Well, the title of this entry is a little premature, since I still have lots of driving to do to get from Great Sand Dunes National Monument to the other side of the Continental Divide.
The first thing I did in the morning, after packing up my sleeping bag and rearranging all my gear in the car so I could sit in the driver's seat again, was walk all over the sand dunes, taking lots of pictures.
What an amazing place . . . oh, and there was a Virtual cache there as well, "Got Your Buggy
There were wonderful shadows and forms on the dunes in the early morning light and it was hard to stop taking pictures . . . so I didn't . . . at least not for quite a while.
Can you see the lone figure walking on the dunes in this next picture?
Once I left the beauty of the dunes and the surrounding area, I stopped at the Mirage Trading Post I mention in another blog entry. This was the first time I got to use my new-to-me, used, bought-on-eBay, wireless card on my old laptop computer. It was great to check my email -- I had 80 messages (next time I leave town, I'll turn off the Inta-notify feature . . . Doh!) -- and download a couple of new Pocket Queries at a hundred times faster speed than I get at home with my 24K dialup connection.
After a wonderful visit with several people who stopped in the Trading Post while I was there, I hit the highway again, driving up Colorado 17, north through the expansive and beautiful San Luis valley, towards scenic US 50 and the town of Salida.
Just outside Salida, I saw this amazing Pet Cemetary. It was one of those things you see on the side of the road and just have to turn around for, so you can get some pictures . . .
I really enjoyed the town of Salida. I was trying to find the access to a cache that was very close to downtown, but located at the top of a hill to the east. The cache description talked about the road being a spiral on the map . . . so I knew where I needed to be, I just couldn't figure out how to get over there, and up there.
However, during my search, I found other treasures in town, including a couple of old faded signs painted on the brick buildings, and uniquely-painted water troughs that will soon be planted with flowers, once the spring weather arrives for good.
The problem with traveling on a very-limited budget is the inability to stop and stay when you find interesting places. I would really have liked to stay in Durango to enjoy the town and its architecture, the many more caches there were to find, and the interesting people I saw there.
The same for Salida. I loved the historical buildings and the whimsy of the water-trough paintings, and other interesting sculptures I saw in town.
But, I had to keep moving down the road, so without being able to figure out the cache access, I drove on down the highway toward the spectacular Royal Gorge and its tram and narrow gauge railway.
I was following the arrow on my GPSr as it pointed towards the cache. The arrow did not turn where a dirt road went off the main road, so I didn't even consider that road for access. When I arrived in the main parking lot, I assumed I was supposed to find the trail that would get me the third of a mile up to the cache location.
When I got within a few hundred feet of the cache, that is when I saw the road, and the picnic area . . . Oh well, I needed the exercise, after sitting in the car all day, but it is always somewhat frustrating when you see a road or a trail just a short distance from the cache . . . after you have walked the long way around . . .
Finally, after grabbing a Virtual cache, and discovering a road I wanted to take was closed, I got on the highway in earnest and headed north, running into some bad weather just past Canon City. That light mist turned into snow in Colorado Springs, and even more snow all the way from Castle Rock to Lakewood.
I was sure glad I wasn't going to be camping out that night since the outside temperature was now in the 30's. Brrrrrr!