Friday, September 13, 2013

Vail to Denver

In the last 24 hours I have received four phone calls and two emails asking, "Where are you?" and "Are you safe?"  I thought I'd better answer the questions before more calls come in.

As many of you know, I stay about two weeks behind with my postings for a variety of reasons.  Mostly, I'm lazy.  Also, It gives me time to sort the pictures and arrange my thoughts.  Moreover,  there are lots of people out there reading this and I may not want some screwball to know I am sitting in the Cracker Barrel parking lot at this moment--alone except for Sigh Me--and my double-barreled, sawed off shotgun.

(Dillon Lake)
But right now Colorado is in crisis and my family is worried so I have decided to confess--I am sitting in a Cracker Barrel parking lot in Albuquerque--and I am dry, even though it has been raining nonstop for days.  

When I left Vail I climbed up and over Vail pass then Loveland Pass and was pleased to see that Halcyon II conquered them both with little effort...

(top of Loveland Pass)
...even though we topped out above timberline at 11,170 ft.  I was huffing and puffing but the RV just hummed along.

As we dropped into the eastern slope the ski areas began to disappear and the remnants of mining towns became pleasant respites from the road.

Everywhere you look in this area there are mine tailings, indicators of the great fortunes that were chiseled out of these granite mountains.  

Now the remnants left behind are more likely to be last year's model of skis.  At least someone has found a use for these.   

Originally, the schoolhouse built in 1889,  was the tallest building in Silver Plume.
The sign said 'museum' but I couldn't find any indication that it was still in use.

With its smaller buildings and homes, Silver Plume (incorporated in 1880) had little of neighboring Georgetown's elegance.  What it did have was mines, more than forty of them plus several hundred claims with strange names (like the Terrible and the 7:30) but terrific output. 

Many of the profits ended up two miles away in Georgetown where a number of mine owners lived.    Silver Plume also featured marvelous engineering with roads and mills built into the steepest cliffs imaginable.  

But Silver Plume's two thousand inhabitants, many of them recent European immigrants, had their own assets, including a newspaper, a brewery and the 7:30 mine's beloved cornet band. 

 There was nothing fancy about the place, but Silver Plume embodied the essence of Colorado mining towns: optimism and opportunity with the promise of untold fortune.

Today Silver Plume is very nearly a ghost town but Georgetown, only two miles away, is a bit healthier looking....

I wonder if this is some of the 'elegance' the promo material was referring to.

The streets were quiet when I arrived; the town thrives on the business from the skiers that arrive by the tens of thousands in the winter.

I was very surprised to find a 'free dump station' for RVs right in the heart of the town.  Naturally I took advantage of it--never, ever pass up a free dump station!

Then back on the road.  I needed to find the Denver Cracker Barrel before dark. I have said this before--Cracker Barrel parking lots are the best places to park, for free, for the night--and their veggie plate is really good, too.

This creek is one that, this week, has become a raging river, overflowing its banks and chasing residents to higher ground.  

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