Grand Junction, Palisade, Rifle Gap, Hanging Lake, Glenwood Springs

This weekend we went all the way across the state to do some camping, wine tasting, and hiking. It was fun!  

We took I70 which goes all the way up to 12,000 feet in elevation. I didn’t get as much altitude sickness as I usually do, so yay. We went thru the mile and a half tunnel, too. Scary.

We stopped at Starbucks in the AM on the first day and in the AM on the second day. They have a thing where if you get a drink in the AM you can get another one in the PM for 2 bucks. I didn’t have my receipt but I bet they would have let me get a 2 dollar drink on day three even tho I didn’t go there in the AM that day. They’re usually pretty nice that way.

Anyhow it was raining on and off the whole trip so we didn’t have huge hopes of being able to sleep outside.

We wanted to go to Rifle Falls State Park but all the spots were taken by the time we got there. So we stayed at Rifle Gap instead. It was pretty flat but had a nice lake that people were boating and skiing and all that on. It wasn’t all that crowded either which was nice.

This is a little path from the campground to the lake. It was threatening to rain so I wore my slicker!

 Our camp site:

The view from our campsite:

I made this yummy steak salad before we left and we ate it when we got to the campground. It was delish.

I also made “magic dream bars” or as DM calls them, “fantasticos”. You know, those things with the sweetened condensed milk, chocolate chips, graham grackers and coconut. We bought a tent before we left but we figured it would rain and we might have to sleep in the car, which of course we did. DM is gonna seal it better before next time.
We also didn’t get to have a campfire that night but since it was clear the next morning we had one then. We had hot dogs (yummy from Whole Foods) and smores for breakfast…:)

After we left the campground we went over to Grand Junction which is right on the border with Utah. Totally different climate from most of the rest of Colorado. Very desert-ish. Also full of orchards and wineries.  Palisade actually has the orchards and wineries.

We stopped at  Carlson Vineyards and did a tasting. It was really good so we bought a bottle. There was a big wedding party there but the people in charge made sure we were also taken care of.

I had read that this winery had a kitty cat for a mascot which is why I wanted to go to it. I guess they have three cats now. This guy was a kitten and very fierce. Here he is attacking a frog. DM saved the frog and it peed on his hand. Then we realized the cat probably wouldn’t actually hurt the frog. He really seemed to enjoy his life at the winery running all in and out of the vines, chasing hapless smaller animals, etc.

We also stopped at a bunch of peach orchards and bought peaches and other fruit. AND a pie. A homemade blackberry pie from Ranch Fruita Country Store. This woman makes them out of her industrial kitchen that’s attatched to her house. Her husband was hanging out on the porch in a rocking chair. Hee hee. says this about them: “Lloyd and Betty Tidwell prepare and sell pies and jerky at Rancho Fruita. Betty bakes pies reminiscent of Grandma’s and the jerky is quite tasty and made from the eye of a round steak.”
We didn’t try the jerky but I wish we had!

Later we went down to a little lake by the winery and DM did some fishing while I read a book and drank some wine. He doesn’t like to eat the fish so he puts them back in once he gets them. He cast his line out and not 10 seconds later he had caught one! Fish freak me out so I didn’t get a picture of it. About an hour later a storm blew in all crazy so we had to leave.

After that we went to a The Ale House and had dinner. It was PACKED. I guess they don’t have a recession in Grand Junction. DM had a flatiron steak and I had fried chicken which really wasn’t fried chicken, it was more like a fried chicken breast. It was good tho and the mashed potatoes and string beans were awesome. Sorry no pics, I forgot the camera.

The next day we went on a hike. And not just any hike. 2.5 miles round trip. Fine. But we gained 1000 feet in elevation in a mile and a quarter. OMG I had to stop like 20 times. We felt lame because pregnant women and old ladies wearing sandals were passing us. Not really . They were coming down tho, so we know they made it up there. Maybe they had to stop 30 times. I dunno. Even tho it was clear and sunny when we left I knew better- this is Colorado! I brought my slicker again. And sure enough it rained before we even got to the top. I didn’t need to wear the slicker cuz it was actually pretty nice to have the rain while hiking in the hot. But I was glad to have it tied around my waist to protect my denim shorts (doh) from getting soaked.

Partly it was so hard because it was so steep but also because it was really rocky as you can see here.

But this was at the top. It’s called Hanging Lake and some special columbines (CO state flower) that only grow there were in bloom. The lakebed is travertine which is neat. And why it’s so clear and blue. While we were hiking up, a train went by way at the bottom of the canyon but it was sooo loud because of the echo. It sounded like it was coming right at us!

Because we didn’t have enough hiking to get there, we hiked another 300 yards to get up to the top and behind some other falls that feed the main falls.

This is the “staircase” to get up and down to the actual lake. Yea. It’s steep. Pretty view tho.

After that insanity we needed a cheeseburger at Vicco’s Charcoal Burger. Since it’s Colorado, even the little stands have buffalo burgers, which I had and it was AWESOME.

We mostly drove back along I70 again (I hate doing this!) and it was super pretty. It follows the Colorado and Eagle Rivers the whole way. You can see the river better from this side of the road than the other. It’s fun to watch the kyackers and rafters and stuff on the river. And the canyons are steep and rocky and really pretty.

Stopped at Starbucks in Edwards. It’s a funky little town. Seems like it’s all new but made to look old. DM hated it. I thought it was kind of charming. Also, I had forgotten till we got there and took a wrong turn and ran across Larkburger. I’ve been wanting to go there! Funny too cuz as we were sitting at the other place I was remembering I had read about Larkburger. I couldn’t remember it’s name or where it was but I had the feeling it was nearby. Oh well, maybe next time.

When we got back home we were FINALLY able to have a slice of the pie we bought. It was delish!