At this very moment I’m enjoying a lovely sunrise in Utah. I’m also making a promise to myself to get caught up with my writing so that I’m not having to dig so far back in my memories in order to share them. I wish I could put to pen, the experiences as I am having them… sharing the depth of the moment… the beauty, the wonder, the joy. Between the pace and the projects and the ongoing battles with technology I’ve not yet found a way to make that happen.
In my last post I mentioned that Telluride should have been the next town on my route while working on my book, and that I had to drive right past because of a huge Bluegrass Festival clogging the town with people. Instead I went on to Gunnison, where my new friends Brian and Cherrie Haugh had offered to host us on their dog and RV friendly property. We had no idea what a treat we were in for! Once “the beast” was safely resting in their driveway, we (me and the girls) were shown to our cozy room upstairs. Actually, we were given a choice… sunrise view or river view. Knowing I’d be listening to the soothing sound of it flowing by as I drifted off to sleep, I chose the river.
Brian and Cherrie have a beautiful Golden named Dakota, and she made the girls quite welcome. “Koda” is every bit a Golden in her never ending energy and love of “fetch” and water. We all took turns tossing the ball for her, but when no one was standing there ready to play, Koda played fetch on her own. She’d stand on a rock along the river, drop the ball in the water, and as it floated away she’d dive in after it. Over and over and over again! What a smart dog! Her enthusiasm even rubbed off on Sadie.
Although Jazzy and Sadie are part Golden, neither of them has ever taken to swimming. They’ll wade along the shore, and Jazzy will lay down in the water to cool off, but that’s the extent it… until now. While I was throwing the ball for Koda, Sadie got all excited and wanted in on the action. They ran side by side down to the water, and out onto the rocks, but that’s where Sadie drew the line. Over and over she raced after the ball with Koda, paced on the rock excitedly while Koda dove in to get it, and then came running back up wagging her tail as Koda deposited the ball at my feet. Sadie was happy enough just being a part of the chase, and then… in a moment of sheer enthusiasm… her momentum took her sliding right off the rock and into the water. She was surprised at first, and swam to shore immediately, but she must have admitted to herself that the water actually felt pretty darn good, because from that moment on she ran down the hill and dove right in the water along with Koda! I shouldn’t be surprised that it took a Golden to teach my dog she’s at least part water dog. The whole time this was happening Jazzy lay quietly in a pool of water along the shore, watching the scene as if mildly amused. That’s Jazzy.
In addition to enjoying some wonderful meals and our growing friendship, Brian and Cherrie took me on some local adventures. We took the lovely “back road” to Crested Butte for their local Farmer’s Market.
We went to a neighbor’s ranch to watch some “ridin’ and ropin” amongst friends. Photographing this sport was a new and fun experience for me, although a tad on the dusty side. It took no time at all before I had a layer of grit between my teeth. I understand now why cowboys spit all the time! I have to say, as impressed as I was with the men, I was every bit as impressed with the skills of the few women out there.
And of course I had to sneak out into the nearby pasture to photograph this spirited young colt.
Brian and Cherrie also introduced me to several dog owners while there, for potential additions to my book, The Mountain Dogs of Colorado. One of them, Drew, who works at Waggin’ Tails and is a dog trainer, has several dogs. I photographed several, but the one who touched me the most was this sweet rescue, Fiona. She is a pit mix who was used in the training of fighting dogs. It’s amazing to me that a dog could take that kind of abuse by human hands and turn out to be such a sweet natured pet.
Rather than drive my motorhome all the way back up the mountain to Telluride, Cherrie and Brian offered to watch after Jazzy, Sadie and The Beast while I backtracked for a couple days in my car. This really made a whole lot more sense, and it freed me up to get in, work unencumbered, (harder to shoot fast with my dogs in tow) and still have time to see some of the sights.
There’s no shortage of dogs in Telluride, so I gathered images fairly quickly and easily, thus freeing up a bit of time to “play”. I was completely taken by the beauty I observed from the drivers seat of The Beast while cruising from Delores up to (and past) Telluride a few days prior, and hoped to find the time to drive back over Lizard Head Pass in my car when I returned. Since photographing dogs mid day is not ideal, I took advantage of that time to make that drive. I had no intention of going all the way back to Delores (about 70 miles), but that’s where the road led me. I stopped for lunch at a little cafe with free wifi and got a little work done while dining. (One thing about free wifi in an empty cafe… ya don’t have to share the connection!)
I enjoyed the drive (down and back) every bit as much as I did the first time through, and was able to pull off the road several times where I couldn’t in The Beast.
Telluride has always been one of my favorite places, and that was solely based on my time here in the winter. It really was a special treat for me see this beauty in the summer!
I wish I could share all the dogs along the way! I’ve met so many, and they are all wonderful in their own special and unique ways. Now that I’m finished with the summer collection for my book and out of Colorado, I’m having to resist the urge to crane my neck toward every single dog I see along the way. Seriously! These dogs are habit forming! Gotta share one more. I had the pleasure of spending a bit of time with Leroy and his owners one morning, and it was clear that this is his favorite thing to do.
The drive between Telluride and Gunnison hadn’t grown old by the third time!
I arrived back in Gunnison to hugs and smiles and two dogs who were VERY happy to see me. Once settled we enjoyed a relaxing night of Brian’s famous Linguini and Clams and tales from the road. The girls and I enjoyed our time in Gunnison so much we could have stayed indefinitely, but at this point I was already a full week behind my estimated schedule in Colorado with a deadline looming in the distance. I still had Aspen, Vail, Breckenridge and Steamboat ahead of me, so the girls and I prepped for the road the following morning. With Brian and Cherrie’s help I backed the beast onto the road (tricky turns and into traffic!), hooked up Zippy, shared a round of hugs, and rolled on down the highway. A very special thank you to Brian, Cherrie and Dakota for the wonderful hospitality! We loved every minute of our time with you!
Next stop was the Aspen/Basalt area, and the route took me up a steep and windy highway with one of the most amazing views I have ever witnessed! As usual, I was whining to myself about not being able to stop and capture the beauty I was witnessing, and was extremely grateful to find one turn out just big enough for The Beast along the way.
And the beauty didn’t stop there. I continue to be amazed at the diverse landscape of our country, and to watch it unfold as I drive is almost indescribable!
The day’s drive led us back to Basalt, just down the mountain from Aspen. This is an area we’ve become familiar with, having spent time here last fall, and then again in the winter. Although here for the dogs, and short on time, we did get to see my friend Carol. As luck would have it, time with Carol almost always includes a good hike!
While in Aspen I decided to take advantage of a safe place to leave my RV as well as the opportunity to use my cousin Anne’s condo in Breckenridge, so plans were made to save on some gas and do yet another road trip in “Zippy” (my tow car). Before heading down the highway I took the girls for an early morning hike at the infamous Maroon Bells.
Next up… Breckenridge, a bit more of the Aspen area, and finally… Steamboat Springs! Stay tuned for more never ending beauty from the road!