June 12, 2011

Colorado Family Vacation - Days 1 and 2

Now that my soldier is home and my children are out of school, it's time to explore Colorado!  So we took a week to leisurely go to some parts of our state that we hadn't been yet.

Sunday afternoon, May 29, we set off going South on I-25 past Pueblo.  Our first discovery was a "point of interest" sign I encouraged Derek to follow to see what was so interesting.  It WAS interesting, but we weren't sure what it was until that evening when I connected my netbook to the hotel's wi-fi and did a search.  The thing was Huerfano Butte.  There was no interpretive sign to tell us what we were looking at, at least not that we saw. Our online research fascinated us more so than the viewing of the orphaned butte itself.  Especially after we saw the next phenomenon, the radial dikes in the Spanish Peaks of the Sangre de Cristo mountains.  We only viewed these from the interstate, but the angle of the evening sunlight really made them stand out.  We decided we were already having an interesting vacation, geologically at least.

Monday morning, we headed toward the Great Sand Dunes National Park, but got sidetracked when we saw a sign pointing up a road for Zapata Falls.  It was relatively early in the morning, so there wasn't a lot of traffic out, and once we hit this road, and it turned into an unimproved gravel road, in land owned by the Bureau of Land Management, winding up the mountain, we wondered what sort of adventure we were getting ourselves into.  It reminded us of a drive we took on Maui in 2007 into a park where there were reported to be big redwood trees, which we never found, but had fun looking.  After a few slow, bumpy miles, we found a few trailheads, and finally the one to hike to the Falls.  It was a short distanced hike we felt we and our children could handle, so we took it, and were rewarded with a pretty neat view.  With all the snow the Rockies had this past Winter and Spring, there was plenty of snowmelt coming down this waterfall, and many others we observed on this trip.  After exploring and taking pictures, we headed back to the car and drove back down to the road toward the dunes.  The video at the visitor's center at the Dunes was very interesting - the most well-done and interesting video of it's kind I think I've seen, actually.  It was a VERY windy day, and pretty cold, and we didn't really wear proper footwear for dune-hiking.  So we explored only briefly, until the wind bothered us more than we could stand.  I had no desire to hike the dunes, especially to the top.  These are the largest sand dunes in North America, and they ARE pretty spectacular.

I intend to come back and edit this later with some pictures.

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