Thursday morning we woke to clouds drifting low in the valley and enveloping the mountains. Helen and Bob cooked us a lovely breakfast and then took us for a drive in their 4WD truck up into the mountains west of their house (which by the way in daylight has turned out to be really nice, in fact we Danes would call it “hyggelig”!). In the beginning the roads were fine, but soon they became narrow, winding, steep and very bumpy with rocks overhanging the road in places. But the road was apparently very popular with tourists who had rented jeeps or ATVs, so it got rather jammed in places that were more difficult to navigate. We had never made it in our own little Mazda and were glad to have Bob at the steering wheel. Along the road we passed several places with building ruins from the mining days, such as Camp Bird, and also a still working mine.
Far up the mountain side we came to a meadow of flowers! A place with a small water fall and lots of different flowers in many colours – some of them we recognized from Danish gardens.
Unfortunately it started to rain while we were admiring the flowers, and it continued to do so on and off for the rest of the day. Back in Ouray we packed our car and said our goodbyes – and see you in Denmark – and drove north over Ridgway to Montrose. While we were looking for a place to have lunch (that wasn’t McDonald’s, Tacobell, KFC or similar fastfood chain!) we discovered that at least one of the town’s real estate agents had a sense of humour, for their had put up an advertising board saying:
“Leaving the country if Trump or Hillary wins? We’ll sell your house.”
Since we didn’t have a house to sell we kept looking for lunch places and found one next to the town’s pawn shop (which is probably where you sell the rest of your stuff before fleeing the country after the election…), namely the Horsefly Brewing Company, where we had some excellent sandwiches (but no beer because we were driving).
The afternoon was spent admiring a big hole in the ground! Or perhaps more of a crack. The Black Canyon of the Gunnison is a very deep canyon with dramatic steep black-grey cliffsides and down at the bottom of the canyon is the Gunnison River – so far down you can only see it in some places. It’s very difficult to get down into the canyon itself, but there were many outlooks along the rim to view it from.
When we had finished admiring the views we drove east on route 50, while it started to rain again and the clouds crept down over the mountains. We filled up with coffee and gas and decided to push on to Salida in spite of the weather. Ole’s playlist with road trip songs were playing on the car stereo, and we enjoyed our next to last vacation day.
The landscape changed several times, from dry empty mountain areas with little vegetation to farming land with isolated farms spread out over the valleys to higher tree-covered mountains. The rain let up a little, but when we drove up through the Monarch pass (11312 feet) it was pouring again, and the pass was completely enveloped in clouds. The continuous rain also made the day cooler than the previous days and in the pass the temperature dropped to 47 degrees Fahrenheit.
We finally reached Salida only to discover that quite a lot of people had beat us to it, so we drove past a lot of “No vacancies” signs. Here also the locals were trying to cheer up tourists and other passers-by by putting up boards saying for example: “If it wasn’t for electricity we’d all be watching television by candlelight”! So cheered we kept searching and finally managed to find a small motel and book their one available room, and in addtion Ole got the Polish owner’s whole life story including everything about his Swedish in-laws, when he checked in!