Friday, October 2, 2009

Palisade, CO

Our last weekend with the kids was a joint camping venture to the Grand Junction, CO area. Specifically the James M. Robb Colorado River State Park, Island Acres Section outside Palisade, CO.

We departed for the park a day ahead of the Luetkens clan because: 1) we’re retired, 2) we drive slow, 3) we wanted to escape the cold. As it was we left during intermittent snow showers. By the time we started up Vail Pass on I-70, it was a blizzard. Not until we reached the Hanging Lake Rest Stop east of Glenwood Springs did the weather really cheer up. And by the time we arrived at Island Acres, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. It was in the 70’s. Hurrah!

Our reservation included two sites – one for us and the other for Chris and the gang. After dropping the trailer, we had time to drive into Palisade (the peach capitol of Colorado) to shop for fresh fruits, buy some hardware to repair a broken window shade, and sample wineries. One winery we managed to visit before closing time was Canyon Wind Cellars. Very nice wines and they grow all their own grapes (which need to be watched over so that bears don’t get the grapes before the wine maker does). There we snared a 2007 Tempranillo and 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon.

Shadows from the surrounding mountains caused a false sunset but were certainly enjoying the change in temperature. We sipped some wine and watched trains roll by on the opposite bank of the Colorado River. Union Pacific freights (mainly coal) and Am-Track passenger trains (we of course waved to the passengers). Alrick would have loved them all!

Early the next morning we made a run to the Colorado National Monument but not before stopping at the Palisade CafĂ© and Grill for breakfast. If you’re ever in Palisade, we highly recommend this eatery. Most everything on the menu looked great but I can attest only to the Mt. Garfield Benedict. Poached eggs layered with grilled tomato slices and crimini mushrooms on a toasted English muffin, topped with an orange hollandaise and fresh basil pesto. The coffee was pure Costa Rican – black and bold. Oh, and 1% of our bill was donated to the Mesa Land Trust.

We had visited CNM some years back and camped there in our pop-up. Given the twisting tight road and narrow tunnels leading to the top, there was no way we could have towed our 32-foot RV up to the campground. Nevertheless we enjoyed our revisit – the sights and overlooks were still as stunning as we had recalled.

On our way back to James Robb we stopped again in Palisade for more fruits and vegetables and to visit another winery. Palisades is a target rich winery environment as there are several to choose from. The one that caught our attention this time was Garfield Estates (also recommended by the state park ranger). An excellent choice. And once more, we were not disappointed with our choice of a 2007 Cabernet Franc and a 2006 Syrah. Oh, and not to overlook any microbrews, we stopped at the Palisade Brewery. After sampling what they had on tap, we walked away with a mixed six-pack of Farmer’s Friend Irish Ale and Red Truck IPA. Their sarsaparilla isn’t to be sneezed at either.

Chris and the gang arrived about mid-afternoon. For the next few days we hung out at the park. Both sites were situated along the river where the grandkids spent a good deal of time either throwing or collecting rocks. What is it with kids, rocks, and water? Chris tried his hand at fishing in the river with no luck but Carter reeled in his first ever fish at one of the park ponds. Robyn was happy just to be able to catch a few moments of down time and chill in the warmth. Chewy enjoyed being a dog – chasing sticks, balls, chewing on bones and just napping. Woof!

On Sunday the 27th we packed up and followed the kids to a Grand Junction sports bar to watch the Packer vs Rams game. As we still needed to cover some ground we bid the kids farewell at half time. How nice to have so much time to visit with them and not feel as though we had to rush back!! Next up: Moab, Utah.

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