Colorado Springs

May 5-9, 2019

I’ve been here several times for work functions over the years, but never had the chance to see the sights.  My list consists of Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods while Pat would really like to get a peek at the Stargate.

Cheyenne Mountain State Park

 

Our home base for Colorado Springs was Cheyenne Mountain State Park.  One of Pat’s favorite sci-fi programs is Stargate-SG1 and its headquarters in the show are based inside Cheyenne Mountain.   He told a friend if he disappeared, it’s because he’s now on another planet.

Actually, that’s not so far-fetched since NORAD is somewhere in there and that’s a real thing – North American Aerospace Defense Command.  (Not sure how they got that acronym to work)  We saw the exit, but we didn’t take it since we didn’t have any “official business” as the sign demanded you must have to go there.  Pat’s just stuck here on planet earth with the rest of us.

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We were in the Swift Puma Heights camping loop overlooking the town.  I heard gobblers in the Gobbler Grove loop and saw the meadow in the Meadows loop.  Fortunately no fast or slow puma sightings.  Nice trails for Jackson though, and laundry!

We’re also overlooking Fort Carson and the bugle calls were loud and clear each day – First call (6:25am), Reveille (6:30am), Mess call (8am), Retreat (5pm),  and finally Taps (10pm).  I just love to hear taps.  Reveille? Not so much.

Pikes Peak

Our original plan was to go to Garden of the Gods on our first sight-seeing day.  The weather looked questionable for the rest of our stay, so we decided to take the 19 mile drive up Pikes Peak instead.  That proved to be a very good call.

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Pat’s a Bigfoot fan, so we couldn’t resist a stop at this marker.

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Just gorgeous on the way up.

We made it to the top and ducked into the visitor’s center to warm up and grab a “World Famous Donut”, which was still a little raw in the middle.  A nice family also took our picture with Bigfoot.

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And here I am with my donut at the tourist sign.  It’s definitely a high one and the air is a little thinner.  Doesn’t take much exertion to feel the altitude.  And yes, it was quite chilly up there.  40 degrees colder than at the base.

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Looking down from the top.

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Normally you can ride the cog railway to the top, but it’s currently closed for repairs.  I had to take this photo since Mom & Dad took the train up once upon a time.  They stopped here on their way to visit with our “Canadian cousins” in Calgary.  Anyway, Mom stepped off the train at the top, slipped on loose gravel, and went down hard enough to break her arm.  It was a pretty bad break that ended the trip.  Fortunately we didn’t suffer any mishaps at the summit.

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I love this view above the treeline with the magnificent Rockies in the distance.  The storm we were to experience firsthand was already on the way and blocking some of the grand view.

A few more from the drive.  Bitsy taking it all in, the high road and one of the switchbacks.

The Perfect Storm

I call it that since we had a series of unfortunate events during the remainder of our Colorado Springs stay.

Pat broke a tooth a stop back and is now in agony.  He called the dentist first thing on Monday and was able to get the offending chopper removed Tuesday afternoon.  The dentist came out to tell me they couldn’t save the tooth.  Good since Pat wanted it yanked anyway.  So we’re eating soft stuff and reading books.  The weather has taken a turn for the worse anyway, so it’s not a big deal.  It rained for two days followed by high winds and snow.

Then Jackson starts up with trouble at both ends on the coldest, yuckiest night.  Throwing-up-dog does finally feel better and I get to make use of the laundry – again.  Our heater is running nonstop and Winter has found us again.  Plus we dug out our big coats and I added my stocking cap and gloves.  So no Garden of the Gods this time around.

The last day here and it snowed. All. day. long.

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Puppy toes and people prints.

That’s a wrap for Colorado Springs.  At least I did get to see one touristy thing.

Next up:  Denver & Rachel’s high school graduation.  See you on the way!

 

Pueblo, Colorado

May 1-4, 2019

It turns out we’re not actually IN Pueblo, but on the outskirts,  Well, past the outskirts actually when there are no more houses or signs of civilization.  Just ranch land as far as the eye can see, and our campground.

Haggard RV Campground

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Out in the middle of nowhere, but with Pike’s Peak in view of the campground.  When we arrived, we were a little bit testy due to the extremely blustery drive.  The wind is buffeting Lucy and when we finally spy the campground, there’s hardly a tree in sight.  I mean nothing to block that pesky wind.  But after that day, we got calmer days and views like this.

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Looking the other way with us facing the biggest dog park we’ve ever had in a campground.  Popular with Jackson.

Riverwalk

Pueblo has a very nice river walk and you know how much we love those.  It’s actually the Arkansas River flowing through town and the walk area reminds me of San Antonio.  There’s even a boat ride.

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It’s extremely dog-friendly with shops and restaurants all along the way.

More of the river walk with an island at the end of the developed part.  The island is full of metal animal sculptures representing the species that inhabit the area..

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All except that bird.  He’s real.

Marion Mine

Hiking was on our agenda so Pat got to play with his new app – Hiking Project – sponsored by REI.  The description was for a 3.9 mile hike in the San Isabel National Forest with an abandoned mine at the turnaround point.  Rated medium/difficult.  We didn’t end up parked at the trailhead, so it turned out to be a 6 mile hike for us and we agree with the difficult part.  The elevation change had us panting all the way up.

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We parked in the national rec area lot and had our lunch by this lake.

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We were joined by this little fella hoping for a handout.

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I have a million of these.  The prize-winning photo if I’d snapped it two seconds earlier…Pat just had to stomp his foot and scare the critter.  Once we left, little chippy munk and the magpies scoured the picnic bench for any food we may have dropped.

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These nervous deer also watched us depart.  So far this is a great wildlife hike and we haven’t even gotten started.

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Nothing says Colorado to me like a stand of Aspen trees.  We’re just a little too early to see the quaking leaves.

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Up, up we climb and finally get a glimpse of the valley below.  And you can see that lake from lunch on the left.

There’s Pat checking his app at the entrance to the mine area, and the trail gets a little tougher with rocks and snow.  Finally, the endpoint with the abandoned zinc, silver, copper, and lead mine.  I’m sure there’s nothing hazardous here.

Spring is really trying to take over for Winter.

The bonus little waterfall and where I had to stand to get the shot.

We scrambled up and around the broken down mine shaft to get to the big bonus waterfall.  Not a bad selfie for us.

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The rocks around the mine glittered like jewels in the sun.

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This doesn’t look like a scary spot, but it was.  I had to climb down very carefully and then stand still so I wouldn’t slide to the left or the right – into the mine debris, or into the rushing water.  I thought better of this feat once I was too far gone to turn back.

A few more interesting mine shots before we headed back.  It took us two hours to get up and a little over an hour to get down with a lot less huffing and puffing on the return trip.

Neighbors

You just never know who’ll be your neighbor at campgrounds.  It’s fun to meet and swap where-you’re-from and where-you’re-going stories.  Here’s the rundown from Haggard.  Neighbor #1 – a couple, both retired from the Army, traveling in their big bus to see all 50 states.  Neighbor #2 – full-timers from Ohio who have only paid for camping 10 times since November.  They like to boondock.  Then there’s the young couple across the way in a tent.  Instead of a trailer or motorhome plugged into the power pedestal, it’s their Tesla.

Other Stuff

We also fleshed out our plan for 2020 travels during this stop and got our Yellowstone reservations.  Yay!  I’m making 2020 reservations before we’ve even finished all the ones for 2019.

And Pat broke a tooth, so we’ll be looking for a dentist at the next stop.  Truly always something.

Next up:  Cheyenne Mountain State Park in Colorado Springs.  See you on the way!

 

Trinidad Lake State Park

April 28-30, 2019

This was just a stop on the way and we didn’t have anything in particular planned for this location.  Good thing since Job One is windshield repair – again!

On The Way

Pat’s always on the lookout for the best gas prices.  We have an app called Gas Buddy and I check ahead sometimes to see what’s out there.  It’s particularly good if you are crossing into a new state.  Get gas before or after the state line?  Anyway, casinos tend to have pretty good prices and we found one on the way up to Pagosa Springs and then decided to hit it again on the way to Trinidad Lake.

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The place was called Camel Rock Casino.  Can you wee why?  (at a different angle, I think it looks like ET’s head)

Star Tek To The Rescue

Since insurance just paid out three grand for Lucy’s windshield, we thought we’d just pay for this repair ourselves.  The well known place who shall remain nameless was three times the price of Star Tek.  Originally I thought their name was Star Trek and figured this was a sign we needed to go with them.  They said call when you get in and we’ll come on over.

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Within an hour or so this gentleman showed up at our campsite and proceeded to fix the rascally chip.  He said it was a difficult one, but he guarantees the work.  So Lucy’s windshield is no longer pristine, but we’re confident it’s good for quite a while unless we meet up with another dump truck.  Job One is now done.

Trinidad Lake State Park

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Doesn’t this place remind you at least a little bit of Abiquiu Lake?  It’s also a reservoir and has Fisher’s Peak watching over Trinidad Lake instead of my beloved Pedernal.  There’s a tad more vegetation as well, but still has that dry, scrub look to it.

We had a nice spot off to itself, right by a paved walking trail and right across from the bath house.  Normally I don’t care about that since we bring our own bathroom along for the ride, but this one had laundry, too.  Now that’s a rare find in a state park.  Colorado is one of the few states with that very nice amenity.  The only down side to our spot?  A very un-level site.  We made it work, but had one tire hanging in the air off the ground.  It’s only a few days, so we don’t really care.

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Mostly this stop consisted of dog strolling and a short hike on the rim overlooking the lake.

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Another Fisher’s Peak and lake view around dusk.

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Our sitting spot on the rim hike.  We can just about make out the Spanish Peaks through the clouds.

And that’s a wrap for Trinidad, Colorado.

Next up:  Pueblo, Colorado.  See you on the way!

 

 

Abiquiu Revisited

April 25-27

Abiquiu was the place in New Mexico that I didn’t want to leave last year.  Pat humored me and we worked it into our travels for this year.  More desert, but for some reason this particular spot speaks to me.

On The Way

It’s day 10 with our brand new windshield and only our second driving day since having it replaced.  We’re driving all of 10 minutes on the way to Abiquiu (you know where this is going) when THWACK!  We meet a dump truck on the road that throws up a giant rock leaving us with a quarter-sized chip in the windshield.  We both said bad words and then proceeded to grouse about it the rest of the way.  Pat says if insurance hadn’t paid the $3000 to get the new windshield, we’d be really annoyed.  So it’s back to looking for a glass repair shop.

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We stopped at Echo Amphitheater for lunch both coming and going to Pagosa.  Nice stop and only cost a buck each time for entry.  We walked to the echo spot both times with Jackson who I thought might expire on his way back the second time.  It was a little too hot for him.  It’s fun to call out and hear your echo and even more fun to listen to other people do it.

Abiquiu Lake

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My Pedernal!  Love that formation and I’m not sure why.  It looms large over Abiquiu Lake and commands your attention.  There’s still just a bit of snow on top, but going fast since it’s warming up and the trees are blooming.

A few shots from our sunset stroll one evening.

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This guy!  I just kept taking pictures and saying “what are you”.  After some research, I believe he’s a white lined sphinx moth also known as a hummingbird moth.  He sure moved like a hummingbird and was about the same size.  If you look closely you can just make out a long straw-like tongue sucking nectar out of those purple flowers.

Monastery of Christ In the Desert

Since we’d already made two stops at Echo Amphitheater, the only other outing I really wanted to repeat was the scenic 13-mile drive to the monastery of Christ in the Desert.

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Such a serene and peaceful spot in the beautiful Chama River valley.  A great place for the contemplative Benedictine monks.  I bought a book about the monastery and learned that it was founded the year of my birth – 1964.  In spite of trials and tribulations, they’re going strong in this location.  I’d like to go back one day and stay at the guest house and really soak up that solitude.

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Looking up the valley with river to the left and monastery to the right.

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We sat for a few minutes to take in the chapel.  That big picture window shows off the red canyon walls.  I bet the Easter service was spectacular.

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Spring has definitely sprung.  Purple tulips in the monastery courtyard.

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The weather is changing quickly and it’s time to go so we can make our way back down the 13 mile gravel road before the rain sets in.

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The river, the red rocks and the dark sky on our way out.

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One more from Abiquiu Lake, and that’s it on our last dip down into New Mexico for 2019.  We’re decidedly not desert people and Pat says if he has his way, we won’t be back anytime soon.  Time to head to the land of big trees and green grass.

Next Up:  Trinidad Lake, Colorado.  See you on the way!

 

 

Pagosa Springs

April 18-24

We stopped for lunch in this cute little town last year and decided to come back for a stay.  It had all our favorites – downtown river walk, lots of trees, green grass, and friendly people.

Pagosa Riverside Campground

Our chosen campground was right on the bank of the San Juan River which is running quite high with snow melt.  We just love the sound of rushing water and the place was practically empty.

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 Our view of the San Juan River and Mt. Jackson in the distance.  A pair of geese honked overhead and came water skiing to a landing on the campground pond every evening, too.

River Walk

We strolled the river walk in town with Jackson which is one of our favorite things to do in any town.  The little place is touted as having the deepest hot springs in the world.  Hmmm.  How do they know?  We didn’t take a soak, but in the winter I bet that’s grand.

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The Pagosa Springs river walk.  We walked across that footbridge in the distance.

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The hot springs bubble up right by the river’s edge and there are spas you can go to for the day to soak.  A dip in that chilly river water will cool you right off.

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The boys pose for me beside one of the many bubbling pools next to the walkway.

A few more from our stroll.  The long view up the San Juan River, Pagosa Springs bike racks and a sign of Spring – daffodils!

Wolf Creek Pass

According to the gal at the visitor’s center, we’re in a transition period for outdoor activities.  A little too slushy and muddy for hiking, and only one day left of ski season in nearby Wolf Creek.  Too bad since Pat really wanted to go snow skiing.  Me?  I’m more interested in snowshoeing or trying cross-country skiing.  Downhill stuff scares me to be honest.  It’s also too cold to do the river rafting at this point.  So we settled for the scenic drive to Wolf Creek Pass.

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We’re glad we made the drive since we stumbled upon Treasure Falls and a trail to get to it.  Visitor center gal didn’t tell us about this scenic spot.

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Right about now we’re wishing we had worn our hiking boots.

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Now this is a real waterfall.  Not like that short stuff we’ve seen other places.

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At the mist zone and getting wet.  Then we looked back to see the snowbank being undercut by the creek.  Glad we didn’t continue walking off the other side of that bridge.

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The valley overlook by the highway.

After our short mushy hike we continued up the road headed for Wolf Creek Pass at 10,856 feet.  Just before the pass, two bighorn sheep bounded across the road and over the guardrail to the cliffside below.  I didn’t even have time to hit the brakes.

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Just look at those beautiful craggy peaks holding bowls of snow.  The close-up of the road sign tells you why we’re not planning on driving this route when we leave Pagosa Springs.  A pass at this elevation didn’t sound like a wise move this time of year since you can never be sure of the weather. We’re heading back south to go around this section of the mountains.  Hairpin turns and runaway truck ramps aren’t our idea of a good time in Lucy.

Pat would also like me to mention the CDT or Continental Divide Trail for those of you who don’t backpack.  That trail crosses this pass at the point where we parked our car.  We had to see it you know.  He’d also like me to mention that it’s one of the backpacking trifecta that also includes the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and Appalachian Trail (AT).  He did a smidge of the PCT in North Cascades last year and will get a tad of the AT done when we’re in North Carolina in the Fall.  And now you know.

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One more Alpine shot for you from the scenic drive.

We did get some odds and ends done here, too.  I got my haircut in town by April.  Turns out she’s relocating here from Golden, so I’ll get to take advantage of her services one more time when we get to the Denver area.  Pat also installed a new chassis battery since he’s been suspicious of the old one for a while now.  Other than that, we just relaxed and listened to the rushing river every day.

This place rates a return visit when we can enjoy more hiking and rafting.

Next up: Backtracking to one of my favorite spots from last year – Abiquiu, New Mexico.  See you on the way!