Oil Well Flats

20 09 2008

On Thursday we went camping again. Take two, for the BLM, only this time we hoped that our plans wouldn’t be ruined by the 31% chance for rain. After watching the weather like a hawk, with clear skies we decided to begin packing a head in that direction (if the weather changed we would just go home). After packing grey clouds began to roll in, after eating drip drops of very light rain, in the drive-thru to get coffee monstrous scary lightning everywhere but no rain. Once I convinced Webb that, “clearly the weather is quickly moving east and if you look west the skies are clear and the weather will be nice, and please please please let’s at least drive up there.”

We had our spot all picked out, but when we got out there someone was already there parked behind a tree doing God knows what.  So we went about 2 miles further back into the area and found the most awesome campsite ever. We will definitely be returning to this location for future camp-outs.  It’s on the top of a hill over looking the canyon.  Off in the distance to the south you could see some lights from Canon City twinkling in the distance. It had a great fire pit already built and used, flat vegetation-free ground, and a nice little pull in for the car. It was GREAT. When we first arrived it was raining (barely). Enough to make us re-think our decision, but it stopped right after we got the tent set up and the fire lit. The only drawback was that it was almost too quiet at night, and every sound was the sound of a bear or mountain lion contemplating ripping open the tent and having a midnight snack.

This is where the tent was, actually very comfortable.

This is where the fire-pit was, very cozy, and you could sit on the big rock to the left.

The sun was shining so brightly that Webb couldn’t open his eyes to see who he was waving to.


First REAL thunderstorm

16 08 2008

Okay, so a clear theme on this blog is the weather. i can’t help it, it is so different here. Last night was what I consider our first REAL thunderstorm in Colorado. There was even a Severe Thunderstorm Warning…exciting!!! At 4am we woke up (I almost always sleep through thunderstorms) to the tap-tap-tttap of hail on the windows and roof. The hail actually lasted for over 2 minutes, long enough to lay in bed, realize what that noise was, marvel at its intensity, get freaked out by the increased intensity, get out of bed and look out the windows and then discover our ceiling leaking on the carpet. NICE…so a perfunctory call to the landlord was made, because HELLO leaking ceiling!!! Don’t worry though, based on the charming water damage spots in the ceiling I knew it was only a matter of time before the ceiling collapsed on us and placed furniture away from the offending spots. One day I will post about all the problems we have had with this house. Thank god for renter’s insurance.

There was enough hail to pile up in places so that it almost looked like snow…in August, shoot me now. The hail was only pea-sized, maybe two peas-sized, coupled with an actual downpour and sufficient lightning. Sorry no photo, I was pretty much focused on making sure we weren’t going to die or suffer property damage, and getting back into bed.

One of the major differences here, is the after-effects of 1-2 inches of rain. Actually even a much lower amount. Because there is no grass, trees, etc. There is a real problem with flash-flooding. Now of course we have that back home, with the occasional creek over-topping its banks, maybe your basement gets flooded or a low lying road is blocked. But out here it is a lot faster, and seem a lot more dangerous. The other day a very small rainstorm washed out an entire roadway near here. Every open field has deep ditch/canyons called arroyos that snake across the land, heck we even have a mini-ditch that runs though our front yard. It’s just that water comes fast and doesn’t have anywhere to go. Plus all the mountains…that too. I will take pictures next time I get a chance.

Tunnel Drive: Trip includes REAL Tunnels

8 08 2008
Tunnel Drive has cacti

Tunnel Drive has cacti, this one stuck out over the trail, it is probably the most common type of cactus in this area.

unnel Drive is actually not a “drive” but a hiking trail. It overlooks the Arkansas River and railroad tracks from the entrance of the Gorge at the west edge of Cañon City to about the 1.1 mile marker into the Royal Gorge. It is a narrow trail, originally constructed as an irrigation ditch that winds its way among the foothills and through three tunnels of solid granite west of the city.

Yesterday I decided to go check it out during the afternoon and take some pictures. Later I took Webb up there to check out some of the scenery. Below is the sign placed at the entrance to the trail head.

I’m intrigued by the rule which states “alcoholic beverages allowed by special permit only.” A little further up the trail you come across this lovely welcome.

There are lots of warnings for this trail

There are lots of warnings for this trail, this one at the entrance was a little disconcerting. "Trail Subject to the Following Hazards, Cave-ins or Land Slides" WHAT?!?!?!

The trail offered scenic views of the river and railroad tracks

The trail offered scenic views, this one is right past the entrance to the trail.

The river and railway

The river and railway, considering the surrounding area, the river area is so green

Grape Creek meets the Arkansas River

Grape Creek meets the Arkansas River

These are the first two MUCH smaller tunnels

These are the first two MUCH smaller tunnels

Tunnel Drive has real tunnels!!!

Tunnel Drive has real tunnels!!! There are no lights in there, it gets pretty dark and windy inside.

Do not throw or roll rocks over the side of trail

Do not throw or roll rocks over the side of trail, entrance to the longest of the three tunnels

Once you get inside the tunnel you walk maybe 150 feet to the exit. Very dark, the following is a photo from about 20 feet inside the tunnel entrance.

Inside the largest tunnel

Inside the largest tunnel

This is a view up the side of the trail.  Dont let the picture fool you its really really far to the top!

This is a view up the side of the trail. Don't let the picture fool you it's really really far to the top!

Rain: Such a Tease

5 08 2008

Today while waiting in the lobby of the Driver’s License office I had a conversation with a rancher from east of town. We started talking about the weather here and how it never rains. Apparently, though not surprisingly, there’s been a drought here for the last nine years. NINE YEARS!!!

Which brings me to the fact that…it never really rains here. One of the most frustrating things about living here is rain. There is lots of lightning and thunder and the occasional sprinkle, but serious ground soaking rains just never seem to happen.

The worst is when you can SMELL the rain, you can see the thunderclouds and the rain coming down off in the distance. It’s coming right for you, and then somehow it doesn’t rain. Or even better, it just rains a few sprinkles on the sidewalk that evaporate immediately and then speeds on out of town.

It has heartlessly threatened to rain here for several days, but still nothing…it actually started to rain here about 10 minutes ago and it’s already stopped. The areas under the trees aren’t even wet and it’s already over. The flip side of this whole complaint is that it is VERY sunny here most of the time and the evenings are enjoyable. Last night after the sun went down we went to get ice cream at Baskin Robbins and sat outside. It was the perfect temperature.

Since I haven’t put up pictures in awhile, here’s a view as you come into town…the big hill/mountain that you see is where Skyline Drive is located.