Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Days 27 + 28 (Sunday June 7 + Monday June 8) Buena Vista to Denver to Amarillo TX

Sunday wasn't too eventful, just drove through the rockies for a while to get to my friends Brent & Lisa's house in Johnstown, north of Denver. I could see some weather moving across in front of us as we were driving, but it looked like it would be out of the way before we got there. As I got close to Brent's, I noticed lots of hail on roofs and on the side of the road. When we got there, the news was all about a tornado that had touched down over on the east side of town in a shopping center. We had come around the west so we had missed it. We had a fun visit with Brent and Lisa, and their son Parker (who was too young to even talk the last time I saw him in Orlando). He loved Max and helped me take him for walks. He watched the movie "Underdog" (which stars a beagle) before bed. Lisa's parents Frank and Frita were there as well, which was a nice surprise. I always enjoy spending time with them, and the cooking can't be beat. Nothing like driving to Colorado to get a little southern hospitality. We were still eating the leftover ribs and cornbread for the next night's dinner and it was one of the best meals we'd had on the road.

Unfortunately this was just a short visit, and first thing Monday morning everyone had to go to work. We went for a walk up their street even though there was a light rain and Max found 3 rabbits to chase. These rabbits were much quicker than the ones in California, probably due to the high number of coyotes in the area. We lounged a little bit and then hit the road, South at first and then coming around toward the east.

I saw on Roadside America that we would go right past the site of the Ludlow Massacre and it was a good distance for a stop so we checked it out. This is where John Rockafeller had the Colorado Militia open fire on the camp of striking mine workers, which was done with such brutality that it in effect led to much of the labor reform of the early 20th century.

Then, on our way east through New Mexico, we made an unplanned stop at Capulin Volcano National Monument. This was also right off our path and could not be passed up. Capulin is a volcano that last erupted around 60,000 years ago and is a classic example of a Cinder Cone Volcano and is very easily accessible. It is right along the highway US-87 and you reach the top by a winding road that circles around the cone. At the top you can either hike around the rim (about a mile) or down into the crater. We opted for going down to the crater vent, which was only about a quarter mile hike but also involved a 105-foot descent in (and climb back out). It was pretty awesome to be down in a volcano like that, even if it was an extinct one. Max got a little tired hiking back up but recovered pretty quickly.

The drive through the volcanic terrain of New Mexico was interesting, but as soon was we hit Texas it became exactly what I picture when I think of driving through Texas: Flat, dusty 2-lane roads, with big metal cylinders surrounded by endless fields.

We made it to the campground in Amarillo just before dark (since I had forgotten the time change to Central Time) but still got the tent set up and heated up our ribs and cornbread (delicious!) and got a little walk in before dark. Max must have seen a rabbit while I was setting up the tent because one minute he was in the the jeep, laying down in back, then I heard a jingle of tags and he was GONE. Not normal behavior for him. I took a short walk and found him sniffing around out front, obviously tracking something, so I suspect he saw a rabbit or chipmunk that just couldn't be passed up. We saw both around this morning so either could be the culprit. Had a very nice night with perfect weather for sleeping outside, 60's and breezy. A nice change from the still chilly temps up in the mountains.

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