Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Search for the Perfect Campsite

It's Sunday evening and I am sitting at the kitchen table with a glass of wine.  Zack is upstairs taking a shower and getting ready for bed.  It has been a long and busy weekend but it is now time to slow things down and do a bit of relaxing before the new week begins.  This coming week will bring big changes as Zack will officially finished sixth grade.  His last day of school is on Tuesday but for all intents and purposes school is already done.  Tomorrow is pretty much a goof off day and then Tuesday the kids only have to attend school until 11AM.  Then it is all over for eleven weeks!

This weekend involved a ton of activity!  Saturday was consumed with a long bike ride for me as I went out and did 21 miles.  It was a great ride as I rode on a new section of the Cherry Creek bike path for the first time.  At the end of April another 2 miles of the trail opened.  Prior to the opening of this section you had to get off the trail and traverse Jordan Street for several miles.  Now that the trail has been completed through this section and you can ride the whole way from E470 to Arapahoe Road without getting on the street.  The unfortunately part of this ride however is that you are dumped off on Arapahoe road right near the intersection of Parker road.  You need to ride for about 1/2 of a mile on Arapahoe Road until you can get on Jordan and ride into Cherry Creek State Park.  Where you are dumped off on Arapahoe Road is at a point that the road is 6 lanes across.  Riding that 1/2 mile is like Russian Roulette as there are cars speeding by you at 60 miles per hour.  In the future I have to figure out a better way to negotiate that section because it scared me crapless!  Besides that short section on Arapahoe Road it was a great ride.  I started here at our house in Willow Creek and joined the C470 bike trail near County Line and Yosemite.  I then headed east and joined the E470 Bike Trail and road until it terminated on the Cherry Creek Bike Trail near E470 and Parker Road.  I then took the Cherry Creek Bike trail North until I reached Cherry Creek State Park at which point I caught the light rail home from the I-225 and Dayton street station.  It was a great ride!

The rest of Saturday was spent doing stuff around the house - by that is a story for another day, as once again there are lots of changes happening.  In the evening it was time to head downtown as it was the Denver Chalk Art Festival.  I love going down to Larimer Square for the Chalk Art Festival.  It always a lot of fun to see what the artists come up with and just to people watch.

The big event of the weekend however was today.  This morning we were up very early and headed towards the mountains.  Instead of our usual stomping grounds in Summit County we were headed towards Park County and the illustrious South Park area.  The goal for today was to find the perfect camping spot for our planned camping trips of the summer.  There were quite a number of different camp grounds in the national forest that I wanted to check out.

The first campground we checked out was very easy to reach as it was right off of US 285 at the top of Kenosha Pass.  It was an OK campground, but the problem is that the campground is only about 1/4 mile off of US 285 which is a very busy road.  I really don't want to consider this campground as I would hate to think if one of the dogs got lose and wandered out on to US 285.  The thought of that just makes me sick - so we are staying away from this campground.

Near this campground is a memorial to the the Denver, South Park and Pacific Railroad which ran over Kenosha Pass.  The railroad ran through this area from 1872 until 1937 when the line was abandoned.  The small section of track on the summit of Kenosha Pass is one of the few remaining pieces of evidence that it ever existed.

(Zack on the remains of the Denver, South Park and Pacific Railroad)

(Zack on the remains of the Denver, South Park and Pacific Railroad)

(Lake at the top of Kenosha Pass)

(Lake at the top of Kenosha Pass - Notice the haze in the air!)

From there it was on to the next campground that I wanted to check out as I thought it offered the best potential for a great place to camp.  Unfortunately reaching this campground was not an easy task.  We took US 285 south for another 5 miles from the summit of Kenosha Pass to the small town of Jefferson.  From there we turned east on Park County Road 56 and continued for another 21 miles.  Those 21 miles were 21 miles of bone shaking, teeth cracking washboard, dirt, gravel, rocks and holes.  But the end result was worth it!  We came across a gorgeous campground with wonderful views of the Kenosha mountains that appears to be very sparsely populated.  I figure even at the height of the summer this campground is not very populated because it is so remote.

(Yes - we did 21 miles each way on this type of road.  Note the washboard bumps on the right center of the shot.  It certainly made for a rough ride!)

(View up the valley from the campground.  There is a large wooded area immediately behind this in which we will pitch our tent.)

(View to the east into the Kenosha Mountains.  Notice the amount of smoke and haze in the air.  It was impossible to get a good photo because of the smoke in the air.)

(Zack up on the rocks near the camp ground.  Not sure why my lens protector is introducing that black smudge on the upper left hand corner.)

(Me on the rocks.  I took my tripod and used the camera's timer to capture this shot.)

(This shot was also captured with the tripod and timer.  It took me forever to get the tripod level to take these shots.)

I attempted to get some good pictures of the area surrounding this campground by I was really stymied by the amount of smoke and haze in the air.  There are a number of wildfires burning in New Mexico and Arizona that are just pumping tons of smoke into Colorado's skies, so pretty much every picture I took appears washed out and bleak.

After 21 more miles of driving on Park County Road 56 for the return to US 285 Zack and I were HUNGRY!  Our originally plan was to stop at the Bailey Coney Island and have a hot dog for lunch.  (The Bailey Coney Island is a semi-famous place as it is shaped like a giant hot dog.)  By the time we reached there around 2:00PM, the line was out the door and I was guess it would be a 30 - 40 minute until we could get served.  Oh well - we will save that for another day.  (We have eaten there numerous times but it is always fun to have a meal there.)  Instead we ended up at the Sonic near Conifer.  I personally don't think Sonic's hotdogs are any where as good as the hotdogs at that Bailey Coney Island, but there was no wait time!

So that bring us to the end of the weekend and the beginning of a new week.  There is lots to be done in the week ahead! 

I hope everyone had a great weekend!

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.


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