Category Archives: Dogs

July 7, 2016 Ridgeway State Park, Colorado

Heading North on Route 145

Heading North on Route 145

On to Ridgway and the Million Dollar Highway

The image above was taken along Route 145 as I headed north and upward towards Telluride, Colorado on July 6th. After doing some extensive research on whether or not to drive Route 550, the Million Dollar Highway, from Durango to Ridgway, I chose to take the slightly longer, safer ( read chickened out ), route staying on Route 160 west through Durango, then picking up Route 145 near Cortez, then north on Route 62 at Placerville, joining Route 550 at Ridgway, and then a few miles north on Route 550 to the Ridgway State Park where I have reservations for a two week stay.

Route 145 north through the mountains is a pretty decent road that makes a very long, gradual climb before a short steep ascent to Lizard Head Pass, elevation 10, 222′, and a steep decent to Telluride. It was touted as an easier route through the mountains than Route 550 and I would have to agree. I had no trouble at any point along this road and would do it again in a heartbeat.

I arrived at the State Park in the early afternoon with temps in the mid to high 80’s and found my  reserved site unusable, just way too severely sloped. What would have been a disaster was averted by some very nice, accommodating volunteer hosts and a park ranger who turned a potentially awful situation into a pleasantly resolved one. More on that in the next post along with some images of the campground in the next post.

Looking Down on Ouray

Looking Down on Ouray

The Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Road

View From the Million Dollar Road

At the crack of dawn Thursday, I loaded my photo gear, and Sam, into the Prius and headed back south down Route 550 to see if there were any million dollar views along the Million Dollar Highway.

( I have included all the images in this post in a gallery, located at the end of this post, where you can see larger images and view them as a slideshow, if you like.)

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View Along the Million Dollar Highway

View Along the Million Dollar Highway

Turns out, there are ! Quite a few indeed. WOW ! I have never been here before and I will say, I am REALLY impressed with this country.

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

Of course, ideal conditions, a blue sky day with temps around 70 ( once I climbed to above 8000′ ) didn’t hurt.

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar road

View From the Million Dollar road

View From the Million Dollar road

View From the Million Dollar road

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

Heading south and climbing to an elevation of 11,118″ at Red Mountain Pass, I was really glad I chickened out and did not decide to take this road in the motorhome towing the Prius. That said, a lot of other folks obviously feel otherwise as I passed several motorhomes with toads, along with 5th wheels and some travel trailers. There also were a few tractor trailers poking along the highway, but not all that many. What did amaze me were the number of cars , not quite traffic jam numbers but a whole lot more traffic than I anticipated on a highway with such a fearsome reputation.

Stream Along the Million Dollar Highway

Stream Along the Million Dollar Highway

Stream Along the Million Dollar Highway

Stream Along the Million Dollar Highway

There is just SO much to see along this road, it is going to take a few trips to even begin to take it all in. And since I am spending all my time rubbernecking along the way, this highway may well be the end of me since there are countless opportunities to go off the edge of the road, and straight down hundreds of feet, no guardrails along much of the way, At one spot I stopped to take a few shots, I could see the remains of three different vehicle several hundred feet below.

View From the Million Dollar Road

View From the Million Dollar Road

Along South Mineral Road

Along South Mineral Road

Along South Mineral Road

Along South Mineral Road

Along South Mineral Road

Along South Mineral Road

I took only one side trip off the highway today, out South Mineral Road to check out the campgrounds, and designated camping areas, located along the road. If I ever worked up the courage to take the motorhome up into these mountains, the camping along this road would well be the reason why.

Roadside Attraction

Roadside Attraction

Roadside Attraction

Roadside Attraction

I passed this bicyclist heading up to Red Mountain Pass and just after doing so saw these two deer on the side of the road, so I did a quick u-turn and waited off the road to see what their reaction would be to the guy on the bike as he approached them. Thought I might get something interesting, but as luck would have it,  some jackass on his roaring Harley ( one of many, way too many, on this road today ), came through in the opposite direction and just had to rev it up as he passed the deer, scaring them off just before the bicyclist got to them. I will never understand the mentality of these idiots, destroying so much in their wake, I guess just to draw attention to themselves, pretty pathetic.

Waiting Alone

Waiting Alone

And speaking of pathetic, here is lonesome Sam, waiting for the photographer to return to the Prius after shooting something along the way. I guess it’s going to take some more time before she gets over our loss … she hasn’t touched her food bowl in going on three days now, and is just seriously depressed. She is getting a lot of attention now with no competition, so I’m sure she will come out of it sooner or later. This is the first time in her ten years that she has been alone, so it is a new experience for her.

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

The area around Red Mountain is simply spectacular, I’ll just let the images show you what I mean.

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Road

View From the Million Dollar Road

View From the Million Dollar Road

View From the Million Dollar Road

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

Looking Down on Silverton

Looking Down on Silverton

South of Red Mountain Pass is the town of Silverton, seen here from an overlook a little farther south of the town itself. Note the Railroad train coming into town in the lower right.

Million Dollar Highway Image Gallery

Click on the first ( or any other ) image to see larger versions of the images in this post.

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July 5, 2016 Pagosa Springs, Colorado

View from Above Wolf Pass

View from Above Wolf Pass

Wolf Pass, Colorado, Goodbye to Jenny

View from Above Wolf Pass

View from Above Wolf Pass

It is only a 10 mile drive to the top of Wolf Pass from where I am staying at the West Fork Campground, about 14 miles north of Pagosa Springs. And when it gets a little too warm at the campsite, that is where I go to cool down and wait for the evening temperatures to drop back to a comfortable level.

Above Wolf Pass

Above Wolf Pass

Above Wolf Pass

Above Wolf Pass

By the time one reaches the summit, the temperature has usually dropped by 20 to even 30 degrees and there is always a strong breeze up here. From sweating down below to pulling on the sweatshirt up here.

Above Wolf Pass

Above Wolf Pass ( Note the Beetle Kill )

The views are stunning but the extensive amount of bark beetle kill is just awful to see, and unfortunately is probably a view into the future when most of these coniferous forests will all be devastated like this.

View from Above Wolf Pass

View from Above Wolf Pass

The beetle kill at this altitude, about 10,000 feet, is probably around 60 % of the forest.

Beetle Kill Near Wolf Pass

Beetle Kill Near Wolf Pass

Marmot Den

Marmot Den

Wildlife and Wildflowers

Marmot Den

Marmot Den

I was shooting some wildflowers on one of the steep roadside banks going up to the overlook above Wolf Pass, when this marmot stuck his head out of his den to see what I was doing in his neck of the woods.

Marmot Sunbathing

Marmot Sunbathing

Figuring I wasn’t much of a threat, he made his way out of the den and up the rocks to get a little late day sun.

Colorado Wildflowers

Colorado Wildflowers

I have read that the wildflower displays the Colorado mountains are famous for occur in mid July and beyond, exact timing, most likely, depending on elevation.

Wildflowers

Wildflowers

Wildflowers

Wildflowers

But up here at Wolf Pass, the show has at least started.

Wildflowers

Wildflowers

Wildflowers

Wildflowers

Wildflowers

Wildflowers

I won’t even begin to try and identify these individual flowers, not my field of expertise, but I can appreciate their beauty without knowing their names.

Wildflowers

Wildflowers

Wildflowers

Wildflowers

Wildflowers

Wildflowers

Wildflowers

Wildflowers

Mulie Twins

Mulie Twins

These guys were tiny, couldn’t have been more than a few days old.

Wait for me, Mom

Wait for me, Mom

Sam Checking Out Wildflowers

Sam Checking Out Wildflowers

Jenny’s Last Outing

Jenny and Sam Above Wolf Pass

Jenny and Sam Above Wolf Pass

On July 6th, I left Pagosa Springs with an enormous hole in my heart, traveling for the first time on this full-timing gig with only Sam ( Samantha ) for my companion.

Jenny and Sam Above Wolf Pass

Jenny and Sam Above Wolf Pass

Jenny, my constant companion for almost 16 years, is no more. She has been suffering from some kind of seizures for the past two weeks, her breathing has become very shallow and it was quickly becoming obvious that her end was near. I clipped her long coat just a few days before these shots at Wolf Pass were taken when the heat was making it very hard on her. She and Sam have been all but connected at the hip for 10 years, but Sam has almost always been right at her side the last several days as she obviously knew something was not right.

Jenny and Sam Above Wolf Pass

Jenny and Sam Above Wolf Pass

Sam even became something of an alert dog as she could sense when Jenny was going into one of her seizures and would jump out of their bed and let me know what was coming just seconds before the seizure would hit. I was hoping that such a wonderful little dog like Jenny would be blessed with a quick and painless end, but for whatever reason, that was not to be.

By July 4th, her breathing was becoming very shallow and rapid, and she was now being hit with a couple seizures a day, so I had to help her out and made an appointment for her to be put to sleep at the veterinary clinic just outside of Pagosa Springs. They were very kind and did a wonderful job of ending Jenny’s suffering, even coming out to the car, so she wouldn’t have to experience the normal dread she went through anytime we approached a vet’s clinic for annual checkups and shots.

Jenny

Jenny

Jenny made it to 15 Years and 9 months, a fairly long life for a small dog, and I can proudly say, I know she had as good a life as any little dog could possibly expect to experience. The look on her face in the image above expressed this inexplicable adoration she had for me. Though certainly friendly, she would barely acknowledge other people, or dogs, and seemed to focus all of her attention on me, why, as I said, I just don’t know.

At Home on the Couch

At Home on the Couch

In our previous life, she had the run of a 6000 SF house and art gallery/frame shop, plus a large yard  to chase squirrels in.

Keeping Me Company in the Workshop

Keeping Me Company in the Workshop

She always had a canine companion and for the last ten years, that was Samantha, seen above in their daytime space behind my work station in the frame shop.

Checking Out New Territory

Checking Out New Territory

Three years ago, the three of us hit the road for this full-timing life, and she was able to experience a lot of North America, exploring lots of new territory.

Jenny Checking Out the Texas Wildflowers

Jenny Checking Out the Texas Wildflowers

…. smelling the wildflowers in Texas

Windblown in the Desert

Windblown in the Desert

….getting windblown in the desert

Jenny In Amish Country

Jenny In Amish Country

…perched on a picnic table watching Amish buggies go by in Pennsylvania.

Photographer's Assistants

Photographer’s Assistants

Accompanying this photographer to too many locations to possibly recall, always there to help me pull gear from the back of the Prius.

At the Beach

At the Beach

And, God, how she loved the beach ( I guess that probably goes for all dogs ). Just run forever, never seeming to tire whenever we hit the sand.

Watching the World Go By

Watching the World Go By

Here watching the world go by from one of her favorite perches when we were wintering on the Port Aransas Beach.

In the past, and unfortunately I have gone through this process many times, I have usually replaced a dog with a new pup fairly quickly because I don’t like to leave the remaining dog without canine companionship, and training a new puppy usually takes my mind off the recently lost pet. This time, I don’t know what I am going to do yet. The sorrow is little deeper than ever before, perhaps a reflection of my own age, but more likely because of the special place this little dog held in my heart.

Rest in peace, Jenny.

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July 3, 2015 Homer, Alaska

Sunrise Over a Foggy Kachemak Bay

Sunrise Over a Foggy Kachemak Bay

Still Waiting for Fireweed in Homer

Yesterday morning we had an interesting red sun rising over a foggy, socked in Kachemak Bay. Don’t know if it was the fog or perhaps smoke blown in from the fires north of here that caused this brilliant red orange sun. Absolutely no color in the sky, but a very eerie sunrise.

Exploring the Back Roads Around Homer

Exploring the Back Roads Around Homer

Once again we have leaden, gray skies and overcast conditions with sunrise being the only time the sun is actually visible all day.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Exploring the Back Roads Around Homer

Exploring the Back Roads Around Homer

I continue to explore the back roads above Homer and even ventured out some logging roads off of the North Fork Road, hoping to find some fireweed in bloom, but it obviously is still just too early.

No Fireweed in Bloom yet

No Fireweed in Bloom yet

Have found some great vantage points for photos, if I can stay here long enough, and if the weather would ever cooperate. Those foreground plants are fireweed, with their flower stalks just beginning to form, and all those bright green patches on the distant hillside are fields of fireweed, just waiting to bloom and paint all those meadows a brilliant pink.

No Fireweed in Bloom yet

No Fireweed in Bloom yet

Guess I will continue to try and wait it out, though my 14 day limit here at the campground on Homer Spit has now been reached, and I’m not sure where I can go next.

Tidepools of Kachemak Bay

High Tide

High Tide

Low Tide

Low Tide

Kachemak Bay has the fifth largest tide swing in the world as the above two images illustrate. And since today was one of the lowest of the month’s low tides, I decided to venture out there at low tide and see what I could see.

Where is he going now?

Where is he going now?

My two traveling companions laid their normal quilt trip on me as I headed down the beach to slosh out to the low water mark, close to a quarter mile away.

Abandoned again!

Abandoned again!

Still amazed that at sixteen years of age, Jenny can still make the leap up to gain a perch on the windshield shelf.

Exploring the tide pools

Exploring the tide pools

Exploring the tide pools

Exploring the tide pools

As you can see, I wasn’t the only one that decided today would be a good day for tide pool exploration.

Starfish

Starfish

Once you got almost to the low tide mark, there was no stortage of starfish.

Stranded Crab

Stranded Crab

Other than starfish, this lone crab was about the only other creature I was able to find.

Starfish

Starfish

The starfish come in an assortment of colors and sizes.

Starfish

Starfish

Starfish

Starfish

Purple Starfish

Purple Starfish

Starfish

Starfish

In areas the seabed was covered with tiny dime sized mussels, but none any bigger. And as you approached the low tide mark, there was a lot of seaweed and kelp. Walking around on the consistently firm seabed wasn’t too bad, just a little slippery here and there.

Looking Back Towards camp

Looking Back Towards camp

Slogging Back to Camp

Slogging Back to Camp

Certainly an intertesting way to spend an hour or so on this rare, sunny morning, but I have to admit I was a little disappointed in not finding more to photograph out there. I have hopped around tide pools along the coast of Oregon and Washington and found a lot more variety of life in those pools than here.

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May 18, 2015 Valdez, Alaska

Allison Point, Valdez, Alaska

Allison Point, Valdez, Alaska

Waiting for the Season to Open in Valdez

When I stepped outside this morning with the dogs, I was greeted with the unpleasant discovery that the driver’s side tire on the towdolly was flat as a pancake. Not the way one would wish to start the day. Taking a close look at the tow dolly, I found frayed wires dragging on the ground where the wire ties had all given way during the last two days of bouncing over the Alaska Highway in the Yukon. Then I noticed that one of the tail lights plastic lens had also snapped off where it was screwed into the housing, another casualty of all the aerobatics we were subjected too. The forces we were subjected to on that horrific stretch of road also had thrown open upper storage cabinet doors that had never been jarred open in 11 years of travel, and the ceiling track that guides my windshield privacy curtain had one entire section pulled from the ceiling by the weight of the gathered curtain bouncing up and down for two days. And I have to figure that I was actually kind of lucky that that was all the damage done … it could have been much worse.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Approaching Thompson Pass

Approaching Thompson Pass

After unloading the Prius and replacing my flat tire with the spare, I had an uneventful short drive down to Valdez,

Approaching Thompson Pass

Approaching Thompson Pass

Worthington Glacier

Worthington Glacier

Worthington Glacier

Worthington Glacier

admiring the spectacular mountain scenery as I approached Thompson Pass,

Thompson Pass

Thompson Pass

where I stopped for a couple of shots and to let the dogs do a little exploring,

Intrepid Explorers

Intrepid Explorers

and then descended down the other side.

Descent to Valdez

Descent to Valdez

There is a long descend after the pass, but the grade is moderate and I had no problems handling it. Those odd poles on the side of the road, I am told, are to guide snow plows in the winter when Thompson Passs averages over 40 feet of snow.

At the bottom of the hill, you run through a narrow pass in the rock and past several waterfalls, some small and a couple very tall and dramatic. I would bet there will be a few waterfall images in a future post.

Allison Point Camping

Allison Point, Valdez, Alaska

Allison Point, Valdez, Alaska

Rather than go to a commercial campground in the town of Valdez, I chose to take Dayville Road and check out the Allison Point camping area on the other side of the bay from town. This is a primitive camping spot with numbered sites on both sides of the road just before you get to the oil pipeline terminal facility. Fortunately there is no one camping here where I pulled in because the “sites”, and I use that term loosely, are about 12 feet wide and thus you could only back in or drive in head first and any rig longer than 20 or 24 feet wouldn’t fit because of the narrow road into and through this small area. There is no dump station, no water spigots and of course, no electric, but there is a great view as you are sitting directly over the shore of the bay. There is a trash dumpster here and also pretty good Verizon signal. At $20/night, kind of expensive for boon docking, but they have a short season to make their money and one can’t complain about the view.

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