I was on the phone with my Uncle Dennis early this morning and I said, yesterday was a long day on the road…I am thinking of making today a short day. Well, some days the road is open and other days the mountain pass is dealing with 16 miles of construction….today was a day of delays. But, as for the road work I couldn’t have been stuck in a more beautiful area (the San Juan National Forest in Colorado) and the other delays were entirely my fault- I’ll attribute some to indecision and others to a road map from 2006.
The day started with packing everything up at the El Pueblo Motel. It’s funny you know, while camping in a forest (which includes setting up your own shelter, cooking your own food and having to deal with facilities….or the lack there of) I can be packed up and ready to go in under 30 minutes (and that includes coffee). Yet, while staying in a motel (that was serving a lovely breakfast) it took me over 2 hours to get on the road this morning. Comfort will be the end of me. I am much more effecient when being self suffecient.
Breakfast included eggs, biscuits, fresh tortillas, a fruit medley, yogurt and cup after cup of hot coffee. It was perfect. I was at the Taos Pueblo 10 till 8 and was the first person through the gate. And….the place was empty. This was my third or fourth trip to the pueblo and I can not for the life of me ever remember it being empty…no vendors, no locals, no tourists, no people in orange security vests, no tour guides…no one but me and two dogs. It was awesome. I stuck around long enough for the first person to show up….a fellow on a two month tour from Raleigh, North Carolina and his dog. And then I left. As I was leaving I noticed the vendors setting up shops and the line in front of the registration booth starting to form. It was a new Taos for me this go round. I remember, as I was leaving town thinking that Taos is always able to teach me something new about myself. This lesson dealt with expectations and a sense of past and present. I was flip flopping on taking a route that would carry me past the Ghost Ranch (something you would think would be high on my to do list and yet I have never been). So I decided to not break tradition and I moved out towards Mesa Verde. I crossed the Rio Grande and stopped at the Earth Ship community outside of Taos. I chatted with the lady inside about their vision and then continued the journey. About an hour later I decided I should see Ghost Ranch so I made a left on 285 and headed back south. About 30 minutes into it I decided I really shouldn’t break the tradition of not seeing Ghost Ranch so I doubled back once again and got back on 64. Thats the great thing about not having a plan…its hard to mess it up if it doesn’t exist.
It was a beautiful drive through New Mexico and into Colorado. I eventually hit Pagosa Springs, Colorado home of the deepest hot spring. This town (the central downtown area) was beautiful. I had to stop. The river ran right through town, there were people lounging in hot springs, playing in cool water, tubing the river, taking pics on one another, kids playing, adults playing…..and everyone was so darn pretty. I mean really, this was a town full of pretty people. And nice, everyone I spoke with was super friendly and kind and seemed so sincere. The coffee shop had 6 baristas behind the counter and there were like 5 of us costumers waiting on drinks. I waited 10 minutes for an Americano…but no one was mad or irate. Everyone was like…hey, how are you and being super friendly. One young lady would walk out from behind the counter every three minutes to ask if everyone was ok. And we were all like yeah, totally.. Thank you for asking…how are you? I got my coffee…it was handed to from two hands and placed into my care. On someones recommendation in the coffee shop I decided I would check out the local outdoor outfitter and see what was going on….while waiting in line to tube…..I snapped out of it and was like man, what are you doing? You don’t want to tube a river and then drive for 3 hours…get out of here….quick! And so I left Shangrila and followed the road to Durango and then to Mesa Verde National Park. I’ll have to keep that Pagosa Springs marked on my map…I might need to stay a few days and tube the river.
What I love….and I mean love about Mesa Verde is you check in and you think you are there…you are in the park, you have paid the admission fee, you have spoken with at least two to three rangers….and you still have to drive an hour to get to the goods. And it is one of the most scenic roads out there. I love this place. 5 out of 5 stars….it’s better than Cats! I head into the campground, set up camp and then hit the road for the ruins. First up is the Spruce Tree House, followed by the Mesa Loop and then Cliff Palace with plenty of sites in between. This place is amazing, and the kiva has been such an influence on my personal artwork that it leaves me a bit awestruck to be wandering this landscape. I am constantly going wow man! and talking to strangers about how amazing it is. Long story short…I love it here. Its really an amazing site. Now I am back at camp, I went to a Rangers lecture on local wildlife in the outdoor ampitheatre…it was wondeful. And now I sit on a picnic table beneath the moon and surrounded by canyon walls. Good night…..