Million Dollar Highway to Cimarron

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Doesn’t that sound like an old western? The Million Dollar Highway to Cimarron?

Well it certainly didn’t feel like an old western. Highway 550, aka the Million Dollar Highway, should be called the take your breath away highway. Every turn, every hairpin, every ascent brings a view that is more beautiful than the last.  And the lack of guardrails? Don’t let that scare you, Jim was driving (very safely I might add) while I was leaning into curves like he was driving in the Daytona 500.

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It is a spectacular drive.  If you have the opportunity to experience it, do it. It is one you will not forget. We picked it up just outside the campground and followed its twisty winding path through Ouray and into Montrose.

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Ouray,CO
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Ouray, the Switzerland of Colorado
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Ouray

Jim fell in love with Montrose and its people. He started making me a little nervous watching him intently reading the real estate books. It seems that he has added Montrose to places we could move to, along with Bend,OR and Bozeman, MT.  It is a lovely town but too big for me after being spoiled by the solitude of Greenbank, WA.

It was a hoot when Jim discovered the ranger at BLM was from Pittsburgh,PA- go Steelers. He gave a couple of referrals as to where to head to get away from the Labor Day crowds. More on that later.

We ended up checking into Cedar Creek RV resort, right in town. Caught up on our laundry; only wasted a little water taking long hot showers and plotted our next adventure.

Remember those access passes we left behind, well we figured we would buy an annual one for 20$ to get us through this trip. Wrong, the BLM only allots a small amount to each office and Montrose was sold out. Oh well,still working on this issue.

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Yum, mixed berry cream cheese on a Backstreet Bagel

We left a Montrose in the morning but not before two fly fishing store stops and one bagel shop stop. If you ever find yourself in Montrose do yourself a favor and stop at Backstreet Bagels. Whatever type of bagel you get ( they are all delicious), make sure you get a container of the mixed berry cream cheese. So fluffy, creamy and filled with berries, it’s like dessert but better.

So armed with our bagels and luscious cream cheese we headed towards our next stop-The Black Canyon of the Gunnison.  Oh oh, no access passes, would he make us pay full price! Nah he said we looked honest and waived us through after we told our sad story.  Stupid us, we found out later we could have bought the annual pass from him! You would think that we have never been on the road before. Surfers have a name for rookie inexperienced surfers-Kook. Do campers have something similar?

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The Black Canyon of the Gunnison was amazing. Even more amazing was its story. Surveyors and all of their equipment, including mules, were lowered down into the canyon on ropes-can you even imagine that-unbelievable !

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After spending the day hiking and driving the canyon we decided we better head towards our next stop, somewhere along the Cimarron River. It was about 40 miles east of Gunnison. The road into the area was mostly gravel and hard packed dirt. The 30 mile drive in on the road was so serene and beautiful. Until you get 30 miles in you are bordered on both sides by huge private ranches. Driving through tall stands of cottonwoods along the creek, or open valley with towering mountains up ahead-I’m loving this gorgeous state.

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We finally arrived at BLM land where dispersed camping was allowed. We did our Goldilocks thing again and finally settled on an open meadow surrounded on all sides by towering pinnacles. Lots of sun for solar, only one other camper around the bend from us and hidden by the willows and best of all fencing that kept out the grazing cattle! 

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We were at about 12000 feet elevation, needless to say the evenings were starting to have a little chill on them. Perfect cool nights for me to try a new “quick” Pho recipe. And it was perfect, hot and spicy and took the evening chill off both of us. (Recipe at the end of this blog)

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We had planned on staying here through Labor Day but we both agreed (after a little convincing on my part) that mooing cows were not the wilderness experience we were looking for. So off we go into the Wild blue yonder. We are heading to Gunnison, then Crested Butte in search of Highway 12 over Keebler Pass and dispersed camping at Lost Lake. You don’t want to miss this catastrophe, err I mean adventure!

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Safe travels, happy trails  and may you only hear the sounds of wild nature, not domesticated cows!

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20-Minute Chicken Pho-Recipe courtesy of The Woks of Life 

This delicious chicken pho recipe tastes like you’ve simmered it for hours, but it can be prepared in just 20 minutes, with a few simple ingredients. This makes enough for 4 servings. Mine didn’t turn out as pretty as The Woks of Life, my herbs froze !  But it still was delicious !

Ingredients

  •  2 quarts chicken broth
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, sliced
  • 2 red chilies, sliced
  •  ¼ cup fish sauce
  •  1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts, thinly sliced
  • salt and pepper
  •  2 tablespoons oil
  •  12 oz. dried pho noodles-I used rice noodles and they were a good substitute
  •  A handful of fresh bean sprouts
  • A handful of fresh mint
  •  a handful of fresh cilantro
  •  a handful of Thai basil-Italian basil is fine if you can’t find Thai
  •  Lime wedges

Instructions

1. Bring a pot of water to a boil for your noodles. Also bring the stock to a boil in a medium pot, along with the ginger, chilies, fish sauce, and sugar. Simmer for 15 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, season the chicken with salt and pepper. In a skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over high heat. Sear the chicken, and set aside.

3. While that’s happening, boil the noodles according to package instructions. Divide the noodles among 4 bowls. Divide the broth and the chicken amongst the bowls, and garnish with bean sprouts, mint, cilantro, and basil.

4. Squeeze over some lime juice, and add more fish sauce if desired.

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