Sunday, Sept. 26
With regret, we leave Chama, (which means “group”. It’s 44* and gold leaves are all over the Coyote and truck. A flock of blackbirds with about four inches of white tipped wings and breasts and a white “V” at the shoulders flurry to get out of our path at the exit gate. Darrel says he remembers those from Alaska, but I of course, just fell off the turnip truck, and have no memory of them.
On to Pagosa Springs, Colorado--upward about 10,000 feet into the San Juan Mountains. After ten miles the temperature has dropped to 35*. We stopped to take pictures of the monument type mountains all around us. A real estate sign says we could buy 43 acres for $69,000. What a good idea! A Colorado horse ranch...I’m green with envy as we pass these farms. Aspens look like Eucalyptus trees except for the yellow leaves no self-respecting Eucalyptus would don.
Monster mountain views at Pagosa Springs with alluvial fans of black dirt below them. We pass the Red Rider Rodeo Fairgrounds. It’s pretty steep this morning at 9:00 a.m. A plume of steam curls off the sulfur springs in the center of town. I bet that looks eerie at night. Hmmm. The huge lumber yard is empty and closed. I can’t tell if that’s due to the economy or EPA. Gas is $3.20 (diesel). The air is so still that several giant balloons are getting ready to take off. Pretty spectacular up close. Very user unfriendly for RVs.
The Albuquerque Balloon Festival starts next week. I guess these guys are just practicing, not wanting to waste a perfect day for ballooning. Thousands of people are in town.
Were looking for lunch in Durango, but can’t take the Coyote down the narrow street to town. And we’re really disgusted about that. The big mountains have huge patches of orange spread on them that have to be Aspen tree groves tucked amongst the evergreens. From our distance it looks like a random-patchwork quilt.
We’re in the high desert again--scarce coniferous trees about 20 ft. high--all plains surrounded by Rocky Mountains a few hundred miles away. Highway 191 to Moab , Utah is a scenic Rd., so I’ll be interested to see what it’s about--dry land full of grasses and sagebrush. (Utah means “one that is higher up.” Please remind me I don’t want anything in Dove Creek County. Stark, brown, ugly treeless, junky. People must be tied to the land to stay. No farm animals even.
Utah’s adjoining plains are planted in hay and sunflowers. Lots of clean sky and sideroads that go right over the horizon. Traveling through Arches National Park we see a distinct formation called Church Rock. It looks like a fat pile of dough with a couple of sporting horizontal colorful striations, some resembling geodesic buildings. Some look like a giant child dropped a top. Some look like castles. Just like Utah pictures with caves in their cliffs. We did take some pictures since there was a turnout available.
The land is adobe red now, sprinkled with brush. Freeway fenceposts are impaled in red stone. I feel pretty insignificant in relation to these formations. Not even a person pebble.
Just before Moab on 191 the ground looks like somebody overturned a rock truck for 20 miles before town with a ton of homeless people squatted on this land--like Tijuana, Mexico, in case you’ve see that mess. They’re either desperately poor or desperately stupid, but the city is charming--same western town facades we’ve been seeing--so cute. But it’s definitely an oasis on the desert. Not to mention a tourist trap. Even though the season is supposed to be over, the place is overrun with tourists. We tell ourselves we’re not lowly tourists. I guess we’re just trailer trash.
We’ve taken 191 to the I-70 and West. Moab is in a bowl with the Colorado River going through it. Now the cliffs are back. I wonder what mineral would cause that color. I-70 West turns totally desolate. We’ve planned to overnight in Green River--I hope it’s green--everything here is moonscape bald.