The weather has become very dramatic for a couple of days. That works for us. We departed Curecanti and drove all of 20 miles to a lush, gorgeous valley near the “town” of Cimarron. The town consists of a post office, a defunct motel that a couple of residents live in, a defunct gas station, and the Newberry Store with a couple of gas pumps, where an older couple share their days with Sadie, a dog that looks like she has some Dingo in her. (I wonder if the town would do better if it changed its name to “Cinnabon”?) The Black Canyon RV Park is a large swath of grass surrounded by ranches and mountains rising up in every direction. It’s one of the first times we’ve ever stopped at a place purely for its beauty. The clouds were beginning to look pretty threatening to the west, but we headed down the packed-dirt-and-gravel Cimarron Road, seeking photographic adventure. That plan came to a quick end. We ate lunch in the car, watching and listening to a thunderstorm go by. We returned to the campground and waited for some better weather.
Because US-50 had some promising aspen stands, we headed back the way we had come after dropping off the Lazy Daze. We had trouble pulling off the road, though, because traffic was heavy and moving fast. Although doable, it’s not a relaxing experience. So I pulled out my trusty Colorado atlas (what a worthwhile acquisition that is to a map-lover) and dug up a dirt road heading toward the mountains – Alpine Plateau Road. Ah…. immediate peace and quiet. The road was curvy and many turns brought nice vistas. I’ve expected to get tired of the yellow of aspens and birch, but it doesn’t happen. Each stand, in its terrain, varies enough that I enjoy looking. We went down the road about 10 miles before deciding to return to the highway. Dinner was not too exciting – the only thing I could get at the Cimarron store was milk.
It sprinkled a few times Monday night, but the campground manager said we wouldn’t have any trouble on the Cimarron Road (CR 858). It connects to Owl Creek Road (CR 860) at the 10,000-foot Owl Creek Pass. The manager said that was no problem either unless there was a lot of snow on the road. So off we went on Tuesday morning. The views were spectacular. We probably stopped to shoot about 25 times over the course of the day. Although we were at 8,000- and 9,000 feet, it was very comfortable. Almost immediately, we could hear elk bugling in the aspen, though we never saw any. And, oh, the wonderful smell of wet sagebrush. The slopes without trees had vegetation that grew in paisley-shaped configurations, creating muted patterns in dark green, brown, dull gold and russet, providing a great counterpoint to the bright aspen areas.
The road took us up to Silver Jack Reservoir, a nice foreground for the mountain crags beyond. Next we were entranced by a very thick aspen forest, with trunks bunched closely together. Then it was Pinnacle Ridge, cliffs that were unlike anything we’ve seen before. Not basalt, I don’t know what they were made of. But the clouds were playing tag in their upper reaches. We ate lunch again in the car, as sprinkles turned to rain.
Luckily, Owl Creek Pass didn’t have any tantalizing viewpoints so we continued down the west side of the mountain as the rain lightened. The light was very soft, so we stopped again, shooting from inside, then outside, the car. We wended our way downwards and then stopped at a turnout that knocked our socks off. It was an alluvial fan of aspens; a flood of green and gold. As we continued our descent, Dave spotted a small area with 3 motorhomes parked, two of which were Lazy Dazes. One of them was an older Burgundy model named “Skylark”. Dave recognized it as belonging to Andy Baird, the moderator of the “Life with Lazy Daze” Yahoo group. Nobody was home, but he left a card with a note on the door. There was then a “Vista Point” pullout, but we gave it a glance and continued on our way. So five hours after starting on Cimarron Road, we pulled onto US-550 and headed for Montrose to do some grocery acquisition before heading back to the RV park. Thanks to the weather and Colorado for another amazing day.