Walsenburg, CO, to Cheyenne, WY

There really isn’t anything interesting to report about today, I’m afraid. If you were planning to go to bed soon, keep reading as I’m sure you’ll fall asleep halfway through. 😀

I stayed at the Anchor Motel in Walsenburg and it was a great stay. The room was $50 with the tax. The motel is located at the quiet end of Main Street so there was almost no road noise. The room was very dark and the bed nearly as comfortable as the one in John’s RV. I only slept six hours straight through, but they were solid hours, and then I snoozed for another two and a half. 🙂 The room itself was neat, clean, and not worn or shabby even though it hadn’t been updated in my lifetime, I’m sure (except for that mattress!). I like that it had a proper desk and chair and that the shower was hot with good pressure.

The only negative was that they didn’t offer coffee. I did a quick Google search and found a coffee shop a couple of blocks away. I drove because it was pouring rain. The lady working the shop was a complete flake, but the coffee and scone were both excellent.

I didn’t leave till nearly 10:30 since I wasn’t doing too much mileage today. I had to drive through downtown Walsenburg and wished the weather would have been nicer as I would have stayed for a bit to poke through the antique shops, but it was definitely not weather for walking around. The streets were deserted, it was just that nasty and miserable.

I bought fuel before getting on I-25 and then headed north. By 11:30, I was ready for another coffee and getting peckish. So when I passed near Pueblo a sign for a Cracker Barrel, my guilty pleasure, I decided to stop for lunch. Service was unbelievably slow because the restaurant was packed, but my server was attentive, the coffee kept coming, and I had a full charged phone with good service, so I didn’t care.

Next stop was the Walmart in Colorado Springs because the forecast for the weekend is just more and more wet and I needed at the very least some waterproof footwear and hoped to find a fleece hoodie and some sort of waterproof windbreaker. I found a really cute pair of rubber booties for $15, but struck out on outerwear. They only had summer stuff. I didn’t think to check the time and headed to a Target, where I struck out, too. It was only as I was about to head to JC Penney’s that I thought to look at the clock and realised that at the rate I was going, I was going to hit Denver at 3:00, right at the start of rush hour! Moron!

By this point, I was so deep into Colorado Springs and away from I-25 that I had to drive 15KM to get back on it, so I got a chance to see quite a bit of the town. It’s really nothing special. The name Colorado Springs features on two favourite TV shows of mine, Dr. Quinn and Stargate, but of course those Colorado Springs have nothing to do with reality. I’ve been to the Stargate Colorado Springs; it looks suspiciously like the Greater Vancouver Area. 😀

From Target, I hurried back to the truck and drove and drove and drove, not daring to take any time to stop even though I passed a Cabela’s where I could have gotten what I needed.

Heading out of Colorado Springs into Denver.

Heading out of Colorado Springs into Denver.

Traffic through Denver was thick and slow, but fluid, and I made it through in 30 minutes flat. Phew! Only the scenery around the city looked familiar to me after 20 years. There was a bit of clearing and a wisp of blue sky past Denver, but it didn’t last.

Castle Rock.

Castle Rock.

I pushed on from Denver, with the plan being to stop in Cheyenne for the night. That was as far as I was willing to go tonight and it would mean a reasonable day tomorrow to Mount Rushmore.

Something tells me the Wyoming border is approaching.

Something tells me the Wyoming border is approaching.

I was right. :)

I was right. 🙂

It started to sleet heavily as I crossed the Wyoming state line. I pulled into the rest area to do some motel research and found the pickings dire. There is tons of accommodation, but it’s firmly divided between luxury accommodation and roach motels with barely any middle ground. I read recent review after recent review of motels in the $70 range that are the cheapest in the area pricewise and have bedbugs and other major issues. It looked like my two best options were the iffy Motel 6 (middling reviews) and the Super 8 (great reviews, but pricey at over 100USD. Yes, for a Super 8!!!).

I came into town and checked a couple of the better reviewed non-chain motels and they were terrifying! The cheapest one I could find was $75 and I’m not sure I would have used the bathroom! I went to the Motel 6, which was $50 and right on budget, but there were four people ahead of me in line complaining about their rooms. So I headed to the Super 8 and was quoted $83 with the tax, much better than the online rate, and it includes a basic breakfast of toast, fruit, and coffee. I really wasn’t happy dropping 100CAD, but I was done shopping for a bed and the room was nice and about as far from the railroad tracks as I can hope to be.

There were no food options period within walking distance (which I would have done even in the sleet to avoid getting back in my truck), so I resigned myself to either not eating or doing more driving, neither option being particularly appealing. I searched for pizza and found a Little Caesar’s 10 minutes away, so that was perfect. I made it there without incident and they had my favourite $5 pizza (sausage) ready, so I took that as a sign that I’d made the right dinner choice!

I got back to the motel and called Zenni Optical between slices of pizza. My latest order is taking a bit longer than usual to process, so it won’t make it to Mount Rushmore by Friday, as I had hoped. I was able to have the shipping addressed changed to home, so now I don’t have to worry about having the order sent on to me by reader and host Vicki.

I’m so close to home I can almost smell it… I am really glad to be taking in the Black Hills this weekend and still want to make the relatively minor detour there, but wish the weather was looking better so I could enjoy my stay more. I’m getting to Mt. Rushmore later tomorrow afternoon and will be working Thursday and Friday. Vicki, a friend of hers, and I are going to do touristy stuff over the weekend, including Mt. Rushmore and the town of Deadwood. Monday, it’s off to Devils Tower and then an overnight in Scobey. I can’t believe I’ll be home this day next week.

Santa Fe, NM, to Walsenburg, CO

I’ve decided to split my day up into two posts. The more interesting one will follow. 🙂

Unfortunately, I got to bed very late last night, a combination of having dinner with John (I cooked and he can attest to the fact that I can cook, even with a very limited pantry! 🙂 ) and the File From Hell that would not finish. So it was a slow and molassy kind of morning for me. My to-do list felt daunting — finish packing up the fifty billion bags I brought into the rig, schlep them all the way to my truck and repack it (John fixed my tailgate again, btw, THANK YOU!!!), and then clean the rig and throw on laundry. Of course, it all came together very quickly. I was ready to pull out at about 9:30, an hour and a half later than I would have liked, but still a half hour ahead of my ‘this is the absolute latest I want to leave’ hour.

John and I both tried to figure out how long I’d been there and drew a blank. I later figured out it was 12 days!!!. My Santa Fe stay really felt like a moment out of time. I am really grateful to have been there as it enabled me to recharge my batteries and my bank account a little as well as do loads of touristy stuff. It was definitely time to move on, but John said I was welcome to return if I wanted to tonight since my day’s fun was to be had not very far down the road. It’s nice to feel that welcome. 🙂

After getting fuel, it was time to head to Bandelier National Monument, the subject of my next post.

It's unbelievable the places my life takes me...

It’s unbelievable the places my life takes me…

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Right to Bandelier!

Right to Bandelier!

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After several hours of fun that I am convinced Disney World couldn’t rival, I decided to go to Los Alamos for lunch and a bit of tourism.

Los Alamos has great significance for me. Judy Blume’s book Tiger Eyes was one of the defining stories of my adolescence. I must have retreated to this story set primarily in Los Alamos more than a hundred times. It painted a world that was absolutely alien to me and I promised myself that if I ever was in the area, I would check out the town and its environs.

I thought I’d done my research and that Los Alamos is now open, with no more guard houses and plenty of museums and other touristy things to do. So imagine my surprise when there was a checkpoint coming into the town. A surely woman asked me where I was going. I told her the truth, going downtown to have lunch and visit the museums. “You’re on government property. I need to see your ID,” she replied. I handed her my passport and she told me to turn around and go the way I came. So, that was that for Los Alamos. Can’t say I didn’t try. 🙂 But I did see the canyons that Judy Blume paints so well with words and they were exactly as I expected. I’m not disappointed about not seeing the town as I doubt it would have borne any resemblance to the the 1970’s town she described.

It was then time to head northeast.

Last chance to go back to John's for the night!

Last chance to go back to John’s for the night!

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I put Mount Rushmore into my GPS and it plotted out the same route I had to I-25 and beyond, so I followed its directions, heading northeast through mountain passes. Traffic was very slow through the tourist town of Taos and I had no desire to stop.

Quesnel Road! I wonder how they pronounce Quesnel here.

Quesnel Road! I wonder how they pronounce Quesnel here.

From the mountains, I eventually emerged into a plateau as I entered Colorado. I went to three places in 1996, Quebec City, Colorado, and New York City. If I had known then that of the three, Colorado is the first one I would return to a second time, I would not have believed it.

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Colorado was looking a lot like Florida the last time I was there. :)

Colorado was looking a lot like Florida the last time I was there. 🙂

Snow capped peaks in the distance.

Snow capped peaks in the distance.

I didn’t want to drive too much today and hoped to stop around 4:00. But motels were far apart and expensive. I decided that I was stopping in Walsenburg, CO, no matter the prices. By the time I got there around 6:45, I’d seen about four roach motels wanting more than 80CAD a night. Google told me that the average price in Walsenburg was about that. So when the first place I stopped in was clean, neat, and 60CAD, my maximum budget, I was done for the day! BTW, it’s cold and rainy; not truck camping weather at all!

Having done so much exercise today, I needed a proper dinner, so I walked the block to a sit down Mexican restaurant. I ordered a beer (Budweiser!) and wasn’t asked for ID. Mexico officially aged me! 😀 The menu was uninspiring, just your typical ‘Mexican’ and American fare, so I ordered the two enchilada special (opting for chicken with green sauce). It was tasty enough, spicy as hell, and a good deal for the price ($7). The beer brought the tab up to $10.30 with the tax, still a very reasonable price. The enchiladas were topped with cheese, lettuce, tomato, and… black olives. Strange. I started to eat olives last summer and haven’t had them since I left home, so I tried one and didn’t hate it, so I ate them all. 🙂

It was a good day on the road. I could easily get to Mount Rushmore tomorrow, but I’d rather split it up into two or even two and a half days. We’ll see how the weather is. 🙂

Travels Without Miranda, #4: Bailey and Windy Peak, Colorado

How I came to Colorado with a friend to represent Canada at an environmental youth summit is a rather long story featuring a famous anthropologist. Suffice it to say that it was the opportunity of a lifetime, one I had been told I would have to miss because there was no way I could come up with the necessary funds for the flight in the time I had. Readers of this blog should know by now that the best way to get me to do something is to tell me I can’t. 🙂

This trip happened the fall after I finished high school; I was seventeen. I squirreled away the prize monies I’d won upon graduation, including the $300 award for creative writing that I had no doubt would be mine, and worked all summer. It had been a very difficult September and this trip couldn’t have come at a better time. It was to be the first major life-changing trip of my life.

the Farmer's Union outside of Bailey, where we spent the first half of our Colorado adventure (http://nfu.org/about/education/education-center)

the Farmer’s Union outside of Bailey, where we spent the first half of our Colorado adventure (http://nfu.org/about/education/education-center)

The five day adventure featured many challenges to surmount, one of which was standing before a crowd of thirty, including my hero, and talking about my accomplishments in the environmental field.

I was so scared; others had surely done bigger and greater things than I had. My accomplishments would seem insignificant when compared to that of the others. Surely, I had nothing to teach and I would be ridiculed for thinking that I had made any difference at all. To my surprise, the response to my speech was positive and I saw my hero glow with pride. She made it clear to me that I had something to give to the world and that I could be an inspiration.

Windy Peak outdoor school, a day's hike from the Farmer's Union, where we spent the second half of our trip

Windy Peak outdoor school, a day’s hike from the Farmer’s Union, where we spent the second half of our trip

Had that moment fallen flat, I might never have had the courage or self-assurance to blog about my life on the road, much less to publish my ebook Sorting It Out.