Colorado Trip #3

The Big Trip – Day 2

Day two started where Day 1 left off, in Gunnison, CO. The day started off much much easier than the previous one had ended, taking US-50 on wonderful hard pavement past Blue Mesa Reservoir through a wonderful hard packed construction zone to Cimarron Rd and over Big Cimarron Pass. This was a dirt road once again, but compared to that one construction zone it was a wonderful road, it was spectacular, hard packed and easy to ride on, and well traveled too.

A little west of the Blue Mesa Reservoir along the Gunnison River. Location: 38°27'55" N 107°15'50" W 7 kilometers along Cimarron Rd on the way over Big Cimarron Pass. Location: 38°21'48" N 107°33'41" W Horo waves to all the traffic passing by. A surprisingly large amount. Now that all the traffic has subsided for the time being, it's back to enjoying the scenery. The wind loves to play with Horo's hair.

Then, a car coming the opposite direction stopped me and told me I should turn around, the road had washed out ahead and that it would probably be really difficult to pass on my motorcycle. I agreed that I should turn around and said I’d do so. I continued on thinking eventually I would turn around but would wait for an opportunity to do so. I reached the washed out road before that opportunity had presented itself. I pulled off to the side and got off considering my options. There was certainly lots of water everywhere, the trees to the left of me were all flooded out, but the road didn’t look that bad, it just looked a little muddy, like the road I’d ridden through in that construction zone.

Panoramic shots from my Nexus 4 suck. But you can see how terrible the quality of the road was. From back where the bike was parked, it didn't look that bad...

Another car approached and asked me about the conditions ahead, I told them I hadn’t been across yet and was hoping to ask someone coming the other direction the same thing. As they passed through the muddy section of road I watched to see how bad it actually was, but it still didn’t seem too bad. So I walked up the road a bit to see how it was further up, and there was some machinery working, but no sign of anyone getting stuck. Eventually I decided ‘fuck it’ I’m going for it, I figured it anything happened at least there were people there to laugh at me and my stupidity and then help. Turns out the road wasn’t that bad after all, certainly wasn’t a cake walk, and when I got to the machinery the road got terribad but the guys in the front-end loaders moved out of my way and let me pass safely without having to stop for them and get stuck. So I thank them for that, they probably thought I was a little bit nuts, because through the water there was no way to tell how rutted the road really was, but I just kept on it and made it out the other side and that was that, the rest of the journey was easy.

Queue the Jurassic Park theme. And off to the right you'll see some mountain cattle.

Big Cimarron Pass ends up in the mountains and turns into Owl Creek Pass which takes you back down and into Ridgway, CO. As I approached Owl Creek Pass, I started to feel uneasy and it took me a while to figure out why. Eventually it hit me, the scenery had this Jurassic Park-esk feel to it, it was like I was riding through Jurassic Park on a motorcycle. How insane would that have been? No wonder I felt uneasy. Luckily all I saw were cows, some on the road, some seemed to be angry with each other, in the middle of the road, and me on my motorcycle trying to pass them safely. I used to live next to a cattle farm, but still I was a little scared they’d decide I was a mutual enemy and both come after me. This did not happen, a pickup truck honked a bunch of times and then slowly drove up towards them and they got out of the way and I snuck in behind.

The mountain from the original True Grit, maybe. Chimney Rock Horo pops out of the top case to have a looksee. Horo takes a good long look at Chimney Rock and Courthouse Mountain. Told ya, still lookin'. At this point a couple people have passed by wondering what's hanging out of the back of my bike. Are you done looking yet Horo? Yes? Good girl, lets get on our way.

Heading down Owl Creek Pass I came across a famous mountain form, if you’ve seen the original True Grit, I believe this is the mountain from that movie. I, have not seen the movie, so am not quite sure, but that’s what I’ve been told. Horo decided to wake up around this time and pop out of the top case to have a gander ’round. It was about this time that a group of people on ATVs passed by in the opposite direction and did double takes at what was hang out in the back of my bike, probably seeing the tail and hair and wondering what kind of creature was that thing. As there was a switch back right there they got to continue looking as they went up the other side and into the forest.

This could be anywhere! Colorado is full of these. But this one is somewhere down Owl Creek Pass before I hit US-550.

One of the interesting things about areas like this and heck, even some of the main roads in Colorado were the cattle guards in the roads. It’s guards like these that allow the cattle the ability to roam around freely without escaping the fencing as the cattle wont walk across them because of the gaps, and without having to put gates up everywhere for drivers to open and close. Because we all know how well the honour system works, some idiot would leave the gate open and out go the cattle. The downside is, if you pass one of these guards you should probably be on guard ha ha. There’s probably cattle on the road or in some cases horses.

As you leave Ridgway, CO along US-550 south, this is the view you're presented with. As you leave Ouray up the Million Dollar Highway. Location: 38°1'1" N 107°40'12" W at an elevation of 2,444 m. Riding south along the Million Dollar Highway. That means I'm on the edge of that road to the left ^_~ Another shot along the Million Dollar Highway, this time looking back from where I came. Bonus 200% crop, look a jeep!

At this point I was now at Ridgway, CO and the start of the “Million Dollar Highway’ as it’s called. I followed US-550 to Ouray, CO which was a nice little town surrounded by mountains and a nice set of switchbacks to start out the “Million Dollar Highway” at the south end. Unfortunately it was getting pretty dark due to the cloud cover and I stopped to put on some rain gear. My ride down the “Million Dollar Highway” that has no guard rails and very steep cliffs off the edge of the road (awesome!) was full of rain which meant I couldn’t have as much fun as I wanted on the scary road, nor stop as frequently for photos because I’d be traveling slower thus taking longer and using up more of my day.

Please bring good weather blue, please!

Why am I the only one around... The weather wasn't THAT bad. I made one mud pass and this is how filthy it gets...

The rain did let up after a while, but the cloud cover did not, not until after I got down to Durango,CO anyway. This was as much blue sky as I saw along the trip and it kept me hopeful I’d see more, but I didn’t. As you can see, I was also the only one around which was a little disconcerting. Ok.. there was that pickup truck you can see behind my filthy bike in that other photo. But they didn’t actually seem to be around, it was just a truck by itself. My bike was still muddy after the trip over Big Cimarron Pass, but some of it had washed away in the rain, I wanted to preserve as much filth on the bike as I could, but this was the filthiest I managed to get a photo of. I wanted the filth to represent the distance I traveled, but my bike was actually clean by the time I got back to Canada due to a couple of things, like the rain amongst others.

Finally I made it out of the terrible weather in the mountains. Now it's too hot.

It was a little amusing riding down into Durango after being up in the mountains, because the temperature in the mountains with the rain was like 10°C, then you drop into Durango and it’s like 34°C but I’m still wearing all the warm gear from the mountains. I was so hot, eventually I stopped just outside Durango on my way towards Cortez, CO to take off all the excess gear, though I was worried with the clouds that it would rain again and I’d have to put it all back on. Thankfully I missed the rain, watching the radar on my GPS I could see it all around me but never over me, which was wonderful.

Horo faces the sunset in the east at Park Point in Mesa Verde. Location: 37°16'54" N 108°27'44" W at an elevation of 2,601 m. Horo moves her tail in and continues to enjoy the sunset at Mesa Verde.

I’d packed a little bit too much in this day and only realized it after paying to enter Mesa Verde. In fact, I should have just planned to camp there but I was hungry and thought I’d head into Cortez after my visit. Unfortunately this meant I barely scratched the surface at Mesa Verde, I got some great photos of Horo, but didn’t see much of the cool stuff there was to see there. Like the cliff dwellings… And as the sun set I was still there and had to ride back out, I did so quite a bit too fast, and it was fun, but stupid as there were likely to be deer everywhere. Which is something I’d find out more about at another park the next day.

Yet another day I’d brought all my camping gear along and stayed in a hotel instead.

And finally, just a shot of the sunset all by itself at Mesa Verde.


  1. Tian says:

    Wow, this was an epic post indeed. You’ve inspired me to plan another road trip! It’s unfortunate that I missed you just as I was gearing up for NDK. That was a good time, and somehow I completely missed all the flooding. Anyway, great photos as usual. You’ve really gotten a knack for sweet landscapes and outdoors photography. Hope to see more!

    • Aka says:

      Yeah, it’s too bad it didn’t work out, but I’m sure I’ll be there again next year or something. Too many things I’d like to ride still.

      Landscape photography is so much easier than people photography lol. You can just keep shooting until it works out, people you have to catch just right or ask them to pose etc… I feel the same way with dolls as well, have to really think out the pose, which I didn’t do too well on the trip. I think I got better as time went on but maybe next time I’ll be good.

      Missing out on the flooding isn’t a bad thing, especially if when you returned your place of residence was fine too.

  2. Smithy says:

    Looks like you had quite the adventurous trip!

    Gorgeous photos of that stunning scenery and some lovely shots of Horo too. Impressive!

    • Aka says:

      It really was quite an adventure. I still think it’s crazy how much ground I covered though on my “Big Trip” part, it was just destination after destination after destination. Was really hard to piece it all together after the fact, the only way I managed was I’d saved the GPS tracks so I could track back each day and break them apart.

      Hopefully next time I go, I’m a little bit more competent with my posing and can make Horo look a little bit more into the trip than sitting all the time. Still, I like the photos, it adds something over just plain landscapes I think.

  3. Rajura says:

    Great pics man!

    Looks like you had you had a great trip!

    I loved the Horo shots… I was kind of scared for her in a couple of them, but I know you made sure she was safe before you left to take them.

    Also, regarding your experience with the kid, I am glad to see there are other males out there that like her fluffy tail almost as much as me.

    Pros of your shots: It’s Horo, shots from behind… loved seeing her tail in all its glory and that she was unabashedly showing it off, new outfits for Horo.

    Cons: Human ears visible at times (that’s the only con… doing pretty good there)

    Oh, and those images are coming your way soon.

    • Aka says:

      Was a great trip indeed! I miss the state already.

      I did try and take as much care as I could with all the placements, but once I walk away there’s no telling what could happen. Would one of her joints give way, would the wind pickup, I am on mountains after all where weather changes rapidly. So many uncontrollable variables, I just had to give way and try anyway.

      As per your con, I’ve actually become to accustomed to the ears being there, that I don’t notice at all or even try to hide them ever. It’s just not something I care about so much at this point. Perhaps in making her ‘perfect’ in the end, but right now I care more about getting her tail attached properly and perhaps better matched to her hair, and shrinking her ears and putting magnets in them so that they’re easier to deal with on the road. The human ears really are the last thing on the list since it’s such a destructive mod.

      Interestingly, the people who seem most disapproving of Horo (and Dollfies in general) are anime fans and figure collectors. They seem to feel the doll is too much of the uncanny valley or RealDoll vibe. Which strikes me as really odd, since every doll meet I attend, and every outing I’ve been on, average people seem so interested and complimentary.

      • Rajura says:

        Wow, that is weird… my philosophy… the more real Horo looks… the better!

        I would that “average people” liked her more than a niche group.

        Keep up the good work!

        • Aka says:

          The more real the better, yes. But in terms of what’s more important to me right now, the human ears are like the bottom of the list. Her tail and animal ears bother me more that they’re not right. The human ears require destructive modification that can’t be undone.

          Think you missed a word in that second line, not sure what exactly you meant. Could go many ways if I try and read into it.

          • Rajura says:

            Sorry tried to go a little long more older style on that comment… read it as “If I had my way, more average people would be interested in her.”

            Also, the “weird” part I mentioned pertained to your comment about people who were seemed more likely to not like the current approach to Horo. Keep up the good work; fix those wolf ears and that tail to your standards.

          • Aka says:

            Ah I see. I’m alright with anime being a niche thing. I don’t think it’d be as fun if everyone knew.

            As for the weird, I think there’s just some stigma about dolls, and they don’t want to be caught liking one.

      • CptNerd says:

        Beautiful job, the few times I’ve been to CO the scenery was fantastic (I was there during the flooding, my great-nephew was supposed to get married that weekend in Estes Park). As for your Horo doll, you have to understand that every person has their own “uncanny valley”: for example, I have no problem with the CGI “Appleseed” movies, but my friend can’t watch more than a few seconds of them, because they fall into his discomfort zone. Your version of Horo is okay by me, but there are some aspects that are just on the edge for me. I have to say there are quite a few dollfies that I’ve seen that I can’t see, they’re just too far “into the valley” for me. But then I was always creeped out by the “sad kids on black velvet” paintings…

        • Aka says:

          I find they’re far less creepy in person. That added dimension I guess really helps. And once I’d seen them in person, I found most of the photos to be less creepy than they were beforehand. I think it’s the unfamiliarity perhaps.

          I suspect I’ll be making a habit of visiting Colorado… I just hope there isn’t a disaster every time. There were the fires, and then the floods… what next?

          Anyhoo, glad my Horo is ok by you! 😀

  4. Otakusan says:

    Have been seeing all your instagram pictures ^^ looked like you had a lot of fun this trip ^^

    • Aka says:

      Started taking the shots with my phone just to get the GPS coordinates of each location. Ended up posting them on Instagram because I couldn’t wait to share haha.

  5. B-Sabre says:

    The air base is Buckley AFB ( and is home to the 460th Space Wing (Air Force Space Command). There’s also Colorado National Guard and Air National Guard units based there.