Friday, July 22, 2011

The Great Divide

 There's no connection to the GPS, Internet, and we didn't have a map!

Steve is stopping so much along the way and on the switch-backs of these mountain roads there are not many turn-outs. I can just bet we stop at everyone of the ones available, to the ire of everyone trying to get to work. Or...maybe they're glad we're getting outta' the way. Steve keeps saying on this part of our journey that there are too many people wanting to get by us, but I know he wants more pictures. Colorado is nothing compared to what he's seen before. Oh, and he's probably right about the build-up of cars and trucks behind us.

There's all this traffic because someone's trying to get to work and this car, with Utah plates, meaning ... YES! understood, it's us and we're just cruising along sightseeing. We really cuss them around Santa Paula, California -- Mormon cuss. (we don't use bad words or try and even have bad words in our minds) We still get very aggravated when a sightseeing Sunday driver goes 25 miles an hour up Ojai Road, and I'm trying to get home. I feel everyone's pain as they fly by us in the Camery. Now if we were in the FJ, people would be thinking we were looking for a side road, a shelf road to run-out on and get some of those "Colorado Pin-Stripey"

The town we are closest is Salida and we have to stop so I can walk around. I felt like I couldn't even move to get out of the car. I was light-headed, spinning, I couldn't get enough air. I really thought I might be having an asthma attack with my car-sickness. And then this little sign on the side of the road caught my eye and it said something like the elevation around 13,000 feet. I didn't write it down so I don't remember exactly. There you go. I was altitude sick, that was it. Just like all the other times I've been to Colorado and up camping near Shasta. I didn't notice the climb because it was so gradual and I was looking at everything and trying to keep track of my pictures.

We stopped at a local restaurant called the County Bounty for an early dinner and I nibbled, but the walking around at their tourist junk helped me the most. I was better and the Tylenol was kickin' in with my headache. Why don't I remember these things? We walked-out of the diner and it was raining so hard with these huge drops and it was still really warm. I just wanted to stand there and soak it up. It was 85 degrees and going from 106 degrees it felt really wonderful. It seemed fake. Hard to explain big drops of rain, but it's still hot.

This is where I was writing stuff down about our trip and I became so sick. Lime Chips, dry potato chips with lime and salt flavoring, are my only hope with a few baby, chewable, Tylenol. No one carries Lime Chips out in Colorado. They're a California-Mex junk food. I think the last one I had was out in Needles, California on this trip. Maybe that's a good thing, because even one small bag will make me gain one pound, that's a sure proven fact and I hated that I came back from Arizona, out seeing my daughter Larin and her family, every single time, I ended up with six extra pounds and that's exactly how many of those little bags that I had eaten.

I Know...too many pictures. But this looked so unusual.

The Longest Lake Ever! And a very Long Bridge

We headed-out, I think down the mountain. Like ... I guess, on the other-side of the Continental Divide. Remember, I'm sick. We started taking pictures right-away and began to notice that these places were honestly those "Kodak Moment" places. Might as well had that sign posted because a person could eaisly see where everyone stood for their picture with the old mine in the background, or the gorge, or the rocky colorful peak, and cliff.

July 18th...still

We drove into Gunnison and then everything started looking familiar. I saw the Black Gorge (been there, before) and everything was there and almost looked just the same. There's more farms and houses, but the land, it's the same as 43 years ago. There was Montrose were my great grandmother retired and also near her first home when Grandma Martha Loepp McKean and Richard Winslow McKean had arrived from the ranch out in Adair, Oklahoma.

Upper Dallas or The McKean Ranch
 The place was called Maple Grove and no one knows about it. The town of  Maple Grove must have "swallowed it up" by the town of Montrose, now.

I think this is Ridgway coming back from the Dallas
 This is also where she lived while I knew her. I remember her helping a man write the "little green book" of our Loepp ancestor's genealogy and I believe it was one of her nephews, the family name was Englehorn. We couldn't eat on her diningroom table because it was filled with papers as she was writing to all the family back in Germany and Poland. It was called East and West Prussia when she lived there as a little girl. She was the only one left in the family that could write them, because she spoke German, other family members spoke French, and then maybe Polish and she could write and speak all of those. I was taking French in seventh grade and she helped me one evening when she was in Santa Paula when my Grandma O'Connor has passed-away. She was so happy I was taking French, that she giggled. She told me to not take German. I didn't tell her there wasn't a German class offered.  Grandma McKean came to California just a couple times and one of those times it was during WWII. My mom's family lived in Santa Rosa, California, where there are tons of apple orchards. Grandma McKean went out to the back-fence where my mom's family lived, and where the apple field started and talked a long time to all the Prisoners of War that were from Germany and picking apples. Mom was in high school and she said that the prisoners were so handsome. My grandmother, her mother, had to keep pulling her inside while they were out there, she was just gazing at Germans.

My great grandmother didn't like Germans in general, but she felt for the young men and asked them about her homeland. Her family had left their home just in time. I suppose they had heard rumors about lands and farms being seized by the government, so they took all their things, sold them, or gave them to other family members and left. They still made money on their farm, so they had more money than others when they came to this country and were able to buy a home and start buying ranches. I know she loved Colorado, but it was a hard life and without her husband there, she was very lonely without him.

I couldn't find her house on 4th Street, in Montrose and that's probably good. It would have made me sad, because she had such a cute house. Uncle Dan told mom that the place, now was really run-down with the porch falling off the house and everything. hahahaha That sounds familiar. Our porch is falling off our house!

My great grandmother had a huge garden and never quit working in it. She had her mind and kept very busy. She wrote me and letter and sent a card just before she passed-away for my graduation and sent me a white Bible that she wanted me to carry when I was married. I keep my Patriarchal Blessing in the that Bible. The only time I every had Rhubarb pie was at her house. I could gain weight Rhubarb pie, for sure.

Just after we had driven through Gunnison, I told Steve that the places that we're going out to see in Colorado are now going to be the most beautiful places you have ever seen in your life. The one that will be forever the prettiest place he's ever been, will be my great grandmother's and grandfather's place. It'll be the most beautiful of all. As usual with all my carrying-on about it, I don't think he actually believed me. I knew Steve will get to see one of the most photographed mountain ranges in the United States, Mount Sneffles. Actually, by locals, it's Mt. Sniffles. Every time someone talks about Ralph Lauren's place there, mom laughs because the news or interviewers all say Sneffles like Snuffleupagus.

I told mom, "What do you expect when a guy from back east changes the pronunciation of the word CHAPS! It's not CHAPS, like your's phonetically, "SCHAPS". My Grandpa Wellman made them for the early cowboy movies. And as a tailor, altogether he made chaps for over 60 years, so there you go. I guess people can call different items however they want, but it's still not right. Especially, for the Western Cowboy, Cowgirl folks.

I talked Steve into going down to Ridgway before we stayed the night in Montrose. We had planned to go the next morning, but I couldn't wait. All the way, I'm taking pictures of barns, mesas, mountains, campgrounds? There's a lake in Ridgway that wasn't there before ... and did we pass Colona? That's a town? The last time I was there it was only a cemetery. Oh, there's Ridgway! *tears*

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