Tag Archives: black ridge

dennis jones hiking fruita dugway trail colorado national monument

Fruita Dugway

“Some beautiful paths can’t be discovered without getting lost.”
Erol Ozan

With both vehicles available, I decided Fruita Dugway would be a good choice for a hike with the kids today.

We parked a car at the Kodel’s Canyon trailhead, then drove the other up to the Visitor’s Center. We hiked from there and it was marvelous…except for Timothy’s incessant whining that we were 1) Hiking at all and 2) it was too hot and 3) the hike kind of started on a steep uphill.

We had a nice chat about how your thoughts control your emotions and you get to control your thoughts, and by the time we got to the Fruita Dugway turnoff from the Black Ridge Trail he was okay. And the trail started moving us down.

We chatted and had fun…and then their dad was hiking up the trial toward us with his new girlfriend!

The kids were happy, and he was happy, and we were happy, and Matt suggested we all hike together to see where he and his girlfriend were about to rappel down into the slot canyon we had been hiking along the top of.

So we did! All 7 of us hiking together and scrambling down. It was hilarious and awesome.

Eventually the two of them rappelled down and we waved goodbye and kept on our route.

At one point the trail became confusing, but Matt and I being the awesome trail-going peeps we are, managed to figure it out. We followed the trail down and something awesome happened…

The boys started fighting. Kind of. Connor wanted to to to McDonalds. Tim wanted Wendy’s. So I arbitrated their discussion until they came to a point where they were both very happy. We would get Wendy’s today, and on Tuesday, after Trinity’s track meet, we would get McDonald’s and Tim would give Connor his happy meal toy.

Phew! It was an awesome interesting thing to watch.

We made the long descent and it was so beautiful and a little scary and I LOVE to explore new trails like this…


It was a happy day.

We followed it up with Wendy’s and a trip to the pool.


rattlesnake arches

One Adventure After Another (and I get to be a grown up)

“Let everything happen to you
Beauty and terror
Just keep going
No feeling is final”
― Rainer Maria Rilke

“I wouldn’t give a tinker’s damn for a man who isn’t sometimes afraid. Fear’s the spice that makes it interesting to go ahead.”
― Daniel Boone

I’m no stranger to taking my kids out on an adventure with me being the only adult. But today was a complex set of situations. First, we drove up (and down) the Black Ridge Road in our red Jeep. With no AC and pushing 100 degrees, bumping over the road. The kids did great, and kept asking when we could go home. I said my typical response, “All trails lead to home.” But first we’re going to hike to an arch.

So we finally hit the TH for Rattlesnake Arches. We got out into the heat and hiked the mile down to the first arch then the mile back. On the way out, Connor was crying almost the entire time. Trinity complained loudly, and even louder on the hike back. This provided me an excellent opportunity to teach about the value of complaining. It went something like, “You know, you’ve done a fair amount of complaining. Has it made any difference? Are you cooler? Are you hiking faster? Does complaining about your situation change the situation at all?” NO! So let’s use our words to make the situation better, not worse.

We did survive the hike back to the Jeep, and had fun spraying each other with bike bottles, then we all changed into swimming suits.

On our way driving out I started to hear an unusual sound, but I couldn’t place it. When we got on pavement the steering wheel was shaking a little. I was unnerved, but not deterred from making our promised trip to the potholes. We were already in swimming suits!

We made it there, and hiked down to the water. The place was pretty busy (read: trashy). I was not enthused. The only other time I’d be to this place it had been a rather pleasant experience. This was ruining the memory of the other for me. I’ll leave it at that.

When I could finally pull the kids out of the water, we hiked back to the Jeep and started driving home. But the steering was worse, the shaking and the sound indicating a real issue. I called Dennis and described the issue. His response,

“Pull over right now. A wheel is about to fall off.”

And he was absolutely correct. The front-passenger tire had lost a bolt and three lug nuts. There were now only 2/6 holding the wheel on and they were both on the same side. I transferred some lugs from the rear wheels, but the bolts had been sheered at it made no difference.

I was now stuck in a broken, undriveable, Jeep 12 miles from home with no sight of civilization other than the passing cars, with three wet/dirty/tired/sunburned/hungry kids and wearing only a bikini top and shorts because I’d put my shirt on Trinity to swim in…. and 100+ degrees and no shade. Marvelous.

So I now had a choice: I could complain (duh) to Dennis about it (he blamed the people who had serviced our wheels recently and tightened the lugs too much), and expect him to do something, or I could put on my big girl panties and be the boss.

I figured either way we were stranded- I may as well try and drive a little further, and be at least a little closer to home. While Dennis called the shop to see how they could help, the situation being their fault (and we couldn’t afford a tow), I roused the kids and put on the hazards and drove.

A few miles down the road, another vehicle pulled over in front of us. It was a turquoise Bronco with a “Mesa County Search and Rescue” sticker on it, matching the one on the Jeep I was now attempting to limp home at 3 mph. The nice man got out and asked if we could use some help. I’d been really strong, calm, and calculated up until then. But as I started to describe the situation to him (still wearing just a bikini, and my body being burned from trying to fix the Jeep on the side of the road), a few tears leaked out.

He said it was no problem to throw the kids and our stuff (all of Dennis’ SAR stuff was in the back of the Cherokee- and included a Grand Junction Off-road jersey that was way too big for me but a far better option than staying in my swimming suit) in his Bronco and drive us home. He said he lived up by the Black Ridge road and we had actually driven right past his house on our way from Rattlesnake Arches to the Potholes. He had just decided a few minutes earlier to drive into town for a pair of pants. We squeezed all 5 of us in across his front seat. The kids were so cheerful at the novelty.

We ended up making it home, the Jeep made it to the shop, and Dennis stayed in Utah to ride another day.

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independence monument view

Through the Monument to Black Ridge

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
― J.R.R. TolkienThe Lord of the Rings

Lord of the Rings is probably my favorite book. And that’s saying something, because I read a lot of books. The last time I completed the Trilogy I wept. Like a baby. Sobbing.

Okay, now the embarassing part is over…

I’ve been sick, right? Chronic illness becomes me in the wintertime. I get all hopped up on decongestant and then lay around the house thinking I’ll heal faster if I rest. Not sure that’s true or not. But today I didn’t feel like doing much.

Dennis had been gone for a few days and was coming back this afternoon, so I waited on him to do a trail. We threw the kids in the Jeep, got a pizza for dinner, and drove up the west-side of the Monument. Continued on Rim Rock Drive until the turn-off to Glade Park. Just after the turn-off, we took a hard right onto the dirt trail.

Or what would be a dirt trail, but was currently 6-8 inches of snow tracked in by only one other full-size vehicle that had clearly struggled and gotten stuck several times. This did not  bode well for my confidence, since I was the one driving.

I’ve been conditioned to be sensitive to criticism, from Dennis is particular, but in this circumstance I requested his gentle tutelage. He accepted and provided me with excellent coaching so that though my hands were gripped in terror, I found myself nearly  but not quite enjoying the drive.

We topped-out at a T-intersection which had been plowed. This just meant that the road was more ice than snow. We took another hard right and headed up to the radio towers. The gate was locked, of course, but the view from up there is immense.

We debated turning up the road that would take us deeper into the McGinnis Canyons Wilderness Area, but as it had even less optimistic traffic upon it and it was getting dark, we opted to take the plowed road down and over to Glade Park, then descend to the valley via the East Side of the Monument.

The lights of the city were actually quite stunning. Not like a huge city, but enough that it provided us with a sensation that we were coming home.

Independence Monument from Rim Rock Dr.
Independence Monument from Rim Rock Dr.
Sign to Black Ridge
Sign to Black Ridge
The radio towers.
The radio towers.
Le Jeep
Le Jeep
Panorama, yo.
Panorama, yo.