Monday, November 30, 2020

Colorado - 2013

I'd hoped to be with my boys for the fourth straight year in Colorado hiking fourteeners, plus Judy was coming along as a very nice addition. However, at the last minute Sam couldn't make it (I don't recall the reason, but we had a flight reserved for him on Frontier Airlines out of Salt Lake City). 

On Thursday, August 8, 2013, Andrew, Judy and I left LAX on United at 8:21 p.m. and arrived in Denver at 11:41 p.m. We rented a Jeep Liberty from Fox Rent A Car and had a hotel room for the night at the Ramada Plaza Denver Central on Bannock Street in Denver. We didn't get to bed until after 1:30 a.m. 

Friday, August 9, we slept in and got a late start on our drive from Denver. We stopped at Safeway in Idaho Springs and continued on through Frisco and Breckenridge, to the Quandary Peak Trailhead, 88 miles and 1.75 hours away. 
We didn't get started until 11:30 a.m. I spent about an hour with Judy and Andrew hiking slowly up the trail looking for mushrooms, but then it started to rain and I realized I needed to start hiking or I would never make it to the summit. So I left Judy and Andrew to look for mushrooms and I pushed on. 

A gray jay.
The summit of Quandary Peak is a 6.75 mile roundtrip hike with 3,450 feet of elevation gain. The weather started to get nasty with thunder and hail, but I pushed on and started to pass people on the way back down because of the weather. I saw several mountain goats along the way and summited the 14,265 foot peak all alone in a window of nice weather.  

I quickly turned around and met Andrew and Judy near the bottom, finishing about 5:30 p.m. We drove to Buena Vista, about 52 miles and an hour away, where we stayed at Vista Court Cabins & Lodge, Cabin #2, for the rest of our stay in Colorado. 
     Quandary Peak  (Bob)

Saturday, August 10, we had a 27.6 mile drive to the West Winfield Trailhead which is for the southwest ridge route up La Plata Peak. 
The last 13 miles were dirt roads and the last 1.8 miles were very bumpy, justifying the need for a four-wheel drive. 
We arrived around 10:30 a.m. Judy and Andrew were looking for mushrooms and I was hiking 7 miles roundtrip with 3,380 feet of elevation gain. At 14,336 feet, La Plata is the fifth highest peak in Colorado. I saw a pika and a marmot near the summit. 

The mushroom hunting for Andrew and Judy was not as good as the day before. We had dinner at the Roadrunner Grill in Buena Vista. 
     La Plata Peak  (Bob)

Sunday, August 11, Judy got up early to drive me to the Mount Yale trailhead. The trailhead was right off the highway and only 11.5 miles from our cabin. 
I got started at 7:10 a.m., almost 3.5 hours earlier than my start for La Plata Peak and 4.5 hours earlier than my start up Quandary Peak. The earlier start makes the hiking easier and less likely to encounter thunder showers. Judy came back later with Andrew to look for mushrooms. The hike is 9.5 miles roundtrip with 4,300 feet of elevation gain and the summit is 14,196 feet. I called and left a message with Andrew about spots I saw mushrooms on the hike up. On the way back from the summit I saw a beautiful red pine grosbeak and several boreal toads which are endangered. 
Mount Yale

I met Judy and Andrew mushroom hunting on the way down and joined them. We got a great haul of king boletes and hawks wing mushrooms which we took back to the cabin. 
An assortment of king bolete and hawks wing mushrooms I collected in my cap. 
Andrew made an amazing soup using both types of mushrooms and also sautéed them. The mushroom soup is the best I've ever had. I particularly love the hawks wing mushrooms. 
     Mount Yale  (Bob)
     Pine Grosbeak  (Bob)
     Boreal Toad  (Bob)
     Colorado Scenery  (Judy)

Monday, August 12, we made an attempt to climb Mt. Princeton. The last three miles of the road to where we wanted to hike is extremely narrow, too narrow for two vehicles, with huge drop-offs and only two or three places along the entire section with pull-outs. 
It was one of the most nerve-wracking experiences of driving I've ever had. My hands were sweating on the steering wheel and I was praying that no one was coming down the opposite direction. We hiked a relatively short distance and decided to turn around because of the potential for thunder storms. On the way back we saw some pronghorns on the outskirts of Buena Vista, the first pronghorn I'd seen in Colorado. 
We had dinner at Los Girasoles in Buena Vista. 
     Mount Princeton  (Bob)

Tuesday, August 13, we drove from Buena Vista into Denver and visited the Denver Art Museum, then ate at Ted's Montana Grill, founded by Ted Turner, the largest landowner in the U.S. with 55,000 buffalo roaming on it. I was looking for buffalo meat and the menu had plenty of it. We started with an appetizer of bison nachos, then Andrew got bison meatloaf, Judy got braised bison short-ribs and I got a Delmonico bison ribeye. It was fine, but it was not the Buckhorn Exchange or The Fort, two of my favorite restaurants anywhere, that also happen to be in Denver. We had 4:54 p.m. flights out of Denver International on United and arrived at LAX at 6:20 p.m. 

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Colorado - 2012

For the third year in a row I planned a trip with my boys to Colorado to hike some fourteeners. Sam and I got to Colorado first and were later joined by Andrew who had commitments that prevented him from coming earlier. 

On Tuesday, August 7, 2012, Sam left Salt Lake City at 8:10 p.m. on Delta and got to Denver at 9:39 p.m. I left LAX at 8:11 p.m. on Frontier and got to Denver at 11:20 p.m. Sam was waiting for me and we went to E-Z Rent-A-Car and got a Jeep Cherokee. It was after 1:00 a.m. by the time we got the vehicle. 

Early in the morning on Wednesday, August 8, we drove 164 miles, over 3 hours, to the North Cottonwood Creek Trailhead, at an elevation of 9,900 feet, where we planned to hike to the summit Mount Harvard. 
We started hiking at 5:35 a.m. and noted lots of mushrooms on the way in, something that Andrew is very interested in.
After 6.75 miles of hiking we reached the 14,420 foot summit, the third tallest mountain in Colorado (after Mounts Elbert and Massive) and the fourth tallest in the contiguous U.S. Next was the most difficult part of the day, a 2.75 mile, four to five hour, cross-country slog to 14,073 foot Mount Columbia. It was another 5.75 miles out down nasty, loose scree. We did not get out until 7:00 p.m., 13.5 hours from when we started. We hiked 15 miles and had over 6,100 feet of elevation gain. 
To top it off, we had to drive 96 miles, two hours and twenty minutes, to Georgetown where we had reservations at the Georgetown Mountain Inn. We stopped in Leadville on the way for something to eat. We did not check-in in Georgetown until after 10:00 p.m. 
     Mount Harvard  (Bob) 
     Mount Columbia  (Bob) 

Thursday, August 9, we had to pick up Andrew at Denver International Airport early evening, so we decided to hike Mount Bierstadt with a trailhead only 11 miles away near Guanella Pass. The trail was only 7 miles roundtrip with 2,850 feet of elevation gain, which would give us time to hike to the summit, go back to the hotel and shower, then drive to Denver. For an extra $25 charge, the hotel allowed us to shower and check-out late. We had breakfast, 

then left the hotel about 7:30 a.m. and saw bighorn sheep near Guanella Pass and several moose near the trailhead which is at 11,669 feet. 

Near the summit, which is 14,060 feet, I saw a white-tailed ptarmigan. 
We got back to the hotel in Georgetown, showered, check-out, then drove 91 miles to Denver International Airport to pick up Andrew who was supposed to arrive at 6:16 p.m. from a Frontier Airline flight from LAX. However, it was late, so we did not connect with him until 7:00 p.m. Andrew hadn't eaten and we needed food for our hike the next day, so we stopped at Safeway on our way to Salida, where we were going to stay at Hampton Inn & Suites. 
It was 166 miles and over three hours distant, so we did not get to the hotel until 11:30 p.m.  
     Mount Bierstadt  (Bob)

Friday, August 10, we left the hotel before 6:00 a.m. for a 13.5 mile, 40 minute drive to the Mount Shavano Trailhead at 9,750 feet elevation. 
We started hiking about 6:40 a.m. Andrew was showing signs of altitude sickness, sluggishness and a headache. So we went into mushroom finding mode. 

Ultimately, at about 12,000 feet, Andrew indicated he was going to continue to look for mushrooms and Sam and I continued on. After 4.5 miles of hiking, we reached the 14,229 foot summit of Mount Shavano. 
Then eyed the 14,155 foot summit of Tabeguache Peak, which was a 2 mile roundtrip and 2 hours of hiking away. After summiting Tabeguache we went back the way we'd come and got caught in a refreshing thunderstorm which cooled things off. We found Andrew near the trailhead who had enjoyed his day hunting mushrooms. We drove back to Salida where we spent another night at Hampton Inn & Suites, after eating pizza for dinner in Salida. We were tired from hiking and lack of sleep and went to bed about 9:00 p.m.  
     Mount Shavano  (Bob)
     Tabeguache Peak  (Bob)

Saturday, August 11, we were up at about 5:00 a.m. and had a one and three-quarter hour drive ahead of us to the North Halfmoon Creek Trailhead for a hike up Mt. Massive. 
The trailhead was 8 miles down a dirt road, the last 2.5 miles of which were rated 4 out of 6 (6 being most difficult) on the website. There was also a 40% chance of heavy thunderstorms by about 11:00 a.m. and so I was anxious to get there and get hiking. 
Andrew was exhibiting more signs of altitude sickness, so Sam and I left him to hunt mushrooms while we continued on to the summit at 14,421 feet, the second tallest in Colorado and the third tallest in the contiguous U.S.  It was an 8 mile roundtrip hike with 3,950 feet of elevation gain. 
We summited and found Andrew back at the trailhead with an assortment of mushrooms he'd found. Afterwards we had a 71 mile, 1.75 hour, drive to Georgetown where we spent the night again at Georgetown Mountain Inn. 
I did not record where we ate dinner. It was probably either in Leadville or Georgetown. 

Sunday, August 12, we left Georgetown for Denver International Airport. Sam had a 1:00 p.m. flight on Delta for Salt Lake City and Andrew and I had 12:40 p.m. flights on Frontier to LAX, arriving at 2:00 p.m. 

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Colorado - 2010

I planned a trip to Colorado to hike some fourteeners with my boys. 

On Thursday, August 26, 2010, Andrew and I flew from LAX on Delta, leaving at 6:15 a.m. and arriving in Salt Lake City at 9:13 a.m. Sam joined us on the flight in Salt Lake, leaving at 9:46 and arriving in Denver at 11:12 a.m. We rented an SUV from Thrifty Car Rental. We drove to the Buckhorn Exchange in Denver, where Judy and I ate last year, and shared a grilled duck breast, buffalo sausage and each of us got our own main course. I got a blackened buffalo prime rib sandwich. Afterwards we drove west of Denver to near Idaho Springs, then took Hwy 103 to near the summit of Mount Evans, a 14,264 foot mountain, the highest paved road in North America. 
It is about a 22 mile drive with 5,500 feet of elevation gain. From a parking lot near the top, it is just a short hike to the summit. Aside from spectacular views, we saw lots of bighorn sheep and mountain goats.  
From Mount Evans we drove to Frisco where we had reservations at Alpine Inn for three nights. We had a room with two queen beds: Andrew and Sam shared one of them. We ate at Wendy's for dinner. 
     Mount Evans  (Bob)

Friday, August 27, we slept in until about 7:00 a.m., with little sleep the night before, ate breakfast at McDonalds in Frisco, then drove to Alma where we took a six mile dirt road to the Kite Lake Trailhead, at 12,000 feet. 
First we hiked to the summit of Mount Democrat, 14,148 feet, then to the summit of nearby Mount Cameron, 14,238 feet, then to the summit of nearby Mount Lincoln, 14,286 feet. We could easily have summited nearby Mount Bross, but it was posted as no trespassing by the landowner (which we respected despite the fact that many hikers were still doing it anyway). That evening we discovered Carlos Miguel's Mexican Bar & Grill in Frisco which became one of our favorite restaurants. We got guacamole made at our table which was the best I've ever had. Then we shared a dish of chiles poblanos as an appetizer, which was two poblano peppers stuffed with Mexican cheese and smothered in a white sauce. Then I had bistec chihuahua which was a rare filet sprinkled with Cotija cheese on a bed of fried sliced potatoes. We all loved it. 
     Mount Democrat  (Bob)
     Mount Cameron  (Bob)
     Mount Lincoln  (Bob)

Saturday, August 28, we drove east on the I-70 and took a rough 3 mile dirt road to the Grays and Torrey Peaks Trailhead. 
We started hiking about 8:10 a.m. We hiked to the top of Grays Peak, 14,270 feet, then to the summit of Torreys Peak, 14,267 feet. We drove back to Frisco, showered, then ate again at Carlos Miguel's Mexican Bar & Grill. We shared the guacamole and the chiles poblanos again, then I got a Baja fish taco.
     Grays Peak  (Bob) 
     Torreys Peak  (Bob)

On Sunday, August 29, we got up early to get to Denver for our flight. The three of us flew Delta, leaving Denver at 8:45 a.m. and arrived in Salt Lake City at 10:22 a.m. where Sam got off. Andrew and I continued on to LAX where we arrived at 12:32 p.m.  

Friday, November 27, 2020

Colorado - 2011

In August 2011 I went with my two boys to Colorado to hike several fourteeners (mountains over 14,000 feet in elevation). 

On Thursday, August 11, Sam left Salt Lake on a Delta flight at 8:30 a.m. and Andrew and I left LAX on a Frontier flight at 6:30 a.m. and arrived in Denver about the same time (Sam at 9:57 a.m. and Andrew and I at 9:50 a.m.). We rented an SUV at Thrifty Car Rental and then drove to the Buckhorn Exchange in Denver for lunch where we met my nephew, Scott Jones. It was at least my third time there. We had fried alligator tail, Rocky Mountain oysters, buffalo prime rib and a corned buffalo sandwich. We were going to climb Mount Sherman, but did not have enough time. So we drove to Twin Lakes, south of Leadville, where we stayed at Ores & Mine Bed and Breakfast owned by John and Donna Cornella. We got their Dolly B room with two queen beds.  

On Friday, August 12, we got up at 5:30 a.m., had a nice breakfast and drove to the Missouri Gulch Trailhead, about 9,650 feet, where we started our hike to do both Mount Belford and Mount Oxford, about 7:15 a.m. We reached the summit of 14,197 foot Mount Belford first, then continued on to the summit of Mount Oxford at 14,153 feet. On the summit of Mount Oxford I saw my first white-tailed ptarmigans. Afterwards we drove to Frisco where we stayed at the Alpine Inn and had dinner at Carolos Miguel's Mexican Bar & Grill, both places we'd stayed at and eaten the year before. 
     Mount Belford  (Bob)
     Colorado Blue Columbine  (Bob)
     Mountain Thistle  (Bob)
     Mount Oxford  (Bob)
     White-Tailed Ptarmigan  (Bob)

Saturday, August 13, we were beat from our two peak hike the day before. We'd planned to hike Quandary Peak, but other hikers told us it would be too crowded, being a Saturday. They recommended we do Mount Sherman from the back-side, outside Leadville, which would be less crowded. We slept in until about 8:30 a.m., then drove to Leadville where we had breakfast at the Delaware Hotel. We didn't start hiking until about 11:20 a.m. Andrew decided to hunt mushrooms at the base, which was about 12,000 feet, while Sam and I hiked to the summit. We hiked 2.25 miles to reach the 14,036 foot summit at 1:13 p.m. On the way down we encountered a small brown bird that followed us part of the way. My post indicates it is a brown-capped rosy finch, but I believe it was actually a brown headed cowbird. That afternoon we drove to Littleton and checked into the Hampton Inn and Suites Denver Littleton. Then we drove to Morrison where we had reservations at The Fort, one of my very favorite places to eat. We shared lamb riblets, buffalo bone marrow and Rocky Mountain oysters made from bison testicles, to compare them with the bull testicles we at ate Buckhorn Exchange. I got lamb t-bones, Sam got the Game Plate with a buffalo filet, an elk chop and a quail and Andrew got quinoa. 
     Mount Sherman  (Bob)
     Brown-Headed Cowbird (Brown-Capped Rosy Finch)  (Bob)
     Lamb Ribs  (Bob)
     Buffalo Bone Marrow  (Bob)

Sunday, August 14, we dropped off Sam for a 10:30 a.m. flight on Delta to Salt Lake and Andrew and I were going to catch a 9:25 flight to LAX on Frontier. Unfortunately, it turned out I'd signed up for a 9:25 p.m. flight, not 9:25 a.m. Fortunately, I was able to pay $75 each and get an earlier flight to LAX that left before noon. 

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Western Bluebird

I've seen a few western bluebirds in the past, but yesterday I took a late-afternoon walk in Live Oak Canyon, near Redlands, and found a grouping of 10 to 15. I got my best photos of western bluebirds, so far, because the light was better and there were more opportunities for photos.  
All of my photos are of females, except possibly this one. It has the brownish patch on its back and is a brighter blue, but appears to lack the blue throat (although that could be because of excess light on the throat and chest area).  
Males are bright blue on the top and on the throat, have an orange breast and sides, a brownish patch on the back and a gray belly and undertail coverts. 

Females have a duller blue body, wings and tail, a gray throat, a dull orange breast and a gray belly and undertail coverts. 

They are year-round residents of our part of California. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Fossil Rim Wildlife Center - Glen Rose, Texas

Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose, Texas is 1,400 acres and has a 9.5 mile road to drive through large fenced enclosures with animals (compared to 600 acres and a 4.5 mile road at Wildlife Safari in Winston, Oregon). It has all the advantages that Wildlife Safari has and more. It is possible to feed many more animals from the car which is what really makes it fun (Wildlife Safari has only one small area where it is possible to feed the animals). It was one of the most fun travel activities Judy and I have done. 

What follows are some of the photos we took:
The blackbuck is native to India, Nepal and Pakistan. This was the first time I've ever gotten a good look at one. The males are black and the females are brown. 

This was the first time I'd seen a roan antelope. We subsequently saw one in the wild in Hwange NP in Zimbabwe. 

A sable antelope. I hoped to see one on our trip to Southern Africa, but this will have to suffice. 

A scimitar-horned oryx. Went extinct in the wild in the 1980s, but was reintroduced into the wild in Chad in 2016. Some of the reintroduced animals came from Fossil Rim and the collars on the wild animals were tested on the herd at Fossil Rim. 

The emus were very fun. They came right up to the car window and pecked the food out of our hands. The peck didn't hurt, but it was strong enough that we could really feel it. These were one of the most fun animals. 

The common or Ellipsen waterbuck has a target on its rear-end. We saw these in Buffalo Springs, Kenya and in the Okavango Delta of Botswana. 

The beautiful red deer of Europe and Asia, very similar to the American elk, which we've never seen in the wild. We did get in some neck scratching and feeding. 

A blue wildebeest which we've seen in Etosha NP, Namibia.

Reticulated giraffes which we've seen in Buffalo Springs NR in Kenya. 

The addax, critically endangered in the wild in North Africa and much more common in captivity. This was the first time I'd ever seen one and maybe even heard of one. They were very cool. 

A wild Rio Grande turkey

A Barbary sheep or aoudad, native to North Africa, but now with more in Texas than their native range. 

Look at Judy's smile and you can tell she's having fun!

A fallow deer, of Europe, which we've never seen in the wild.

A gemsbok, which we've seen in the wild in Etosha NP in Namibia. 

A mountain zebra which we have not seen in the wild. 

When it opened its mouth in the car Judy started to laugh harder than I have ever heard her. This picture is indelibly inked upon my mind. 

There are other animals we did not see or photograph. Fossil Rim is a fantastic place to visit. I would love to go back.