Day three, and already we have stayed with friends, hiked a national park, cooked on a campfire, treated a mildly sick dog, slept in to read a book, taken in breathtaking mountain views, and dug a cat hole.
On Thursday April 13th, we finally headed out of Denver. After planning for months, in the end we were still shocked by how much there was to do. Water tanks to fill, rethinking clothing in light of truly wide weather spectrum we’d be facing, bills to pay and paperwork to wrap up, food to pack, a new portable printer to hook up (I know, I know). Stressed at needing every t crossed and i dotted (now there’s a good reason to go on sabbatical…), we took an extra 24 hours to get out the door, but at last we did. We bid farewell to our lovely condo and headed out of Dodge.
Our plans had been to go south to Great Sand Dunes, but we needed to stay somewhere closer for the first night. An hour down the highway, Colin remembered that some dear friends from our old ‘hood had land up near Walsenberg, and spent rustic weekends up there. We called and, despite a late night arrival, they welcomed us with open arms and GPS coordinates. Within 20 minutes, the little red trailer was set up for the night.
We woke to a crisp morning with one of those shockingly gorgeous mountain views we love in Colorado, a moon just past full, a ring of tree-topped mountains, and the Spanish Peaks capped with snow. Our hosts had given us a clearing on a wide outcropping of rock, and on each side the rocky terrain dropped away to the valley below. We felt as though we had the mountainside all to ourselves as we took stock, glad to at last have limited options – we had what we had with us, and nothing more. Mid morning when we were finally ready to meet the world, we walked a mere ¼ mile to our friends for coffee and the mountain luxuries of a zippy warm shower and a portapotty. Those first two nights near friends were like biking with training wheels, just what we needed as we transitioned to life on the open road.
Saturday found us at Great Sand Dunes National Park. Like stars aligned (and echoes of my museum back home), we had arrived on a free weekend. Mixed joy – free entry, and no campsites available. No fear, we had Rocinante, and that night after a quick visit to the dunes, we struck camp in BLM land in the high San Louis Valley at around 8000 feet. Twilight set in as we lit a fire in an old fire ring, grilled hamburgers and munched spinach salad and brie cheese. Katie scavenged amongst the scrub oak and juniper for treats unknown (and suffered some sort of digestive hangover the next day), enjoying nature on her own terms. We washed up in our dandy little galley kitchen by the glow of string lights as the far mountain faded away and the stars came out. Old friends indeed, I named the constellations we could see, and imagined those stretching beyond the horizons like our journey before us.
Item we have but don’t need: salad tongs.
Item we need but don’t have: kitchen sponge.