Saturday, October 20, 2007

Annual Leaf Peeping or There's No Place Like Colorado

Each year I try to take the folks on a "fall" trip to see the colors in a area of Colorado that we have not been to yet. It usually involves an overnight, driving around on scenic roads (not the interstate) and at least one museum or festival. This year was not different. The only downside was the wind was blowing so hard that most of the colored leaves were on their way to Kansas. The picture above was taken of an area south of La Veta where the trees were more protected from the scouring breeze.

Our plan for this year's trip included the Oktoberfest in La Veta. The street scene below was taken the day after we were at the event and I left the camera in the car. (bad, bad)

On Sunday morning this town is very quiet, however the day before it was filled with people and the main street was closed off so the whole town could turn out for a giant yard sale. This Oktoberfest festival was the equivalent of the wild west meets bratwurst. It came complete with all things BBQ'd including the bratwurst, a local grown country band performing in the portable cattle panels beer garden with bouncers the size of rodeo bulls. Everyone had a yard sale set up including the historic Fort Francisco. I got to see an author friend, Gene Vories, who was signing books at the festival. He writes great westerns. My personal favorite is Monte.

On the way to our hotel we stopped in Walsenburg to check out Elda's Yarns on the main drag. We were greeted by an enthusiastic shop manager and some of the local ladies all sitting in comfy chairs knitting and sharing stories. The shop has a wide variety of yarns and essentials as well as fun buttons and ideas for projects. It is in what looks like a renovated general store and has plenty of room to move around. It was well worth the stop.

Then we were drawn to a place that touted they had "smoked tamales." I have had tamales in the past but never heard of smoked ones. So we stopped in and sampled one with coldbeewaitress suggested we get it smothered in green chile and topped with cheese, green onion and sour cream. It was scrumptious. You can find this delecacy at Andy Popejoy's Barbeque joint in Walsenburg next to my other favorite eatery, George's. Andy does all things BBQ including cheese, ribs, chickens stuffed with tamales, brisket, the works.

After our respite from the wind which makes driving difficult on the interstate in this part of Colorado we headed out again for our overnight destination, the Sex Change Capital of the World, Trinidad. It is located on the Colorado/New Mexico border and is known historically as the crossing point of the Santa Fe Trail and a railroad town. (Click the link above if you want to know more about that more dubious designation)

Our destination was the Quality Inn at Exit 11 off I-25, just below the Raton Pass. This is where all the fun began. When we travel we know the first thing we pack is our sense of humor. This trip was no exception.

For these trips I usually book one room, two queen beds for three with a request for first floor handicapped accessible if available. It makes it easier on all of us to have this amenity. So, we check in and I suggested Mom and I walk to the room to see where it was located so I knew where to park the car to unload and we discovered that we had been given a handicapped accessible room, however it had one king bed in it. We decided that we would be a very cozy threesome that night and walked back to the desk to change the room. Next room, two beds, better, no shower curtain. Hmmm.

Little sign on the back of the commode reads "Have you forgotten anything?" and offers amenities like toothbrush, etc. Well, I had forgotten to pack a shower curtain in my overnight bag so I went to the desk to request one. Once we had that all straightened out we were fine, with the one exception that the indoor pool we had anticipated taking a dip in was closed for renovation. On top of all this we met another overnight guest who told us of her stay the week before when the SWAT team arrived at 1 a.m. to "takedown" a man who had kidnapped his ex-wife at gunpoint from her home in Colorado Springs that afternoon. I think I would have chosen a smaller hotel across the border, guess he was not very bright. We passed a quiet night with no SWAT team events and had a nice breakfast in the restaurant the next morning. All in all it was a nice hotel to stay in and we had lots of giggles included.

Sunday morning we headed out on Highway 12 - The Highway of Legends - a scenic byway designation. It goes west from Trinidad and loops north over the the Cuchara Pass to Walsenburg. On the south end of the loop we found what is called a covered bridge in their mile by mile information. What we discovered is that it is an old highway bridge that someone built a house on.

The coolest town on the route was Stonewall. It is named for the rock formation that runs through the area. All along the highway at this point there was evidence of coal mining.

This is Monument Lake which is just south of Cuchara Pass. The scrub oak were already in full color at this altitude. And there had been a snow flurry move through as we drove into the scenic overlook area.

And here is the view from the other side of the scenic overlook - my traveling companions. We have dubbed ourselves the three mouseketeers and are stilll looking for Mickey ear ball caps. If anyone knows where to find such things, please let me know.

With a final stop in La Veta to check out the boxcar restroom at the town park, we were on our way home on a brisk autumn day with lots of tales to tell and giggling to do about the memories from this year's Fall trip.

Go out and live life!

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