Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Our Route

(Click to Enlarge - applies to all photos) )It was more or less due west out of Wichita into the mountains of southern Colorado by the end of the first day. From then on it was up and more up and across the continental divide to our western most point at Cortez NM, near the Mesa Verde National Park. We then re-traced our route a tad before heading north for a bit, then turning east and re-crossing the continental divide and hooking up with the headwaters of the Arkansas River (which when it flows through Wichita is pronounced the “R-Kansas”). From there is was more or less due east until it was time to head due south for Wichita. We spent almost 95 hours more or less in the car, in those 9 days, covering just over 2,000 miles. You can do that arithmetic if you want, but suffice to say it was slow going. It was gorgeous and interesting none-the-less, but I had to promise Virginia we will SIT near SEA LEVEL for our next vacation.

Bent's Old Fort NHS La Junta CO

Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site features a reconstructed 1840’s adobe fur trading post on the mountain branch of the Santa Fe Trail where traders, trappers, travelers, and Plains Indian tribes came together in peaceful terms for trade. The fort sits along the Arkansas River and one of its more famous frequent visitors was Kit Carson.

Bent's Old Fort NHS

This was one of the few forts we’ve been at the truly had the old stockade design we all know from old western movies, though this one is constructed of adobe.

Hide Packing Press at Bent's Old Fort

This press was used to compress the hides to save on space before shipping them east.

Courtyard from Above

This part of Colorado is east of the mountains and in the flat plains more like one thinks of being typical of Kansas. It was hot as blazes the day we were there (June 21st) but it was nice and cool inside the rooms with the thick adobe walls.

Flag at Bent's Old Fort

That beautiful blue sky contrasts nicely with Old Glory, but those delicate little cirrus clouds didn’t provide much shade from the sun.

Slag Pile near Cokesdale CO

By the morning of the second day, we were well into the southern Colorado mountains. As we rounded the bend in the road to see this site, we were sure it was a burn area. We later learned it was a slag pile from the nearby coking operation.