Trip to Ouray July/Aug 2010

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Just start reading and they will appear. Video links are interspersed....)


For my birthday, Heidi planned a trip to Ouray as the beginning of a two-fold project: 1.) We decided we really needed to get out and see more of the natural beauty of Colorado, and, 2.) More Eva Road trips!


We left on Friday July 30th at about 9:30am. It was warm and sunny and Eva insisted we have her top down. She had plenty of room for all of the luggage and snacks for the six to seven hour ride from Arvada down CO285 and CO550 to Ouray in the South Western portion of the state. CO285 is a shorter route than taking I70, but it is two-lane for the majority of the way so if you get behind a camper, it can be slow going. We were pretty lucky and Eva had enough pep to pass whenever we needed her to. The ride down was nice, but a bit long. Eva ran great and we made pretty good time even with a few stops along the way arriving in Ouray at about 4:00pm. We had beautiful weather until just outside of Ouray when it started to rain so we pulled over to put the top up. Unfortunately the rain would be with us off and on for most of the trip. The mornings were better with the afternoons being pretty wet. We made it to the B&B just as it was starting to rain for good so we quickly unloaded and let Eva nap. We had a nice dinner just off Main street and then off to bed. We were woken up the next morning at 5:30am by the weather sirens. No,... there is almost zero chance there could be a tornado at 5:30am in Ouray... We never did find out just why they decided to wake up the entire town but it did give us an early start.


Some Photos of the drive out:

After a nice breakfast we hopped in Eva for a trip down the "Million Dollar" Highway to Silverton. It is one of the most dangerous roads in the state and also one of the most beautiful. The driving is two lanes cut into the mountain with steep drops and very tight hair-pin curves with no guard rails! Eva was so excited. I have to say it was a challenging road, but super fun. It winds through the Uncompahgre Forest to the summit of Red Mountain pass. When you travel North, you are on the outside of the turns. After about 45 minutes we arrived in Silverton and we stopped at the Information Center. Heidi went inside to see what there was to do and for a quick potty break. Just as she returned and we were starting to pull out, the town Sheriff pull up next to us. We thought maybe we were on the wrong side of the Law, but it turns out that Miss Eva is his dream car! You just can't take her anywhere... She is such a flirt. We didn't spend much time in Silverton because we wanted to also drive to Telluride and the weather was already cloudy with a 60% chance of showers. Anything over 30% is pretty much a given and that held true for the rest of the day...


Here is a video: Eva on the Million Dollar highway and some Photos:

When we returned to Ouray from Silverton, we decided to keep on going and drive straight over to Telluride. It is just on the other side of the mountain from Ouray, but about an hour or so drive around. Along the way we stopped for gas and met four German guys from Stuttgart driving Harleys. Once again Eva batted her eyes and was surrounded by guys whispering sweet things to her in her native tongue. Here we were, Americans driving an iconic German sports car talking to Germans driving iconic American motorcycles.


The sun finally started to come out as we got closer to Telluride and it was getting to be lunch time. We found a nice pub on Main Street and had a nice lunch. We had heard about the gondola ride over the mountain linking the ski runs to Mountain Village (sometimes Colorado isn't all that creative with town names. Look through the photos of the ride back home and you'll see what I mean). It wasn't far so we started to make our way to the boarding area. On the way, as we were walking along a side street, I looked over to see a nice split-window VW Bus. As we passed the bus, tucked behind it was another 356! A '58 coupe in "Outlaw" trim. I recognized it as one I had seen on the 356 forum. The guy who restored it built it out of two or three hulks he got from a junk yard. Amazing work. To show off his work he decided to clear coat the body instead of paint. Eva would have to have her photo next to this car and we did that on our way out of town.


We boarded the gondola a block or two away from the Outlaw and had a very scenic ride with a couple of gals from Peru. Heidi made conversation while I snapped photos. The ride goes up the mountain stopping at the top and then back down the other side to Mountain Village. We actually didn't stay at the Village but got back on the ride and then off at the top of the mountain on the return trip. Right as we did it started to rain. There were a few storms moving in and we thought it might be time to head back. We got back to our side of the base and walked back to pick up Eva. Once we mentioned the other 356, she insisted on a photo together. We drove her over and were taking photos when a guy by the name of Steve walked up and we started chatting about the cars. He knows the owner of the Outlaw and he himself is a Porsche owner. He must have heard Eva's distinctive sound. The rain was getting stronger and stronger so we decided we should head back to Ouray. On the way back it really started to pour. It was so bad in spots that there was quite a bit of mud flowing across the road. Not to mention that the visability was quite poor. All in all Eva did great under less than ideal conditions and delivered us safely back to Ouray. We parked her out back and she went right to bed having earned a good night's sleep. Ouray is also known for the hot springs pool just at the edge of town. It is fed from Box Canyon Falls and the 150deg water is piped across town to fill the large pools. As the water flows from one pool to the next the temperature drops a bit with the last pools being the coolest. It was just a short walk from the B&B so we spent a couple hours in the shallow pools swimming and just relaxing. The view from the water is spectacular with sharp tall cliffs jutting up several hundred feet just across the street. By the end of our soak, the weather was catching up with us and it was starting to sprinkle again. We had dinner plans as well so we headed back to the B&B and got dressed. About 7:00pm, we went out for a steak dinner. The special that night was for a 20oz steak! 20oz? I can eat four, maybe six ounces. That's even too much to split! Heidi asked about the kiddie plates and we each ordered a children's portion of ribs (3), a whole baked potato, and a bunch of veggies - and that was more that I could eat! On the way back to the B&B we stopped in a few shops and came across a shop selling things from Switzerland owned by a nice couple from there. After chatting a bit he asked if we were there to go four-wheeling and we said no, that in fact we had driven from Denver in a vintage Porsche. He looked up and said, the little cream cabriolet? Yeah... You can take folks out of Switzerland/Germany, but... We also found an ice cream/chocolate store and that was our last stop before returning to the B&B after a long, eventful day.


Here are a couple of videos: Heading to Telluride , More along the way

and some Photos:

The next day was our last day and even with a bit of a drive back we wanted to get in a hike around Ouray. One of the neat things about that area is all the natural springs and falls. There are actually two in town: the Box Canyon Falls to the west where the hot springs come from and Cascade Falls on the opposite side of town. Ouray is in a horseshoe bowl with mountains around on three sides. About 1/2 way up all around is a nice hiking trail called the Perimeter Trail. I think it is a few hours to hike the whole distance. We started by walking over to the Box Canyon falls and up the hill to to the top. The falls are tucked into the rock a but, but are quite loud. The rock formations at the top of the falls are over 4 billion years old and people come from all over the world just to see them. They started with an ancient ocean of layer after layer of sediment. Then, millions of years later the land was pushed up so the sediment layers are almost vertical. Then, after millions more years of erosion and change it was once again an ocean and there were more layers of sediment deposited. Once again the land was lifted along a fault line and then the river cut a channel through it exposing all the history. What you see is the vertical strata at the base with a more horizontal, tilted bit on top. I can't imagine what kinds of fossilized critters are locked away in those rocks.



                                                                 Heidi is "Lichen Hikin' "


The rest of the hike was around the southern rim of the bowl all the way around to Cascade Falls on the opposite side. Along the way we crossed a few streams and came across a curious sandstone formation in the stream that looked like it was carved with giant ice cream scoops. They call this the "Baby Bath Tubs". To me it looked like "Giant Ice Cream Scooped Out Rocks in the Stream" area but I don't think that would fit on the trail signs... We also saw lots of pretty flowers and scrub oaks and got a great view looking down on the town. After about two and a half hours, we made it to Cascade Falls and worked our way down for a closer look. There isn't a lot of water through the falls so it is very soft and misty. The water is then captured in a concrete spill way and runs across town through a channel. When we arrived on Friday the falls and the stream were chocolate, gray brown with run off and sediment. Fortunately, on our walk the water had cleared up and I got some nice photos of the falls and the different colored rocks in the base.


After walking back to town we stopped by a sandwich place and had lunch until, you guessed it, it started to rain again. We needed to get moving anyway so we headed back to the B&B to collect everything and get Eva warmed up for the trip home.


Here are some Photos:

For the trip back home we decided to take a different route and go North to just east of Grand Junction to pick I70. I thought the scenery would be a little dull, but the mesas are really something in that area and the interstate winds right through them. I think I saw a sign that read: "Mesas, Mountains, and Memories". Cheesy, but true... The actual distance is a tad longer, but the roads is two lanes each way and the speeds are 70+mph. When we left Ouray it was spitting rain, but it quickly cleared and was actually pretty hot in Montrose just before I70. We headed out of Ouray on CO550 for about an hour before getting on I70 and we started to make great time. For this stretch Heidi was at the helm and I was snapping photo after photo as well as taping more segments of "Eva Road Trip Moments". We wound our way past the majestic mesas and mountain ridges as Eva purred along with her top down warmed by the afternoon sun (behind us fortunately!). After a few hours we started to close in on Vail pass on our way to the Eisenhower Tunnel. We saw some signs about delays but were hoping they were not current. The sun disappeared and the sky started to darken so we pulled over and put the top up. Good thing as it started to rain and it got very wet soon after. As we approached the tunnel, traffic slowed to a crawl. Now, in a fifty year old car with the original 98Kmi clutch at close to 9000', stop-and-go is a bad thing - especially up hill! Eva persevered and we finally got to the tunnel to find it stopped for the next 20min. What we didn't know was that the traffic was even worse on the other side and they didn't want to asphyxiate the drivers by trapping them in the 1.7 mile hole in the mountain. The temp was around 50deg and the rain fell softly as Eva puttered at idle waiting for the traffic to resume. After we stared back up all was moving along quite well throughthe tunnel until shortly after we exited. From then on it was slow and go. At least this time it was all down hill. The brakes and clutch got a work out as we inched down the next 30 miles or so adding a hour and a half to our long trip. So, note to self: No traveling on Sunday! Saturday, ok; Monday, better; Sunday bad!. After about 40 miles or so the road opened up to three lanes and traffic went back up to 70-80mph down 7% grades as we neared Denver. That is where drivers get nutty. They are tired, late, frustrated, and super cranky and have the additional thrust of traveling down steep grades. Not to mention it was still sprinkling a bit. I let all the nutty ones race ahead and was happy not to see a whole pile of them in the ditch at the bottom. I guess that is also one of the differences between a vintage car and a modern car: Breaks and tires and suspension have improved so much in the last 50 years that folks have become a bit over confident in their abilities on the road. Eva helps bring you back to Earth and helps you respect the speeds and the conditions you are driving in. Ok,... that and she is super fun to drive and goes around corners really well...


We all arrived back at home safe and sound just before dusk and Eva got a well deserved rest. She also got a through bath the next day. After all, she had a beauty contest the next weekend and she wanted to look her best.


Thanks for reading (a LOT of text if you made it this far!) and I hope you enjoyed coming along for the ride.


Stay tuned for more Eva Adventures and more Eva Road Trip Moments!


Here are a couple of videos: Leaving Ouray , Just Past Grand Junction

and some Photos: