Thursday, April 28, 2022

Eastern Colorado - More Interesting From Space

April 26 - 28, 2022
Lamar, Colorado

For about an hour Tuesday morning I waffle between stay and go. Bill doesn't care either way, leaves it to me as the driver.

Once again winds of 20-30 mph are forecast for our travel day. We already know that eastern Colorado is not the most visually exciting route so adding nasty driving conditions isn't appealing......but, we're ready to move on to a new area.

So in the end we pack up and pull out before 10:00. And it's a good choice as the wind is again pushing us without the stress of gusts from the side. Highways 160, 350 and 50 are as expected - a car, a curve, a truck, a knoll. Not much.

A lot of this.

Eight foot short power lines along the railroad - like they're waiting for water to grow big.
More interesting from space!

Lamar Sportsman RV and Horse Motel is right on Hwy 50 and is 98% permanent residents. When the phone number posted to reach someone for assistance is out of order I'm skeptical about this choice of stop. But a resident sees us and calls the manager. Eventually I get checked in, and after driving around looking for a site with sewer, we get set up. 50 amp FHUs on level dirt, small sites with a strip of grass. The first grass in a long time! 

Lamar is another small town with a Walmart as the largest business. La Mission Villanueva restaurant is a nice surprise with good food and margaritas.

Not Santa Fe, but a decent stuffed sopapilla.

Late afternoon Bill brings Tessa inside telling me there's a loose pit bull in our site. Hate to prejudge, but also don't need to take chances. A few minutes later our neighbor knocks on the door to see if the dog attacked ours. It's attacked their dog twice, and when I ask he confirms someone is coming to pick it up today. So very nice and concerned residents, but another mark against this quiet little park.

With wind returning on our scheduled travel day (of course), we decide that three nights in Lamar is really more than we need. Our site at Scott Lake SP is available, so I add a night to our reservation and we make plans to pull out on Thursday. While the weather this time of year is challenging, space availability isn't an issue yet. We love the freedom of being able to move or stay longer as circumstances change. 

One thing I did differently when planning this route was to make a list of interesting things/places to see at each stop. For this one there is the Petrified Wood Gas Station (who wouldn't want to see that?), and John Martin Reservoir SP. After our visit to the state park we agree this is the place to stay if you're in the area - beautiful, huge campgrounds with water views.

After lunch we head out for some exploring under cloudy, squinty skies. Nothing like gray above to enhance brown below :-)

Petrified Wood Building - 175,000,ooo years old, built of wood and turned to stone. Although this is the sign on the front, I suspect the wood may have turned to stone before it was used to make the building!

1899 Star Schoolhouse - nice to see the community working to raise funds for restoration,

One of two very large campgrounds - Hasty Campground at the state park with electric sites in the trees.

A small remaining pond on the down side of the dam with very nice covered fishing platforms.

By now we're not surprised to see the reservoir at 60% capacity, with acres of land previously under water.

Lower water levels expose interesting rock layers.

Day Use area at The Point just past the second campground, all dry camping with no trees.

In addition to robins, sparrows, swallows, killdeer, a hawk, and a couple vultures, we see this beautiful, lone pelican.

The old barn catches my eye along the highway, and then we see all the goats! From a couple rams to several babies, all are healthy and too cute.

Back home we get the laundry caught up for another five days without sewer hookup. Thursday morning we're on the move again.

The end.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Okay Colorado, Calm Down!

 April 21-26, 2022
Las Vegas, New Mexico - Trinidad Lake, Colorado

Thursday's drive north on Hwy 25 is uneventful, and we arrive at Las Vegas KOA at 12:30. The last 20 miles the wind increases, but isn't a problem. The park is all junipers and pinon pines with an interesting lay-out. 30 amp FHU mostly level dirt pull-through, we're able to get satellite. Dark and quiet overnight, we'd stay here again, even though their entrance and interior roads are rough.

Las Vegas has seen better days, but their downtown has a clean and "we're still trying" vibe. 

Obviously fuel prices are a consideration this year. When we arrived in Albuquerque diesel was $4.75 and a week later it's $5.00. Definitely not going in the right direction. 

Friday we're expecting wind for our continued travels north on Hwy 25, into Colorado. We wake to calm, and move out before nine hoping to beat the worst of it again.

We find the wind about 50 miles into the drive, and although it's at over 30 mph when we pull into Trinidad Lake State Park at 11:30, it's a tail wind with very few gusts so almost no impact on driving the rig. Thankful for that!

US Hwy 25 doesn't have much scenic variety, but we do see three good size pronghorn herds on the east side.

Unfortunately we also see a fire to the west, and are into the smoke when we hit the mountains at the state border. Really? This is what we dread in late summer, not mid-spring! I reserved early so we could get a lake view site for our four nights here. Sadly when we arrive we can't be outside, the smoke and dust are so bad only the closest little mountain is visible over the lake. I'm so bummed. 

After only a couple hours we have to pull in the two small slides. Additionally the fire is 65 miles to the southwest with winds blowing northeast - not a restful night's sleep.

Not this again.....

The sky gets significantly browner later in the afternoon, completely blocking the distant mountains.

Wind rocks us all night - not in a good way. Still, although the wind is over 25 mph, I'm thrilled when pulling up the blinds to be faced with clear blue skies Saturday morning!!! 

Oh what a difference a day makes! 

This is what I was looking forward to!

The expected storm makes its first appearance over the mountains to the west. Big fluffy thunderheads that send out scouts, no doubt seeking dry spots that will most benefit from some moisture. Or errant offspring seeking to wreck havoc :-) Either case, bring it on!

Peeking over the distant ridge.

Spreading out.....

Trinidad is a cute little town with mining history and vintage architecture to enjoy. We spend a day exploring Main Street and the surrounding areas. I can't find the back road we enjoyed on our last visit, but do find an abandoned resort which is both interesting and creepy.

So many dispensaries here - four in a row on this one block!

Might be the tiniest restaurant we've eaten in - two 2-seaters tucked behind us and that's all of Nana and Nano's.

While not all the store fronts have open businesses, the structures are all in beautiful condition.

The town has several large churches, this little one in the country really grabbed my eye :-)

Our pending storm dropping much needed snow on the Rockies.

Several older homes show pride of ownership.

In a small valley we find this abandoned hotel resort.

Rather than going out of business, it was never completed.

All the infrastructure is here, including bike paths and signage, but then just stopped. I'm sure there's a story.

When we were here in June six years ago, it was greener with a lot more water in the lake, river and creeks. The highlight was the Highway of Legends, and I'm looking forward to repeating the beautiful drive.

Happy to have a cold and cloudy day instead of a windy and smokey one, we head out about 11:00. The ranger station is closed on Sunday so we don't have the information pamphlet we had last time, still I remember quite a bit and there are a few plaques along the way.

The remains of coke ovens in Cokeville - the area had several coal mines in the late 1800's.

The storm in the Rockies will catch up to us before we get home.

Vintage farms add character to the scenic highway.

Rock fins - natural walls throughout the area.

North Lake, small but full.

At 8000 feet we find snow on the north facing slopes.

Some of the fins are so "thin" it's hard to believe the winds wouldn't knock them over!

Lots of signs for elk, bear and mountain lions, but these cute deer are the only wild life we see.

We drive through light snow flurries off and on, and by the time we get to Hwy 25 it's warmed to rain that follows us back to the campground. 

In California the grands are enjoying Spring.

M&M enjoying a day at the park.

Love seeing Henry having so much fun with bubbles.

Now we've already had brutal winds, choking smoke, 80+ degree temps, and a little rain. Monday morning we wake to a foot of snow! All sticking and still coming down, it's beautiful. Happy that we aren't traveling, we're entertained by our neighbors who are all packing up. 

Not her first snow, still Tessa is not impressed by yet another weather change.

By noon the sun is out and snow clumps are diving off the trees.

Our poor neighbor spent two hours getting his hitch and jacks to work - then another hour removing the snow from the slide toppers. They were so happy to finally pull out!

At 4:00 it's like it never happened :-)

Traveling in April is always "iffy", and I expected we might run into some late winter weather as we moved north - but wow, four days in Colorado gave us a wild ride!

Tuesday we'll head northeast for a few days in Lamar, Colorado, where the temps are expected to be in the high 80's. And yes, more wind forecast for the drive