Published: November 10th 2009November 10th 2009
From Death Valley we stopped briefly at Zion National Park to take the hike we missed there a few years back. It is named "Angel's Landing" since those who don't make it fall to their death and (hopefully) become angels. While holding onto chains and locating the smallest crack to stabilize my feet I was sure my time was up. It was terrifying. Thankfully Terry was in front showing me how to survive. Again, I owe him my life!
We continued our trip to Montrose, CO to visit our long-time friends Marie and Richard who moved there from Grand Rapids, MI. We knew that the snowstorm forecasted for the front range of the Rockies would impact our trip, so had to gamble on which day to travel. We did find some snow on the roads but not hazardous. Several inches remained on the ground during our first 2 days in Montrose. When the clouds lifted and snow melted we got to enjoy the sunny, lovely weather typical of this area.
This high desert valley offers great skiing, biking and hiking, perfect for active retirees! We hiked in Ridgeway State Park, biked the area and enjoyed being with great friends.
We visited Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, an awesome gorge which is 2,772 feet in one area. The depth, sheerness and narrowness make this canyon unique compared to others we have seen.
On our way to Colorado Springs we got to visit with Carrie Reno (who we’ve know since she was 6 years old) and Steve. We had a ball dredging up old stories from our “wild” parties with her parents and enjoyed meeting Steve.
Along the highways in CO construction zones we saw several signs announcing American Recovery & Reinvestment Act, our stimulus monies at work!
We stopped in Colorado Springs and visited The Garden of the Gods, a 1,300 acre rock garden composed of red rock formations sculpted over millions of years. We saw a film describing the spectacular geologic history of the area and enjoyed a tour by a volunteer naturalist. We hiked with Harley to see the views from different perspectives and saw Mountain bluebirds and a Peregrine falcon.
We ended the “touring” part of our trip with a visit to Taos, NM. This is an interesting town wedged between the Rocky Mountains and the Rio Grande Gorge. It
combines the ancient culture of the Native American, very prominent Mexican influence, and 1960’s “hippiedom” (There are half underground houses called “earthships.”) It entices visitors with funky art, excellent restaurants and an incredible outdoors, including world-class skiing. We toured the Millicent Rogers Museum, an incredible collection of Native American, Hispanic, and Anglo arts and crafts - pottery, paintings, baskets, tinwork, etc.
We hiked Wheeler’s Peak out of Taos Ski Valley, partway since it is 15 miles. Our great hiking dog Harley pulled me up the steep beginning. What a help that was! As non-downhill skiers we were stunned at the vertical angle of one slope that is considered a Black Diamond, straight down.
We enjoyed the live music at Taos Inn and great people watching at Alley Cantina, and just wandering around the Plaza. We watched artists draw and sculpt and enjoyed shopping. We loved this city.
But while traveling we have found that homesickness for family and friends sets in, and we need to get home. So we now head for Hornsby, TN where we will store the bus while we drive to MI. This was not our original plan but we learned that our Marine
grandson Cory will be home on leave from Iraq. We have not seen him for two years, so this will be a special visit. And we'll just get to see the seven other grands and the kids too.
What have we learned on this trip?
One is that we love the mountains and oceans and the peace it brings us.
We have seen throughout this western trip the influence of Native Americans, European and American explorers, the exploration of gold, and the presence of railroads in the emergence and fate of cities. We confirm our appreciation especially for the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
Third is that we are so lucky to have wonderful family and friends in the west who made our visits so worthwhile.
Now it is time to get on home.
There are more photos below