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August 18, 2014

the road into Ridgway and pictures of the town and the park





Ridgway Grocery


Ridgway Colorado is a very pretty town. In the research I had done before taking off on my great adventure to Colorado... thinking that I would relocate... I had checked out several small towns that appealed to me. After quite a bit of research I had really found Ridgway to be a great place to settle.

Ridgway is a Colorado Creative District and received a grant to promote and encourage their resident artists. The town has preserved its old town buildings and has carefully controlled the influx of modernization on their community. The town mayor is a young long-haired man and the town has active participation in its own politics and regulations.

The thing that I discovered that I did not like about Ridgway was... the microwave communications tower that sits on top of the fire station in downtown Ridgway. When I saw this on Google street view... I was taken aback... and decided to learn more about the hazards of microwave towers. They are not safe. There are cities in Europe that are beginning to regulate the locations of these.

If I moved to Ridgway... I'd want to live away from town. I was so put off by this that I had marked it off of my Colorado trip. I did not like driving in the mountains, and the more I drove in the mountains... the less I liked it. If I had found a decent place to camp safely... I might not have gone to Ridgway at all.

Once I arrived... I loved the town instantly. I met no zombies... like the ones in Rico. The town was clean... and there was a city police force that sat along the street available and watching. I had asked at the Tourist Center about camping but got little help. So... I stopped and asked the young policeman sitting in his vehicle.

I had seen on Google street view some pull-outs along the road that runs by the river, and I wondered if camping was allowed anywhere along there. He told me no... that it is all private property. He recommended a RV camp a couple of miles south that was a very nice place. Well... I was looking for free dispersed camping... in the National Forest.

The closest dispersed camping was several miles north, and so I set out to find it.
I took the turn off from the highway and thought that the drive would not be far... that the maps showed it fairly close to the highway. It was not a short drive... and the further I drove... the deeper I got into bear country. There were farms and ranches all along the drive, but the directions kept me going further and further into the hills.

A red jeep approached and I waved at it to stop. I asked how far it was to the camping sites. They weren't camping. They were on a day jaunt in their jeep... having come from Oklahoma to ride the high country. I had seen videos of these jeepsters... and you do really have to love danger and adventure to go on these jaunts.

A little further on... and ANOTHER ROAD SIGN. I turned around and headed back towards Ridgway. The lady at the Tourist Office mentioned that Ouray had dispersed camping close to town, and it wasn't a hard drive to get there. So... I set off south towards Ouray.

On the south side of Ouray is the turn-off to the dispersed camping areas. There are several developed camps, and then further on you can camp anywhere. The road was not EASY DRIVING. It was quite steep. And the camps were miles away from the highway. I finally found the first pay camping sites. I drove in to see what was there and immediately found a hill so steep that I didn't dare try to climb it. You needed four-wheel drive to get up that hill.

I turned around... barely... in the narrow road... and headed back. I did not want to drive any further on that road... for any camp. Back in Ouray, I stopped at a gas station that was also a small motel. I asked the ladies inside... about any place I could park for the night... any place. By now... it was getting towards dusk.

They told me about the Amphitheater Camp... and said it was the best camping in Ouray. So... I headed back south... thinking I would camp anywhere... anywhere. The turn-off to the amphitheater was steep, so I went on towards the pay camps. The road in the camp was also too steep... and the campsites were very close to the road. I wouldn't take my van down there.

It was dark when I got back to the highway... and I turned left to go back to Ouray. I drove for a few miles... hmmmm... I didn't remember a tunnel on the way up here. A few miles more... another tunnel. I looked for road signs on either side of the road. Finally... a road sign... and it wasn't for Ouray. I took the chance that... yes, I was going the wrong way... and turned around.

A few miles on... or was it 10 miles... I saw the sign to the amphitheater... on the right hand side of the road. In the dark, I had turned left... away from Ouray. Soon... I found myself looking down at the town. But... my adventure was not quite over.

I went back to the gas station where I had talked with those nice ladies... hoping that they might let me park back by the cabins for the night. I was now a traveler in distress... at least I felt that way. I did not want to be driving in the mountains in the dark... not at all. I turned into the station... pulled along the front near the office... got out of my van... and heard a huge crashing out on the highway.

I steppd inside. "Did you hear that crash? Someone has had a wreck." The lady hadn't heard it, but stepped back outside with me. Laying in the highway was a large dog. As we got closer, we saw a woman pulling something large off of the road... a huge plastic bumper off of a large vehicle.

We three women stood discussing this situation. The dog was too large to pick up and remove from the road. As I got nearer... I could see the dog still fighting for his life... still breathing and in pain. I was afraid to approach it. The bumper lady instructed us to not touch the dog... and began to call the police. The motel lady went back into her office.

As luck would have it... a police jeep came down the highway towards us. We waved, but he turned the other way and drove off up a hill. I stood on the side of the road... directing traffic around the dog. The bumper lady called her Sirius... "I need the number for Ouray police." And a voice came back... with the number to call.

She and I stood talking while we waited for a police officer to help with this. She was a very nice woman in a very nice car... dressed for business. The bumper did not come off of her car... she had hit it driving back to town after a meeting. I'm thinking... if I hadn't turned into the gas station... it would have been me who ran over that darn bumper.

I told her about myself looking for a place to camp, and she scolded me for not staying at the amphitheater camping... "the best place to camp in Ouray." The police officer finally returned back down the hill and came to help us. He put plastic gloves on before handling the dog, which was very heavy... and now dead.

The lady at the motel/gas station was as nice as she could be... even called the owner to see if I would be allowed to park overnight. But... no. I headed back towards Ridgway, and the RV camp that the Ridgway policeman recommended to me.

The lady at the camp office was very nice... recommended a place away from the noise of the highway... back by the showers. SHOWERS!!! And she only charged me $10. They were pay showers... but the water was hot... and I had lots of quarters.

the showers, and where I parked at night

the lane in the RV park, and the cute cabins

I stayed nights at this spot for the next few nights... but I was going broke fast. I spent the days in town... at the park or at the library... then camped at the RV camp at night. I was not feeling well. It had started at Telluride... where I began feeling dizzy... and it hadn't gone away. I was suffering altitude sickness... and it was worrying me that it wasn't improving. I needed to get back lower a couple of thousand feet. I needed to leave Ridgway.

August 21, Back to Oklahoma

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