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Trip Start Apr 28, 2009
37Trip End Jul 03, 2009
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What a fabulous weekend!
We started out on Friday morning by going to the Taos Pueblo. Although only about 50 people actually live there now (maybe less) there are many who come to work there, who have small shops selling jewelry and pottery, mostly. We'd been told if you got there early in the day, there was the smell of baking bread and you got it hot out of the oven..... alas, there was no baking going on yet - we were very early in the season and things aren't in full swing. But we did get the advantage (at 9AM) of being just about (truly) the only people there. Totally empty. We wandered around, joined for an hour and a half by a Little Rascals-type dog who stayed with us the entire time (we called him our tour guide) - he even waited for us when we went in the church. Anyhow, the pueblo is just like any pictures you've seen - easily allows you to imagine what it was like in its heyday. We chatted some with a shop owner (The Dancing Hummingbird, where I bought a couple of small pieces of pottery) and a woman with a jewelry table - she grew up in the pueblo with 4 siblings and her parents and grandparents - they moved outside when she was 11 (maybe in her early 30's now) so they could have electricity and water (none of either still for those who live in the pueblo now). I got a ring and a bracelet af lapis she had made herself. I took about 1 million pictures because it is SO beautiful.
Then we headed up out of New Mexico on a beautiful road, into Colorado, and on up to the Salida area on, yet again, an UNBELIEVABLY beautiful road in the late afternoon/evening. Grassy cattle grazing, buffalo (a huge ranch), the Sangre de Christo mountains (same range as down near Santa Fe and Taos), snow-capped and looming. The grey sky cleared as we wended our way to the northwest. Windy. Stopped to walk the dogs down a dirt road (wind behind us going down, much more exercise walking back up....) Arrived at our campground on the RUSHING Arkansas River, right on the riverbank and unfortunately right on the busy road as well, and very windy as it was in a sort of canyon that served as a wind tunnel..... Sarah and Kaleb arrived at about quarter of 10 - by then the wind was really strong..... none of us got much sleep fearing they would blow into the river!! But they didn't, of course, and the morning was still and misty. Sarah and Kaleb cooked me a Mother's Day pancake breakfast not to be forgotten! 4 for a meal in the camper is a cozy event :-)
We decided to find another place to camp, and took a recommendation from one of the park workers (to be continued.....) Went into Salida, which has become a favorite town (we went there on a previous trip) - had coffee at a cafe, spent time in a big antique store, walked down by the river to watch kayakers playing in the rapids, and to find out more about the day's events, river clean up, bike races, etc. Then headed out to find Hecla Junction campground - and what a find!! 3 miles off the highway, dirt road down to the river, where there is a major put in/take out for rafting and kayaking on the VERY FULL Arkansas. A perfect campsite sheltered among big boulders. Set up camp, then took a hike down along the river to a place called Sievers Suck Hole (a dicey place for rafters....) En route, Belle (the dogs were off-leash) took off after some ducks - swam out and across the RUSHING RAPID RIVER - we truly feared she would meet her demise - swept way down river - Kaleb ran way ahead and down to the river and got her to start swimming back - fortunately no major rapids and she managed to get back to our shore in time before the big rapids ahead. Very scary. She of course had NO idea what she had done other than to scare the ducks away and come back when Kaleb called her....
The rafts (many) all stop above the suck hole to scout it out from land. We then watched 2 go through it, and both dumped ALL their passengers, and one flipped completely and lost the guide too. Sarah and I, old swimming counselors that we are, were madly counting to make sure they all surfaced (they did, and we couldn't have done anything if they didn't) - we were very glad to be on shore.
After the hike, we went back into town and watched silly bike races - two for different aged kids, one for adults with costumes and lots of shenanigans, one more serious for adults - they race through the streets of the town. Only balloon tire bikes. By then, Julie (son Tom's friend) had joined us. We all went for dinner at the Boathouse, right on the river. Beer and burgers. Talked to Tom by phone, up in South Dakota. Back at the campsite (Julie too) we made a fire and sat and visited, joined by the people from the next campsite, who had camped next to us at the windy, noisy one the night before. Turns out they live not far from Sarah in Denver, and in the neighborhood she and Kaleb hope to move to. The guy has been rafting since he was a kid (3rd generation Coloradoan) - I'd say in his 30's now. They invited us to go rafting with them the next day. Despite being very sorry to do so, we declined due to lack of appropriate apparel (cold cold water....) and time, to some extent. Sarah and Kaleb will go with them another time.
This morning after breaking camp, we headed up Cottonstone Pass out of Buena Vista to Cottonstone Lake, where John and I had been a year and a half ago. Lots of people in there fishing this time. Let the dogs go for a swim, walked up the dirt road a ways, explored further in the vehicles, and had a nice picnic by the lake. Then down to Buena Vista for farewell ice cream cones and goodbyes. Such a lovely time. Sarah and Kaleb are great Colorado hosts, and we just love being with them. OF COURSE! They will be back east in July, so it was easier to say goodbye....
John and I headed west, across Monarch Pass (a relatively mild one) and the Continental Divide, through Gunnison, past Blue Mesa Lake (huge dammed lake - goes for miles and miles - set amidst barren hills, LOTS of boaters) to Montrose. None of this new territory for us, as we had done the same route in the other direction last year. Staying at an RV place (the nicest yet) to do laundry, hoping for internet (not working), nice folks nearby (a woman who reminds us SO much of our friend Carol who passed away this winter), quiet, shady, and clean clean clean. Tomorrow we head into Utah and the red rock country, more remote and simple camping and good scenery. So the adventure continues, and we look ahead to exploring new places in the Southwest...... with LOTS of tips from Tom, who has lived and breathed it for the last 25 years!