Westcliffe, CO.

We finally got a chance to spend some time on our property. 5 days, 4 nights on 10 acres of peaceful, wooded land that has great views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountain range. IMG_4440 (2)

We had a great time, relaxing and enjoying the property.IMG_1810 (2)

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Some friends strolled by each morning and evening!

 

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The sunsets were great !!!!

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Beautiful skies in Westcliffe, CO.

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St. Elmo/ Cottonwood Lake/ Leadville, CO.

 

Said to be Colorado’s best preserved ghost towns, St. Elmo lies in the heart of the Sawatch Range, sitting at an elevation of 9,961 ft. We walked around, feeling what it might have been like to live here over 130 years ago.

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 The dirt road that led us to St. Elmo was a beautiful drive.

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Cottonwood Lake is one of our favorite spots to go fishing. We didn’t have any luck while there, but still enjoyed the fresh mountain air and beautiful scenery.

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Cottonwood Lake

As we drove further up the pass, we encountered lots of snow on the road. Time to turn around. (We need a Jeep)

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This is as close as we got to say HI Nan!

Buena Vista, where we stayed for a week, has great views of the Sawatch Range at sunset.

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Another mining town, Leadville, is the highest incorporated city in the United States, sitting at 10,200 ft. Walking around this town, we definitely felt the altitude!

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The Mineral Belt Trail is one of Colorado’s highest and most spectacular paved pathways. We walked a few miles of this 11.6 mile trail. The views were simply awesome!   IMG_1771

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That’s incredible!

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Fishing on the Arkansas River, CO.

After leaving San Luis Lakes, we headed to Rincon Campground located on the banks of the  Arkansas River. We fished this trophy river for four days, having a blast, trying to catch THE BIG ONE! Lori had little luck while I caught two little trout.

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Our campsite was perfect, just steps away from the river.IMG_4364

 

We’d like to say “HI” to the nice folks at Mosca Pit Stop. Your hometown hospitality was greatly appreciated. We think that’s what makes your place so special!

Also, I would like to share with you my first attempt to capture the night sky on film. I need to work on sharpness, still learning! The clear Colorado skies are prime for seeing the stars and milky way!IMG_1399

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The Moon setting in the Western sky

 

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Sun rising in the Eastern sky

 

 

Creede/ Lake City, CO.

We love to drive and explore areas where we’re staying. Currently, we’re at San Luis Lakes so we went to Creede and Lake City, CO. Both are really beautiful places filled with mountains, rivers, mines, forests, and incredible scenery.

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The town of Creede is located near the headwaters of the Rio Grande.

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The headwaters of the Rio Grande River. These waters eventually flow into the Gulf of Mexico!

Known for its rich silver mines, Creede was a boomtown with more than 10,000 people during the 1800’s. Now it has just under 300 residents, giving it that small town feel.

 

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Staying on CO 149 and traveling further west, we made it to a town called Lake City. Lake City lies at the southern end of the Colorado Mineral Belt, putting it right in a rich deposit of silver and gold. The deposit was only moderately productive so by 1905 the mining era was over. With its many outdoor recreational opportunities, tourism is Lake City’s main industry today.  Fishing, hunting, hiking, camping, mountain biking and horseback riding are just a few things to do here. The mines are also interesting to check out too!IMG_1581

Lake City was one of my Mom’s favorite places.  Now we know why!

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Interestingly enough, about 800 years ago, a slow-moving landslide called an earthflow moved down into the valley. The result was a dam, creating beautiful Lake San Cristobal that sits just outside Lake City.

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Lake San Cristobal, Lake City Colorado

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Behind us is the where the earthflow began. By the way, it’s STILL MOVING!

 

The mines in this area are interesting. You can walk around and through them. 

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We had a great day exploring these two little towns. The slow-paced lifestyle here was refreshing. A return visit is a must.

 

Great Sand Dunes National Park

IMG_1295Sand, and lots of it! The amount of sand here at Great Sand Dunes National Park is really hard to comprehend, that is until you start hiking these monstrous sand hills! First glimpse of them from afar as your driving towards them, you think to yourself, “we’re getting close”! But then you keep driving and driving and driving! Standing 700ft above the San Luis Valley floor, these are the tallest sand dunes in North America. Southwest winds have blown for tens of thousands of years creating a dune field that lies against the Sangre de Cristo mountain range.IMG_1300 (2)

 

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Once on the dunes, you realize how steep and tall they really are.

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That’s Lori, trekking her way up!

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A view from the top, looking south

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This photo shows the power of the wind

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We had a great day here. After a really tough hike to the top we emptied the sand from our boots and enjoyed a yummy sand flavored picnic lunch, with a bit of sand in our eyes and ears and nose and mouth and …

Angel Fire, N.M.

We had a great time here at Angel Fire RV Resort. The resort is top-notch with upscale amenities.  IMG_4172

Our week-long stay included some pretty intense weather. Snow and wind, with gusts up to 60 mph. Fun, fun, fun while riding the storm out. IMG_4177

It melted fast and soon the sun came out!

 

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We practically had the whole place to ourselves.

The legend behind the name Angel Fire comes from the Ute Indians. During autumnal celebrations to the Great Spirit, they witnessed a strange and mysterious red/ orange flickering glow in the northern sky. The elders exclaimed, “it is an omen – the fire gods – blessing our annual celebration. Thereafter, whenever the rosy glow was seen, it was called “fire of the gods”. We witnessed the glow first hand!IMG_1188

So long New Mexico! Our journey continues north, leading us to Colorful Colorado!

Taos N.M./ Taos Pueblo

If you’ve never been to Taos, you really need to check out this town. Taos history runs deep, with its name meaning “place of willows.” Taos is known for its art colony that began in 1899. The galleries and shops reflect that. Other interesting places are Taos Pueblo, Bent Street, The Plaza, Kit Carson House, and Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. We also visited San Francisco de Asis Mission Church, which was the subject of paintings by Georgia O’ Keeffe and photography by Ansel Adams.

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Taos Pueblo is the only living Native American community designated both a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and a National Historic Landmark.

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These family owned apartment-like adobe structures are passed down from one generation to the next.

Taos Pueblo is considered to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the United States. It is a very spiritual place that was incredible to experience. The 30 minute tour gave us only a glimpse into the lives and history of these fascinating people.

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San Geronimo Church @ Taos Pueblo

With no modern plumbing or electricity, they truly live off the land. The crystal clear stream running through the community, fed from a sacred lake atop the mountain, is their main source of water.

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Red River Creek aka Rio Pueblo de Taos

Taos Pueblo is a Sovereign Nation, maintaining stability and longevity for over 1000 years.IMG_1130

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San Geronimo Church

 

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A Horno, used for baked goods, is fueled by cedar wood.

Santa Fe/ Bandelier National Monument/ Los Alamos N.M.

We camped at Juniper Campground in Bandelier National Monument for 7 days.

First thing, we took a trip for the day to Santa Fe, had lunch and walked around town. There were lots of shops and galleries, but the cool thing was locals had their wears to sell right on the sidewalk in the town square.

IMG_0991 (2)Discovering the old churches in Santa Fe is always fun. Especially when its the oldest church in the U.S.

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The Loretto Chapel has a staircase located inside that is considered miraculous because of its design, type of wood, and who actually built it. It rises 20ft making two full turns while having no center support. It has NO NAILS. The exact type wood used is of unknown origin. A mysterious man showed up in 1879 after the nuns prayed for nine days. He worked in seclusion, using only a few hand tools, then disappeared without learning his identity. Hmmmm!IMG_1002

Here’s a few more photos of Santa Fe.

Bandelier National Monument is located 48 miles northwest of Santa Fe. It is home to many archeological sites once inhabited by Ancestral Pueblo people. Homes, kivas, and petroglyphs are scattered throughout the canyon. A volcano once erupted near here leaving huge ash flows, some thousands of feet thick, that formed the canyon walls. They used the canyon walls as homes, carving out rooms into the soft walls. IMG_0884

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Ancestral Pueblo people also built houses right on the canyon floor. This village included 40 rooms.

Bandelier National Monument only has 3 miles of roads, but boasts over 70 miles of trails! This made for some epic hiking.

The ruins here are amazing. We came back to explore for a second day. IMG_0953

You can stand inside the ruins (sort of). They must have been really little people, because the rooms were really SMALL!

A 4 mile round-trip hike brought us to an incredible waterfall.IMG_0982

 Los Alamos is known as the birthplace of the atomic bomb. The Dept. of Defense set up shop here in this remote location to work on The Manhattan Project. We all know what the outcome of that was. Lots of information about the project is here at The Bradbury Science Museum.

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We really enjoyed our time here in the Santa Fe area. There’s so much to see and do here that the week seemed to fly by. We are headed to Taos and Angel Fire N.M. area next. Stay tuned and thanks for following!!!!!! We enjoy sharing our travels with all of you, hope you enjoy our pictures and posts.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM.

Created as a National Monument in 1923, Carlsbad Cavern is an amazing cave system that we walked through. A beautiful steep paved path leads you through some of the most spectacular cave formations. The Big Room ( the fifth largest cave chamber in North America ) is 400 ft long, 625 ft wide and 255 ft high! The easy 1.5 mile loop through the room led us to the cafeteria where we had lunch 800ft below the surface of the earth!

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Unfortunately, the elevators were broken the day we visited, so not only did we have to hike DOWN, but had to hike back UP !

 

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The natural entrance to the cavern.

 

While staying in the Carlsbad KOA Campground, we were close enough for a day trip to Sitting Bull Falls. Evidence suggests that this canyon oasis was occupied over 10,000 years ago by the Apache Indians.

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We spent the afternoon relaxing by the peaceful waterfall, reading a book and eating lunch while having the whole place to ourselves.

If your wondering if we jumped in and swam, no we did not. The natural spring water from where the falls are fed is REALLY cold!