Thursday, September 16, 2010

La Veta, Del Norte and The Storm

We left La Veta and headed for Del Norte, Colorado. Marie's roots go way back in Del Norte, although there are no family living there now. Her family lived in and around Del Norte in the 1890's. We did some research on the families at the museum and the cemetery. Marie and her mother were both baptised at the local church.
We stopped by Skaff's supermarket in Del Norte for food for dinner, just as we were getting on the bike to leave, a mini-tornado started trying to blow us over. It was all I could do to hold up the bike and as I tried to get the kick stand down, the wind took my hat and blew it high into the sky. Before long my hat was just a dot almost lost in the sky. I figured I would never see it again. The wind blew some shingles off the house next to the parking lot before it went on.

Del Norte is on Hwy 160 and our plan was to go west to hwy 149 and turn into the high country. Del Norte is at an elevation of 7874 ft., but the mountains around are still way higher.

We turned on to Hwy 149 at the town of South Fork and went through Creed, an old mining town. We were getting tired and hungry and were looking for a campground. We stopped at Silver Thread Campground (9500 ft. Elev.) because we were hungry, tired and there were some really dark clouds ahead.

We ate a leisurely dinner and put up the tent. By the time the tent was up and everything all cozy, it started to rain. About ten minutes later, the thunder storm let loose. Flash, one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand, thr-BOOOOM. We listened to the storm, until we fell asleep.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

La Veta, Colorado

We put Denver in the rear view and headed south on Hwy 25. We passed through Colorado Springs and Pueblo, then turned at Walsenburg and went west to La Veta. We stayed with Marie's cousin, and we liked the area so much we decided to stay a couple of days.

We took a side trip on Hwy 12 over La Veta Pass (elev. 9413 ft.) through the small towns of Cuchara, Vigil, Weston, Segundo and Cokedale. A feature of the area is rock walls called dikes that radiate out from a central hub like a wheel. The theory is that rising lava lifted the ground but did not erupt. Molten rock then flowed into the cracks of the lifted ground and solidified into the rock walls.

The road is good and views panoramic.

We started seeing black rock strata on road cuts. We thought it might be coal, but we are Californians and weren't sure. Then we came to Cokedale and it all became clear. It was coal and they mined it around here at one time. Coke ovens, last used in the 1940's, were still there. Coal is baked in ovens at very high temperature, impurities are driven off and Coke is the result. Coke is then used in blast furnaces to make steel (so now you know and stop smirking).

The City of Trinidad was built with red brick and the older part of the city even has red brick paved streets. Trinidad is on Hwy 25 and we headed north, through Walseburg and to back to La Veta.
The Ute Indians had a unique name for the mountains above La Vita. They called the mountains
"Huajatolla" pronounced "Wah-ah-TOY-ah." In the Ute language Wuajatolla means "world class tits." The mountains are now called the east and west Spanish Peaks. I like the Ute name better.

You're Just Llike California Now

.....I lived in Denver in 1972 for a year. It was a much smaller town then. I remember there was a popular bumper sticker that said, “DON’T CALIFORNICATE COLORADO.” I think the meaning is clear. I’ve been to Denver and I’ve got to say that while most of Colorado is just fine, Denver has been thoroughly and willingly Californiacated.
.....Denver has become like any large California city. For Example Hwy 70 from Hwy 40. traffic was berserk; the aggressive meanness de rigueur. Heading down a 6% grade into Denver I saw 16-17 year old girls driving at absurdly high speeds, while texting. I’m sure that if they killed a motorcyclist they would call, text and even go on Facebook to tell all their friends how traumatized they were. .....

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Berthoud Pass

On the way to Denver we went over the Berthoud Pass. We turned onto Hwy 40 at Vernal Utah and continued into the Rocky Mountains, over Berthoud Pass and on to Denver, Colorado.
The road going up Berthoud Pass was a lot of fun as it was wide with great sweeping switchbacks. The scenery is beautiful with heavily forested mountains to the rocky timberline.

The pass is a high one, and the bike was running a little sluggishly. The exhaust sound was muffled and not crisp, but we had no real problems with altitude the entire trip.

We stopped on the summit of the pass to take some photos and to soak in the views and while we were there a group of Swedish riders stopped to do the same. I asked if they had shipped their bikes and they said they had rented, and that renting in the US was much cheaper. They were interested in my Harley. They said that there were Harleys in Sweden but they were very expensive, still there is that Harley mystique that attracts people.