Posts Tagged ‘San Juan mountains’

View looking down Conejos Canyon. — Photo by Pat Bean

“The more I draw and write, the more I realize that accidents are a necessary part of any creative act, much more so than logic or wisdom. Sometimes a mistake is the only way of arriving at an original concept, and the history of successful inventions is full of mishaps, serendipity and unintended results.” — Shaun Tan

Following the Road 

Hmmm. I think I took a wrong turn a couple of dozen miles back. — Photo by Pat Bean

One lovely fall day a few years back, I took a wrong turn in Chama, New Mexico, a quaint village with a population of not much more than a thousand residents. After a bit of exploring the town’s charm by dawn’s light, I set off again toward my Texas destination.

My lack of directional sense, however, sent me driving in the opposite direction.

It was an awesome drive, and my fascination with the scenery distracted me so much that it wasn’t until I was near the top of Cumbres Pass, high in the San Juan Mountains, that I realized my mistake.

Instead of backtracking, I decided to simply continue on and discover what else the road had in store for me this day. While I usually carefully charted my daily routes during this  wandering without deadlines period in my life, I occasionally let the road decide my path.

However, with scenery like this, I think I’ll just keep going. — Photo by Pat Bean

This day was one of those, and I soon found myself in Conejos Canyon, one of the wildest places in the United States, and where grizzly bears once roamed.  I have seen a gazillion stunning landscapes in my travels across North America, but this day’s drive might have topped them all with its kaleidoscope of color and surprises.

I learned early on not to bemoan my flawed sense of direction, but to enjoy the unexpected wonders it brought. This day made me especially thankful for the lacking gene – and also for my willingness to simply go with the flow.

Bean Pat: Paperback Reader https://dereid99.wordpress.com/2018/05/24/paperback-reader/  Usually it’s just the opposite, so this tickled my funny bone.

Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is now up on Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/y8z7553y  Currently, she is writing a book, tentatively titled Bird Droppings, which is about her late-bloomer birding adventures. You can contact her at patbean@msn.com

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  “Sometimes if you stand on the bottom rail of a bridge and lean over to watch the river slipping slow away beneath you, you will suddenly know everything there is to be known.” — Winnie the Pooh


The bridge across the Rio Grande Gorge near Taos, New Mexico. The river 1,500 feet below is near the beginning of a nearly 2,000 mile journey to the Gulf of Mexico. -- Photo by Pat Bean


Travels With Maggie


Rio Grande Gorge State Park

Just a few miles past Taos, which I drove through without stopping, I came upon Rio Grande Gorge State Park. Here I did call a brief stop to my travels. I mean who can resist at least a peak at a 1,500-foot deep gorge – and a river that one knows is near the start of an almost 2,000 mile journey to the Gulf of Mexico.

As I looked down at the river from the park’s high, fenced overlook, I thought about a day at Big Bend State Park in Texas when a grandson and I had waded in its shallow warm waters and stared across it at Mexico. Most of the clear rushing water I was looking at below would never make it that far. Human development sometimes reduces the flow reaching the gulf to merely a trickle. Gypsy Lee settled in for the night in Clayton, New Mexico. Photo by Pat Bean

Soon, I was back on the road. I still had 150 more miles to drive before I could stop for the night. I seldom have such a long driving day, but on this trip I was facing a deadline to be in Arkansas to babysit three grandsons for a week – and I only had three more days to get there. 

I spent the night in Clayton, New Mexico, a small town where one has to drive 89 miles to the nearest Walmart, or so the desk clerk told me when she checked me in at the only RV park for miles around.

The town, a former livestock shipping center, sits along the old Cimarron Cutoff of the Santa Fe Trail. I had passed through Cimarron earlier in the day and had been seeing historic roadsigns since then telling me I was following the old cattle trail.

The Clayton KOA was a quiet, clean place with a run-down miniature golf course and dinosaur creations that had seen better days. I watched a croaking murder of crows fly past in search of a roosting spot as we took our evening stroll. Maggie sniffed around at the feet of the dilapidated dinosaurs, which advertised nearby Clayton Lake State Park where tracks of these prehistoric beasts attract passing tourists.


Statues showing their age advertise to visitors that dinosaurs once roamed the area. -- Photo by Pat Bean


Perhaps next time I pass through the area I wouldn’t be on a deadline and could do my own investigation of them. Dr. Seuss’ words: “Oh the places you’ll go, and the things you’ll see,” then flowed through my brain for the umpteenth time. I sighed – and added: “Too many places, too little time.”

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