Sunday, July 10
Sunrise at Kenney Flats, between Pagosa Springs and Chromo, Colorado
Today we leave this peaceful boondock.
My first view out the window of the Best Little Trailer is a pink and blue sky over four deer grazing in the meadow by the pond. I’ll remember this . . . .
Bridget is awake, too. I rummage for my camera for a through-the-window shot. Bridget barks impatiently. She wants potty break now!
The deer hear the bark and dash for the cover of the woods. Darn!
I take the photo above while standing outside with Bridget.
Thus begins moving day . . . .
The crew and I are on the road early, heading south on Route 84. We pass a herd of horses.
Aww . . . . The little one is still asleep.
At Chromo we cross the Navajo River.
I start a second bottle of water. Being well hydrated helps one cope with altitude and today we will climb to Cumbres Pass.
The can of oxygen rests on the console of the Perfect Tow Vehicle.
We enter New Mexico.
By the time we reach Chama, I need a pit stop!
Bridget and Reggie are in good spirits, happy for a brief run-around. As I climb into the driver’s seat I experience slight shortness of breath. My feet are tingling.
What’s this? We aren’t even at 8,000 feet! (Elevation at Chama is 7,875.)
I grab the can of Boost oxygen and take four deep breaths.
“Okay, guys, let’s do this!”
The PTV follows Route 17 northeastward, bringing us to the Colorado border. The pass is only a few miles further. A sign announces a historical marker ahead.
This would be a good time to check Bridget and Reggie . . . .
I pull off the road into a large parking area and let out the crew.
Bridget and Reggie roam around, happy to be free.
I feel great, too!
A woman in her 30s or 40s exits her vehicle and walks up to me as I approach the historical marker.
She talks animatedly into a phone pressed to the side of her head.
When a few feet from me, she puts down the phone and asks, “Do you know the way to Aztec?”
“Uh, Azetec, New Mexico?”
She responds with fast, pressured speech.
“Yeah. I think I made a wrong turn. I left Wichita two days ago, been driving non-stop, my car broke down, crazy! I haven’t slept, do you know the way to Aztec? I got mixed up in Chama and I see this sign, Welcome to Colorado, hey, I don’t want to go to Colorado! I see this place to stop and —
“I have a map,” I interject in the non-stop stream of verbiage. “Let me go get it and I’ll show –”
“YOU HAVE A MAP?” she exclaims, as if a map is the most amazing thing that a person traveling would have in their possession.
“You DON’T have a map?” I reply as she follows me over to the PTV.
Driving from Wichita, Kansas, to northwestern New Mexico and she doesn’t have a map. This woman is rolling on three wheels . . . .
“Well, I have electronics, but . . . yakkety yak yak yak yak . . . .”
I open up my New Mexico Benchmark atlas and place it on the hood of the PTV.
“Let me see. Here it is — Aztec. Okay . . . ” I turn the page of my atlas. “Here is where we are now.”
I look up. The woman isn’t looking at the map! Her head is turning this way and that and she’s jabbering away.
Uh-oh. What we have here is a person under the influence . . . . She’s probably been taking stuff to stay awake . . . .
I switch over to my You Will Listen And You Will Obey voice, developed during my middle school teaching days.
“Look Here. Right Here. Look At My Finger. This Is Where We Are Now. You Go Back To Chama and Turn Onto Route 64 Toward Dulce And . . . .”
Hoo-boy, I’m losing her again.
“I GOT IT! I GO TO CHAMA AND 64 TAKES ME TO AZTEC! THANK YOU SO MUCH!”
Up goes the phone to her head again.
She wanders toward her car, talking, talking, talking.
Oh, dear. Well, I’ve done my part. At least she’ll get off the side of this mountain and will be in New Mexico. God help her, she has another 100 miles or so to go . . . .
I read the historical marker about Bill Williams and Cumbres Pass.
I place Bridget and Reggie inside the PTV.
The two cuties wiggle around on the passenger seat as I stand in the open door.
Hey, this is the perfect time for the oxygen!
I grab the throw and throw it — English can be a hoot sometimes — I throw the little blanket over our heads forming a mini tent. Bridget and Reggie think this is funny and we snuggle together, cheek to jowl. I talk lovey nonsense next to the noodle-heads.
Suddenly my right hand appears inside our tent holding the Boost oxygen can.
I press the button about 10 times. The crew wiggles around for a bit, as if this is part of the fun, but by the tenth PSSSSTTTT! they become suspicious and they’re outta’ there!
I don’t know if they inhaled any more oxygen.
Even though the can emits 95% oxygen, it mixes with the air in the space, and, heck, have you ever seen a dog take a deep breath? They never do!
Before pulling out onto the road again, I take a few more inhalations from the can.
And we’re on our way!
I don’t have photos of the next part of the day’s journey because I have to drive the winding, steep road and also monitor the crew and I might want more oxygen.
The PTV does a magnificent job! I keep her at 40-45 mph in second gear, which she maintains without difficulty. About five van-lengths from the summit her speed drops to 30 and then down to 25 and we’re at the top . . . .
“WE MADE IT!”
Gee, that was easy.
~ ~ ~
Fast forward . . . .
We make camp at Mogote Campground along the Conojes River, west of Antonita, Colorado.
Mogote is a few miles past the more popular and more picturesque Aspen Glade Campground.
Mogote Campground is $20 regular/$10 with senior discount. Elevation is 8,400 feet. Right away I turn on the Verizon jetpack. No internet.
I pay for one night.
I choose a site on the upper loop, away from the river, which turns out to be a good decision. Later the camp host tells me “the flies and mosquitoes are bad” by the river.
A persistent, cool breeze keeps the bugs away from the sites on the upper loop.
It’s peaceful here, so quiet and the sound of the wind through the pines so soothing that I fall asleep in my lounger.
The crew sleeps, too – Reggie curled on my lap and Bridget in her doggie bed.
We sleep for two hours!
Deep, mouth-wide-open sleep!
Later I notice Bridget skipping around like a young pup. Reggie and I feel peppy, too.
“Golly, Bridge. Maybe we oughtta’ snort oxygen more often.”
In the next post . . .
We find a cool, mountain camp!
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Conejos River near Horca, Colorado