Friday, July 21, 2023
Stats: 356 miles driven, 11-hour traveling day, Grand Junction, Colorado to Colorado Springs, Colorado
Breakfast was unique, fun, and delicious at Octopus Coffee in Grand Junction. I had oatmeal and a spicey chai latte (VERY spicey…as in cayenne pepper so I asked for some additional milk.) Gregg had a breakfast burrito with green chili’s in it and Mexican Mocha which was also spicey. They talked us into a fresh cinnamon roll, too, which we ate while they prepared the rest of our order.
We enjoy listening to a daily podcast, A Morning at the Office by Forward Movement. Several people read through the day’s prayer from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer. Psalm 97:1-7 is often read and we (the participants) recite it along with the leader. It is especially meaningful on days like today, as we are visually reminded of the truths being spoken as we bask in the beautiful scenery.
COME, let us sing to the Lord; let us shout for joy to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving and raise a loud shout to him with psalms.
FOR the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the caverns of the earth,
and the heights of the hills are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands have molded the dry land.
COME, let us bow down, and bend
the knee, and kneel before the Lord our Maker.
For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand.
Oh, that today you would hearken to his voice!
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.
We saw a “new” animal today, though not “wild.” It put an old song in my head, “Yakety yak, don’t talk back.” Haha!
Evidentally, yak meat is popular here as we passed several yak farms. I’m so curious…how did that come about? The internet says yaks are found in Asia. Who thought that would be a good business venture? How did the first pair get shipped over to the USA? How does it taste compared to beef? Inquiring minds want to know.
We also passed a few alpaca farms. They are so cute! But beware, spit happens if you get too close.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is a lesser-known National Park which is a gem and well worth visiting! Gregg’s coworker visited recently and posted on Facebook, otherwise we’d still be clueless. The southern rim of the canyon is where most people visit. We went to the north rim and stopped at each of the five overlooks. At each one, we were the only people there. There were other vehicles, including bicycles, in the park, but we were all spaced out.
There are trails and primitive camping is available by permit. There is a white board at the ranger’s station for hikers and campers to write their names on, then erase them when they return. It is nice to know that someone will know and be concerned if you are missing.
The short trails to the rim overlooks had short, brushy vegitation on either side. It seemed to be the perfect hiding spot for snakes. Thankfully, a ranger informed me that they don’t have any venomous snakes in the park.
The canyon was majestic, awe-inspiring, mind-boggling, fascinating, and gorgeous (see what I did there?) It was narrow (especially compared to the Grand Canyon), very deep, and had a fast-flowing river along the bottom. Birds were enjoying the wind currents and chattering to each other. The rim dropped off quickly. An interpretive sign stated, “No other canyon combines the depth, narrowness, and sheerness of Black Canyon.”
“Wow!” flowed out of my mouth often. When I first approached the fence along the edge of an overlook, the “Danger! Alert! Back away!” alarm bells began to ring. I reminded myself that I was safe to take it all in.
The drive was an out-and-back. As we drove back, I tried to articulate what I was feeling. It was somehow like taking in a huge breath of air which made me realize I had been shallow-breathing. It filled my soul like lungs full of fresh air. It felt life-giving, cleansing, freeing. Extraordinary.
It was a wonderful 90-minute side-trip!
The GPS was set on Colorado Springs so our route took us over and around mountains and through a wide variety of topography. In my mind, I saw Colorado as full of Aspen and Evergreen trees. We passed a patch of Aspens today and also saw areas of Evergreen. But much of the growth was short, bushy, grassy, or none at all. There were rocks, bolders, granite, sand, tans, reds, lakes, rivers, desert-looking and lush. Crazy!
We have crossed the Western Continental Divide numberous times on this trip. Today we crossed it at Monarch Pass, elevation over 11,000 feet. We could have taken a gondola up higher but decided to pass since we still had two hours of driving left. Besides, Gregg had that nagging altitude-sickness headache which isn’t fun.
Between Gregg’s altitude-sickness headache and my low-grade nausea from all the switch-backs, we agreed that we didn’t really want to drive up Pike’s Peak tomorrow. We saw it in the distance later in the day with a storm surrounding it. We’ll leave it at that.
Garden of the Gods is amazing in that the red sandstone rock formations seem to have come out of nowhere, like they dropped from the sky in a 500-acre area. It is open to the public, free to visit, and owned by the city of Colorado Springs.
We’ll be hanging between Colorado Springs and Denver tomorrow. Tomorrow evening, a woman from my Monday-Wednesday-Friday writing group is having a book-launch party. I met Julie Cordova in the Daytona Beach area earlier in the year when she was there on vacation. Her’s is the first Aunt Kitten book that I signed.
I’m excited to be able to celebrate the publication of her murder-mystery, The Other Side of the Rainbow. It is listed as a thriller and I never would have picked it up based on the cover, but she was not graphic or gory and she writes in a way that compelled me to keep reading.
A poet, Danelle, from our writing group, also plans to be at the launch party so it will be fun to meet her in person for the first time.
Today ends our second full week of vacation. After tomorrow, we’ll be like a horse running towards the barn as we head back to PA. We’ve had a wonderful trip AND we’re ready to be “home.”