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Published: June 24th 2014
Monday, 23 June, 2014
We left Mesa Verde, driving east on Hwy 160, passing through beautifully green valleys on our way to Durango. After all the desert we've seen, it's nice to see lots of green again, even if only for a few miles. It became dry again past Durango. The traffic was heavy at Pagosa Springs, which is a touristy town with hot springs and other resortish offerings. Then we started climbing, gradually at first, but with steeper going the last 8 miles before reaching Wolf Creek Pass at 10,856'. At times we had difficulty maintaining 30 mph, but it was much easier going down the other side (imagine that.)
At the Great Sand Dunes National Park we discovered their campgrounds were all full, so we drove back 8 miles to San Luis State Park, which was mostly empty since their lake was dry. The bugs were so bad there we decided to head to a private (overpriced) campground nearer the Sand Dunes. We then went back to the park so Sean could climb on the dunes. Kerry dropped me at the visitor center and he and Sean went to the dunes. Kerry picked
me up an hour later without Sean, who was still up in the dunes. He finally showed up, in the nick of time, as the wind started blowing hard and that blowing sand is most uncomfortable. He managed to climb about ½ of the way up the almost 700' high dunes.
Back at camp Kerry started dinner outside on the grill, but the wind was so strong, we had to finish cooking our steaks in a frying pan on the stove indoors. We had to close all the windows, too, due to the blowing sand and dust.
Tuesday, 24 June
The winds calmed overnight, but the temperatures had dropped, so the windows stayed shut. We left the campground and drove back to Hwy 160, where we headed east toward I-25 at Walsenburg. We crossed North La Veta Pass at 9,413' on the way. We drove north on I-25 to Manitou Springs, where we are settled at a campground near Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods.
After setting up camp (in the rain,) we ate lunch before driving to Garden of the Gods. It started raining again about
the time we got there, so we waited in the parking lot of the visitor center for it to stop. It finally did, but not until after it hailed a while. We had a quick look around the vc then drove back through the beautiful rock formations of the garden and back to the campground, where the rain began again. It has been thundering and lightning over the mountains and now here, too. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining about the rain. It's the first we've seen since our first day out.
Tomorrow we take the cog railroad up Pikes Peak.
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