Sunday, April 17, 2016

Taking A Sunday Drive #24

"But the Colorado rocky mountain high
I've seen it rainin' fire in the sky
The shadow from the starlight is softer than a lullabye
Rocky mountain high, Colorado"

Two weeks in a row using John Denver songs to introduce the blog state and both songs have been made official state songs of their respective states, West Virginia and Colorado.

I first visited Colorado at Keystone during the winter. The cold air and elevation gave me horrible altitude headaches. But when I went back with Mom and my children to the same condominium complex in the summer I did not experience that problem.

The first time Bud and I spent any time in Colorado was 1999 in late March. My sister-in-law and brother offered us a week's use of her late father's cabin on Bear Creek Road west of Evergreen. The weather when we left Iowa was very spring-like. When we got to the cabin, it was still winter.

Besides relaxing at the cabin and hiking nearby, we used it as our base to explore local spots like the Hiwan Homestead Museum and Heritage Grove Park. And shopping in downtown Evergreen.

From the time I first saw a Lorelei vase like this one (for sale for $1500.00 - obviously an older one) in an antique mall in Southwest Iowa, I was hooked on Van Briggle pottery. Eventually I would buy my own little 4-1/2" turquoise 'Onion Bulb" vase at an auction in my hometown.

Colorado Springs was the home of Van Briggle Pottery. A day trip was planned.

Not only did I want to visit the Van Briggle Pottery, still in the old Midland Terminal Railroad Roundhouse then, Bud wanted me to see Garden of the Gods.

And I had to visit Seven Falls. Those stairs in the edge of the photo are only a small portion of what we had to climb to the top. I doubted I could do it.

But I so wanted to see this:

Because when I was young and impressionable someone, upon hearing my name, asked if I had ever been there and described it as one of the most beautiful sights and one of his favorite places.

We did make it to the top and spread out below was all of Colorado Springs from the spot where Helen Hunt Jackson went for inspiration.

Hans' cabin has since passed out of the hands of relatives. I am so glad and grateful we had the time there that we did.

Coming home on our 'big trip west' in 2006, we spent time in Southwest Colorado and a place I had long wanted to visit - Mesa Verde National Park. I thought I remembered that it was twenty some miles from where we overnighted in Cortez so when we got to the park entrance just a few miles from there the next morning, I was surprised. I must have remembered wrong. Wrong. The entrance was close but getting to the area where Cliff Palace is located was a very long, twisty, climbing, scary trip. (Remember, I was the one who had a nightmare about driving over a cliff before this big vacation started.) I have to admit though, it was worth it.

North of Cortez, in Dolores, we went to the Anasazi Heritage Center where we got a map of the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument.

The archaeological ruins of Lowry Pueblo is just one of the sites within this national monument. This photo is of the Great Kiva at Lowry.

From here we talked about going to Telluride, but remembering the terrifying trip through Wolf Creek Pass some years before, Bud wanted to cross the San Juan Mountains there again. It wasn't near as much fun for him this time. No snow for one thing, but for another, the road had changed. Instead of the high pass there was a tunnel. Disappointing.

From a trip daughter, Kari, had taken a few years before, we learned of Colorado's Great Sand Dunes. It was so hot when we stopped at this national monument. Some hardy souls were climbing to the top of the dunes. Not us. We went as far as Medano Creek which can be refreshing to play in, but was dry in July, before heading back to our air-conditioned car and continuing on the road home.

Colorado is such a diverse and beautiful state. One could take many vacations there and still have new places to go.

"Now he walks in quiet solitude the forests and the streams
Seeking grace in every step he takes
His sight has turned inside himself to try and understand
The serenity of a clear blue mountain lake"


  1. Colorado is our favorite state to visit. Part of the allure is that it doesn't take that long to get there. I've not been farther west, mainly because my husband doesn't like grueling road trips. One of my bucket list "things I want to do" is to travel down the California coast from north to south. Everyone says it's a delightful journey. I doubt if I ever get to do it, but I can dream.

    1. Donna - Dreams are good. You never know, you might get there.
      We have driven much of the CA coast north of San Francisco. I would someday like to drive the entire Oregon Coast, a lot of which is state parks.