Report From the Road: Ridgway, CO and my Old Friends Beth and Forrest

When we last saw our intrepid Road Trippers they were happy campers at Mule Canyon, but as so often is the case, they soon succumbed to the dreaded disease “itch-us feet-us.” There is no known cure for this devilish sickness except to give in to the urge to turn the key and drive away; and so our heroes and heroin did just that! They found themselves on the road headed toward Ridgway, Colorado where some good friends of theirs were waiting with emergency medicine for their ailment: a Jeep tour through the beautiful San Juan Mountains.

Our route to Ridgway.

Our route to Ridgway.

We all had been away from civilization long enough that we needed to do some shopping and resupply, so we stopped at the Wal-Mart in Cortez. CO. Our new friend Al left us there. He had business he had to take care of in South Dakota so we wished him god-speed and Judy and I continued on the trip alone. Neither of us like pushing ourselves with long driving days so we had found a campsite in the San Juan National Forest between Cortez and Durango, CO. The way to find a campsite is to find a National Forest that is close-by your route and find out where you can legally camp. To learn about dispersed camping in the San Juan National Forest I downloaded the MVUM (Motor Vehicle Use Map) and saw that Forest Road 316 was right along our way and was legal for camping, so we stopped and set-up camp there for the night. It was a very pretty spot and so we planned to spend the next day there as well—like I said, we like to drive at a leisurely pace!

Our camp on FR 316 between Cortez and Durango, CO. This would be a great spot to spend the summer. High enough in elevation to be cool and yet to close to two large towns with Walmarts.

Our camp on FR 316 between Cortez and Durango, CO. This would be a great spot to spend the summer. High enough in elevation to be cool and yet close to two large towns with Walmarts.

A map to our camp near Mancos, Co.

A map to our camp near Mancos, Co.

Unfortunately, that was not to be the case. That night I got an email from Forrest saying that they had been hit with a cold snap and the fall colors had turned quickly and were already fading fast. I had wanted to be there for pretty fall colors so we decided to hit the road the next day and head straight to Ridgway.

One of the few shots I took on this drive up to Ridgway.

One of the few shots I took on this drive up to Ridgway. That’s Red Mountain in the background. It’s always worthy of a photo!

We drove to Durango and then turned up Highway 550 toward Ridgeway. 550 is commonly known as the “Million Dollar Highway. There are several explanations for the name: 1) because it cost a million dollars to build 2) because there is a million dollars’ worth of gold buried underneath it 3) because it has a million dollar view all along it. I firmly believe in number three because it is the most beautiful drive I have ever been on. I’ve been all over this country, and nothing I have ever seen is any prettier! If you haven’t driven it, you are missing out!

Another area that is always worth stopping at is Molas Pass. This is another classic example of the need to get out and move around in order to get the best photo. I walked 10 minutes to get to these trees to frame this shot.

Another area that is always worth a stop is Molas Pass. This is another classic example of the need to get out and move around in order to get the best photo. I walked 10 minutes to get to these trees to frame this shot.

There is a large pull-in at Molas Pass and I spent about 45 minutes there looking for the best photo. That whole time there was a constant parade of cars stopping for a quick shot. Most walked to the overlook, took the photo, and then jumped in their car and drove away. They were using the “Run and Gun” or “Shoot and Skoot” method of photography. Nearly all of them ended up with mediocre photos at best because cameras can’t take great pictures, only people can. And the most important thing to taking a great shot is not the quality of your camera, but your willingness to use your feet and get a little dirty.

This is a pretty decent shot because it has a great background. I walked about 15 minutes to get these trees to frame it and give it a decent foreground.

This is a pretty decent shot because it has a great background. I walked about 15 minutes to get to this tree and slightly colorful grass to frame it and give it a decent foreground.

I walked all around the area and found items to use to frame these shots and I especially look for foregrounds. A pretty background is rarely enough to make a great photo. But if you can add a nice foreground, it moves up to the realm of an impressive or great shot.

But I looked around and noticed this little pond, so i made mt way over to it and knelt down at a low angle to get this shot. I like it alot better! iIwalked just a few minutes and ended up with slightly wet feet and a muddy knee. To me it was well worth it. (the trees in the center of the photo are the ones in the shot above, that's how close the pond was.)

But I looked around and noticed this little pond, so i made my way over to it and knelt down at a low angle to get this shot. I like it much better! I walked just a few minutes and ended up with slightly wet feet and a muddy knee. To me ,it was well worth it. (the trees in the center of the photo are the ones in the shot above, that’s how close the pond was.)

Forrest was right, the cold snap had caused the fall colors to change very quickly and they were gone when we got there. Because of that I only took a few pictures along the way. I had been there in the fall 5 years ago when the leaves were a beautiful yellow so I am going to include photos of the drive from back then, with a few thrown in from this year. I have dozens more shots from then as good or better than these but I can’t really include them here. They few will give you some small idea of just how beautiful this area is.

All the rest of these photos are from 5 years ago. This is Ironton Creek and it flows out of Red Mountain in the photo above. That is where all the heavy mineralization is coming from. That year had spectacular fall colors!

All the rest of these photos are from 5 years ago. This is Ironton Creek and it flows out of Red Mountain in the photo above. That is where all the heavy mineralization is coming from. That year had spectacular fall colors!

This photo was taken just a few miles from the photo above.

This photo was taken just a few miles from the photo above.

Five years ago I spent about 3 weeks in this meadow (my camper is a tiny dot in it you probably can't see). I watched the trees turn and snow storms come and go. It was one of the best times of my life.

Five years ago I spent about 3 weeks in this meadow (my camper is a tiny dot in it you probably can’t see). I watched the trees turn and snow storms come and go. It was one of the best times of my life.

hTis was along my drive back to my beautiful little meadow.

This was along my drive back to my beautiful little meadow.

When we got to Ridgeway we met up with Forrest and Beth, it was so good to see them again!! We had met in November of 2012 when they dropped by our camp near Quartzsite, AZ. They were living in a converted dodge Sprinter. We camped together for a few weeks and I came to tremendously admire them. They are very young but they aren’t going to let that get in the way of living life to its fullest! They are true adventurers in that they go hiking, Jeeping, rock climbing, motorcycling and anything else that involves adrenaline! They are living their life the way I wish I had lived mine. I encourage everyone to go and follow their blog to find inspiration to follow your dreams no matter what they are! http://3upadventures.com/

Forrest and Beth where they are happiest, in wild nature living the life!

Forrest and Beth where they are happiest, in wild nature living the free life of adventure!

They’ve decided to settle down in Ridgeway because it offers them EVERY kind of adventure sport they like to do. They bought land and are setting up the Alpine Tour Company where they will lead Jeep Tours, Hiking Tours and Motorcycle Tours. http://alpinetourco.com/jeep-tours/ But, like nearly everyone associated with this blog they are afflicted with the same horrible disease “itch-us feet-us.” They just can’t spend all their time in one place! So they are going to be snowbirds and live and work in the Ridgway area about 6 months of the year and head out on the open road for the winter.

Beth and Forrest in front of their new winter home.

Beth and Forrest in front of their new winter home.

When we got there they were working on their new Toy Hauler that they were going to live in for the winter. Because Forrest is an ace mechanic with anything that requires tools, he plans to use the wide open spaces of the Toy Hauler to carry his tools as well as a few toys. I’m going to do a post in the near future about the advantages of a Toy Hauler if you need to work while you are on the road!

Forrest is hoping to lead motorcycle tours of the beautiful area they live in.

Forrest is hoping to lead motorcycle tours of the beautiful area they live in.

In the next post we will look at pictures from the Jeep tour they took us on following the Alpine Byway from near Ouray, Co to Silverton, Co. It was so much fun and the scenery was so spectacular I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Forrest, Beth and Judy at 12, 900 feet in the Colorado  Rockies. That day will go down as one of my best ever!

Forrest, Beth and Judy at 12, 900 feet in the Colorado Rockies. That day will go down as one of my best ever!

Bob
About

I’ve been a full-time VanDweller for 12 years and I love it. I hope to never live in a house again!

24 comments on “Report From the Road: Ridgway, CO and my Old Friends Beth and Forrest
  1. DougB says:

    Vista Porn!
    DougB recently posted…Nope. No Soap.My Profile

  2. Mario says:

    Bob , you seem to have a lot of things figured out . . . I bet you could teach us a great deal about getting good photos, I think you have a great talent and are able to see landscape with “different eyes”, these are some truly amazing natural landscape photos, natural beauty at it’s best !
    I just don’t have these “special eyes” that see landscape in a way that would look spectacular in a photo frame (LOL and in this post I seem to have gotten a few good tips already).
    When you say “I walked 10 minutes to get to these trees”. . I guess it was 10 minutes very well spent judging by the results! (not to mention the exercise and the level of satisfaction in proving to your readers how talented you are !! of course we’ll give some credit to MOTHER NATURE as well !! )
    I truly believe that the lack of negative stress of this lifestyle is allowing the individual to capture and enjoy all the different “angles” of the NATURAL WORLD in ways that “typical city dwellers” could not even imagine.
    Many years ago I toured Colorado but it was in July (I was on a short vacation and in a hurry to get back to the RAT RACE) awesome mountain vistas with just the perfect mix of small lakes and valleys . . . the colors were nowhere near as spectacular as in the fall . . . the “window of opportunity” is really small and one has to be there in just the right time before the cold sets in.
    Consider yourself a lucky man being able to “claim as your back yard” such breathtaking scenery.
    Really enjoyed the post , may I ask which camera did you use on this trip ?

    • Bob Bob says:

      Thanks for your very kind words Mario, they are appreciated! I’ve been a student of photography for awhile and studied the mechanics of it and the rules of it enough to be a competent photographer. But I think you are right, my results have changed since I’ve been living mobile full time and I simply have gotten better at it.

      I think your idea of the lack of stress may very well be the reason. I used to be fighting everything and fighting all the time, now I simply relax and go with the flow. I think that shows in my pictures and in m whole life. When you go with the flow, things simply go better!!

      I’m using a Nikon AW 100 which is an All Weather (waterproof, dustproof, shockproof, etc) point and shoot. I am extremely happy with it!!

      My preffered camera is my Canon G12, but it has been giving me problems and isn’t working now. I sent it into Best Buy for repair under warranty two times now, and both times it came back broke worse than when I sent it in. Now there isn’t a Best Buy anywhere near me, so it is a paperweight.

      I have a Sony DSLR, but I am just as pleased with my point and shoots because of their small size. I rote a post last December on how to take better pictures, you may want to check it out:
      http://cheaprvlivingblog.com/2012/12/taking-better-picures/

  3. Gennifer says:

    Beautiful photos, as always, Bob! And great tips for getting good photos! We’re hoping to visit Colorado in the spring to see all the wildflowers. 🙂
    Gennifer recently posted…Ode to SpokaneMy Profile

    • Bob Bob says:

      Gennifer, I love the wildflowers in Colorado!!! But, remember that spring comes very late to Colorado. Figure the middle of July to he first part of August to hit peak. My favorite place is Crested Butte because they are easy to get to. But I think the area around Ridgway may be better, but they are harder to get to. If I don’t go to alaska next summer I will spend it there.
      Bob

  4. Steve says:

    Great pictures Bob. Thanks for the map source. Looks like my departure will be this spring, 2014 just as I planned 2 years ago. I want to leave earlier but still need to sell my vehicles and not getting much response. I am enjoying your trip on the road….good stuff.

  5. Venture says:

    Incredible photos Bob!So neat to see the land I hiked through ablaze with color! Glad you got up into the mountains on your jeep tour before the snow piled up. I will be heading to southern Utah in the next day or two. Hope to see you out there somewhere!

    • Bob Bob says:

      Venture, we are still in Moab, but I think we will leave by this coming weekend (hopefully no later than the 21st). I’m waiting on packages and that is all that holds us back.

      Capital Reef NP should be nice now but I don’t think we will be there long. Bryce NP will be very quick as I am sure it is cold and to me it is a one-trick-pony.
      so I’m guessing we might be to Zion by the 26th. That’s about what I have had in mind all along because I like to be there after November 1 when the shuttle stops running.

      Hope to see you there! It would be great to have someone to hike to the Subway with! You’ll just have to slow down for the old fat guy!
      Bob

  6. Myddy says:

    I love the jeep tour idea, I bet it’s just a load of fun!
    Myddy recently posted…The budget (envelopes)My Profile

    • Bob Bob says:

      It really was Myddy. Forrest made it look so easy I thought “Anybody can do this!” But he has been practicing for decades so he can make it look easy. That part of CO has so many incredible Jeep trails that it really is the only way to do it justice when you visit.
      Bob

  7. Drool, drool! What a great adventure, Bob! I really look forward to reading your blogs more than ever now. You’re a wonderful photographer! I’m still having a blast, but got ran out of my last two spots twice because of people. The first was a new acquaintance (we came across the same remote, gorgeous spot at the same time) who insisted I turn off my Max Air fan during the day whenever she was in camp. That wasn’t going to work for me to accommodate someone else’s ridiculous expectations while I sweat it out in my van.

    So, I left that situation. I found a decent spot up the road not even three miles and was awoken one night at midnight out of a deep sleep to a huge family with young kids running around the campsite screaming until 2 am. They stayed, I left. So, I found another spot and I’m enjoying this one pretty well. Beautiful scenery. Missing you and Judy, so, look forward to when we see each other again.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Gloria, we are missing you too!! This trip just isn’t the same without you!

      Unfortunately there are a lot of rude campers out there. But that is one of the great beauties of living in a van, you can just turn the key and drive away!
      Bob

  8. Jan Johnson says:

    Another great post and pictures Bob! Thanks! On another note, I ordered and have received most of the solar system I purchased through your blog. It’s the roll up one. The only thing that hasn’t come is the hardware. I’m confused just looking at it..I hope it will fit on my Scamp with that AC unit up there. If the guy that is installing it has questions, can he email or call you? Next month I will purchase the battery..any suggestions as to which battery to buy? Thanks Jan from Oregon..ps..see you in January at Quartsite!

    • Bob Bob says:

      Jan, did you measure first to make sure it would fit? They are 9 feet long but they are only 16 inches wide so if the AC is all that is in the way and it is in the middle, they should fit to each side.

      Sure, he is welcome to write me with any questions.

      Which battery is not a quick question to answer.

      Buy a Wet-Cell, Lead-Acid Battery If…
      You are on a tight budget.
      You are willing to check and fill the water even when it is inconvenient.
      You are willing to take the very low risk they create by off-gassing an explosive and corrosive gas when they are being charged fast.
      You will run them below 12.2 volts often-greatly reducing their life.
      Conclusion: Wet cells are best for people on a tight budget, or for someone who can’t or won’t take care of them. If that’s you, then buy the cheapest wet-cell you can find with a good warranty (Walmart) and plan on replacing it every few years. They do present a real but very low risk of explosion.
      ============================
      Buy an AGM Battery if…

      Have the money to think ahead.
      The batteries are too hard to get to check or you simply know you won’t.
      You are not willing to take any risk.
      You will generally keep them above 12.2 Volts with just a few exceptions.
      Conclusion: AGMs are great for people who will take good care of them by not discharging them below 12.2 very often. They will last longer and make up for the higher initial cost. But if you run them down below 50% (12.2 volts) often, then you will have paid twice as much and they won’t last any longer. They’re a great choice for the risk-adverse!

      • Jan Johnson says:

        Thanks Bob..I was already thinking about the AGM. My confusion is coming from: 1) How do I check it..I don’t mind, just need to be taught. 2) Of course I didn’t measure, I a 70 year old woman remember! lol 3) I ordered two panels and two sets of hardware (one for each panel)…the ac unit is in the middle so I am hoping they will go on each side of it. Guess I can always put them on the rack of the Subaru.
        If this local guy is not willing to install it, can I pay you to do it when I arrive in Quartsite around January 1st? Jan

        • Jan Johnson says:

          Hi Again Bob..I just went in to see why the hardware did not arrive yet and discovered I had NOT ordered it so I just placed the order today. The more I think about it, the more I want you to install it for me. Can I count on you the first of January in Quartsite? Thanks so much! Jan

          • Bob Bob says:

            Jan, my tine has become so limited I am no longer doing installs for other people. But I’m very sure there will be other guys at RTR who can and will do it for you. We are a very helpful group of people!
            Bob

  9. Papa says:

    550 was the first road that cost $1,000,000.00 per mile to build….
    It most definitely is loaded with million dollar views.

  10. Well, I may not have made the trip but I am now a fulltimer, thanks to you! Made the switch last night. 🙂
    LaVonne Ellis recently posted…Ouch!My Profile

  11. Omar Storm says:

    LaVonne,

    Congratulations!!! I still have to wait at least two to three years to have everything in order.

    Omar

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