Eagle, CO – Friend’s Ranch

With reluctance we packed up Otiss and left Santa Fe, heading north on US 285. Our next stop is a friend’s ranch in northern Colorado, but we thought we had a relatively short driving day, and needed to blow a little time in order to work with our friend’s schedule. So we took the “high road” to towards Taos, NM with plans to visit the famous Ortega’s Weaving shop in Chimayo and one of the pueblos closer to town. But we miscalculated how long the scenic route was going to take, and got stuck behind a line painting crew going literally 5 miles an hour for 10 miles or so. We rapidly re-calibrated and got back on the highway to try to make up time.
Route 285 runs through the northern New Mexico desert straight (well, relatively) up into Colorado through the San Luis valley (full of lushly irrigated fields) alongside the western side of the Sangre de Christos mountain range. It’s deceptive country, very flat yet rising in altitude all the while. The mountains appear to be close enough to touch, but they’re really a hundred miles away.
At one point we simultaneously were trying to outrun an astounding thunderstorm behind us, and were slowing down for a “special event” (which ended up being a film crew working on a movie), when the ground dropped out below us and we were crossing the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, 600 feet over the river. We just had to get better pictures of this, so I hopped out of the car , and walked out on the bridge only to find out that the bridge jumps up and down by at least a foot when a loaded semi crosses over. My courage ran out after only a couple of shots:
We also failed to anticipate that US 285 isn’t an Interstate and thus wanders through all these little towns, with speed limits ranging from 60 to 25. What was supposed to be a shorter driving day ended up being as long as the New Orleans to Arlington Texas leg. Morale was a little short as we snaked our way through Leadville, CO on US 24, elevation 10k feet! The highway climbs and falls along sides of a high pass, fun to drive but not with a trailer.
We rolled into Eagle embarrassingly late to the ranch house of an old college friend of Melissa’s. After a terrific dinner on the terrace under the heat lamps (yup, it was chilly believe it or not) it was off to bed in crisp cotton sheets. Next morning was a horseback riding trek into the hills with lunch in the middle of a field of wild lupine, surrounded by aspens. This was the first time on horseback for most of the family, with mixed reviews (Maia’s horse was a sneaky bugger, trying to snatch mouthfuls of grass constantly). And Alaina’s horse kept farting in Maia’s horse’s face.
This is sagebrush country, the smell of which wafts into the air when it rains or when you brush into it. Our friend describes it as what she imagines that heaven must smell like.
Recovering from somewhat sore behinds, we hit the pool and then a dinner as the sun set of Moe’s “Triple Wide” smoked combination (pulled pork, chicken, ribs and all the sides, including the best cole slaw we’ve ever had).
And one last thing: you Vermonters need to get out more. Once we left New York state, we haven’t seen a single Vermont license plate other than our own. I know that there’s only 635k of us, but come on people. You can’t tell me that you’re sticking around for the fabulous summer weather, can ya?

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4 Responses to Eagle, CO – Friend’s Ranch

  1. Jennifer Ballard says:

    Great Pics! Wow! Can’t believe it!

  2. Mike Early says:

    Great pictures and storytelling. It is fun to follow along on the trip. We finally have a nice sunny day here but are heading to Ireland today for a cool rainy time there. Enjoy that heat, winter will be here soon.

  3. Emma D says:

    I second the whole” Vermonters nedd to get out more” statement;when we were on vacaton, we never saw another Vermont plate after Vermont! Sounds like you guys arte having a blast!

  4. Emily Jeffrey says:

    Hi Maia,
    I hope I see you on vacation. I miss you. Are you having fun? Thank you for the postcard.

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