Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Heading to the Balloon Fiesta in ABQ

Tuesday the 17th.
Left home about 9:00am to give the Denver commuter traffic a chance to subside. 
We spent the first night at one of our all-time favorite campgrounds; Heaton Bay between  Dillon & Frisco. This time of the year, and during the week, we had our choice of campsites. We stayed in site 21 which had a nice path to the lake and an unobstructed view of the lake and mountains. We first came here in 2004+- when we were kayaking and bike riding. There is a paved multi-use trail running right by the campground as well as easy lake access for the kayaks. Our next visit was in 2007 or 2008. The pine bark beetles has pretty much destroyed the forests in this area; the campground had been clear-cut to remove the danger of falling trees. Today the forest has started to reestablish itself and the campground, while it's not as beautiful as we remember it from our first visit, is regaining it's wooded feeling.  The campground will stay open until mid-October or the first snow fall; whichever comes first. At 10,000' the snow comes early. (On the 23rd, there was snow on Vail Pass)

Our view

The Aspens are just starting to turn.

Wednesday the 18th.

First thing we made a quick stop at WalMart for a few things Carol forgot then stopped by the Butterhorn Bakery and Cafe in Frisco to pick up a sticky bun for the road. The Butterhorn is THE breakfast restaurant in Frisco.
We drove to Leadville and stopped at the Forest Service office to get information on what campgrounds were open. After Labor Day most shut down for the season. We weren't impressed by the selection so continued to the Clear Creek Reservoir State Wildlife Area which is perhaps 15 miles south of Leadville on US 24.  39.01910  -106.27686. This site has just jumped into out Top 10 All Time Favorite list.  First off it's free for up to 14 days. The camping area is just a network of dirt paths through the woods that border Clear Creek as it flows into the reservoir. I suspect it's crowded in the summer, but today we had our choice of great creek side places to camp.  As a bonus, we have cell phone and internet service as long as we use the booster.

Clear Creek from our campsite
Our campsite

Steller's Jay. What a beautiful bird.

 All a girl needs is a soft rock upon which to rest.

Our morning view to the west

Thursday the 19th

Continued south on US 285. We spent the night at the Brazos Summit (10,041') picnic area on US 64 west of Tres Piedras, NM. The plan was to stay at the USFS Hopewell Lake  campground but after driving through it wasn't much. We explored some of the Forest Service roads for  disbursed camping but it looks likes like hunting season might be starting soon because every decent looking boondocking site was taken by groups of guys dressed in their camo cloths. Saw an interesting sign on a residence along the road. "Trespassers Will Be Shot. Survivors Will Be Fed To The Dogs". That should ensure the residents some degree of privacy.  Not from the NSA perhaps, but from most others.
Our choice of the picnic area was perfect;  after sundown it was just us. There was a harvest moon tonight. It was like daylight all night long.
We awoke very early; about 5:30am, made banana pancakes then continued to the Riana campground to meet up with some of our Lazy Daze friends before we continued on to the Balloon Fiesta in ABQ.

 Sundown from the picnic area. Note the Harvest Moon
Friday through Tuesday the 24th.

There were seven LD's at Riana. Every day at 4:30 was Happy Hour. One night Roger bar-b-qued, actually smoked in his Krager unit, ribs for everyone. Another night Carol and Owen made a huge pot of chili in their Dutch Oven. Jeanne ,and her dog Riley, lead the 8am morning walk. 

Wednesday the 25th.
Frank and Cookie left yesterday.  Everyone else stayed but we were ready to move on so in the morning we drove into Espanola. Did our laundry then headed to Santa Fe for a Wal-Mart run and propane. Tonight we're dry camping in the parking lot of the San Felipe Casino which is about 30 minutes north of ABQ. 
In the morning we continue south.