The morning after getting the car, we loaded up the car with our luggage and the dog and headed south to Alamosa. It was about a 4-5 hour drive to Alamosa from Denver. We had to stop at Petco to get a harness for the dog and didn't get on the road until about 11. We were making good time until we hit Walsenburg, CO. There was a train blocking the road that we needed to take to Alamosa. So we sat in the Safeway parking lot waiting to go for an hour. We have no clue what the problem was. But once the train cleared out, the traffic got going and we were on our way again.
Now, it's been over 20 years since I was last down in southern Colorado. It was just as pretty as I remembered and everything was still green from all of the monsoon rain we've been getting this summer. We finally checked in at the Super 8 in Alamosa around 5 pm.
Our friend Jason picked us up and took us to a burger joint called Wize Apples. I must say, they have some good burgers. They say their fries are all you can eat but because the size of the burgers, you won't need a refill on the fries. Just letting you all know now, we didn't get any pictures of the food we ate. I know, I'm so fired. There are pictures on Wize Apples facebook site that will give you an idea on the size of their burgers.
After dinner, we headed over to Jason's place and got to see his mules and llamas. His mules are friendly but the llamas didn't want to come and see us. After spending the evening with Jason, we headed back to the hotel to get some much needed sleep.
Our first full day in Alamosa started early. Jason and Kate picked us up and we headed up to Wolf Creek Pass and Creede, CO. We stopped at the top of Wolf Creek Pass. This is 10857 feet above sea level. For those that aren't use to high altitude, I recommend following the tips written by Rachel Walker, to avoid getting Altitude sickness. It's a very real thing and something not to take lightly. Being a Native Coloradoan, I sometimes find myself with headaches. I keep hydrated and eat up on foods with high potassium to avoid getting sick.
We took a little walk with the dog down a hiking path. We couldn't do much as we weren't wearing good shoes for hiking. Again, if you want to go hiking, make sure you have good shoes. Flip flops are not good walking shoes for walking in the mountains.
Now some might be wondering what happened to the pine trees, why are they gray? Colorado has been infested with the Mountain Pine Beetle and the Spruce Beetle. I don't know much on them but I see the damage that they do every time I go into the mountains. I saw a report that there are talks of introducing a wasp from China that may help.
After the stop at the top of Wolf Creek Pass, we headed to a scenic overlook not far down the road. This was a perfect stop to view the valley on the other side of the pass.
Down at the bottom of the pass, we stopped at Treasure Falls. Again, there was a path that takes you up to the falls but you want to make sure that you're wearing at least tennis shoes and not flip flops. We just viewed the falls from the parking area and enjoyed the wild flowers that were close by.
We then headed back up over the pass and went to Creede, CO. We stopped for lunch at Best Little Dog House. It's a cute place that serves hot dogs and hamburgers made to order. They have all of the fixings off to the side for you to put as much or little as you want. The fun part of this place is the outdoor seating. They have a number of picnic tables set up with umbrellas to sit at. We got to sit and have lunch with our dog under the table begging for scraps. My hot dog was good and Simon had a bratwursts. There isn't anything fancy, just a nice place that grills up good dogs and burgers.
After lunch we head up to the Underground Mining Museum and Community Center. This was a fun little stop. The museum is built into the mountain and was nice and cool inside. They offer a self guided CD tour and guided tours with retired miners. Outside you can feed the chipmunks that make the mountain side their home. If you sit quietly, they will come up and eat out of your hand.
After our stop at the museum, we head out to drive the Bachelor Historic route. It's a 17 mile loop that takes you around the silver mining and ghost towns around Creede. The road is not paved but a graded gravel road and does have some steep grades and narrow passage that requires some caution when driving it. There are several mines that you pass. There is one that is being restored that you can stop as, Last Chance Mine. The stop here is well worth it as the view is beautiful and the story behind it is fun to hear from those that are in the process of restoring it.
|Last Chance Mine|
After spending time at Last Chance mine, we headed to the next stop, the site of where Bachelor use to be. There's a nice hiking path that you can walk. We didn't go far on it but did get to see a collapsed cabin. The view here was also beautiful. The wild flowers were still blooming.
After our stop in Bachelor, we head down the mountain and went to Ramon's in South Fork for dinner. I had ordered the beef enchiladas and it was good but nothing that made them stand out from other Mexican places that I've eaten at. Simon had the Beef Carne asada. Now that was very different from other places. This was a full fledged stake. Not thin or pounded down like the other places that we've eaten at. It was a nice popular spot for good food. The only picture I got while at Ramon's was of Simon and Jason. It wasn't very flattering but it made a great meme.
After dinner, we headed back to Alamosa. We were tired after a fun day of site seeing and the dog was ready to crash.
Our third day took us to the Sand Dunes and it couldn't have been a better day with it being slightly overcast and cool. When we got to the park, it was already starting to fill up with the weekend campers.
I was also worried that the river wouldn't be running anymore with it being late July and most of the winter snow having melted. However, thanks to the monsoon rains, the river was still running. I mean, it was fun climbing the dunes when I was little but wading across the river is my favorite part of going to the Sand Dunes. The water temperature was perfect and the deepest parts of the river came up about mid calf. This was the closest to us getting to beach.
Keylala isn't a water dog so we weren't sure how she was going to react to walking in the water. So Simon carried her across the river first and then put her down on a sand bar. She was having fun until she got to the water that deep enough for her chest to get wet. From then on it was pouting and the evil eye from her.
We were there for about two hours. This is a great camping spot and will always hold a special place in my heart from camping there with my family. It was fun to watch Simon experience Sand Dunes for the first time.
After the Sand Dunes, Jason took us to Zapata Falls. Now, we didn't get to see the falls. The hiking path is rocky and my ankle screamed nope, nope, hell no. It's a half mile hike that is mildly steep. The view from the camp/picnic area was spectacular. You can see the whole San Luis Valley from here. Great view to the Sand Dunes and the San Luis Lakes. It was nice and quite here. If you want to avoid the crowd at the Sand Dunes, this is a good spot to camp and then drive over to the Sand Dunes for the day.
For lunch we headed back into Alamosa and had lunch at Rubi Slipper after dropping Keylala off at the hotel. The Rubi Slipper is a great bar and grill that is popular with the locals. We didn't want to eat much as we wanted to have dinner again at Wize Apples. Their appetizers are a meal in themselves. I had the loaded fries, Simon had a combo plate that had mini tacos and a few other items and Jason ordered the Bar Trash but subbed the hot wings with chicken strips. The Bar Trash has fried pickles, crisp green beans and fried jalapenos. He also ordered a plate of fried mushrooms. It was all really good and I can see why it's popular with the locals.
After lunch we headed to the local Amish community. I was tickled pink with being able to get home made strawberry-rhubarb jam and apple butter. I also got a great hand made rug for the kitchen. We then drove through the Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge. This was the first year in a number of years that there has been water in the refuge. When we got there it was raining pretty good. I would have loved to take a walk on some of the paths but the mosquitoes were out in force and we didn't have any spray. It's something that I'll just have to go back and do when we're in the San Luis Valley again.
Our little trip to the San Luis Valley was fun and relaxing. It was great showing Simon a part of Colorado and spending time with friends. The views were beautiful and the food was great!