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Old 08-07-2012, 06:17 PM   #6
gregdee OP
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Joined: Oct 2011
Location: Tijeras, NM
Oddometer: 509
Day 5

We stayed with some great friends and awesome hosts in CB! They had been renting a condo, from which you could see the chair lifts, for the past year or so trying to decide if they would stay and make CB their home. While sussing out the place, they determined that buying property up at the ski area wasn't a good investment as the area was flooded with rental properties. In fact, one can rent a sweet condo like this 3 story with two car garage for pretty cheap, especially during the holidays as apparently no one goes to CB over the holidays. They have decided to buy land and build down in town as the ability to rent the place when they are away seems to be much greater. Anyway, a shot of the place (sort of):

Clearly the neighbors have poor taste in cars but they were just renting for the weekend so I didn't get to know them well enough to see if they'd let me take it for a test drive.

The big accomplishment today was to be getting over Kebler Pass. We had toyed with the idea of going up through Gothic and over Schofield Pass but it was decided that the route was too hairy and not appropriate for our skill level. I don’t know, never been there.

I had assumed since Kebler Pass was a “pass” that it would be somewhat exciting. Not! Most of the route was paved. Just getting through the town of Crested Butte to get onto the highway heading up to Kebler Pass was more of an adventure than actually riding over that one. Nonetheless, it was fun and the sights were good.

A little bit of well-groomed dirt followed by pavement. A nice way to start off the day.

Actually, once over the pass riding through the stands of old growth Aspens was quite the treat. I really love seeing the old huge Aspen trees.

We rolled on through to Paonia and stopped for lunch. We tried to catch lunch at a place I think was called Homestead Market with a theme of from farm to plate. (Hey we’re foodies alright.) Not sure of the name but it was at the far end of the main street in town. Alas, being Sunday they weren’t open for lunch. We ended up hitting the Burger Bomber where we ran into another couple of fellas on bikes with ADV stickers. They were discussing heading up over Schofield Pass and we shared our experience of getting over Kebler Pass. The burgers were actually pretty good but I’m certain the staff were completely baked and it took at least half an hour to get our burgers. I’m not that old but the tunes blaring from the kitchen could have been turned down a notch or three.

While at lunch Kerry stated that we should hit one of the road side stands and pick up some fruit. We were riding through the orchard belt of Colorado after all. Most all of the stands we passed were closed, likely due to it being Sunday and all. While heading west on highway 50 we passed a sign for a recreation area along the Black Canyon of the Gunnison River. We turned around and went to investigate.

A few years back we had done a strictly road tour on our Triumph Sprint ST, two-up, through Durango, Silverton, Ouray, Montrose, Gunnison, Lake City, Creed, etc. While riding along Hwy 50 between Montrose and Gunnison we headed into the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and had a good scenic tour from the pavement. (It’s difficult to get out and see much while confined to motorcycling gear.) Anyway, we were excited to see this park from the northern end. We drove down to the recreation area but found no way across. Upon checking the map we saw we’d need to travel much further west and back track to get to the other side of the river. So we headed back out to highway 50 but took a slight detour up to an overlook to get a shot.

The destination for the day was to be somewhere up on the Grand Mesa. Looking at the maps the mesa appeared to be doted with many lakes and campgrounds. We cruised along 50 until we hit 65 and then headed north and up into the higher, cooler terrain. Just before leaving the highway we found an open fruit stand, or shall I say Fruit Ranch. We pulled in to the quaint shop and parked. We walked up the steps to enter the store and noticed a sleeping post-octogenarian snoozing heavily in her rocking chair on the porch. Inside we found an assortment of fresh peaches (by the box load), apricots, cherries, jams, and other goodies. We settled for a pound of cherries and about half a dozen fresh apricots as that’s about all we had room for. As we left I noticed the sleeping lady hadn't moved at all. I wondered if she might actually have been dead?

We cruised on up the road into the Grand Mesa National Forest to find ourselves a camp spot for the evening. It had obviously been wet up top and the roads were muddy and slick in spots. Ummmm, just what Kerry loves at the end of the day. We headed to one camp site that was about 3 or 4 miles off the main road. It was small and all the sites were dark and damp, and probably quite buggy. (We're from NM, we don't have bugs.) Pretty much all of the sites were full with 5th wheel trailers and the like, and there were two more trailers lined up at the fee station. We opted to press on.

Once back to the main dirt road we rode over to the next camp site on the map – Big Creek. Not sure if the weather changed suddenly or if we had magically rolled over a weather divide but this place was nice and sunny. We took our usual cruise around the camp site and found a nice and somewhat isolated spot at the far end. This one had lake side spots with grass and everything. We settled in for the evening.

While I unpacked our gear Kerry headed back over to the pay station to pay our dues of a whopping $6, the cheapest camp site ever. (Well, other than the free spots in the forest we usually are drawn to anyway.) She came back stating there were no envelopes so she couldn’t pay. She had been by the camp hosts site and they weren’t in either. We finished setting up camp and then I took a walk over but came back with the same result. We resolved that if the camp host wanted their money then they would probably roll by in the morning to get it. We spent the rest of the afternoon basking in the glorious sunshine eating cherries and perusing the maps laying out the route options for the remaining days ahead of us.

Eating cherries. Yum.

Examining the GPS unit and looking at maps - whilst sitting by the lake.

While Kerry whipped up some tasty dinner (boxed Pad Tai with canned chicken) I worked on some more HDR images.

I believe this was one of our better camp spots. We were even offered several already cleaned trout by the fishermen heading back to camp after dusk. Alas, we had already eaten and had no way to keep a fish until breakfast
so we had to pass them up.
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