|Some of the original buildings from the old mining town have been refurbished and we stop to talk with a local resident only to discover that one of their visiting relatives is from our home state of Delaware. They're not only from Delaware but are actually from the same town that Elaine used to live in... it's a small world after all! I walk down to look at the town spring where the owners of the cabin we've come to see have to haul their water from. Fill up a jug and the water does tastes good. It is really ice cold!|
|Stop at the town sign for Jasper and take a photo which shows some of the mountains in the background. This really is a rather scenic area. We take the first right turn onto a dirt road that leads up to the cabin.|
|This road winds about half a mile up the mountain through lots of aspens and I can just imagine how beautiful this must be in the fall. About now I'm thinking to myself... this had better be one spectacular cabin to be worth this long nerve wracking drive. A story that the owners told us over the phone comes to mind... about some people coming to visit them once and saying that they thought it really was beautiful up here but they would never ever come back again.|
|Coming up to the cabin, the first thing we notice is another cabin about 40 feet in front of the front porch. The owner had stated that he couldn't really see the other cabins as they were hidden through the trees but this one is very visible. This is not looking good at all! The owners come down off the porch to greet us as we pull up and one of the steps give way as they step on it. Another bad sign! Talking with the owners of the cabin, they tell us the photos that they had sent us may have been taken when they first had the cabin built about five years ago. Yeah right, now they tell us this!|
|We do look through the cabin and take a few photos of the interior. The kitchen ceiling is only 7 feet high and makes you feel kind of closed in. I walk the half acre property and find the cabin to be built on the front edge of the lot which is what makes it so close to the neighboring cabin. This area is very scenic but we don't feel it would be worth the drive in and out to live up here. The owners are very pleasant people and we visit with them for a while then head back down the mountain. The locals we had visited with on the way in, have recommended trying road #255 from the reservoir down to "BB" road and that to road #15 instead of taking #250 all the way back down as it may be a little smoother ride. I'll try anything to avoid some of the washboard road we had on the way up.|
|Ed and Arlene take photos of us as they follow us back toward civilization. We find "BB" road without any trouble but somehow miss road #15 as I was looking for blacktop and I guess it was dirt where we should have picked it up. We end up on road #11 where we have to take the long way back around to Monte Vista. I wasn't lost... I just took the scenic route! We part with Ed and Arlene at Monte Vista and go to wash some of the dust from the camper at a local carwash. Heading back to Alamosa, we grab some lunch at the Pizza Hut then stop into a local real estate office to inquire about property in the area. They give us some information about an area called Forbes Park near the town of Fort Garland. They say it looks a lot like the Jasper area but is only 3 miles from the blacktop road. Sounds more like it! We'll go there tomorrow to check it out and see what it is like. We head back to the Alamosa KOA and get a campsite for this evening. Set up the laptop and look through all the photos I've taken the last few days and get them named and organized. I haven't had time to work on this journal and it will have to wait till we get back home. Go over to Ed and Arlene's to show our photos and see the ones they have taken. We've decided to pool our food supply and have dinner together tonight at their trailer. After dinner Elaine and I head back to our camper to plan our day tomorrow then get ready for bed. Only 130 miles of driving today but about half of that was bone jarring. Good night!|
7-15-2000 Saturday (day 8) I get up at 6:00 AM, shower, dress and start some breakfast. We have Ed and Arlene over for blueberry buckwheat pancakes and some hot herbal tea. Talk with a neighbor from Oklahoma and exchanged names and address then get things ready to head out for the day. We decide to try to see Forbes Park today.
|Forbes Park is a gated community and we hear that you can only get in with a realtor or a land owner but we'll ride by and see. At 10:40 AM we head east on #160 and pass by a road to the National Sand Dunes... maybe we'll check that out later. Pass through Blanca that has one RV park and one cafe but not much else. A little ways past the town of Fort Garland we turn into the entrance of Forbes Park. The drive back to the gate is about 3 miles of wide dirt road that looks like an interstate compared to the road to Jasper. The art gallery at the gate is open and we speak with the husband of the artist who says they live in the community. Some other land owners come up who are going in to see their property and we inquire if we can go in with them to see the park. They agree and we drive through the park to a picnic that is being held today at one of the homes for all the land owners.|
|The roads through the park are all dirt but fairly well graded and the views as we drive through this park are really impressive. Many mountain views and also valleys with meadows of wild flowers. Pass a lake in the middle of the park and finally arrived at the picnic. Get to meet a lot of the people who live in the park and they all seem very friendly. The park covers about 13,000 acres and has 3300 lots that vary from 1 acre to 5 or 6 acres. About 5,000 acres are designated common grounds and shared by all. There are 50 to 100 homes in the park so far and many of those people own more than one lot. Meet a realtor who lives in the park and we set up an appointment to meet with him on Monday, 9:00 AM at the front gate so we can view some properties.|
|Some lots have phone and electric available and others farther back in the park are off the grid. They have a 600 square foot minimum for building houses and prices of the lots vary depending on views and how close you are to utilities. Mail boxes are at the gate so mail is delivered there and they also have a trash dumpster near the gate. Community dues are $85 a year and that goes for road grading and trash removal. People from all over the world own property in here and something like 20 different nationalities are represented in the park. Leaving the park, we head back west on route #160 where we stop for lunch in a roadside picnic area and fix some tuna salad sandwiches and a cold drink. We then head back to the Alamosa KOA for a third night there. We review our photos from today and I start doing a little work on this trip journal. We fix up some chicken and green beans for dinner then sit outside for a while watching the sun set and the beautiful mountain views.|
7-16-2000 Sunday (day 9) I get up at 5:00 AM to see if the morning sunrise will be as pretty as a few days ago but it turns out to be nothing so I don't bother to wake Elaine. I work on the journal for about an hour till Elaine wakes up. We fix up an omelet with green peppers, tomatoes and onions in it and some hot tea for breakfast. The outside temperature is a very comfortable 50 degrees this morning. We clean up dishes, get ready to go then visit Ed and Arlene to tell them our plans for the day.
|We tell them that we are going to visit the Great Sand Dunes National Monument then take a drive down route #12 which is called the Legends Highway and that we may not be back here tonight but will get together with them on Monday night. Head east on route #160 then north on route #150 which is a good paved road to the Sand Dunes. We are not really too excited about seeing dunes as we live on the east coast and have seen many dunes on the beaches there but people say it is worth a stop. After 17 miles we enter the park for free with my Golden Park Pass... normal fee is $3 per person.|
|The road ends near the base of the Sand Dunes and if you want to get to them, you have to hike across the sand. We hike out onto the edge of the sand but decide not to hike up the dunes after hearing that the round trip is about two miles. These are not dunes as we are used to on the east coast but are more like sand mountains... bigger than any dunes we have ever seen. Very impressive indeed! Take some photos of the dunes and the many people who are taking the long hike to the top on this hot sunny day.|