Sunday, November 10, 2013


On Nov. 6 we had a two vehicle expedition to show visitors the Montana Mountain road east of Mesa. I drove our slightly modified 04 Grand Cherokee and Jeff drove his modified white 2012 Wrangler Unlimited with Jo’s sister Arla as his passenger.

The pictures are taken by a Canon 350 d digital camera.


Jeff could not resist taking  this extra credit side road up a ridge  to a lookout point. After admiring the view and turning around, he is coming back down here to make room for a quad to .reach the top.


We had a brief stop at the parking area next to a water tank just before the last hill to reach Montana Mountain. The road was nicely graded to the turnoff for the Rogers Trough trail head, but the road beyond has not seen a grader for years!


Or group was Lindsey and Rosa Ashby, Arla Olson, Jo Strong and Jeff Clyde, plus me.


Here is our lunch stop after circling Montana Mountain on its north side.


Jo, Rosa and Lindsey


View to the north of our lunch stop parking area. Two well-used fire rings show that it is popular with campers and hunters.



The road took us down  through 17 switchbacks to reach the bottom of Revis Canyon  Wash where the road followed the creek, sometimes in the creek itself.    From this spot it is an easy drive back to Highway 60 east of Superior.


I traded one of my banked timeshare weeks for a week in a two bedroom unit at  Mayan Palace, 22 miles outside Puerto Penasco, so we could introduce Jo’s sister Arla to a Mexican resort.The town popularly is called Rocky Point  by us Gringos! Some of our group of seven have visited there several times. This was the third visit for Jo and me. Jo and I drove there in our Prius, getting 50 mpg round trip per the car computer.  We were there  from Oct. 26 to Nov. 2.

These pictures  were taken by a recently-acquired used Canon 350 D 8 mp camera, a digital single lens reflex. It sure is nice to use that kind of a viewfinder again, despite its much greater bulk compared to my point and shoot Canon A1100 IS.


Mike and Barbara preferred to lounge and read on the beach.


They often were joined by Laura (Barbara’s daughter) and Jeff, Jo’s son.


Jo preferred sitting by the pool. This picture  was an experimental picture using the camera in its black and white mode.


I usually chose the lounge chair in the shade!


This day was so clear that an island several miles out in the Sea of Cortez was visible.   The body of water is relatively shallow, leaving a wide beach even at high tide.


Our three rooms were on the first floor behind the two palm trees. We had a short walk to the pool and beach.


Jeff could not resist the bungee jumping machine.


He quickly learned how to do back flips.


 IMG_5811               IMG_5813

The maid sometimes left little statues made out of folded  towels.


Here are several of our group having dinner at the restaurant at the resort. We drove the 22 miles into town for dinner three times.



Sundowns could be spectacular.



A large group, probably an extended family, brought kites with them. At left is one of the acrobatic kites. It takes a crew of two to run it, one to get it back in the air after frequent crashes. At right is a sedate pirate ship kite.


A group of dolphins swam by as we were having dinner in a downtown restaurant. Puerto Penasco supports a large shrimp fleet.IMG_5849

Here is our group at Manny’s restaurant on Wednesday when Jeff and Laura were on their way to return to Mesa. The rest of us stayed until the end of the week. From the left, Jeff Clyde,Jo Strong, Barbara and Mike Williams, Arla Olson and Laura McNurlen.


In Blanding UT we met Mike and Barbara with whom Jo’s other sister Arla Olson was traveling in their 5th wheel trailer, for sightseeing there instead of Grand Canyon, closed because of the US government shutdown.


On Oct. 3 we set out for Natural Bridges National Monument west of Blanding. We took a short side trip with a walk to these cliff dwellings. Many canyons in the area have similar cliff dwellings occupied in the era of the Mesa Verde cliff dwellings in CO.


These signs greeted us on our way to Natural Bridges National Monument.


So we turned south to drive down the Moqui Dugout road. The road literally was dug out of the side of cliffs for use by large trucks carrying uranium ore to the refinery at Mexican Hat in the valley below. While the unpaved road was wide, we still were surprised to see a Coca Cola semi truck coming down the road.


Here are two levels of the Dugway road.  A red vehicle is on the upper level.


We continued south to Gouldings Lodge in the Monument Valley area and visited its gift ship. There was a large inventory of fine Navajo rugs for sale. Across the highway was the entrance to the Monument Valley Park of the Navajo Nation leading to a large hotel. For the price of admission one may drive their own vehicle into the heart of the valley on the road in the background behind Jo and sister Arla. We did not have time to make the drive, but at least I learned that one may drive the road without a guide. Next time!


Heading north again, we took a side trip to look at the spectacular Goosenecks of the San Juan River.




Next on our itinerary was Valley of the Gods with geological features similar to those of Monument Valley.


On Oct. 4 we drove the Elk Ridge loop northwest of Blanding. Elk Ridge is on the horizon, with Bears Ears at the far left.


This is the best fall color we saw on the whole trip.


At the Causeway on the way to Elk Ridge we were treated to this great view of  a nearby mountain, probably La Sal.


While on the nostalgia run south on Elk Ridge we spotted these two mule deer. Later from the same road we saw two nice bucks, but they were photo shy!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013



The third run of the rally on Sept. 28 was from Trinidad CO over historic Raton Pass and through its tunnel, to Raton NM. The is was the most economical run of the trip, $11.00 per person, as well as the shortest, about 1 hour. The AMTRAK train was a few minutes late. We were treated very well, We were ushered to an empty car and a conductor spent much of the hour with us acting  as a docent.


Our group picture was on the platform as the traditional shot in front of the locomotive was not in the cards because of  the short stop made there.


Our locomotive pulling up to the passenger platform. A few other passengers boarded there too.


Views of historic buildings from the observation car on the CO side of the pass.




The observation car was quite crowded.


This is typical of the terrain passed in the uphill run to the tunnel. The ruling  grade on the CO side was 3.4% and 3.28% on the NM side.IMG_5320

We learned that the tunnel  at 7588 ft. was the highest point on the ATSF.


This is the NM end of the tunnel. For many years Raton Pass was on  the mainline of the Santa Fe, with double tracks through  two tunnels. The first one was abandoned in 1949. Now the less steep mainline swings southwest in Kansas, passing through western Ok and northwest Tx to reach NM south of Albuquerque.


The docent of the Santa Fe Trail museum in Raton gave us a great tour of the museum  at the end of our ride. The museum was roomy and exhibits were presented well. The Raton Chamber of Commerce Tourism department arranged this tour for us.


This building in downtown Raton was built before WW II. The swastikas in the  trim represented the nearby coal mining town of Swastika.


Colorado & Southern depot at Trinidad, now a restaurant, where most of us had dinner Sat. night.




The Simons hosted continental breakfasts for the group parked  in the group campground at Trinidad State Park. Our six motor homes all had an electrical hookup despite just 4 electrical posts.


Our rally began on Sept. 26 with members gathering at the Alamosa KOA all primed to ride three tourist railroads in a week. Attending were Kurt and Betty Simon, Bob Tucker, Don and Betty Pico, Dan and Betsy St. John, Loretta Hernandez and Cynthia Wallace, and Bill and Jo Strong. Our first railroad, on Sept. 27, was the narrow gauge steam powered Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad from Antonito CO to Chama NM with bus back to Antonito. The tracks to Chama were completed in 1880 by the Denver & Rio Grande RR. and cross the CO – NM state line 11 times.


The C&TS reservationist was thoughtful of our group by seating all of us on the preferred left side of the train as it left Antonito.


The  first part of the journey was across sagebrush flats gradually rising to the first ridge.

IMG_5209On top of that ridge is the lonely Lava Tank, no longer used and gradually decaying.




We were seated in the third car from the locomotive. There was a popular open observation car near the back from which classic shots of the train negotiating a curve could be taken. I have edited out of this blog most of the rest of  this kind of picture.


We are approaching Whiplash Curve where tracks wind around like a serpent to gain elevation to top out on the ridge at the upper right. Here  we are on the  lowest level, and the next level is in the cut on the hillside .



This view from the top of the ridge shows the transition curve from from the lowest level to the middle level .


After gaining more elevation and getting into the tall pine area, we approach the section buildings at Sublette (far center of picture).


These buildings were restored by The Friends Of the Cumbres & Toltec, a very active group essential to maintaining the historical portions of the line. Beside the many buildings, they also restore cars not used in the operation of the railroad.



This is the downstream end of the Toltec Gorge formed by the Rio de Los Pinos. The tracks wind around the north edge of this valley for many of the 64 miles of the run to Chama.


Entering Osier for lunch, we were surprised to see a Galloping Goose from the Rio Grande Southern. Geese  historically did not run on these tracks.


The yellow building at Osier was built to feed lunch to the riders. Osier originally was a construction camp.


Here we are completing the Tanglefoot Curve, having just come up the tracks on the right. Our next stop was at the section house at Cumbres Pass to take on water.


Here we are coming down from Cumbres Pass and around Windy Point on the 4% grade. Bob Tucker is at the right


We just came around Windy Point at the right of the outcrop on our way down hill to the Lobato Trestle and Chama.


From the left, Don Pico and the docent  volunteer with the Friends group. His comments were enlightening to all on the open car. Earlier in the day this car was much more crowded.


Kurt and Don relaxing as we approached Chama.