** I'm realizing how much I have to include in these posts so I'm having to break them up more than I originally intended to. I've gotten a little camera- and word-happy here folks :) **
So, the sex change capital of the world, and the location of our first campsite out west, was in lovely Trinidad, Colorado. Funny little factoid that we got a kick out of. Of course, HappyTrails and Alene got this one right immediately :)
Trinidad was a pretty cute little hub with a lot of life and activity when we rolled into town. We picked Trinidad Lake State Park very arbitrarily as our first campsite and landed a sweet little spot. Our tent tucked perfectly down in a grove of evergreens. It was quiet, clean, and close to the bathrooms (which rocked, BTW; they were cleaner than some home bathrooms I've been in...).
There was even an electrical hook-up, so we plugged in our Christmas lights. Geof got a nice fire going, too, so we were pretty well lit :)
Camping out west, and up high, has some serious benefits, not the least of which is no bugs and no humidity. Talk about restful sleep! It's the little things, like not waking up in a pool of sweat, that make life so wonderful.
A tent with a view...
We invested in a couple of extremely awesome sleeping pads for this trip, and they've already more than paid for themselves. They are the REI Camp Bed 3.5 XL. I highly recommend these to anyone looking to do some car camping or even to replace an air mattress. They rock. It was even better because we got them on sale. I do not recommend them for backpacking, though, as they do not pack small and they're heavy, even when deflated. I digress... :)
Trinidad Lake State Park has a nice little network of trails around it so we partook and enjoyed ourselves some thin air and altitude for breakfast the next morning.
Prickly pear flowers!
We huffed and puffed through the run, making our way along a super technical trail around a cliff that encircled the lake, then down into Reilly Canyon and back up the other side. It was hot and the sun was beating down on us most of the way. We realized very quickly we were going to need to let go of mileage/time once we were out west permanently. It's all about vertical and time on feet out here because you aren't getting super high mileage right off the bat since the air is so thin and there's so much cool stuff to climb!
So that was fun. We ate some granola and yogurt then packed it up and moved it out of there. Our next destination was Taos, New Mexico. We'd heard a lot about it and were curious to see what the buzz was. Campsites are first-come first-served in most places so we decided to pick a site before we dug into Taos. After a 3-4 hour drive we pulled into the Rio Bravo Campground, in Pilar, NM, about 15 miles south of Taos and along the Rio Grande. The camp host there helped us scope a site that was about to be vacated and while we waited for the party to leave, we chatted it up with this fine fellow. What an interesting dude! He gave us some ideas for running, and how to build an adobe house, and planted the seed of running up to the highest point in New Mexico, Wheeler Peak. Well, that sounded fun :) Good thing we met this guy, otherwise we would have just run the mountain bike trails across from our campsite, which was just lovely by the way:
The Rio Grande was just behind the bushes there. Another quiet and clean campsite, but considerably more rustic than our spot in Trinidad, CO
We took the advice of a super nice volunteer at the Taos Visitor's Center and headed to Taos Outback Pizza for dinner. The restaurant is tucked back off the main road (hence "outback") and had plenty of outdoor seating so we grabbed a picnic table and admired all the customer crayon art on the walls, plotting out what we wanted to add to the mural. We ordered a rockin' goat cheese pizza and quenched our thirst on some Santa Fe brews. Fantastic little spot.
Mmmm, food cooked by someone else and on a real table that wasn't the tailgate of our truck :)
We decided to leave a simple signature on the wall before we left:
The Summer of...
The next day we drove up to the Taos Ski Valley, grabbed some coffee at Taos Cow in Arroya Seco, NM, and commenced with the running of Wheeler Peak. (By the way, Taos Cow introduced me to the caffeinated genius of the dirty chai tea latte: espresso and chai, married in steamed milk. I was tickled pink to learn of this invention and now I'll never go back to plain chai.)
So, with that, to Wheeler Peak we headed...!
So, with that, to Wheeler Peak we headed...!