Southern Colorado - September 24 - October 11, 2020

Well, here we are in the middle of the worst health emergency in the world in the last century with the COVID-19 Pandemic, with no end in sight as of September and October, 2020.

Thankfully, we still have our 5th wheel trailer and are able to travel safely in our bubble and enjoy some of the country within a reasonable drive from the Houston area. This time, we went to Alamosa, Pagosa Springs and Durango, Colorado. We took 3 days to get from Richmond to Alamosa, and 4 days to get back from Durango to Richmond.

The weather was just about perfect this time of the year, and the aspens were putting on a spectacular fall show for us. Even though the wildfires were extremely bad in California and the other western states, including Colorado, there was only a small amount of smoke in the southern area of Colorado during our visit. We enjoyed this vacation, and even though we were socially distanced from other people, we were able to hike on the trails and drive through the beautiful mountains. It was a good trip in a very bad time for the world.

[Thursday] We were able to get away from home by 8:45am and traveled on TX-99, TX-6, IH-35 and US-285 to Campers Paradise RV Park at Sunset, TX (near Bowie). We arrived at 4:00pm and checked into site #17. After dinner we walked around the park to see all the different sections. We plan to stay here again on our return home.

< Our campsite at Campers Paradise RV Park.

[Friday] Today we left Sunset at 9:00am and traveled on US-285 to Amarillo, then on TX-1061 and US-385 to Corral RV Park in Dalhart. We set up in site 12 at about 4:30pm. The last 150 miles today was difficult because of a strong wind from the southwest. It was 98 degrees when we arrived, but the low that night was 54.

< Our campsite at Corral RV Park.

[Saturday] We left Dalhart this morning about 9:00am. Because we wanted to avoid New Mexico because we weren't sure about transit due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we traveled north on US-385 through Oklahoma to Springfield, CO. There we took US-160 west to Trinidad. The quality of the road through OK waa not good, and coupled with another strong crosswind, it made for a tiring drive pulling the trailer.

We then traveled north on IH-25 to Walsenburg, where we continued on US-160 west over the North La Veta Pass (9,413 feet) to Alamosa KOA RV Park, in Alamosa, Colorado. We arrived about 3:30pm and checked into site #26. We watched our Saturday night Second Baptist Church service streaming over the internet, and later a performance of the Houston Symphony streaming.

< Our campsite at Alamosa KOA RV Park.

[Sunday] This morning we watched our Cornerstone Bible Study Class streaming. Afterwards, we drove into Alamosa and filled up the truck with gasoline. We drove around the town a little and came back east of town to the Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge. We drove along the loop road throgh the refuge and saw a few birds, but not many. This is probably not the best time of the year for birds. We did see a few birds; ducks and some little sparrow-like birds, along with a group of 5 deer.

The refuge is in the San Luis Valley that was once inhabited by the Ute Indians, who lived off an abundance of elk, deer, pronghorn, small game and waterfowl. Comanche parties occasionally came into the valley to hunt. The refuge covers 12,026 acres of wetland and river.

< < Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge.

After lunch in the trailer, we drove about 30 miles to the east to Great Sand Dunes National Park. The dunes are located on the western side of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. These huge dunes are North America's tallest. We waded through the deep loose sand to the top of the closest dune. Afterwards, we drove back to the RV park.

Prevailing southwesterly winds bring most of the sand from the San Juan Mountains, over 65 miles to the west. Larger, rougher grains and pebbles come from the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the east. Northeasterly storm winds blast through mountain passes, piling dunes back on themselves and creating the dunes.

< < < The Great Sand Dunes National Park.

< The Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

[Monday] This morning we drove west of Alamosa to Monte Vista, where we took US-285 north to Saguache. We chose this destination because Kay's father had some mineral interests there and we were curious about what the town looks like. We walked around the 2-block downtown and took US-285 east to CO-17 south to Alamosa. We saw many large circular fields of hay along the way. They were bailing it now in many places. We also saw, just north of Monte Vista, large fields of potatos that were being harvested and hauled away in large trucks, with the potatos stacked in the truck.

After lunch we drove to downtown Alamosa and walked a 3.9-miles loop on the Twin Peaks Trail. It was an easy trail, but not so scenic. After returning to the trailer we orderd a pizza from the RV park's pizza delivery service.

< Saguache Courthouse. < Downtown Saguache.

< < Along the road to Saguache.

< Twin Peaks Trail along the Rio Grande River.

[Tuesday] Today, we packed a lunch and left the trailer at about 10:30am and drove west on US-160 to South Fork. We ate lunch there and then drove north on CO-149 to Creede. The road there runs along beside the Colorado River through beautiful mountains. Creede is a very picturesque village at the base of the mountains, and the Aspen were blooming and we saw some of the best colors we have seen. We took a scenic drive outside the town and saw the grave of Bob Ford, who killed Jesse James at a hotel in Creede. After walking arund the downtown, we drove back to our campsite and arrived about 4:30pm. It was a very good day and the sun was bright and the temperature was in the 50's.

< < < On the road from South Fork to Creede.

< Bob Ford gravesite. < Old mine.

< < Outside of Creede. < Downtown Creede.

[Wednesday] Today is the day we leave Alamosa and take our trailer to Pagosa Springs, to Pagosa Riverside RV Park. The drive through the mountains and Wolf Creek Pass (10,856 feet) was very scenic, with the Aspin colors against the impressive San Juan Mountains. Some of the time we were following along beside the Sam Juan River. Our campground is right on the San Juan River.

< < < Life is good on the San Juan River!

[Thursday] Yesterday when we arrived at Pagosa Riverside RV Park, they did not have a river view campsite for us for the first night, so we stayed in site #41. This morning, after the campers in site #79 left, we moved to it so we could have a good view of the San Juan River. After lunch, we decided to drive back east on US-160 to Wolf Creek Pass so that we could stop and take some photos of all the beautiful scenery. We did that and got some very nice photos.

< < < Scenes on the way up to Wolf Creek Pass.

< Here we are at 10,857 feet on the Continental Divide.

< < Scenes on the way back down to the RV park.

[Friday] This morning we awoke to some clouds. The nightime temperaturs the last few nights has been about 29 degrees. We needed a couple of items from a pharmacy so we drove into Pagosa Springs after breakfast and bought them at the City Market. The clouds and lack of sun made photos of the mountains not adequate today. About 3:00pm, we decided to take a drive into the nearby mountains to see if we could see anything of interest. We drove north on CR 400 about 10 miles to a trailhead. The road was gravel and was in pretty good shape most of the way. Along the way we saw lots of pretty Aspen in fall color, some deer and various cows in the pastures. At the end of the road at the trailhead, we saw a group of guys that were getting ready to take their customers on a 5 day elk hunt in the mountains. We returned to the trailer about 4:30.

< < < < < Views along CR 400.

< Elk hunters.

[Saturday] This morning it was 31 degrees and the sky was pretty and blue, but later on some clouds and either smoke or dust appeared. We fixed a picnic lunch and drove to downtown Pagosa Springs and walked a short distance along the San Juan River on the riverwalk. We saw the hot springs that were flowing from the hillside and all the people that were getting in the various pools that were set up. The water is very hot coming out of the ground - much to hot to hold your hand in. There is a strong sulfur smell from the water. They claim that these are the largest hot springs in the world. We afterwards drove up CR 600 to the Coyote Hills Loop Trailhead. We ate our lunch and walked on the trail, which we expected to be about 2.4 miles. It turned out to be 3.7 miles, and very tiring at the 8,000 foot altitude.

< The hot springs in downtown Pagosa Springs.

< < < View from Coyote Hills Loop Trail.

[Sunday] Today after breakfast we watched the streaming Cornerstone Bible Study. We then left the park and pulled the trailer further west to Bayfield Riverside RV Park, about 15 miles east of Durango. After geting set in our site and eating lunch, we drove into Durango to the Cold Stone Creamery and indulged in two very delicious desserts.

< Our campsite at Bayfield Riverside RV Park. < Some of the beautiful flowers at the RV park.

< Cold Stone Creamery in Durango.

[Monday] It was a little warmer this morning at Bayfield - about 39 degrees and a sunny sky. In the morning we took care of some housekeeping tasks before eating lunch in the trailer. Afterwards, we drove about 20 miles east from Bayfield to Chimney Rock National Monument. We took the self guided tour of the Mesa Village Trail Loop, which was about 1/3 mile with stops at historic sites. A thousand years ago it was home to the ancestral Puebloans. They built extraordinary structures and watched the sky. They traded with other villages up to 150 miles away, and they worked, played, and raised there children here. Afterwards, we walked about 10 minutes up The Great House Pueblo Trail which goes up the steep mountainside. We had to cut it short because is was almost 4:00pm and the site closed at 4:30. It was a good visit, but smoke from the California wildfires smoked up the mountains in the distance.

< < Chimney Rock National Monument.

[Tuesday] This morning after breakfast, we drove through Durango to Silverton. On the way, we stopped just north of Durango at Pinkerton Hot Springs. The water is flowing out of a colorful formation right beside the highway. The moumtains and bright colored Aspins on the road between Durango and Silverton were a site to behold all the way there. We ate a take out lunch in the truck from Kendall Mountain Cafe. Afterwards we drove around some of the scenic area, and then headed back home. It was a beautiful day, even with a little smoke from the California wildfires in the air.

< The Pinkerton Hot Springs.

< < < < < < The beautiful drive from Durango to Silverton.

< Kendall Mountain Cafe.

< < < < Silverton.

< Christ of the Miners Shrine outside Silverton.

[Wednesday] This morning we walked around the RV park. In the afternoon we drove around the little village of Bayfield and went back to Durango and drove around some of the neighborhoods. We saw some more beautiful trees and some wildlife wantering through the homes.

< San Juan River at the RV park.

< Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge RR Depot.

< Colorful trees in Durango. < Deer wandering through Durango neighborhood.

[Thursday] Today we started our way back toward home. Took the trailer east to Trinidad Lake State Park, where we set up camp in site#1. We left Bayfield about 9:00am and arrived at the park about 3:00pm. After supper we walked around the park at sunset.

< Our campsite at Trinidad Lake State Park. < Trinidad Lake.

[Friday] We continued our journey back home today. We traveled south on IH-25, through the Raton Pass to US-87 and US-385, southeast into Texas. We took IH-40 and IH-27 to Canyon, TX, and Palo Duro RV Park, site # M21.

[Saturday] Today we continued our trip back toward home. We drove south on IH-27 to Tulia, where we took TX-86 east to US-287, then south to Camper's Paradise RV Park in Sunset. we spent the night in site #16.

[Sunday] Today we returned back home to Richmond the same way we left, going through Fort Worth and Waco on IH-35, and TX-6 and TX-99.

This draws to a close our brief trip to Southern Colorado. We hope you enjoyed the photos and brief descriptions of our activities. God willing, join us again soon for another travel adventure.

Goodbye for now,

Lawson & Kay

October 31, 2020

All things are done according to God's plan and decision; and God chose us to be his own people in union with Christ because of his own purpose, based on what he had decided from the very beginning. Let us, then, who were the first to hope in Christ, praise God's glory! (Ephesians 1:11-12 GNT)

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