Thursday, October 15, 2009

Warmer and drier . . . FINALLY!

We left Tribune, Kansas, and Wes and Jan yesterday morning heading west in search of warmer and drier weather. It was a long run because the rain would just not quit. It rained on us all the way to Pueblo, Colorado, when we were treated to sunlight and mountain views.

Our plan was to stop in Pueblo and do some sightseeing. I mainly wanted to see scenery and when we arrived on the east side all we could see was smog and smell the acrid air from the steel mills. I’m sure there is a lot of neat stuff to see there, but we decided to turn south and run down to a campground Terry had read about in LaVeta, Colorado. It is called Elk Valley Camp and it is a very nice, clean and comfortable camp. There was only one other camper in here at the time, so we settled in for two nights. It is bordered by mountains and directly out our door are what they call the Spanish Peaks. In the distance we can see snow covered peaks which are gorgeous. The weather was in the high 60’s and the sun was warm. Just perfect. We rested up from the drive and decided to wait until morning to do some exploring.

This morning we loaded Neal up in his space in the car and took off for the Great Sand Dunes across LaVeta Pass, about 60 miles away. The road up the pass climbs to just over 9000 feet and we were treated to spectacular views the entire way. The road is very easy to travel with truck lanes on the hills. We saw several motorhomes and campers along the way. Once you get over the pass, you pass through the town of Fort Garland which has an historic adobe fort built in 1858. It looked interesting, but did not go in because we had Neal with us.

We traveled on to the turn-off for the Great Sand Dunes. Now we had been to the Glamis Dunes in California, but these are different. These are at the base of mountains and just looked like someone dumped sand in front of them. There is a dry creekbed in front of the dunes. We parked briefly and walked out to the creekbed. There is water at times, but it was dry today. There were several groups of people climbing the dunes which is allowed. There is just no way to describe dunes. . . they are a phenomenon, especially out here in the area where these are located. We drove around the campground which is primitive, but well laid out. All the sites are fine gravel and have rock walls surrounding the tent areas. There are large bear-proof food vaults and signs indicating there is considerable bear activity in the area. Campers are warned to lock up all food items and anything else that might attract bears. Almost everyone there was backpacking on the trails. We also saw some horses being saddled up for the trails. This was really beautiful and if you are able to climb up the dunes, you would be rewarded with spectacular views of the sand, the desert surrounding them and the mountains in all directions. The aspen trees are beautiful, a bright golden color in sharp contrast to the dark of the mountains.

We drove back through the pass and dropped Neal off at the motorhome. We continued on to the little town of LaVeta for lunch and to walk around looking in the shops. There were more real estate businesses than anything else, but we did enjoy talking with the shopkeepers. Right now they are just about shut down for the winter, so they have time to talk with their patrons. There are mule deer that wander all around this little town. They lay down in people's front yard, graze in the church yard, and visit the campground. I think they would come right up to the car.

We then drove up to another town, Cuchara, in the mountains. The road was good, albeit quite curvy, but once again, the scenery was just spectacular. Only one store was open as the others have closed for the winter, so we stopped and browsed and visited with the owner and his Golden Retriever, Dynamite.

When we got back, I took my final load of laundry to the camp machines. I love my Splendide, but having been in rain and mud for 10 days really stacked up a bunch of jeans, towels, coats, etc., which would have taken too long to do in my machine. So I am all caught up now and we are ready to move on once again.

Till next time. . .



jocelyn said...

Oh, good, there are still aspens in leaf! I loved seeing the aspens' fall color when we were in CO.

Bob and Molly said...

Good to see you got out of rain. We are still in Va at the farm and it's been raining. We'll head south to Fla. after Thanksgiving, then on to Tx. Save travels.

Hugs, Bob and Molly

Bob and Molly said...

Sounds like you found a great place and a good time to be there. Loved the pics. We're still in Va at the farm. We plan to head south after Thanksgiving.
Safe travels.

Bob and Molly

Anonymous said...

So glad you found some fun things to explore. If we had known you wanted to go there, we could have given you a short cut bypassing Pueblo. Oh well, glad you had a good trip.

The sun finally came out Wednesday evening, just in time for a spectacular sunset:) It was almost 70 yesterday with lots of sun. Sophie spent most of the day lounging on top of the picnic table, watching Wes work on the house.

That highway through LaVeta is one of our favorite routes west to the SW Colorado mountains - great area, but high altitudes.

Travel safe.


Dave and Susie said...

Up above the town of Cuchara, is the Cuchara Pass and two beautiful campgrounds. Blue Lake and Bear Lake. It is well worth the 4 mile trip up the mountain. The next time you are there you should go.

Dale said...

Thanks everyone for your comments. Jan, Wes did give Terry that shortcut but we thought we would stay in Pueblo, so that is what we took the "long" way!

Dave and Susie, Thanks for the tip. That is a beautiful area. Terry is limited to 8000 feet and we were pushing the limit having been over the LaVeta pass and staying in Elk Valley at over 7000 feet. Chucara was too high and the pass was even higher, so we left for lower elevations. Beautiful territory, though.