Hey there! Long time no see. I’m back on the road, having flown into Colorado on Wednesday and going from there.

First off, car maintenance has been on my mind: I came back to a dead battery (after less than a week) — this has been an ongoing issue since the purchase of the car, with this being the third battery death since my purchase (and new battery addition) in November. Thankfully my friend out west had a portable jump for me, which remedied the issue. I later had the battery tested and it was deemed to be fine, and after a local mechanic couldn’t find an abnormal power draw after a week in the shop back home, I’m kind of giving up on solving this for now, simply resolving to drive the vehicle often — not too hard to manage, presently. We’ll see when I get home.

I also came back to the windshield damage progressing — so as I write this, my car is in the shop to get a replacement, which is more expensive than I’d like, but necessary.

I flew back in, slept a tad, worked some, and then set off again.

I journeyed West and South toward Colorado Springs, stopping at the Paint Mines Interpretive Park in the small town of Calhan, Colorado.

In this wide open space, there are a bunch of unique and colorful rock formations amid fields and trails.

Since I had last visited, the town had fixed up some of the park and added additional amenities, though I also had sadly heard there had been some vandalism recently to the area. It’s hard to imagine what would possess someone to alter natural formations with such a rich history, but I’ll rest assured in the fact that such impulses don’t occur often, thankfully.

After some leisurely strolling through the area, I continued the trip South to Colorado Springs, stopping at some ridiculous landmarks on the way.

Last year, I meant to stop at Pulpit Rocks, but couldn’t find the place to park to hike up, and saw it only from afar. Thankfully this year I had figured out where to park, and made the short hike up to see the rocks and the view.

I also zipped over to Garden of the Gods, a free local mainstays of low-impact hiking and exploration, with beautiful scenery.

I traversed a few short trails, and took in views of the striking red rock formations.

There was also a beautiful view of the mountains and Pike’s peak from here, which were still covered in white snow despite the changing seasons.

After this, it was just a short hop across the way to check out Red Rock Canyon open space, a park similar to Garden of the Gods but much less crowded and very dog friendly. I caught a few glimpses before going to inhale a steak.

After overnighting in the Springs, I awoke early the following morning to shower and then climb Pike’s Peak, the local mountain towering over the sprawling metropolitan area. At 14,115 feet, it’s one of Colorado’s “fourteeners,” aka tall ass mountains people aim to climb and collect into their “I did that shit” list.

Unfortunately, the summit was closed due to construction and windy conditions, but I was able to go up most of the way, past the treeline, to climb up a sleek and slippery snow slope to a view atop some rocks. I’d visited the summit last year, so thankfully I didn’t feel like I was missing out too much.

The drive up and down is tough on the car, and I was grateful to have made it.

My goal was to travel Southwest through Colorado, and so I stopped next at the Florissant Fossil Beds national monument, about an hour West. It was a small area with some absolutely ancient petrified redwoods, and other collected fossils that I sadly couldn’t view due to the museum’s closure. I’ve gotten pretty used to things not being open due to the pandemic, so, not a big deal.

I continued South to hit up the Royal Gorge outside of Cañon City, Colorado. It’s a tourist trap demanding $30 to walk across one of the highest suspension bridges in the world over the Arkansas river. Due to wind, the gondola was shut down, so a short walk across the bridge and then I was off again.

I traveled East into Cañon City by way of Skyline Drive, a one-way street over a delicate hogback offering an encompassing view of the city.

A local had recommended a stop at Big Burger World, where I inhaled a disgusting amount of grease before proceeding.

Relentlessly, and full of milkshake, I made a long drive southward, which was beautiful and mountainous. It’s almost hard to believe some of these landscapes exist here in the United States.

I hit the Great Sand Dunes National Park, where huge dunes sit in front of a mountain range, also bordered by a field and shallow river.

Exhausted, with the sun setting, I chose not to climb the dunes, but continued onward, to hike the nearby trail to Zapata Falls.

Unfortunately, the road up to the Falls was so rough I didn’t dare attempt it in my Prius. I sat on the road until I could hitch a ride up the mountains with these two dudes on break from college in a Jeep with high ground clearance. Thank goodness for kind and welcoming strangers! I had good conversation and company up to the unique frozen falls, and then caught a beautiful sunset on the way down.

It was another few hours’ drive West — I had wanted to overnight in Durango because I had plans there the following day, but I was too tired to make it, and parked in Pagosa Springs, Colorado. I AM SO GLAD I DID! Wow! What a beautiful town with a bunch to explore. Sadly I barely had time, but I grabbed a breakfast at the Root House and checked out the riverside and hot springs. The town has a resort boasting 25 pools that I need to check out in the near future, but also had some hot springs on the side of the river accessible to everyone. Had I known sooner, I would have partaken, but I was on a strict schedule and had to keep going. I cannot wait to go back there.

On the road West, I passed Chimney Rock National Monument, where I would have stopped had I had more time. But I caught a glimpse from the road.

My travel brought me to Durango, Colorado, where I had a reservation on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. I caught the last week of their short train ride, before they implement the long itinerary to the town of Silverton from late May through October. If I’m in the area again, I might stop by again for that trip.

The train was gorgeous, and loud, and steady. This trip lasted about five hours all told, and brought us into the mountains and back again on the same route.

I appreciated the scenery and moreover, the company and conversations with others on this long ride. I often feel like I make the best connections with others when traveling. I’m not sure if it’s the opportunity, or the lack of stress or presence of excitement and adventure, or the simple obligation, but I met a few folks on the train that I’ll likely visit later in my trip. Great!

After returning back into the town, I hit up the local T’s Smokehouse and Grill to grab a bite on a recommendation from some dude I’d met at the Royal Gorge. It was alright. I’m not a huge fan of Barbecue.

This concluded my few days in Colorado, for now. I named this blog post because, there’s too many damn things to do in Colorado. I have to go back later in the year to do things around Denver and in the North of the state, when it’s a little warmer. And to revisit Pagosa Springs! Who knows when I’ll be back, but I’ll certainly enjoy it. Look at all the dang pins I’ve got here! You’ll see me again, Colorado.