Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Mixed emotions -- and a lot of catching up to do!

Many people to thank since I have last given voice to gratitude! So let offering thanks be my first priority this time. Most sincere thanks! Camping in the rain for two nights prior to crossing Vail Pass was not terribly comfortable, but would have been much more difficult had it not been for the attention and help of the host at Gore Creek campground.  More road angels have been instrumental in Silverplume and Idaho Springs, on this side of Loveland Pass, and most recently in Denver and here in Ft. Collins, where I am visiting a long-time friend.  A shower, a cold drink, a place to sleep out of the elements and somewhere to charge my phone (faster than it can be done with a solar charger in cloudy weather!) -- each of these amenities can make a great difference in the course of a day, and have done so with a frequency that blows my mind.

Scenery has also been mind-blowing for days on end. The Rocky Mountains.  I will not need another reminder of the origin of that emphatically literal (if rather unimaginative) appellation. Huge, soaring cliffs, teetering slabs and walls of upthrust book-like rows of sedimentary stone, and great fields of fallen rock that stretch for square miles, in shapes and sizes (from pea to dinosaur-size) as variable as one could imagine.  Maintenance crews have their work cut out for them year-round, just keeping the rocks off the roadways. The town of Silverplume sits under an enormous cliff called Bull Head Cliff, that looks as if it could fill the entire narrow river valley if it were to fall. But many of the buildings there are over 100 years old, so I guess the residents are justified in their confidence in its stability!

Wildflowers have also been prolific and startlingly colorful, thanks to all of the extra rain this season. Sometimes it becomes necessary to stop every few minutes and take a photo; too bad they never do justice to the actual subject matter!

The walk from Golden to Denver was a new experience; I had not previously needed to negotiate the outskirts of such a large city.  Walking was less than pleasant on the route I had chosen as being the most direct.  No shoulder to walk on; cracked or missing sidewalks for miles; a string of seedy-looking motels, liquor stores, and auto-parts shops, and a long stretch up on an overhead structure that seemed to go on for a mile (on this part there was a bike path), intersecting with at least one interstate highway, and overlooking the South Platte River, train tracks, a stadium and its parking lot, and lastly, a warren of bewildering downtown streets.  On this same route I detoured into a surprisingly nice branch library for a rest and for the internet, and also had my first overtly negative confrontation with an angry (and probably drunk) young man looking for an argument. The argument was avoided.

After spending a pleasant evening and night with my Denver host, on a tree-lined street in one of the old neighborhoods, I took a bus to Ft. Collins to meet a friend I had not seen in some years.  Ft. Collins seems more interesting and 'visitor-friendly' then it did when I was here years ago, probably due to my more interested attention.  I'm enjoying the new bike paths, public art/sculpture and downtown University Ave. neighborhood.  Lots of old street trees and interesting architecture. (Right now there is an event going on involving colorfully painted upright pianos set up here and there around the downtown area, for anyone to play.)  One very sad note(!) was that the friendliest of the three cats where I am staying went missing and turned out to have been hit by a car and killed, this on the day after I arrived. Yesterday we went to identify his poor body at the local shelter.  Having a small ceremony for him helped, but I am still feeling rather heavy-hearted, and pained for the friend I am visiting...

It will be difficult to leave, but this is the plan for later in the week.  It makes the most sense not to return to Denver, but rather to head east from here (more or less) and rejoin Route 6 about half way to the Nebraska state line. Leaving the mountains behind for a while, I am prepared for a very different sort of scenery -- headed into the Great Plains!

Near Vail Pass

At the top of Vail Pass

A museum in Silverplume

PS -- Occasionally I get a message that I've received a comment on this site.  Those never include any contact information, so I haven't figured out how to respond when I would like to.  So I just want to say thanks for any comments or feedback.  And be sure to include an email address in the comment if you want to, and I'll be able to respond!  Sorry for my blogging illiteracy!


  1. Oh so glad to see where you are! I am happy to have had the opportunity to make a small contribution toward some comfort for you along the way! Sending more happy thoughts to you!

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