Tuesday, October 11, 2011

On the Way to Denver: Pagosa Springs and the Monument of the Gods

Monday-Tuesday, October 10-11

I've mentioned before that travel days are great adventures. We left Mesa Verde on Monday after attending Mass to pray for our safety over the mountain passes on US 160. What a lovely little parish (St. Margaret Mary in Cortez). They were saying the rosary when we got there fifteen minutes early and at the end of Mass they did morning prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours. We felt well prepared for the challenges of the drive. One of the ladies told us they'd had 40 inches of snow in the mountain a few days ago and the ski resorts were open. She also said they clear the snow really fast and we shouldn't have any problems.

Before we left the campground, Mesa Verde RV Resort (One of the nicest we've stayed at with tiled bathrooms!),  I had to take a photo of the birdman decorating the front. It reminded me of a trip we took to Mexico ten years ago when we saw men decorated in feathers attached by ropes to a pole and "flying" around it.

The weather was chilly (started at 29, but with expectation of the 50s at the lower elevations) but sunny and lovely driving weather. We stopped in Pagosa Springs for a pit stop and wished we had our bathing suits in the car. What a great resort town with natural hot springs! The town offers a large outdoor pool and several smaller pools that have different temperatures. Take your pick according to your heat index. We walked along the river where there were several spots with hot springs bubbling out of the hillside. One had to be about 150 degrees, too hot to bathe in for sure! You could see all the mineral deposits on the stone. It was a great short stop and a place to put on the list for a future trip.

The drive over the mountain actually was less nervewracking than our trip over the Big Horn: fewer switch backs and the up and down was more gradual. We saw plenty of snow, but all on the side of the road and on the mountainside, thank God. At one ski resort we noticed ski tracks that must have been from cross country skiers.

About an hour before we reached our destination we saw a turnoff to go to the Stations of the Cross Shrine in San Luis, but we didn't have enough daylight to make the detour and get over the last mountain pass before it got dark. That was disappointing, but we opted for safety.

We spent the night at Lathrop State Park outside Walsenburg, lovely place with a lake and some interesting big rocks with depressions where water collected. Many of the rocks out here are soft sandstone that seem to develop unusual cracks, crevices, and depressions. Our rocks back east must be harder because we've never seen this before. We met a lovely young family with three children camping next to us -- very Christian and very concerned about the way the culture is going. After dark we could hear the dad playing his guitar and singing Christian songs. Anybody we've had an extended conversation with on this trip has been conservative and Christian -- gives me a lot of hope. We watched the moon rising over the campground -- beautiful.

The second day of our trip to Denver we had one stop planned -- at The Garden of the Gods. A city park, it only covers several square miles, but there are dozens of huge rock formations, sort of a mini Monument Valley. We took a three mile hike on a dual use trail and had to get out of the way at one point for two cowgirls on horseback. I was wishing I could join them. We also saw a couple on Segways. We thought about doing that but after a day and a half in the car we felt like we needed the walk. The park was deeded to the state of Colorado with the proviso that it would always be free and open to the public.

We arrived at Cherry Creek State Park, a city campground, around 4:00 p.m. and are settled in for several days while we explore Denver and spend some time with my cousin and our niece and her family.

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