Go West Old Men: A Travel Memoir. Part 17

Sunrise at Medano Pass

Freezing my pass off.

This is Part 17 of the story, follow these links to see Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14, Part 15, Part 16

Like any good camper will do when faced with a night in a hotel, we both took showers at night, and again in the morning.

Breakfast at the hotel was an interesting mix of choices and tourists. I think perhaps a school group. We packed up and headed east again. This would be the last day of real adventures.

At Four Corners National Monument

Four Corners had not been on our original itinerary, but with the addition of Zion National Park and Glen Canyon Dam, we took the slight detour to go stand in four states at the same time. This was one of the spots I remember visiting forty-four years ago, so the memories of that summer stirred again.
We took the obligatory picture, did a little shopping with the local vendors, and hit the road again.

Back in the Jeep, we headed toward Mesa Verde National Park. We were looking forward to seeing the cliff dwellings, but knew we wouldn’t have long. In the end, we didn’t have long enough. This turned out to be the portion of the trip where we didn’t do enough advance research.

We had a conversation with the ranger who told us that we’d need at least six hours to do justice to visiting the dwellings. A two hour drive would take us there and back without seeing much.
Scott was determined to get to Medano Pass before sunset and that was still several hours away.

Don’t tell him, although I think he knew, I would have be willing (anxious?) to skip Medano Pass. But of all the points we planned on seeing, this, and the drive over the mountain, was at the top of his list. So, I got the sticker from Mesa Verde, but we really didn’t see the park.

All in a day’s drive.

While this was a once in a lifetime trip, I’d still like to go back and see Mesa Verde someday.

Our next official stop would be Great Sand Dunes National Park, and then the drive across the pass.

Great Sand Dunes National Park

On the way we stopped for lunch in Durango and had a great burger. I remembered that once, after hiking with Rick and Kathy, we had some of the hottest Mexican food I’d ever had. Not on this trip.

We reached Great Sand Dunes National Park late afternoon and had the chance to take a few photos of the dunes. We also took advantage of the last plumbing we would see for at least 24 hours.

Medano Pass. The final campsite.

The drive up and across Medano Pass turned out to be the most challenging of our off-roading adventures. We crossed the stream seven or eight times and bounced our way up the mountain.

Near the top, we picked out last campsite for the night. I was

Freezing my pass off.

already cold.

Maybe it’s just me, but when we left for this trip, I never anticipated being so cold at night. Sure the elevation is high, sure it gets cold in the desert at night. But this cold?

I bundled up in sweats and a hoodie and shivered my way through the night. I was glad when the morning came.

We packed up camp and headed down the other side of the mountain, equally as challenging.
Back on the highway, we knew the adventurous part of our trip was ending.

We were homeward bound.



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