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Pinedale, WY; Rocky Mountain National Park; RV Repairs; Buckley AFB; MORE SNAKES!

Wyoming has been one of our favorite destinations during the 2016 Summer Tour. The scenery and good friends we spent time with are obvious reasons, but here’s one more: the local newspaper, the Pinedale Roundup. Now you big city folks are probably thinking, how can the Pinedale Roundup beat out the New York Times or the Washington Post? Well, podnah, while those mammoth papers have front page stories on mass murders, heroin epidemics and race riots, here in Pinedale the lead stories are (1) Town Hall to be sold again; (2) Union Wireless gets nod for 45-foot cell tower, and (3) Fire Chief gives Cliff Creek report. I know where I would rather live!!! 

Another advantage of living in Pinedale is the public transportation system. Using this eco-friendly method of moving tourists from one part of the city to another is highly recommended to avoid heavy traffic in the six-block long metro area… and it’s FREE!

We reluctantly departed Pinedale, Wyoming, and the spectacular Wind River Range heading for Colorado. After a night spent with our most gracious and hospitable friends Jeff and Lynn Hollahan in Denver, Suzanne flew back to The Villages to spend time with Her Lovely Mom Ruthie and to teach her Serving Spirit course. While these two gals were out at dinner one night, I got this photo of the party girls with a margarita and a mojito… I asked My Lovely Bride, “What kind of ‘spirits’ are we talking about, My Darling?” (I was happy not to read about them in the Daily Sun’s police blotter the next morning…)

During Suzanne’s extended trip to Florida and Massachusetts, Rudy, Gretchen and I camped out up in Estes Park, Colorado, a few miles from Rocky Mountain National Park. I got out hiking almost every day for a week, sometimes twice a day. I met some interesting people on the trails, such as Troy and Adam, old college buddies from Tuscaloosa, Alabama… When I saw Adam’s ballcap, I greeted them with a hearty “ROLL, TIDE!!!” They were pleased but surprised that an LSU grad like myself would say those words, but I told them about getting my Alabama visor from our good friend Judson Emens back in Tuscumbia, earlier this summer. We had a good chat about football and down home cooking before I finished my hike up to the summit of the Twin Sisters (11,400 ft). 

The view from the summit of the Twin Sisters was expansive, to say the least. Several of the highest mountains in Colorado were visible, including several Fourteeners (mountains over 14,000 ft).

This tree, twisted by the frequent high winds on the north slope of the mountain, was representative of the harsh winter climate above 10,000 feet in the Rocky Mountains. 

Normally I hike alone, but on the way down the trail, a 20-something Vietnamese-American guy fell in behind me and we continued on together, passing the time with discussions about his family and work (Nam is an MRI tech). His father is just a year younger than Your Faithful Correspondent, and was a soldier in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) at the same time that I was on my first destroyer operating off the coast of his country in support of our troops and the ARVN. His family escaped the communist occupation by boat to the Philippines with just the clothes on their backs, then resettled in the US and built a successful life here. Just goes to show you what hard work, education and perseverance can do to fulfill the American Dream. And I know Nam was raised right, because he called me “Sir” about 30 times…

During my week in Estes Park, our good friend Jim Wohlleber, a former Navy sailor (PBR skipper in VN) and retired airline pilot, visited for a few days. We did some sightseeing, drove the  park’s Ridge Road (almost all above 10,000-11,000 feet) on a stormy day.

Jim is also my firearms adviser. We went to a local pistol range for some target practice, and alternated using Jim’s model 1911 Kimber .45 semiautomatic. We both shot pretty well – those paper targets didn’t stand a chance! One funny incident occurred when a family from the People’s Republic of China arrived for a lesson from the NRA instructor/range supervisor. They had never fired a weapon before, and had a blast target shooting. Guess their communist leaders don’t think much of giving the masses access to firearms; hmmmm, I wonder why not???

My favorite hike during my week in Estes Park was up to Chasm Lake (11,760 ft), a trip that I had made several years ago. This hike’s scenery and destination, across the lower slopes of Mount Lady Washington and on the flank of Long’s Peak (14,259 ft), is so dramatic that I wanted to see it one more time. I may have forgotten (or subconsciously ignored) the fact that it is a strenuous climb up to the base of the lake, and then you have to scramble up a 100 foot high moraine of boulders. Gee, I didn’t remember it being this difficult a few years ago…

… but the reward for an 8 mile hike and rock scrambles is worth every ounce of sweat! The 1,000 ft vertical cliff is called Diamond Face, and the buttress to the left of it is Ship’s Prow. Both are very popular rock climbing destinations.

I was bushed when I returned to the parking lot at the Long’s Peak Ranger Station. I opened the car, and noticed a small piece of paper under my wiper blade. Having parked between two big pickup trucks, I was concerned that I had parked too close to one of them. When I read the note, I was touched deeply by the thoughtfulness and sentiments of an Army veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). He/she had seen the decal with a gold star, indicating a family that had lost a service member on active duty, on my rear window. 

After my stay in the Rockies, I drove the coach to Frederick, Colorado, where we had purchased it, for some repairs. Here we see Rob the RV tech replacing a seal on one of the slideouts. He later replaced one of our air conditioners whose compressor had failed. These repairs put us back on the road at near 100% readiness, but as every RV or boat owner will tell you, “It won’t be long before something else breaks!”

Our next stop was at Buckley AFB in Aurora, Colorado. The campground there is located right next to the runway, and visitors are treated to daily air shows courtesy of the US Air Force and Air National Guard. Typically, flights of 4-6 F-16 Fighting Falcons would take off, conduct high altitude combat maneuvers, then do touch-and-go’s and low level fly-by’s on afterburner before landing. The noise levels were incredible, but as we say in the service, “It’s the Sound of Freedom”!

Buckley’s campground was having a water problem during our visit – a leaking water main that hadn’t yet been repaired. They had to add several porta-potties to accommodate the campers. The campground also has a reputation for snakes, both poisonous and non-poisonous varieties. We’ve seen a lot of snakes this summer, but this one was disconcerting. I was on my way to the head (porta-potty, in this case), when I saw a 5 foot long gopher snake crawling out from under the loo… “That’s okay, I’ll find another one… just in case his mate is inside!”


  • MOM/Gina
    Posted September 16, 2016 at 3:41 pm

    Neat blog..

  • Beverly G
    Posted September 16, 2016 at 3:41 pm

    Great blog, Ty! This is as close as I'll get to hiking up mountains. I love the photos and as I read the descriptions, I can feel the mountain air! Your blogs always brighten my morning. Thank you for sharing your adventures with us. Love, Bev


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