maroon Bells near Aspen, Colorado.

The travel plans have been slowed down dramatically. I have learned why full-time RVers do not plan like those in a car - it takes longer to get places in a slower RV, you are definitely more tired after driving a 44-foot set of tandem vehicles, things will go wrong and chores still have to be done (like grocery shopping and laundry) when you stop in towns, gas is expensive in a vehicle that only gets 10 mpg so you don't like to drive too far in one day, and you really can't get to see an area by driving in one night and leaving the next morning. Add on top of that the issues that have come up, like taking the Jeep in for the tire sensor repair or waiting for a UPS delivery for the missing hitch pin, and your schedule quickly goes out the window. 

So I am very thankful that I have had the opportunity to see what I have seen. In addition to visiting a few new places, I have also added new subjects to my photo inventory. A few days ago, I photographed desert bighorn sheep for the first time with good camera equipment. I now have a pretty varied collection of photos of wineries and Grand Junction. I photographed my first Gambel's quail in Colorado. Found some new small mammals to photograph. And I have a new set of recreation photos from one of Colorado's many great parks. 

Sunset_Highline_Lake_2015_1Sunset_Highline_Lake_2015_1A colorful sunset in shades of orange, pink, yellow and purple light up the sirus clouds and reflect orange light into Highline Lake at Highline Lake State Park near Loma, Colorado
After leaving Mount Evans, I stopped at Sylvan Lake State Park. This is one of my favorite spots in Colorado for fall colors. Unfortunately I was a little bit early but there were a few leaves starting to pick up the shades of fall. 

One afternoon I thought I would take out my kayak to photograph the lake at sunset. It was a pretty one. I left the kayak at the lake's edge to pick it up later rather than carrying it back to the campsite. Mistake because it meant I had to load it in the dark. I did, however, accomplish my first "download" of the black and gray water tanks with no issues - thankfully. Unfortunately that luck ran out when, after loading the kayak in the dark, I got the RV and the attached Jeep stuck in a tight spot at the edge of the lake. I basically missed a turn and almost turned into the lake. Being in the dark with no skills at backing up the RV with the Jeep attached, I decided it best just to leave it there until morning when I could evaluate the options (like unhitching the Jeep - LOL!) in the daylight. Won't do that again. 

It was cool though to take some photos of the lake and the Milky Way and watch a family of great horned owls hunt along the lake's edge all night. 

From Sylvan Lake State Park I went to Aspen, Colo. to check out the fall colors at Maroon Bells while I waited for the new hitch pin to arrive. Yes, I lost a hitch pin within the first week of being on the road. Thankfully I had stopped at a rest stop for another reason and saw the missing piece.  Desert_bighorn_ram_CO_Natl_Mon_2015_1Desert_bighorn_ram_CO_Natl_Mon_2015_1A desert bighorn ram (Ovis canadensis) is a subspecies of the Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep.

The sunrises were beautiful at Maroon Bells and a moose even made an appearance one day. (See top image of the Maroon Bells in fall color.)

While in Aspen I stayed in a great RV Park - the first for me - where I met a few folks from Indiana, sporting their Notre Dame apparel of course! 

Grapes_Palisade_2015_1Grapes_Palisade_2015_1Several bunches of grapes hangs from the vine at a farm in Palisade, Colorado

From Aspen I went out to the Grand Junction area to work on an article about Colorado's wine country. I had not planned on being there during the biggest event of the year for the area - the Annual Colorado Mountain Winefest - and I paid the price by not being able to get a campsite nearby. I wound up at an unexpected gem in Loma, Colo. - Highline Lake State Park. 

This park, as I have since learned, is a great spot for bird migration in the fall, but I was a couple of weeks early for that opportunity. 

Even though I had not planned to attend the Winefest, I figured I might as well since I was in the area. It was a lot of fun with lots of tasty wines from all over Colorado. 

While in Loma, I checked out several nearby attractions including Colorado National Monument and Walker State Wildlife Area. 

The Grand Junction area has a great biking path along the Colorado River, which includes the state wildlife area. It was interesting to see turkeys, pheasants and a great blue heron right next to a busy interstate but it was a nice reprieve from the busy days. 

I spent quite a bit of time in Colorado National Monument, and I plan to come back several more times in the coming months. This red rock canyon landscape is Colorado's version of red rock country. It also has a large herd of desert bighorn sheep, which I have wanted to photograph for a long time. Unexpectedly (remember me mentioning those events? Well I am starting to have more positive unexpected events) I stumbled across some Gambel's quail and chukars around the park. 

Chukar_CO_Natl_Mon_2015_1Chukar_CO_Natl_Mon_2015_1A chukar (Alectoris chukar) stands on a piece of red rock in a canyon in Colorado National Monument near Fruita, Colorado

So all in all it was a great long weekend, and one that showed the importance of staying in an area for a while. There is still many more places I would like to check out here. There are two other state wildlife areas, I heard there are elk in the park in the winter, and there is a herd of wild horses nearby. 

Next I am off to my first trip out of state. I am heading north today to stop along the Green River for a few days while working on another article, and then off to Grand Teton National Park. 


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