"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood... And sorry I could not travel both. I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference." --Robert Frost

Saturday, August 7, 2021

From the Plains to the Mountains - Colorado

Lamar, Colorado
Lamar Elks Lodge 


Aaaaah, Colorado, how we've missed you!
It's been a couple of years since we were here last and that was a quick visit.  Once again we had to shorten this years visit from three months to just 3 weeks.  Our main reason for this trip was to see my neighborhood friend who moved here recently and then to visit our very favorite area.
We haven't seen mountains (real mountains) since March.  Before we get to Colorado Springs though we have to drive through the plains on Hwy 50.  Just after crossing the border from Kansas we saw a sign for one of the Japanese Internment Camps.
I didn't know that there was more than one.  We've visited the partially restored camp in Manzanar, CA along I395.  A must-see.
Not much remains here except the foundations and a small information center.  You can drive all around but the roads are a bit sandy and we were pulling our 5th wheel at the time.  I could see by satellite that there was enough room to get us to the informational pull-out but we didn't want to try our luck on the rest of the roads.  It would've been nice to drive around and go to the cemetery.

Lamar, Colorado
Lamar Elks Lodge
Our first stop was in Lamar, Colorado.  A three hour drive from our campsite in Kansas and 1/2 an hour over the border.  The town is small with not much to do or see so we spent a couple nights at the Elks Lodge.  Since it was County Fair Weekend we were happy to get a spot.  Just one other couple here.  This lodge sits on a golf course.  $10 W/50a.  We had a drink inside and one of the staff gave us a tour around and told us about the history of the area.  As expected, it's still hot and windy.
There was one unusual site in townLamar's Petrified Wood building started out as a gas station, built by lumber dealer W.G. Brown in 1932. The building walls and floors are constructed of large pieces of petrified wood over 175 million years old and thus claims to be the oldest structure on the planet.
This one beam is a tree trunk.  You can see "Built by W.G. Brown" carved into it.
And that concludes our visit to Lamar!  Exciting, right?  Finding campgrounds in Colorado Springs is almost impossible.  Normally we would've boondocked but the few roads up the mountains don't sound too doable for a rig our size without scouting them out first.  Plus we need strong internet.  There are very few campgrounds and they tend to be very expensive private parks.  I had called the Elks Lodge there a couple of months back to check on their facilities.  They don't take reservations but assured me they are never full.  Well when I checked back last week they said they are completly full and have people waiting in the parking lot for others to leave so they can take a spot.  Well that's a bummer!  We decided instead of spending a week in Colorado Springs we'd stop at one more tiny town along the way and spend 4 nights.  That put us in Rocky Ford. 

Rocky Ford, Colorado
Rocky Ford Elks Lodge
Rocky Ford, Colorado Elks Lodge.  $20, W/50a and dump.  The same train track that runs by Lamar, runs past here too.  Oh joy.  It worked out fine as Steve was working during the week and I wasn't seeing my girlfriend until Saturday.  We spent the next couple of days making tons of phone calls trying to find a spot in Colorado Springs to stay.  There are a couple of state parks within an hour but all were booked.  KOA, booked.  The few private parks I called, booked.  Seems with school about to start everyone was out for their last hurrah.  FINALLY, Steve found a private park for us for 2 nights.  Their last one.  Lucky us.
While in Rocky Ford we walked around the town looking at their murals, old buildings and stores.  They are known as the Melon Capitol.  Cantaloupe, Honeydew and Watermelon fields are everywhere.
Our first day we stopped at one of the many fruit and vegetable stands to get some tomatoes, peppers, onions, peaches and MELONS!  Steve grilled some chicken stuffed with peppers and cheese which went nicely with a tomato/cucumber/onion/feta salad.
The peaches were so good we went back for more.  We had so many I crushed them in a bowl and added some aged peach balsamic, froze them in ice trays and then put the frozen cubes in baggies.  They make a great compote to put over chicken and pork or use in oatmeal and yogurt.

We found an electronics place that could re-solder a wire on our booster.  We will need this at our next stop while boondocking.  We also ordered 3 new truck tires but they can't get them in before we leave so they'll be delivered to Durango where we'll stay after our next stop.

A short 2 hour drive brings us to... the mountains along Colorado Springs!  So excited to see them but not so excited to be back in traffic.  We've been almost exclusively on 2 lane backroads from Texas to Florida to Indiana and here to Colorado.  Wow is Colorado Springs big.  With a population of 677,000 it is much bigger than I thought.  We are just south of that and our campground is tucked into the foothills at 6400 feet elevation.

Colorado Springs, Colorado
Golden Eagle Campground
I'm glad Steve was able to find this campground as I thought we'd have to miss my friend and move on.  Golden Eagle Campground, $55, FHU, #451.
The entrance to the park has a very sharp, uphill turn.  Our next challenge was that the pull through sites had a large berm to drive over to enter.  We weren't sure we'd make it without bottoming out, but we were ok.  The campground could use a little TLC, and some grading/paving, but it had nice surroundings.

Our old neighborhood back in the 60s.
Me top left, Roseann bottom right.
Saturday finally came and I met up with my friend, Roseann, to hike at nearby Cheyenne Mountain State Park.  It's been at least 15 years since we last saw each other. Since I'm not used to high elevation I didn't want to go much over 8000 feet.  I found a nice trail called Sundance Loop which kept us under 6400 feet.

Sandance Loop is 4.3 miles that brought us through the meadows up to some juniper tree lines.


This is one of the best marked trails I've been on.  Signs with trail names color coded to a map with GPS coordinates.  How could you get lost?  Well, either we were talking too much or we missed a couple signs as we had to backtrack a few times. I think they left out a few signs.
Grand Peak

Besides the wildflowers, we had a Bull snake join us on the trail.  He was a big boy too!

Looking down at Colorado Springs.
Another view of Grand Peak and the valley below.

After our hike we cleaned up and Roseann and her husband, Gene, joined us at our campsite.  They brought some sub sammies from Jersey Mikes and we cut up some of our Rocky Ford melons and enjoyed a campfire and great company.  So much to catch up on!

It was time to move west along Hwy 50 following the Arkansas River.  The drive from Pueblo to Salida is very scenic.
The train tracks on the other side of the river wind through the valley.  

We passed by rafters and fishermen.
The rocky canyon walls were gorgeous.  It rained lightly off and on during our drive.

Before you knew it we were at our favorite boondocking area in our favorite part of Colorado.  Read the next post to see exactly where that is :-)

And back in Pebble Beach, California our Meatball is enjoying the vintage BMWs at the Concourse d' Elegance.  His Daddy has restored several.

I think this Ferrari was his favorite though.


8 comments:

  1. That petrified wood building was pretty cool. Beautiful scenery on your route. It’s amazing how big those bull snakes get. Your grandson sure is growing!
    Safe travels!

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    1. You can usually find something to see, right? It was a big snake. We get to babysit The Meatball Thur - Sat this week. Oh boy!

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  2. Good to see long time friends! I looked up US 50 for future reference in case we head that way. I'm always worried about tunnels or going over 8,000 feet while towing. Who knows where things will be in two years but we are heading northeast from Florida after this winter. Next winter will probably be in Texas then heading west so I'll be checking everyone's blogs for good routes.

    Safe travels

    Mark

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    1. Winter in Florida will be nice. SO much to see out west! We hope to winter in Texas next year too. Fingers crossed.

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  3. Hey, that looks like the same bull snake that was in our garage a while back!

    Glad you got to see your friend. We have been through Lamar a few times and have missed that amazing attraction!

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    1. Those snakes sure get big. It was nice to get to visit with my girlfriend again. I think the tree/gas station is the only thing to really "see" in Lamar :-)

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  4. Almost missed this one :-( Everyone getting to see Colorado is making me so envious - but grateful that I'm still getting to see so much of its beauty here. Those Grand Peak pics are so, so pretty! I think your Meatball had a great time, such a cutie pie.

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  5. We’d sure like to spend more time in CO. Good you’re getting your remodel done now.

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