Ouray Jeep Jamboree

We went to Ouray for our honeymoon five years ago, so we were excited about the prospect of returning again to the tiny, sleepy old mining town. The best part about the trip is that we got to go for FREE! A friend of Ammon’s, Chris (they work together at Firstbank) organizes the Jeep Jamboree in Ouray every year and asked Ammon and I to be one of his “tail gunners”. As the name implies, we were the last jeep in the convoy of jeeps in one group. We just had to make sure that every one was doing ok and not getting stuck, etc.

The trail that we went on was actually one that we started on our honeymoon, but hadn’t gone very far because we didn’t really have the vehicle for it at the time. There were 15 jeeps in our group, Chris was the trail guide and we were the tail. I really think that Ouray has to be one of the most beautiful places in the world and naturally, the pictures don’t do it justice. We were on the same trail both days called, “Placer Gulch”. Along the trail, Chris shared with us the history of mining in Colorado with us, in addition to many other interesting tidbits about the area, etc.

Here’s my summarized version….Originally, Colorado was mined for gold, but after the few veins that were found had been excavated, the prospectors weren’t finding any more gold. They used mills to sort through the rock and whatnot and discarded the unwanted bits to one side, forming a huge pile called “tailings”. As mining got more sophisticated, the prospectors hired geologists to come in and tell them where the gold was. This one prospector brought a geologist to check things out for him and the guy said, “Well, where’s the gold?”. The geologist told him he was standing on a fortune, but not in the form of gold….in his tailings was a mass amount of silver. And so, Colorado became profitable for it’s silver.

The largest veins of gold have still not been played out and are in the San Juan mountain range, around the area that we were in. The last functioning (big) mining company in the area, Sunnyvale Mining company owns the claims for those veins and is waiting until gold hits $1,000/oz.

There were few things that really amazed me about the mining industry. The first was the way they transported the gold/silver. In “Placer Gulch” and other areas we saw while on the trail, you could see the cable running from mountain top, over valleys and connecting to another mountain with little tram cars hanging from them. That was how they took their findings to the mill or wherever. Even in the dead of winter!!! The other thing that I marvelled at was that in the San Juan Mountains there are 1, 010 (or so) MILES of mineshaft! Wow!

Each day for lunch, we stopped at Animas Fork, an old ghost town. You’ll see in the photos below, a hotel that is still somewhat in tact, at least enough that you can walk through it. There are also some other resident buildings (former residents) and the mill that is now starting to really deteriorate. We also visited this spot on our honeymoon, but we took the road through a few towns, instead of the off-roading trail. I didn’t get the sense this time, but I recall on our honeymoon, visiting this ghost town and have the strangest sensation since it looked like people could almost live there today. To see everything just abandoned the way it had been a hundred years ago was just a weird phenomenon to me.

Along with Animas fork, we stopped at an old silver mill and drove through Silverton, a neat little town nestled in the mountains, much like Ouray. The second day we were on the trail, the leaves had really changed and we got to see true Colorado gold! =)

We had a fabulous time on the trail. I actually drove most of the second day. It was a really mixed terrain, in some spots really rocky and bumpy and other spots you had to drive on the edge of a drop off and others still there were big rock faces to climb up. It was a fun adventure! Ammon said I did great, so I guess I’m gonna side with him! 😉

The hotel we stayed at was a Best Western and had the greatest pool. It was outdoors, but was so warm, it felt like a bath! Ammon and I played in the pool each evening we were there. The last night, I got thrown in after I had my towel on!!

We can’t wait to do it all again sometime!! If you want an awesome adventure, rent a jeep and look up Jeep Jamboree online. It’s an experience you won’t forget! They have 36 Jamborees all over the U.S.


This is Ouray, town of about 900 people. It’s everything you dream about a small, mountain town. Small, quaint little shops, bakeries, sandwich shops. A huge 4th of July celebration with pancake breakfasts and a parade and a firefighter waterhose contest.


Everyone splitting into their respective groups


Some guy I picked up in Ouray! 😉 Cute, isn’t he?!


Driving to the trailhead



Me, posing with gummy bears. Ammon just felt like snapping a photo, I guess!


Stopping for lunch

Women drivers!


Me enjoying being the chauffeur


I don’t remember where this is exactly, but it’s beautiful, so I posted it anyways


Behind me is an old silver mill, though I think the photographer focused on me instead. You’ll see another photo of the mill below.


Jack the Jeep taking a break



Stopping at Animas Fork for lunch



This mill was from 1903, I believe. It was in California Gulch.


A mine in Placer Gulch


This is what I mean by Colorado Gold. If you only could have seen it in person. I know that in Ontario, you’ll see more variety of colors; orange, red and yellow, but to see these gold leaves when the sun shines through them is spectacular.

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This is me in the bay window of the old hotel in Animas Fork

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This is that silver mill I referred to earlier


I don’t remember where this is either, but I love the contrast in colors


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This is in Placer Gulch. I thought the color of the hills was really interesting, different.

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Red mountain, appropriately named don’t ya think!

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And me just waiting around to get back in the Jeep

Mail Call!!

Tasha loves to help Mommy get the mail (and open it too!), but she’s not quite tall enough to reach the box by herself. She sure tries hard though!

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Faking it

I told Kevin to smile and I got this cheesy grin instead of a real smile, but it was so cute, I couldn’t resist posting it! His first fake smile….

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Smile Big, Kevy!

Potty Triumph!!!

Not only has Natasha not had a single accident in 3 or 4 weeks, but last night while in the bathroom, Kevin said “Pee-pee” and pointed to the toilet. I doubted he would go, since I’m not even considering potty-training him yet, but sat him on the throne anyways. And what do ya know?! He went!!!! =) Hence the reason he’s not wearing shorts in the shoe photos!

Somewhere over….

Because we get lots of thunderstorms in the summer, along with plenty of sunshine, rainbows seem to be pretty abundant here. Here’s a recent one that was a full rainbow, incredible color, not justified by the photo, but is still beautiful.



Well, our garden this year was a late-bloomer, so to speak. We didn’t get anything until a few weeks ago. And now, well….I’ll let the picture tell the story! Let’s just say we have certain things coming out of our ears!


Take a page out of Tasha’s book!

I’ve previously written about how “motherly” our little 3 year-old is, well I guess compassion is a quality required of mothers or motherly behavior, so the shoe fits….I was feeling under the weather last week with a cold and needed to lay down and rest for a while. While I was putting a movie on for Tasha, she asked me where I would be napping. After I went upstairs to rest, I found that a sweet little someone had placed a pillow in just the right spot on the couch for me to rest my head on. =)

The best example of all came on Monday when Ammon was upset that a heavy-duty shop-type lamp of his had broken. Tasha said, “Daddy’s light is broken?” He replied in the affirmative and she promptly responded…”Tasha will keep her panties dry all week so Mommy will take her to the store (to get a reward) and then I’ll have Mommy buy you a new light, ok?” I heard this second-hand from Ammon, but even then, I got a little teary hearing of the great compassion that Tasha had for her Daddy especially at such a young age.

These are frequent occurences with Tasha who just cares so much about others! =)

New Member of our Family!!!

The time has come to welcome a new member to our family. Rusty (our 1987 Toyota 4Runner) decided to move on to greener pastures. No longer will he require so much time and money to keep on the road.

On August 24, 2007 we are proud to announce that ‘Jack’ has joined our family. He is the dream child we always wanted: 2008 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon. Our other two children love playing in him, and he has proven his potential when I took him 4x4ing up Spring Creek trail last Saturday morning.

Oh, and did I mention how much fun he is?!