Day 9 - Colorado
|Saturday, November 25, 2017: We left the Alpine Inn nice and early, ...
|... and headed into town to the city park. Here's the Veteran's Footbridge.
|This sculpture next to the bridge is titled, "Singing Bridge Wind Harp."
|There's the San Juan River running underneath the bridge.
|We headed to the Hippy Dip Hot Spring, which is in the park.
|It's not much more than a pipe coming out of the river bank, but it was warm and pleasant. However, it was way too cold out for us to even think about taking off our shoes and socks for a foot soak.
|Further down the river slightly, there are a couple of other hot springs right along the San Juan River Walk, ...
|... and a little further down are several resorts with hot springs right on property.
|By 7:30 AM, we had McDonald's in our belly (again) and were on the road.
|Up ahead on the side of the mountain is the Wolf Creek Overpass where we'd be soon.
|We took a two-minute break to take a peek at Treasure Falls from a pullout on the side of the road.
|Soon after, we were at the Wolf Creek Pass Overlook.
|Here's the Wolf Creek Pass Summit, elevation 10,856 feet.
|Here's a snow shed, ...
|... and here's a tunnel. Driving through mountains is fun!
|More Colorado scenery.
|The little town of Del Norte has some great decorations on their utility poles. Here's a dude on horseback, ...
|... and here's a mighty bison. There were also elk, moose, salmon, and many others.
|We passed a huge field of solar panels on our way to ...
|... Great Sand Dunes National Park.
|You can see it right over there, but it was still a 20 minute drive away.
|We eventually arrived at the entrance but still had another 10 minutes of driving left to get to ...
|... the visitor center.
|Is it a sewer cover? Or just a decoration? Either way, it's pretty.
|A group called Friends of the Dunes had a display of hot chocolate and we were happy to partake.
|They also have provided dune-friendly wheelchairs for people with disabilities to have easier access to the dunes. That's pretty awesome.
|It was a short drive to the dunes parking area.
|A small stream flows between the parking lot and the dunes and it had frozen over.
|Hmmmm, who made these tracks? Whatever it was, it had a tail.
|It's a really long walk out to those dunes.
|We decided to just stand there and take some photos.
|Here they are.
|Then we made our way back to the parking lot, ...
|... and when we got to the frozen stream, ...
|... we had to stop and take some photos of the ice.
|Aren't these crystals pretty?
|Check out this cool frozen sand. Literally cool.
|This pretty blue bird did not cooperate with our camera.
|Our beloved van, Septimus, still bore the battle scars of driving through a couple of puddles in New Mexico.
|What's this? A normal deer crossing sign? Weird.
|There were numerous signs on the long drive out, but this is the one you have to see - an aerial shot of the immense size of the dunes. Like seriously huge.
|There were deer in the field off to the right, ...
|... and more in another field off to the left.
|We had to backtrack a little but were able to pick up US 160 further east than we had left it.
|Here's another great ranch entrance sign.
|The columbine is one of the prettiest flowers out there, and Colorado wisely chose to use it on their Scenic Byway signs.
|Here's a veteran's park with their very own airplane.
|Here are some random horse statues.
|Here we are folks: the end of the mountains and the start of the endless plains reaching to the Midwest.
|There are plenty of windmills ...
|... and cattle, ...
|... but precious little in the way of restaurants (despite our best effort to eat at a Subway in this little town), ...
|... so we had a picnic in our car again. This time, ham sandwiches and apples were on the menu.
|We encountered oil pumps in Colorado not long before ...
|... crossing the border into Kansas.
|Roadside America told us about this barbed wire bison statue at Fort Wallace Memorial Museum, so we stopped in briefly.
|We saw numerous hawks and were finally lucky enough to photograph one posing for us on a speed limit sign.
|Here's a pretty standard scene as we approached each new town along US-40.
|Shinkansen! Here were some more of those odd little plastic piles. They were most likely grain of some sort, but some had dates written on them from the previous year, which was baffling.
|Here's a train full of coal cars.
|The Kansas Historic Byway and Western Vistas signs both have their charms.
|Sunset created cool shadows on this shed.
|Whoo-hoo! We're in the big leagues now that we've finally met up with I-70.
|How's this for an amazing sunset shot from the heartland of America?
|A rest area had this fantastic map of Kansas created in stone.
|We decided to stop in Hays, Kansas for some well-deserved restaurant food.
|We selected Al's Chickenette, a regional favorite for decades.
|We ate too quickly to remember to photograph our meal until it was just a memory, but it sure was delicious.
|It was 7:30 by the time we pulled into Salina, Kansas. We stayed at the Best Inn which was dirt cheap ...
... but surprisingly great quality. Win!
Copyright © Deborah Schilling/Thomas Bundy