Continental Divide…….#225 (the 90’s)

Reaching the summit

Traversing Highway 50 once again, the Buick Skylark reaching a summit on the Continental Divide,  Monarch Pass,  revered as one of Colorado’s most scenic overlooks.   The Willson’s halting their progression at the visitors center,  a gift shop and small restaurant,  the family taking notice of the aerial tram for those wanting to acknowledge the cable journey across the canyon to Monarch Ridge.   Everyone finding a brief refreshment pause in the prevailing thin Colorado air environment, acknowledging the postcard scene exposition, Gary not comfortable at the 11,312 ft elevation,  relief coming with the resuming   downhill experience toward Gunnison, their westward journey continuing.

The view just past the summit of Monarch Pass


Crested Butte

The city and county of Gunnison Colorado named for John W Gunnison,  a surveyor for the Pacific Railroad in 1853, his demise coming from the Indians of the Ute Tribe resenting the intrusion in their majestic domain,  the Tomichi Valley,  a disposition of the marvelous expanse of Gunnison Colorado.  The scenic wonder of Gunnison,  nestled at 7,200 ft,  the Gunnison river not a rival to the white water Arkansas River which the Willson’s having witnessed on their Highway 50 travels.  The smaller river journeying through the wide-spreading  Gunnison Tomichi valley giving  a presence of serenity.   The Gunnison Super Eight Motel lodging accommodating Gary and his family for the next day travel to the hamlet of Crested Butte,  a small scenic community 30 miles north of Gunnison.  Crested Butte,  primarily a winter activity center for those aspiring in winter athletics,  sporting lodges and ski lifts, the pronounced presence of 12,162 ft.  Mt. Crested Butte overlooking the community and the sloping 2.6 mile ski run.   The township of less than 1200 in populace,  dotted with small shops,  Gary finding an atmosphere reminiscing of the Hippies communities from the bygone era of the sixties.

Quiescence of the Gunnison River

Main Street - Highway 50 in Gunnison

Main Street – Highway 50 in Gunnison

The return to Gunnison on Highway 135 acquainting the commencement of the Gunnison River,  a confluence of the Taylor tributary from Crested Butte and the East River tributary,  coalescing at the town Almont 15 miles north of Gunnison.   The River flowing southwest then making a horseshoe turn, changing direction and flowing northwest entering the Colorado River at Grand Junction.   Jan and the family having acknowledge the many river rafting enterprises on their return from Crested Butte, discovering an opportunity to stop and inaugurate a new experience,  white water rafting.   The sign read Scenic River Tours,  Gary halting the Buick’s journey to inquire,  recognizing Robert and Sandra excitement starting to blossom with expectation.   The world of river rafting an unknown to the family,  the explanation of white water rafting being discerned,  a type 1 voyage being a gently float down a river,  advancing in scale to a white water type 5 perspicacity, requiring experience to work as a crew member,  able to adhere to the instructions of the guide.   The juncture of the Gunnison river,  its flow towards  the town,  a rafting category type 3 venture,  not a floating experience but in respect not a hazardous white water type 5 encounter.  The Willson’s boarding the raft,  life jacket adorned taking their rowing positions,  listening to the commands of the experienced helmsmen,  able to absorb the beauty of the countryside and the enhancement of the sparkling clear brisk moving river.   The 45 minutes of passage,  an onstage presentation of Colorado’s natural beauty,  the quiescence experienced,  the roar of the river,  then a calmness,  the silence of serenity,  the presence of the husbandry of nature,  the charisma of the river removing the thoughts of the quotidian world.   Gary subliminally making a mental note,  experiencing the gleam in his children’s eyes, his own countenance, this first experience of rafting would not be their last.

Blue Mesa Reservoir

Again the westward journey  began,  the Willson’s departing Gunnison,  Highway 50 still a bulwark of progression,  another two hours would find their destination.   The high altitude plains of Colorado and Blue Mesa Reservoir before them,  the largest body of water in Colorado,  Gary never having experienced a 36 mile long reservoir,  the highway paralleling the seemingly endless body of water,  its presence a pause in the flowing Gunnison river.   The roadside sign read Black Canyon State Park,  its designation north,  Gary hesitating,  a curiosity,  filing a thought for another time,  a possible inquisition on the family’s return to the plains of Kansas.   Arriving at Montrose,  the Buick turned south on to Highway 550,  a hour’s journey to their destination to embrace the senior Murrow’s in their esoteric summer repose.   The family arriving at a  small sequestered community of 800,  slumbered in the western slope of the Rocky Mountains,  an elevation of 7,792 ft.,  its position  proclaimed as the Switzerland of America,  Ouray Colorado.

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