May 20 - 30: Colorado

5/30 - Walden (62 miles 2299.5 total)
even tho' sari & i left our kremmling motel very early--to our way of thinking--at 6:15 this morning, we were the last to leave. everyone had pedalled off very early in hopes of avoiding the winds that always pick up in this area by midday.
there were no towns--or any buildings besides an occasional ranch--the whole way from kremmling to walden. talk about wide open spaces! early in the day there was a haze over the mountains & landscape. the birds were singing & US hwy 40, usually very busy, was relatively untrafficked so early. 'twas a peaceful & beautiful way to start the day. little did we know that the peaceful part would end soon.
at about mile 13 we rounded the crest of a hill that had a horse trailer parked alongside the road; on the side of the trailer was a big sign, 'be prepared to stop.' i didn't think too much of it, but as we descended a little further & rounded a corner, we came upon the most exciting adventure of our trip to date. suddenly we were transported back to the 1800's as we became eye witnesses to a cattle drive.
here you see the cattle at the bottom of the hill starting to head in our direction & the cowhand in charge of the drive (a woman, as it turned out), along with her trusty cattle dog.
just watching that dog go thru its maneuvers was fascinating in itself. when we first encountered the cowgirl, we & she were further down that road. she suggested we just put ourselves & our bikes against the lower part of that bluff to the right. by that time i could see that there were LOTS of cattle headed in our direction...but quite suggested that we push our bikes back up the hill above the driveway that the cattle would be directed into.
that turned out to be a good idea, as you can see in the next photo.
being against the hill to the right would've been a bad place for us. we realized later that we would have been trampled either by the cows or by the cowboys' horses. the cowgirl told us that with all the babies in the herd the cows were real "dumb," as she put it. i told her that, being a mother, i understood the concept.
it was absolutely fascinating to watch the cowboys on horseback with their ropes & strident yipping sounds herd the cattle up the road from their pasture to the corrals on the other side of the road. often they'd quickly have to ride up or down a steep hill to urge some wayward bovines in the intended direction. the dog helped, too. the cows were confused & bawled loudyly...quite a din. sari & i will have to admit that at one point it seemed the cattle were headed directly at us & were not turning as they were supposed to. so we darted behind one of the vehicles that was backed up on the roadway. but the cowboys knew what they were doing & coaxed the cattle into the turn.
we watched over the side of the hill as the cattle moved on down the lane to their corrals, with the cowhands riding behind them. the cowgirl got off her horse & closed the gate behind them. she saw us standing above along the road & called out, 'thanks.' we said 'thanks,' too....for the most awesome adventure of our trip.
back to reality. we still had to climb to muddy pass & the continental divide, so we pedalled on. the ascent wasn't very steep. along the way we came upon gerrie.
here's a picture of gerrie & sari toasting the summit with one each of the dark chocolate brownies my sister jane brought us last night.
notice the aspen trees; they're just beautiful---slender white trunks, some with no leaves yet, others with new lime-green leaves.
at the summit we turned off US 40 onto state route 14. for the next 35 miles into walden we enjoyed the epitome of a biker's dream ride. the road was often downhill with an occasional roller. it wound thru picturesque pasturelands dotted with wetlands, sagebrush, cattle, & an isolated ranch or 2. to top it all off, this exquisite valley was almost completely encircled by majestic snow-capped mountain peaks. & those winds that rose up at midday? they were strong all right, but at our backs!
it was all i could do to make any progress at all; i found myself stopping frequently to take a photo or just stand & try to take in every aspect of the magnificent vista on all sides.
this photo gives you just a hint of the beauty of that valley.
despite our 'relaxed' biking style, sari & i wound up in walden by about 1:30. a very nice sign at the town's edge proclaims that walden is the moose-viewing capital of colorado. until the late '70's, hardly anyone ever saw a moose in colorado, but in 1978-79 moose were reintroduced to this area, with the original animals coming from wildlife trades with utah & wyoming. since then the moose population has grown dramatically. in fact, this high-mountain valley is a haven for wildlife viewers, who can spot not only moose but other species such as elk, ospreys, golden eagles, & prairie falcons. some of our riders saw some elk today.
shortly after sari & i arrived in walden we learned that a cafe down the street from our motel had homemade pie. no time for cleaning up. we walked to the coffee pot cafe, where we found quite a few other bikers having lunch. sari & i each had a piece of pecan pie. it was very tasty. donna rush operates the cafe. she heard that our group was arriving today so made a large welcome sign. she never had time to get it posted on the front of her cafe, but we held it up for this picture.
from left in back are rose, donna rush (the cafe owner), deanna, judy, judith, & barb; in front from right are sari & i.
besides having a huge collection of coffee pots, many of which are lined up on shelves along the walls of her cafe, donna rush is an avid reader.....a speed reader. she says she can read a 350-page paperback in 73 minutes. she has favorites amongst her authors & often corresponds with them. she even vacations at conventions where these authors gather. she said that her trailer is lined with books---over 5100 of them. & when you go down the hall to the restrooms at her cafe, you pass thru a corridor crammed with books on both sides.
donna was excited about our visit. she not only made the welcome sign, but she told us to visit the local swimming pool & she'd pick up the tab. she also created homemade pineapple ice cream for our dessert tonight. after we polished off goodly portions of patty's famous veggie lasagna for supper (along with spinach salad & steamed veggies--a melange of multicolored sliced peppers, broccoli, & snow peas), most riders walked down to the coffee pot cafe for ice cream.
tomorrow it's on to our next state...wyoming. we ride 69 miles to saratoga, crossing the border at about mile 23. we'll stay at a resort; gloria says they have natural hot springs there, which will feel mighty good on our various sore & aching parts. we hope that biking conditions are as good as today's so we'll get to saratoga early enough to enjoy the resort.
Higher quality versions of the pictures from my trip are available here. If you would like copies of the original, full-size photos, or if you would like text-only versions of these daily reports e-mailed to you, feel free to e-mail my son Mark with your request. Stay tuned....

This page, and all linked pages, were created on an Apple iMac DV SE running Mac OS 9, BBEdit Lite 4.6, Fetch 3.03, and Netscape 4.7.