Saturday, August 14, 2010

The return trip starts.

Tonight we are in Alamosa, Colorado.  This is in the Southern Central part of the state.  It is South of the big sand dunes, and East of the continental divide.

We left Cortez, without a plan.  We were packed and gone about 9:30.  We were not in a hurry but moved right along toward the East on Highway 160.  Passing the gate into Mesa Verde, Loyce made the comment that you would have no idea what the place was all about just driving by.  Since the ruins are over 20 miles South and also over several mountains, that is certainly true.

We climbed up into the mountains to the East and the scenery changed dramatically.  It is 46 miles from Cortez to Durango, but when you go over the Mountains East of Mancos, the forest becomes green and lush.  Both fur trees and deciduous trees grow up the hills as far and you can see.

We stopped for a while trying to decide if we should stop for a day in Durango, but then I thought about the train and how I would want to ride it to Silverton, which would take two days of camping, and Loyce wants to be home soon, because of her fathers funeral.  So we just pressed on to the East.


The drive from Durango to Pagosa Springs is one of the most gorgeous in all of Colorado.   I just loafed along at about 50 holding up traffic.  Staring at the hills all around me, I’m sure the folks trying to pass thought I was a drunk.  I pulled over for several pull outs letting them all pass.  I tried to take some pictures thru the windshield as I was driving, but that isn’t too successful. 

The valley between the hills is Ranch land with crops and barns.  Ranch homes lined the road, set back from the highway with a lane.  There were cattle and other farm animals.  There seemed to be an abundance of old rusted farm machinery.  I saw one huge hay barn with the drop down mow doors open. The barn was wooden and without paint.  It was a very dark gray, almost black.  I wanted to stop and take its picture from all different angles, but nowhere was there a pull out large enough for the MH.


I crossed the Piedra River, and thought of Howard and Linda of the R-V Dreams web site.  They spent the summer on a ranch 15 miles North of the highway, with Doug and Joan of Living our Dream.  That was in 2008.  They both repeatedly explained how wonderful this place was, but I had no idea until today.

Winding thru the valleys we eventually reached Pagosa Springs.   A thriving town that comes from nowhere.  I stopped in a mall with the City Market, thinking I could get some diesel and relax for a while.  I read one of the blogs to get a name of the campground East of town.  It was Pagosa Riverside.  So we drove out there.

The place was gorgeous, as it is along the river and has a log clubhouse.  It was also all booked up.  Its Friday after all.  And the last Friday before school starts for many folks.  If we had only thought of it sooner. That bummed us out, but we decided to press on over Wolf Creek Pass.


This is an easy pass, but it is quite steep. The road is wide and has guard rails most of the way.  It takes 8 miles of climbing to reach its summit.  My diesel worked hard at 2500 RPM and 3rd gear for 40 MPH.  Once in a while we would round a hairpin turn and I would loose momentum and it would take forever to get back up to 40.  I never tried to go any faster.  We stopped at the summit to let the engine cool down and regain our composure. 

Then it is 8 to 10 miles back down the other side at almost the same steep pace.  I used the Jake Brake and at times stayed in 2nd gear. But as the road straightened out more I was in 4th with the exhaust brake off.   Then we rolled right along at 50.  I’m getting the hang of this Colorado driving with the MH a bunch better now.  Again the road is wide most of the way, and there is a tunnel thru a mountain where the road was narrow before.  The date on the tunnel was 2004.




The GPS as we sat at the top.  10875 feet of Altitude and 65 miles to Alamosa.


That’s when we arrived here in Alamosa.  Since it is Friday, and we only called as we descended the mountain, we have a 30 amp site with water and a lot of dusty dirty roads here at the KOA.  It still cost $33, and we haven’t even hooked to the water.  We are using from our internal tank, since we will have to empty it anyway when we get home.

The sand dunes are just to our North, which explains the ground here at the camp.  We laughed that $33 would have bought 11 gallons of diesel and that would run the genny for 22 hours straight.   But perhaps the folks at the Mart parking lot would want quiet hours after about 10 PM. 

I’m not sure why, but once we turn and head back towards home, we seem to put our head down and drive right there.  Loyce really likes her house in KC and can’t wait to get back, so we will arrive in a couple of more days. 

Retired Rod


  1. Hi Rod,

    The trip home always semms longer to me. I guess because I am anxious to see family. Nice pictures today. Pidge

  2. Nice photos along the way, Rod. Paulette's always anxious to get back home too once we start heading that way!

  3. I enjoyed your trip through your pictures,I am heading home in the morning, but with school starting like you said I can see Grandpa & the trailer heading to the Lake this week for Adam's last summer bash. Be safe out there, Sam & donna.


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