A journal from earlier in our journey… Today, we left Colorado. It was a bitter sweet. On one hand, I’m ready to move on. The Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Park are on the horizon, something I’ve been looking forward to us seeing since we started planning this trip, but I can’t help feeling a little sad. We’ve spent over two weeks in this beautiful state and we’ve only scratched its surface. While here, we visited:
- Rio Grande, San Juan and Gunnison National Forests (see our post)
- Gunnison Reservoir (ditto)
- Sand Dunes National Park (Sand is hot, hot, hot, and sandboarding is awesome!)
- Manitou Cliff Dwellings (based on the Anasazi tribe of southwestern Colorado)
- Garden of the Gods (Notice how the rock striations run vertically as opposed to horizontally. At some point, these mammoth rocks were on their side. Something caused them to up-end vertically.)
- Pike’s Peak Cog Railway
- Historic Downtown Monument (once part of the Santa Fe Trail)
- Downtown Colorado Springs (ate burgers at the Skirted Heifer)
Along the way, we saw:
- Lots of mule deer (often right in the middle of the city)
- Different birds (Hummingbirds, Mountain Bluebirds and the Steller’s Jays were my favorites.)
- A mountain sheep
- A yellow bellied whistling marmot (No, I did not make that name up.)
Yet with every new place we visited, we learned about so many more we didn’t. Even now, I’m making a list of places to visit next time like Black Canyon (Gunnison), Royal Gorge (Colorado City), the Air Force Academy (Colorado Springs), the Incline (Manitou Springs), Denver Art Museum, Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park (Estes Park) just to name a few. We could surely spend another month in Colorado and still not see everything, so I have to be thankful for the time we spent here.
I’m thankful for the friends we saw too. Our dear friends, the Statlers, even hosted Elliana’s thirteenth birthday party in their home (omg, I’m the mother of a teenager!). We played with newborn Golden Retriever puppies, ate hamburgers, devoured cupcakes and played Apples to Apples and One Night Ultimate Werewolf. She loved it!
Before our journey began, I had wondered how to handle her party. Elliana is sanguine, so celebrating her birthday without friends might have been a disappointment. But thanks to this amazing family, she had the perfect party. Truly, I can’t thank them enough.
So here we are heading north. We passed through Denver and Fort Collins and mistakenly drove down the worst/bumpiest dirt road as we crossed the border into Wyoming, just outside of Cheyenne. The landscape has changed once again. The dramatic mountains and soaring rocks have given way to rolling grasslands. I can’t help but wonder what settlers thought when they first saw this land. After the crowded cities of Europe, these wide-open spaces probably looked like heaven. And they’re still wide open.
The people are changing too. After Colorado Springs’ urban vibe that brings a certain rush, the western, rural setting of Wyoming requires a downshift. The people are genuine, relaxed and comfortable. The glitz, rush and impatience of DFW is left far behind in the rearview mirror. It’s clear that these people work hard but enjoy a slower pace of life.
Even now, the difference is obvious. I’m typing this while I sit in the laundry room at Terry Bison Ranch. It’s the first RV resort laundry room where the patrons sit and wait for their laundry. Usually, we all throw our clothes in the washer/dryer on our way to somewhere else, but not here. Here, the people sit, read a book, talk to a neighbor, write a blog and wait for the next available machine. It’s less hurried. Wranglers, men’s hats (cowboy or ball caps) and big trucks are the couture du jour. On the shelf in front of me are dog-eared books like How the West was Won and an action thriller by Clive Cussler. The nearby newspaper heralds a front-page article on the Wyoming School of Horseshoeing. We’ve clearly arrived in America’s West.
Tomorrow, we’re planning a train ride out to feed the bison. Sure, we might miss Colorado in the short term, but it’s clear we’ve got lots and lots yet to see.