Friday, July 10, 2009

The Southwest Colorado Trip - Day 1

Today was day one of a long overdue week long vacation with the family. My loving wife chose a timeshare in Pagosa Springs, CO and booked it many weeks ago. Work continues unabated at United Airlines, but my manager said I could still go. I just have to attend some meetings during the upcoming week and since I am a contractor and no work means no pay, it should all work out.

Anyways, I worked all last night and early morning, grabbed three hours sleep this morning and was on the road by Noon. Traffic was bad, couple with a couple of spots with construction-related lane closures but I still made pretty good time. Riding on US285 as I did this past weekend, I made it to Poncha Springs by 3:30 PM and checked in with the family. They were in the minivan and about two hours ahead of me.

Before I got to Poncha Springs, I went by Mount Princeton on US285 and spotted a sign for Chaffee County Road 162 which seemed to head straight for the gap between Mount Princeton and Mount Mamma. I deviated from my highway run for 30 minutes and came upon the town of Mount Princeton Hot Springs, some kind of spa resort apparently. I went past the small town and took these pictures:

Looking west on CR 162, just beyond Mount Princeton Hot Springs

The foothills of Mount Princeton, to the east of the Mount Princeton Hot Springs

The "ghost town" of Saint Elmo was about 12 miles further west but I did not have the time today to explore it. I headed instead back towards US285, stopping briefly to get these shots of the mountains:

A panoramic view of Mt Princeton and Mt Mamma

I proceeded south on US 285 and encountered a bit of stormy weather as I cruised towards Saguache and US 160. I did end up getting rained on a couple of times, briefly, but each time I was able to outrun the rain and the warm weather dried me out nicely each time.

I was riding directly at this weather pattern

A closeup view of part of the Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range

While Brigitta was shadowed by the rain clouds, the Sangre de Cristo Mountains were nicely lit

Looking south on US 285, somewhere north of Saguache

I got to US 160 and turned west towards Pagosa Springs. You ride through the large San Luis Valley and go through a couple of small towns such as Del Norte and South Fork. As you leave the San Luis Valley you get to the mountains around the Wolf Creek Ski Resort and the Continental Divide.

The requisite pass picture of Wolf Creek Pass

The view one sees when starting to descend from Wolf Creek Pass

The valley below, from the Wolf Creek Pass scenic overlook

The riders in the pictures blasted past me just before I got to the overlook, moving way faster than I was, and yet we ended up in the same spot, same time.
A vertical panoramic view, showing the cool rock formations at the base of the overlook

The scenic overlook one gets to after descending from Wolf Creek Pass is well worth the stop. You get a great view of the valley in which Pagosa Springs is located. The road up to the overlook is nice and twisty as is the road down into the valley. The light wasn't quite right for some of the rock formations near the pass so I hope to be there tomorrow soon after sunrise for another try.

I rode on down into the valley, and was soon in Pagosa Springs which was about 20 miles away. Again, it rained on me briefly as I neared the timeshare's location. Here's where the only real danger of the whole ride existed. Clueless cagers wandering about lost inside the timeshare complex trying to find their units! Truly amazing these people were able to pass driving tests.

No matter, I reunited with my family at our timeshare unit, safe and sound. Dinner was almost ready and my loving wife had the wine handy. What more could I ask?

I got to Pagosa Springs at 6:30PM so it was about six and a half hours of riding with picture stops. Brigitta's odometer was right on 76,000 miles when I parked her for the night.

There's some truly beautiful scenery in this part of Colorado so far. The next few days should be some great riding!

EOD Mileage: 76,000


cpa3485 said...

You took some very fine pictures Charlie6. I like the cloud pictures especially. And I agree that SW Colorado is indeed very beautiful.

jayboydog said...

chuck, you write well! it's a pleasure to read your sentences. may i point to sep 17,'07 re oxtar matrix 2 boots? two mentions of clutch which i felt would read better if gear shift were used.
much love, jay in los angeles

682202 said...


keep you eye out for a red R850r with a aerostich banana suit riding it. I'm currently spending the next two days in Durango before moving north.


Arizona Harley Dude said...

Colorado sure is beautiful. Someday I need to spend a week exploring some of these great roads you share with us.

Charlie6 said...

cpa3485, thanks for your kind words

jayboydog, thanks for reading my stuff, made the corrections and thanks for pointing them out for me.

682202, am riding the area around chimney rock on saturday, will keep an eye out.

AZ Harley Dude, hmmm, you'll need more than one week! thanks for reading this stuff.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Charlie6 (Domingo):

As I stated in an earlier comment to one of your posts, I haven't felt much like writing anything lately. I attribute this to a work-related malaise and the uncertain economic future for people in my profession. The advancing arthritis in my joints is such that I have stopped reading a lot of motorcycle stuff too.

I am hoping the developments of this week will change a lot of that, and I am trying to get basck into the swing of things. I can't tell you how much I envy your ability to spend six hours in the saddle, and be able to jump off and take all the pictures you want. I did a 170-mile antique run last week that nearly left me dead on the side of the road. I took no pictures.

Some of the shots you take could make an interestimg story in themselves. (I have said this to you before.) My case in point today is the approaching storm pictures, which in the sequence they are displayed, depict clear and beautiful skies evolving into a maelstrom of turbulence.

I also regret that I have not had the pleasure (for me) of riding with you. But the truth is that on bad, cloudy days, my joints revolt against the jostling of the twisties, and I would be far behind you in the slalom.

I do hope to get out west next year. I have two ambitions as far as rides go in that direction. One is to ride with Steve Assan... And the other is to chase you through a few curves. I'd like nothing more than a picture of my bike on the wall with one of your backdrops to give it some class.

I leave for the rally in Tennessee tomorrow.

Fondest regards,
Jack "reep" Toad

Charlie6 said...


thanks for your continued kind commentary on my pictures, as I've said before though, with the material at hand here in Colorado, it's not hard.

I too regret not being able to go to the Rally to ride with you....I trust you'll end up creating chaos and laughter at the contributor's dinner and end up being either thrown out on your ass or the star of the next ON edition.

My knees feel sore at the end of the long rides, just not to the level you're at, I am sure that will come along in time. I think I'll pre-medicate with some ibuprofen tomorrow.

Ken Phenix said...

There you go driving me crazy again! If you're not careful I'm just going to have to go back there and ride with you some more! My friend, here's hoping you and your wonderful family are having a memorable vacation.