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The Continental Divide

We had a great time! It took about an hour and a half to reach the divide from Highlands Ranch, CO, including a stop for gas and snacks.

The pic up top was a pain though. It was raining pretty hard, and the family needed some cajoling to get out of the nice dry bus to stand in the rain.

I slid down the muddy hill and set up the camera and tripod. I set the timer and scrambled up the slimy steep hill and barely got in place before the shutter fired.

The family disappeared into the bus like they were beamed aboard.

We continued West on Route 6 until it connected with I-70 at Silverthorne. We swung onto the 70 going East toward the Johnson Tunnel and Home.

Along the way we stopped at a gold mine tour, the Argo Gold Mine in Idaho Springs. Lots of fun, even for the 4 year old.

When we pulled in, we wandered into a yard filled with train and ore cars. I realized I`d left my headlights on so I sprinted back to the Guacamole Bus. As I was walking back to the family, a gentleman approached me asking for a jumpstart. I went back to the bus while the family checked out the toys.

It took about 15 minutes to get that Honda started because I couldn`t get close enough for his cables to reach my battery. I was about to suggest pushing his car out into the parking lot when I remembered I had cables too... Extension cord!

After putting the bus back into some semblance of "straight" I walked into the gift shop to find my family. We were late for the last tour and the wife had already bought tickets. ($15 for adults, young kids free.)

We popped into the classroom presentation just in time for the presenter to finish, though he was kind enough to recap for us the history of why the Argo was closed.

Everybody piled into the not-so-old schoolbus and we climbed a dirt trail to the pile of tailings at the opening of the Double Eagle Gold Mine, a short horizontal mine shaft dug in the mountain above the mill.

We walked around the mountain to the Argo`s portal. There is still a steady flow of water coming out of there, loaded with heavy metals. Just outside the door there`s a grate in the ground letting the water go through a treatment plant before finally draining into Clear Creek.

After leaving the Argo portal, there`s the air compressor house. The compressors they used for the pneumatic drills are huge. The wheel appeared to be 6 feet in diameter.

From there we entered the top of the mill. Except for equipment that had to be made out of iron or steel, the entire thing is wood. Very old brittle wood. There was lots of electricity in use, since that mill was still in use during WWII.

During the tour of the mill, one kid picked up a loose rock that was 50/50 smoky quartz and granite. He wanted to take it home. The Argo is a National Historical site, and it would be illegal to take it. Poor kid. He was so excited.

After we exited the mill, we went to the panning for gold display. Just like the one Knott`s Berry Farm used to have, you get a pan and a bag of sand that is guaranteed to have some gold. Out of the 3 bags we got, 12 tiny flakes of gold were found. But it was fun. I did this a lot at Knott`s, but the kids have never done it.

We piled into the bus and got ready to leave, but not without some parting shots:

On the way home, instead of taking I-70 to C-470, we took Route 6 to Boulder then to the 470.

That route takes you along Clear Creek for most of the way. It`s an amazing scenic drive. Way better than the "superhighway" that the 70 becomes as it comes out of the mountains.

We stopped at one point to wander around and take some pics.

After a stop at Qdoba (barf) for dinner we headed home. Tired and happy. Even my son who resisted going enjoyed himself.