Aug 032010

Friday, July 30, 2010
I opened my eyes to a beautiful sunrise! Wow, my breath was taken away as I noticed my tent faced the rising sun over the lake. The orange ball of fire begged to have its picture taken, but my camera was in the car, so I settled for some iphone photos.

I was up much earlier than expected (around 7am) and was able to pack up the campsite before my scheduled phone call with Mark. He was able to call my cell phone using his skype service and we managed to talk for a while before the reception got too bad.

Then, I was on my way, back on 287 going towards Amarillo. I passed the signs for Palo Duro Canyon State Park which Mark had recommended, but I thought that if I kept going, I had a chance to reach Great Sand Dunes National Monument in Colorado before dark, so I kept going. I did have to turn off the road to go see the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame and Museum.

Then, I saw Cadillac Ranch on the left side of the road and just had to turn around and go back to see it. I’ve heard of it and seen photos and I wanted to see it for myself. Unfortunately it was the middle of the day, so the harsh mid-day sun did not provide the best lighting for photos. But, you get what you get. I noticed that most people arriving brought spray paint cans to add to their own graffiti to the ten graffiti-covered cars that are half-buried, nose-down, facing west “at the same angle as the Cheops’ pyramids.”

I was excited to see the sign that I was leaving Texas and entering New Mexico. I was at the very north western most corner of the Texas panhandle and entering Mountain Time Zone. New Mexico was a short drive compared to crossing Texas and I only briefly stopped at a few places for rests. Then, I arrived in Colorado.
I’ve never been to Colorado in the summer and really have only been to Steamboat Springs for skiing. So, I was excited to be here in the state that hosts adventure, a multitude of national parks, the Rocky Mountains, and so much more. There is so much in this state that I want to do, but my main destination is Rocky Mountain National Park, so I will head there instead of going everywhere. =)
My goal was to hit the Great Sand Dunes National Monument before dark so that I could secure a campsite and set up my tent in the light. However, I came across a lightning storm in the distance and just had to stop before I entered the storm to try and take some photos. I thought for sure I’d be able to get a photo of lightning, but after spending a good amount of time trying and not succeeding, I decided to continue on.

I drove through a crazy storm to get to the park. While I was inside the storm I wished I could somehow take photos of the lightning because there was quite a show. Finally I passed through the worst of the storm and arrived at Great Sand Dunes NM after dark and in the rain. The campground was full. =( I drove out a little ways to a private campsite just outside the park that offered tent camping. However, it was dark, raining and their sign said that the road to the campsites had been washed out from the heavy rains and to go carefully. I decided to skip that in the dark.

I didn’t have much choice at this point. I could drive many miles to the nearest town, or I could just sleep in my car. So, I did. It wasn’t so bad and it was pleasant to be out of the rain while I slept. I do love my Prius as so much stuff fits in it and it is quite a versatile little car. Well, it works pretty well as a bed, too. Good thing I’m small.

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