Sunday, July 8, 2012

Back To Gunnison

Our unplanned return to our absolutely favorite place has been a special treat. It's hard to believe we're leaving already. The time has passed so quickly. The lovely Gunnison Valley has been a welcome respite from the fires across Colorado. We've been tracking the progress of the fires near Fort Collins and Colorado Springs, and are so pleased to report both fires are fully contained. Three cheers for the brave firefighters!

We've explored Gunnison from all angles during the past few weeks. This view from high atop Hartman Rocks shows how lush and green the valley is. Isn't it beautiful? Can you see why we like it here?

The smoke from distant fires provided a few dramatic sunsets during our stay. We were so thankful the fires were hundreds of miles away.

Besides the natural beauty of the place, one of the things we love about Gunnison is its nice assortment of local eateries. For a small town, Gunnison has some mighty nice places to grab a bite. We hit all of our regulars, but tried a few new spots, too. Tic Toc Diner has become one of our favorite breakfast spots.

They say Gunnison is a great place to raise kids. We wouldn't argue. We caught up with our little friends Sam and Grady and attended one of Sam's baseball games and one of Grady's t-ball practices. This is the first year Grady and his teammates are playing t-ball, so practice was especially entertaining. The coaches were great. We giggled during this lineup. The coach was saying, "Eyes on me!" Notice where all of his charges are looking?

Gunnison is a town that knows how to have a good time, especially in Summer. We're sad that we'll miss the annual Cattleman's Days festivities and the USA Pro Cycling Challenge later this month. But, we were fortunate to catch the July 4th fun, which started bright and early with a hot air balloon rally.

The colors were presented by balloon, of course. While the national anthem played, the balloon lifted off and unfurled the American flag. It was a special way to start the day.

We've been to balloon rallies before, but never have we been able to get up close and personal with the balloons and their pilots. It was worth getting up really early for!

Dozens of balloonists participated in the rally. These "twin" balloons were especially fun to watch.

With calm winds, blue skies and cool temperatures, it was a perfect morning to fly.

We chased the balloons across town to the other side of the Gunnison-Crested Butte airport. The balloons did touch and goes across the airfield as they shared the sky with a plane or two.

We've done quite a bit of geocaching during our stay. This particular cache was quite pesky. We looked much longer than we should have but finally found this well-hidden treasure.

We made a return trip to Crested Butte in hopes of seeing wildflowers. Last year, this landscape was covered in a multi-colored carpet of brilliant flowers. We're a few weeks earlier this year, so the wildflowers were a bit tougher to spot. Still, the views along Gothic Road are stunning.

Even though we had to look a bit harder to find them, the early wildflowers were beautiful.

When the wildflowers reach their peak in a few weeks, this is not expected to be a banner year. The lack of moisture that has contributed to the wildfires across the state is evident here, as well. These side-by-side shots were taken along Gothic Road near Emerald Lake. On the left, is the view from July 2011. The shot on the right was taken in late June this year. It's definitely been a mild winter. For our friends that are familiar with this area, we walked across the nearly non-existent snow plug easily and hiked on to Emerald Lake. During two trips we made to the area last Summer, the trail was impassible.

July 1st marks the start of the monsoon season in Colorado. And, the afternoon rains were especially welcome this year. I made good use of the time inside and began to assemble the thirty gazillion granny squares I've crocheted into a patchwork afghan. (Most newbie crocheters take on an easy project. But, not me!)

The afternoon rains also brought welcome cooler weather to Gunnison. During most of our stay, the daytime temperatures were well into the 80s, which is warm by Gunnison standards. This is more like it, and definitely better than the temperatures that are scorching much of the nation. If you're looking for a place to cool off in the Summer, at 7,700 feet, Gunnison fills the bill!

We've spent much of today packing up and getting the moose and squirrel ready to leave our comfy spot here in Gunnison. Tomorrow, as we head back over Monarch Pass, we'll be counting the days until we can return to our favorite little town.


Phyllis said...

So glad to hear those terrible fires are contained.

Paul and Marti Dahl said...

Very glad that those fires stayed away from you. Bullwinkle wouldn't look too good with his antlers singed! :c)

Sue and Doug said...

safe travels as you continue onward!!..nice to hear that the fires are contained!

Joe said...

Nice photos of the balloons. Enjoyed the blog.