After my last day of work at FlightSafety International, a party was thrown and then the fun began. It took a solid, very busy 5 days of packing, moving, cleaning, and throwing all manner of needless junk away along with a total of 5 car loads of stuff to get everything from my house in Tulsa to my parent's house in Moore. And then, another 3 very full days of organizing, building of shelves and storage racks (for my bikes and wheels), and more throwing away of needless junk to get all the stuff that previously filled the living room, my old room, and it's huge closet into a black hole that sucked it up into some semblance of organization and cleanliness. It really was a feat of incredible magnitude of which credit is due to my dad's excellent ingenuity and manufacturing capabilities. Follow this with another busy two days of packing for the trip, and by the time I was ready to go I felt like I needed a vacation on the beach, not the rigorous hiking and adventure I had planned!
On the Road
However, once I got on the road, the stress quickly started to shred and I began to feel renewed with energy and purpose. I made a quick stop in Amarillo for Jimmy John's and a quick run at dusk to keep the legs loose.
Weather was perfect for this run. I was glad to find that the previous week in Oklahoma's heat and humidity was the reason for my exceptionally poor workouts.
On the way to Santa Fe, I was having internet connectivity problems (found out later, I had to turn roaming on and then restart the phone) so I stopped at a dark gas station and asked a trucker where the exit I needed was. Turns out, it was just up the road, and truckers know they're directions and distances, so I made it to Santa Fe without a hitch. Once in Santa Fe, I stopped for gas and asked someone who didn't speak much English if they knew of a good place to crash in my car. He didn't. The next guy, however, was more helpful. He was a security guard doing rounds at a hotel and due to the mass exodus of people from Los Alamos due to the huge wildfires threatening the city, there wasn't a room in town to be booked if I wanted one. And I wasn't the first to ask that night either, so he was cool with me parking and sleeping there for the night.
The next day I woke up and decided to bike around and check out the town. The weather, of course, felt great after coming from Oklahoma, and the jump to altitude was barely noticeable at easier effort levels. However, I soon found most of the places I wanted to visit were blocked due to fire hazard and the air quality to be quite poor from the surrounding fires, so I quickly decided it was time to move on to Colorado a little sooner. On the way, I ran across some great scenery and a good trail run.
The town of Truchas on the scenic byway to Taos
View of the River Gorge from the West Rim Trail just outside of Taos
Crazy cool houses nearby. This was an "earthship".
Great Sand Dunes National Park
It was getting dark by the time I got into Alamosa and it was now time to find a place to crash for the night again. I decided to head to Pueblo. However, along the way, I ran into a sign for the Great Sand Dunes National Park... Perfect! I bought that national park pass, so it's time to use it! The sign at the entrance to the park said I needed a free permit from the already closed visitor center to camp, though, so I turned around and parked in an alcove on the side of the road right in front of it for the night. The next morning came gorgeous views as the mountains blocked the sunrise, yet allowed enough light to see them, the dunes, and the stars for a brief few minutes. Once on the dunes, and trudging across endless amounts of sand to get to the view at the top, I ran across some fellow travellers who also happened to be going anywhere, doing whatever and so we quickly made friends.
Quaint and quiet downtown of Alamosa. Very cool train station here too.
Sunrise at the Dunes was breathtaking.
On my way to the top!
A boy scout troup running (and rolling) down the top of High Dune.
Fellow travellers Reed and Danger Carrie at the top.
After a nice run back down the dunes (much easier than going up...), my new friends, Reed and Danger Carrie told me about a waterfall close by that sounded like a good place to go next so we headed that direction, and after what seemed like forever on the rockiest, roughest gravel road I've been on yet (only 3.6 miles supposedly...), we had arrived. The water was freezing cold, but my new Keen sandals worked perfect to quickly drain the water away and the view of the falls was worth it.
Hiking thru the water to get to the Falls.
Chillin at the Falls!
Once we had breakfast, we parted ways for the moment and I headed on to Colorado Springs to meet up with an old racing buddy who is currently stationed there with the Air Force. I told him I'd like to check out his favorite trail and so he took me down to Manitou Springs close to Pikes Peak to a nice little hike that was... Straight up the whole way! The best way to describe the experience is doing lunges for 37 minutes with no break! And I thought the dunes this morning were tough! But as immensely painful and tiring as that was, my legs didn't really start hurting until we ran the 2.5 mile trail back DOWN. Needless to say, I am surprised I am still functioning this morning after and am awaiting the soreness that is sure to come.
Thankfully, the rest of the night was much more enjoyable. We went driving, top off, in his Honda NSX, ate some tamales sold from a Mexican in a truck by the side of the road, and polished them off with a Leffe Seasonal Christmas Ale brought back from Belgium which was one of the best beers I have ever had! And to top it all off, I got a shower and bed for the night! Big thanks to Tom for his hospitality!
At the top of that horrificly long hike!
Tom getting the NSX out
Tom is also an excellent photographer. Amazing pictures of his NSX and more can be found at http://fullerfotos.net/
My favorite is this one http://www.flickr.com/photos/tomfuller/5831289549/in/set-72157605794078387/