Tuesday, July 26, 2011

7-21-11 Getting There

 5 minutes down the road, and the first stop. Dad doesn't like the foam mattress movement on top.


Another 20 minutes or so and it was time to stop for breakfast at Cracker Barrel in Pueblo. I saved my second bottle of maple syrup for the pancakes I knew were on the camp menu.

After that, it was wide open spaces for hours. The green you see below is all cactus. The high desert plains between here and New Mexico can get awfully barren when the mountains disappear from view.

Exit 52 took us off the Interstate. The trickiest part is that there are only certain ways to get over the mountains to the west side of the state, so it's a long haul south, then west.

We stopped in for a pit stop at the Walmart in Alamosa and there is just something terribly creepy about a store where you could be anywhere in the world and never know it -- it always looks the same. By 11:20 we had Red Headed Stranger on the radio, passing the still-working drive-in theater (with 2 screens) in Monte Vista before getting in the belly of the giant valley. Mountains ringed the entire expanse.

Our passage through was via the Wolf Creek Pass on the Continental Divide. It started to rain on the way up, but was gone by the time we hit the other side of the range. The yellow sign below reads "tunnel" -- in case you weren't sure what the gaping hole in front of you might possibly be.

12:15 at the Great Divide. From here forwards in our progress all rivers will be flowing westward towards the Pacific.

And, as you can imagine, once you climb to the top, the road begins to descend very quickly. There are plenty of runaway ramps on the descending side of mountains around here, but this is probably one of the steepest I've seen. Nothing like letting gravity take control.

The rock truck we landed behind slowed progress for several miles, chugging along at 20 MPH. Of course, when your sight line is limited every 100 yards and you're pulling a trailer of camping gear, you just have to breath deep and enjoy the landscape out the windows.

which, as landscapes go, was pretty spectacular. . .

This is always the best part of trips -- the beginnings and anticipation, with all the time stretching out ahead of you, shimmering and full of promise. Scratched in my journal at about this point in the trip:

What is it about beginnings that are really full circles -- better than beginnings because the anticipation is one backed with that knowledge and experience that this is what you desire most and its back within your grasp, at an intersection of expectation and actuality that makes you tremble with delight, if only you can slow down enough to soak it in. Sammi asks, "what are we doing when we get there" and I pause, really pondering the question. When you are camping, half of the time doing is all activity, gathering and splitting wood, toting water, cooking meals, cleaning up and the other half is just being, taking in the sun and the trees and the breeze, the birds, the river.  .  .

1:00 Pagosa Springs and the great meltdown. Guess we needed to get that out of the way so the rest of the trip could go smoothly.

We finally found some lunch at the Malt Shoppe, sitting outside near the water, sipping on homemade shakes, and gathering up for the last push to Vallecito.

We entered into the Southern Ute Reservation, passed the first casino sign 5 miles in, and then . . . this.

Penis Hill is actually called Chimney Rock, but that's just because the people naming things back then were prudes. 

Vallecito Reservoir at last. Campground only 5 miles to go!

This would be a good place to leave you, at Wit's End, just outside the camp, at least until next time.


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