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


  1. Spring is a fickle month isn't it! All those weather changes can be expected, but smoke this early is not a good sign. We've stayed at Trinidad twice, once planned and once because the wind was so strong we had to stop and they had a spot for us at the last minute!
    I'm glad the snow melted before you left for Lamar....We spent a couple days there once upon a time...at an Elks Lodge no less! Safe travels friends....

    1. And here I thought no one would know where Lamar was!! Even though we have some dust, I'm happy there's no more smoke for now.

  2. Such amazing changes in your daily weather, I think you had all 4 seasons in those 4 days. After your last trip of the Highway of Legends I bookmarked it for our trip this year. But alas we'll be coming to Denver from the Mt Shasta area. Maybe next time, till then I look forward to your return adventure.

    1. It's worth leaving on the list for another trip. I think you're right about all four seasons too!

  3. This is Gay…Something funny going on with my IPad today…🤨! You have managed to handle your spring fling with calm an ease…kudos to you, Bill and Tessa! Of all your wonderful photos, the barn an the fence with the snowy skirt caught my eye…both frame worthy!

    1. Thanks Gay, that little fence really grabbed me too - sometimes those little surprises are the best :-)

  4. I burst out laughing when I scrolled and saw the "foot of snow"--sorry!! Spring is a fickle season in our western states. We head north soon and I'm sure we will see some of that white stuff. I agree with Gay--you guys are handling the weather with aplomb!

    1. Yep, we laughed when we saw it too!! It sure melted fast, but quite the surprise at how much we got overnight. Safe travels coming north.

  5. What a wild spring you're having—everything seems so extreme this year. It's worrisome to know that fires are happening already in the west. I'm so glad the smoke cleared for you and that you were able to enjoy your view of that beautiful lake. And then to have snow!!! So interesting that the buildings in Trinidad are in good condition even though many businesses are not open. But four dispensaries in the same block?! Wow!!

    1. The conditions are pretty scary with the lack of rain and high winds, sure hoping the monsoons give us a wet summer. We know we'll have humidity on our route, but sure hoping this will be a year without anymore smoke. Even the smallest towns have two dispensaries :-)

  6. I don't believe there is a state where there hasn't been strong wind this spring. My mother has said how hard it is to get outside even when the sun's out because the wind is strong. April is such a nice time of year...when the weather cooperates. You, sadly, you have just experience all 12 months in a matter of days!! That was quite the snow storm. Wow! But so pretty with the blue sky. Amazing how fast it melted. Sure hope you have turned the corner with bad weather.

    1. I've seen how many places are getting high winds this year - with so little rain it's not a good combination. We've still got some along our route as of right now, but hoping that ends soon. Temps are rising fast so doubtful we'll see anymore of the white stuff - still......we'll have to see!

  7. It's been 25+ years since we did the Highway of Legends, planning on it this fall. Hoping we don't have snow for our visit.

    1. I wonder if it looks any different? Having the pamphlet makes it so much better!

  8. Just way too early for all these fires. Trinidad must be a sleepy town with all those dispensaries. Looks like you drove into the storm. Those rock fins are awesome. Don't sneeze or they may fall down. ;) Colorado threw everything at you. That was a lot of snow, and melt. I'd rather be with M&M.

    1. We love that scenic highway - lots of rock fins and all so fascinating! We didn't mind the snow since it went away so quickly and didn't leave much mud.