September 9, 2016

Black Canyons, 14ers, and All the Rest

Welcome to the last leg! If you're just now tuning in to our Colorado trip, don't miss part one and part two

A few iPhone photos from Sunday morning at our campgrounds...

Did I mention it started hailing when we were trying to pack up?

We drove away from the San Juan and Rio Grande forests towards Uncompahgre National Forest before forking away at Montrose for a pit stop at Black Canyon of the Gunnison. It certainly isn't as grand as the Grand Canyon but as someone who's visited that one twice, I think I prefer the Black - the colors and topography are far more interesting to me. I refuse to go back to the Grand Canyon until I can hike to Havasupai (how snotty!) - then my mind might change.
I would have loved a wide angle lens right about now.

And here's Kafka getting in trouble for hopping into the front.

We hurried forward past Curecanti Recreation Area all the way around Pike National Forest to rest in Colorado Springs for the evening. For fear of a repeat of the previous night with a long day's drive back ahead of us, I wanted us to be well rested and not searching for an empty campsite during Labor Day weekend past 11 pm near Pikes Peak. So I got us a hotel room.

I may not have laughed as hard but it was almost as amusing to cook dinner that night. My friend insisted on cooking the steak and potatoes for our final night and didn't let judgmental onlookers stop him from whipping out his camping stove. It was particularly funny when the hotel guest with the window we were camped out in front of returned to their room. They quickly shut the curtains. We carried our dinner up to the room only to learn that the steak was pretty rare... coming from me, that's saying something, because I like mine pretty red (otherwise what's the point?)... but it was particularly fleshy, bordering blue. Just another thing to laugh about and an excuse to double up on the potatoes (which, for instant, were mighty tasty).

I had been so tired that I didn't end up taking the hot shower I was badly looking forward to. My friend was bragging about how dry Colorado was that he hadn't even needed to change (!) but I can't say the same for myself... I felt pretty gross by Sunday night.

We were supposed to get up extra early to drive up Pikes Peak before going home but "somebody" didn't set an alarm, so we opened our eyes regretfully 'round 7, grabbed some mini-muffins from the continental breakfast, and took off. Since we were just a few minutes up the street from the Garden of the Gods, we drove by with snapshots a la Alpine Loop (though we did get out at the main parking lot for just a minute). I wish we had more time because I don't have a single photo that does any of these red beauties any justice.

This made me sad because it's my absolute favorite part but you can still see a better photo at this Colorado-based blogger's post!

Kafka kept CRACKING me up.
The park ranger hated to be the bearer of bad news but told us we wouldn't be able to go to the top of Pikes Peak at the "tollbooth" - there were 50-70 mph winds and they could only get us 13 miles up the 19 mile road. (To put it into perspective, hurricane winds start at 74 mph.) We were undoubtedly disappointed (myself more so as my friend had previously been to the top) but we were content with the rangers keeping us safe and wanted to make the most of it since we were already there - so we went as far as they allowed and hid inside Glen Cove Inn for a while at 11,425ft of the 14,114ft of the summit (at first to warm up, then several minutes later because of my friend's souvenir-shopping-indecisiveness).
Look how blue this water is (no photoshop)!
On our way out, we drove through Manitou Springs to top off the gas and prep some sandwiches for the drive home (and buy a $4.29 bag of chips from DinoMart). My soul thirsted for more time to explore this quaint little town and all the other quaint little towns we'd been (and hadn't been) through.
Giving Kafka some pets by a windfarm.

We spent the majority of the 12+ hour drive home speaking of wanderlust and Googling off-road vehicles/camper set-ups and ways of making dreams into goals and lifestyles of traveling the world. Wouldn't that be something if five years from now this blog really was about our permanent life on the road, and not some romanticized dream?

It was good to learn we could be shoved in a car 24/4 and not get sick of each other. But perhaps the biggest lesson for me was to not lose sight of things and get caught in the ever-monotonous work-sleep-repeat cycle. That life is so special and fleeting that we truly should live it to the fullest and not let that statement just become some cliche. The world is so big we could spend our whole life trying to see it all and never accomplish that goal. Behind all the rent and utility bills and taxes and civilization itself we're just a handful of human beings on this really cool rock trying to make sense of it all when we should just be exploring and appreciating and living and being.

Sorry if that doesn't make any sense. I really have no words.

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