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Aug 2006 Photo Trip Part II - Colorado and Back Home to Oregon


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#1 DirtyDog

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Posted 10 November 2006 - 04:02 AM

Part one of this report can be viewed here: http://www.wanderthe...thread.php?t=86

After an exhausting schedule of driving and photographing towns in Montana and South Dakota, I was excited to get back to my old stomping grounds in Colorado. I stopped in Boulder to stay with some friends and then headed to Central City to start yet another round of mining town photography.

Central City is one of the most historically significant mining towns in the West and one of the best preserved. There are hundreds of beautiful old commercial buildings and victorian homes, all built on narrow streets situated in Gregory Gulch. Central City, and nearby Blackhawk less than a mile away, have legalized gambling to revitalize the local economy.

Blackhawk is an interesting place. A lack of historical designation protections has resulted in much of the old town being torn down or moved to make way for massive casinos. It's a strange sight to see a tiny old victorian house sandwiched between huge casinos and hotels.

I camped at the Columbine Camp Ground outside of Central City. The CG was nice and 12 bucks a night

Central City at Western Mining History

Photo: Central City

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#2 DirtyDog

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Posted 10 November 2006 - 04:28 PM

I finished some photography in Blackhawk this morning and headed over to I70 on the new Central City Parkway. Its amazing how much money is in gambling. They built this eight mile, four lane parkway through the mountains to I70 so that gamblers would have a direct route from the interstate that bypasses nearby Blackhawk. This must be the most expensive small-town-rivalry project ever built. Anyway, the parkway is a nice drive and I'm on my way to Idaho Springs.

At Idaho Springs, I stopped and toured the Argo Gold Mill which was very interesting. The mill processed ore that came out of the 4.5 mile long Argo Tunnel, which took 17 years to build and extends all the way from Central City to Idaho Springs. What men will do for gold.....

Idaho Springs at Western Mining History

Photo: Argo Gold Mill

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#3 DirtyDog

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Posted 10 November 2006 - 04:58 PM

Photographed Georgetown, Colorado today. Georgetown is one of my favorite mining towns. There are many well preserved homes and buildings here and there is no gambling so the economy doesn't hinge on casino money. The result is a quaint town with nice shops and restaurants, and citizenry that work hard to preserve their town because they love it, not because gambling pays the bills. I'm always looking for the perfect little town to settle down in, and Georgetown would definately be it if it wasn't for one problem - it is right on Interstate 70 and there is always highway noise in town.

Headed west on 70 and stopped in Silver Plume for some photos. Silver Plume is a rustic old mining town with dirt streets and buildings of varying degrees of upkeep. It's a neat place - well worth a stop if you are passing through on 70. There is a fantastic bakery on the main street (not sure of the street name).

Next I drove to Breckenridge and up Boreas Pass to camp at Selkirk Campground. Today is the day that I realized that the pace and workload of this trip was wearing me (and my wallet) out. I decided to cut out New Mexico and Arizona and head home after my Colorado travels were finished.

Georgetown Colorado at Western Mining History
Silver Plume Colorado at Western Mining History

Photo: Georgetown Colorado

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#4 DirtyDog

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Posted 10 November 2006 - 05:37 PM

Today was a bad day. While taking some photos on Boreas Pass my camera quit working. While driving out of the mountains, I hit a terrible hail/lightning storm during which lightning struck twice within 50 feet of my truck. Not good. Weather in Breckenridge sucks - rain all day. I got a hotel to wait out the weather and then found out that my laptop quit working. Just about had a mental breakdown at this point - bad weather, all my equipment crapping out - just all around tired and frustrated. I decided that if I woke up in the morning and it was still raining, I was going to head for home.

But alas, my luck started to return. Woke up to improved weather. Mysteriously, my laptop started working again. With the help of a local camera store, I got my camera working again. Back in business! Took some photos of Breckenridge and hit the road again - destination Cripple Creek.

Colorado has had a VERY wet summer. The regular rains resulted in fields of green grasses and wild flowers in the middle of the summer, where usually there would just be fields of dry grass. The scenery was spectacular. I took highway 9 east and then took county roads from Guffey to Cripple Creek. These county roads are well maintained and don't get a lot of traffic.

As I approached Cripple Creek I started seeing signs of yet another problem - bikers everywhere. Another biker rally! These ralleys cause two problems for me - it's hard to properly photograph a town when there are thousands of bikers, event tents, and everything else that is involved in these events, and the thousands of bikers occupy every campground and hotel within miles of town. I managed to get a handful of photos in Cripple Creek before more nasty weather moved in and cut my day short. The nearby town of Victor is also an important mining town but I could find nowhere to stay in the area so I decided to hit the road and return to the Cripple Creek district on a future trip.

That was it - all this hard luck could only mean one thing. I need some R&R in my favorite mountain town - Lake City! Back on the road! I decided to take an alternate route to Lake City and took 114 south to FS KK-14 for a long drive through the mountains on beautiful gravel roads. Camped at the side of KK-14.

Breckenridge, Colorado at Western Mining History
Cripple Creek, Colorado at Western Mining History


Photos: Breckenridge Colorado; Cripple Creek Colorado

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#5 DirtyDog

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Posted 11 November 2006 - 04:34 AM

Woke up on KK-14 to continue my drive to Lake City. This drive highlights much of what is so great about Colorado. Large expanses of alpine wilderness, spectacular views, and extensive road access to backcountry recreation opportunities. Arrived in Lake City in time for lunch. Lake City was as beautiful and peaceful as ever - my dream town in many ways. Camped at Williams Creek Campground just past Lake San Cristobal on the Alpine Loop. The campground was clean and comfortable, 12 dollars a night, and due to the extremely wet conditions fires were actually allowed - a first on this trip.

Photos: Lake City - first photo courtesy of Hall Realty

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#6 DirtyDog

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Posted 11 November 2006 - 05:05 AM

Had breakfast at the fantastic Tic Toc Diner in Lake City. Drove to Glenwood Springs via Paonia, McClure Pass, and the Crystal River Valley. Driving through the mountains of Colorado is one amazing experience after another. There is so much history and extensive natural beauty - I think I could travel the state all my life and still find surprises at the end of the journey.

The Crystal River Valley is an amazing place. The fascinating history of Marble, the quaint and peaceful former company town of Redstone, and the unique natural beauty of the area (even by Colorado standards), make this valley one of Colorados best destinations. I hope to spend a few weeks camping here at some point.

Onward to Glenwood Springs where I stayed at the historic Colorado Hotel.

Photo: Marble Colorado

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#7 DirtyDog

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Posted 11 November 2006 - 06:12 PM

Drove to Aspen today to take some pictures. Aspen is a busy town, much of it is new, and there are so many trees lining the sidewalks downtown that builing photography was not easy. There is nothing wrong with trees downtown - but when there are so many of them that they completely obscure the great historic buildings - well that's too many. I was amused to find that a gondola ride to the top of the mountain was 19 dollars - the same ride in Telluride is free.

I decided I would start in the direction of home and hit Dinosaur National Monument on the way. The map shows a long road into the monument so I skipped the visitor and drove the 50 miles into the monument expecting to find dinosaurs. I was exasperated to find that there aren't actually any dinosaurs in this part of the monument. Actually there really isn't anything except for some canyonland views. I wrote more about this experience in the journal part of the site (see link below).

Drove west and got a hotel in Park City.

Aspen Colorado at Western Mining History
Dinosaur National Monument

Photo: Dinosaur National Monument...... Sans Dinosaurs

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#8 DirtyDog

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Posted 11 November 2006 - 06:23 PM

Photographed Park City this morning. This is one of my favorite ski resort towns. I'll try to write more about Park City in a future report.

I left Park City about noon to start the EXCRUCIATING drive from Salt Lake City to Boise. This five hour drive through barren plains and treeless hills is usually against the wind the entire time. I burned about $100 in gas just to get to Boise - OUCH! I've done this particular drive more times than I can count and it sucks worse every time. I need to move out of Oregon just so that my trip home can be on a different route than the Salt Lake-Boise March of Pain. The one redeeming part of this drive is that it ends in Boise. Boise is a nice city - easily accessible downtown from the interstate, well planned, low traffic and great restaurants. I stopped for Egyptian food before proceeding across the border into Oregon. Camped just off of highway 26 in NE Oregon.

Park City Utah at Western Mining History
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#9 DirtyDog

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Posted 11 November 2006 - 06:34 PM

Well this is it - last day. I am only about 4 hours from home now but I have one last stop to make - the John Day Fossil Beds. I haven't been there for many years and I was surprised to find a beautiful visitor center had been built. I hiked the Blue Basin Trail - a strenuous 3 mile loop and well worth a visit

I had been anxious to get home over the last few days but now as I sit in the parking lot of the Blue Basin Trail, soaking up some sun and enjoying a brewski, I some trepidations about finishing the trip. It has often been a difficult trip due to the rigid photography schedule, the sometimes bad weather, and some equipment problems, but the bad was far outweighed by the great experiences of life on the road. The Western United States is a vast and fascinating place, full of mystery and adventure. Reluctantly I finish the drive home, and as I pull into town I am already planning the next trip into the great unkown.

John Day Fossil Beds

Photo: John Day Fossil Beds - Blue Basin

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#10 Kilroy

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Posted 20 November 2006 - 03:08 AM

Thanks for the great trip report. Really makes me want to load up the camper and go.

Dave
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