Posts Tagged ‘Durango’

 “Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.” — Matsuo Basho

I passed by Mesa Verde National Park today, but last year when I came this same way I stopped for a visit and took this photo of the Balcony House. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Travels With Maggie*

I awoke this morning to an alarm clock of geese honking as they flew overhead. The sound, as always, soothed my soul. Wild things flying free, sharing the burden of making headway against the wind as they flew to whether they were going.

It was time for me to get up and get going, too.

While yesterday’s awesome drive over Wolf Creek Pass through the San Juan Mountains was a new experience for me, today’s drive would be through quite familiar territory.

Over the years, I’ve made numerous trips between my home in Northern Utah and family members in Texas. While I’ve always tried to find new roads to travel to get between the two states, more often than not on the return trip, I headed north at Santa Fe to Pagosa Springs and then went west on Highway 160 to Cortez and then north again through Moab to Ogden. It was the shortest way back home. .

On one of those trips, back in the late 1970s, I took the longer, steeper way home, heading north at Durango to Silverton and on to Grand Junction, Colorado. It was one of the first solo cross-country trips I made. And I can still recall the excitement of traveling through such fantastic country.

In my memory I can still see Twilight Peak from Highway 550, a route I didn't take this day. -- Photo courtesy Wikipedia

Up above Silverton, I came around a high, sharp curve and there, floating almost in front of me, was a hang glider. I pulled my car over to the side, got out and waved. To this day I still wonder where he came from and where he was going to land.

This day, however, I continued west through Durango, past the shadow of Mesa Verde, which I visited last year, and on to Cortez, where I stopped to resupply my refrigerator with fresh vegetables from a local market.

At the far side of Cortez, I turned north on Highway 491, which used to be Highway 666 until the name was changed because of the number’s “devilish” association. I’ve driven it under both names without any mishaps.

I ended the day’s drive in Utah, at a small RV park in the town of Monticello, where I slept soundly with the La Salle Mountains looking down on me and my dog, Maggie, curled up beside me..

*Day 9 of the journey, April 27, 2011

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Through the window of my RV, which was parked about 10 miles south of Durango, Colo., I had a magnificent view of the Rocky Mountains' San Juan Range. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea, you’re off to Great Places. Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So … get on your way.” — Dr. Seuss


Day 17

It was with eagerness that I finally said good-bye to the dreaded Interstate 40, which I would never have driven except for Mother Nature’s tantrums. Not knowing when I would have to stop because of her semi-toppling winds, I wisely, if sorrowfully, chose to avoid my usual backroad routes where RV parks were few and far between.

But today I left Albuquerque, New Mexico, and its gentle Sandia Mountains behind me as I traveled down Highway 550 toward Durango, Colorado — and the more rugged Rockies. These are the mountains that stir my soul to exhilaration.

 Highway 550 is a easy-going four-lane, lightly traveled road that passes through the Santa Ana, Jemez, Zia, Jicarilla Apache, and Southern Ute Indian reservations. It took me from Albuquerque’s 5,314 feet to above 7,300 feet, and across the Continental Divide a couple of times. Sagebrush, juniper and oil wells dotted the landscape. If not for the shape of the landscape, steep hills and high mesas, it would have echoed my drive through West Texas.

I stopped for the night about 10 miles south of Durango, and drooled for awhile out my RV window at my first impressive sight of the Rockies. Corny as it may sound, tears come to my eyes every time I meet them again after an absence.

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