July 17-18, 2019-
It had been three years, since I was last in Colorado. In the words of a waitress at one of my favoured spots, Del’s Diner, in Fort Garland, “That’s just too long!” Del’s had been a bit of a dive, but had remodeled and was doing just fine. The food was every bit as good as I remember.
U.S. 160 is one of those roads that make me feel at home, regardless of where I am, along its passage. The same thing is true of Old 66; Highway 1, along the Pacific Coast; U. S. 30, through the Midwest,; and MOST of U.S. 1.
So, I took the road, from Ulysses, Kansas to its western terminus, in Tuba City, AZ. A side hop was necessary, for me to take in Sand Creek National Monument. From La Junta, though, I zipped down to Trinidad, then back up I-25 to Walsenburg, from which I could re-visit my favourite part of 160: Colorado’s southern tier. Thus came dinner at Del’s and a long search for a place to stay that wouldn’t mean my budget would need a budget. Colorado seems to be even more popular than usual, this summer. That does my heart good.
The Spanish Peaks are a fine greeter, just east of Walsenburg.
The San Juan Mountains, between Del Norte and Pagosa Springs, are a reminder that snow regards the Rocky Mountain State as its summer home. (I’ve been in Colorado, at some point, each month of the year, and seen it snow, each and every month.)
I stopped briefly in South Park, just west of the formidable Wolf Creek Pass, and found a Cal King was the only bed available. Since I’m not part of a package deal, up and over the Pass I went. Going through the pricey resorts of Pagosa Springs and Durango, the night drive came to an end at Mesa Verde Motel, Mancos. There, I was generously offered a room at discount. It is a “dog room”, the owners being pet lovers, but there was no sign of dog hair anywhere in the room. Mesa Verde’s owners are just gentle, laid back people, and I recommend the place for anyone finding themselves tired and on the west side of heaven.
The home stretch began with a stop at Mc Elmo Creek Flume, an irrigation channel, built in 1921.
Seeking to stretch my legs a bit, before lunch, I walked around the City Park, in downtown Cortez. A laid-back Ute gent, seeking to impress some ladies in his company, started to mock me, while I was walking up the hill. When that had no effect, he asked if i were a veteran. “Yes, I am, and you? ” “You know it, Bro….. Devil Dogs!” He had the tattoo of a Marine, and though I recall the name being used specifically for those in the Corps, who fought at Belleau Wood, during World War I, I gave him a pass on that. Everyone deserves a semblance of dignity and respect.
Lunch time was here. I sadly noted that my go-to place, Jack and Janelle’s, had gone belly up. A walk downtown showed that there was someplace fairly new: The Farm Bistro. I gave it a shot, and am glad of it. Alex and crew are spot-on, with great cuisine and set a spunky, welcoming ambiance. Each party selects a plastic animal for its table, as a cue to the server.
My visit to Cortez came to a close, and shortly, thereafter, I was back in Arizona. Along the drive down the Navajo Nation, I noted that two once grocery-deprived communities, Red Mesa and Dennehotso, now have local markets. One place that has nothing is Baby Rocks, yet this little village, east of Kayenta, could easily be the next big outdoors thing.
This little wonderland is close enough to tourist-mecca Monument Valley, that a Dineh entrepreneur could easily remove the “Best Kept Secret” label from Baby Rocks.
Going onward, for four more hours, I brought this phase of Summer, 2019, to a peaceful conclusion. Carson City, and my Nevada extended family, await next week, after a few days of meetings here at Home Base. My eyes and heart are always open, to what counts most in life: Love of humanity.