Monday, 4 September 2017
Blanding, Utah to Lamar, Colorado – 475 miles
There weren’t many options for breakfast this morning, but we found Yak’s Cafe on our way out of town. The parking lot was pretty full, and that’s usually a good sign, so we were hopeful – and again, we were not disappointed! The staff was friendly and though we got the expected ‘you’re not from around here’ looks from the regulars, everyone was nice and the food was hot and good. Nothing fancy – good ole scrambled eggs, bacon, and hash browns are a great way to start the day. You may have noticed that we’ve been eating only two meals a day most days. We’ve learned that a hearty breakfast can go a long way, and we haven’t even been snacking on the snacks we bought at the Dutch Bakery. Well, except for the vegetable chips which I may be becoming addicted to… Back to the subject at hand – today’s route would take us across southern Colorado, most of which we had not seen before. We visited Durango, Mesa Verde, and the Four Corners Monument on our Sassy Sister trip in 2013, and this time we’d be passing through Durango from west to east instead of north to south, although we did reminisce about our stormy, rainy, curvy, scary drive on US 550 past Ouray on that trip. We also realized that the lovely day we spent soaking in natural hot springs was in Pagosa Springs, which was right on our route on Highway 160 today. Sadly, we didn’t have time to stop at any of those places this time, as we had lots of ground to cover.
Our first stop of the day was an unexpected one, but who can resist hand-lettered signs for an elk ranch? We were near Del Norte, and Kim gamely (haha) turned in at my request. What a hoot! From the Burma Shave-like signs lining the drive to the ‘Welcome to Ribeye, Colorado’ (population 12) sign to the photo ops to the store full of game meats to the pens of elk and caribou to the cute little kittens hanging out on the steps, we enjoyed our short detour at Anta Grande Elk Ranch.
It turned out to be a good thing we stopped here, because from Del Norte to Lamar, there was very little of interest. The small towns were sad – very depressed, very little open – we wanted to stop for rest and refreshment, but there were no options along our route, even in the bigger places. We were astonished to learn that there was a National Park in the middle of this nothingness, so we decided to have a look at Great Sand Dunes National Park, and we planned to ‘sled’ down the dunes. Alas, you needed to have procured your sled in town before arriving at the park. Oh well, we just opted to take a short hike, get some photos, and learn a bit about the dunes and the surrounding area.
The rest of today’s trip was blah! No scenery, no people, no place to stop, and very little of interest. We took a little accidental side trip in Walsenburg, and that was even more depressing! We were glad we actually knew a good place to eat in Lamar and we really wished we had known there was a brand new Holiday Inn Express (right next door to our dreary Days Inn) – Booking.com, you let us down this time! We stopped at a Sonic in Lamar for some iced tea and saw an interesting sight, but we couldn’t get a good photo. Until we stopped for gas a couple of blocks later (whew!) and the same truck pulled up next to us. Too funny! We passed our Days Inn and were really tempted to drive on, but it had been a long day and there was nothing promising on the horizon, and we had already paid for the room. We ate a delicious dinner at Thai Spicy Basil (we had eaten here on our 2013 trip) – Kung Pao Chicken and Moo Goo Gai Pan, with some chicken coconut soup for me – and then we resigned ourselves to the motel. Just to add insult to injury, there was no elevator, and even though we both had two bags and the guy ahead of us had a tiny bag, he got the first floor room and we got the second floor room that was as far from the front desk (and stairs) as it could have been. We see how it is. I think I get cranky when we are heading home!