Thursday, August 8, 2013

My "Enchanted" Guardian Angel...

South Zone

On day two, we bid good bye to Clovis and turned North toward the "Enchanted Circle." I can't wait to tell you about that place and, more importantly how I found it, but you just have to drive with us through New Mexico.
Middle zone
Mom's idea of how to survive the
drive through New Mexico.
Whiskey for me and beer for the horses.
North Zone
To be fair, New Mexico should discussed in three zones: South, middle and North. The South zone is interesting because it is completely devoid of any type of excrement. The reason behind this phenomenon is that there is not a creature (great or small) that is willing to live in this area of the world. (OK, that's just my theory, it has not actually been proven...yet). The middle zone is more interesting because, as you can see, there are things worth looking at as you drive through the middle zone, on your way to the only real part of the state worth visiting, the North Zone. The North zone is beautiful. There are mountains, streams, beautiful historical towns and should not be missed!
(Regardless of what mom will tell you, you will see some pretty interesting things on the road as you drive. The pic to the left just cracked me up. we saw this house about mid-way through the state. The horses are actually on the front patio of this house and it just reminded me of that Willie Nelson song about beer for horses...remember, my mind wanders...)

So, we finally made it to our first planned site for the day: Enchanted Circle...So, "what the heck is Enchanted Circle?" you ask. Well, my cousin, Duane, (You'll hear much more about him and his wonderful wife, Carol, in a couple of days), suggested I visit this part of New Mexico. (Now, after I tell you about Duane, in an upcoming post, the following will make much more sense), When he first suggested I visit "Enchanted Circle," I was sure it was some  kind of commune in the mountains where people sat around chanting then danced "NECKED" inside standing stones after passing a pipe filled with "wacky-tobaccy." Let me just say that I am not here to judge anyone and if that's your thing...fine, I'm just not interested in participating...with my mother along.
Plaza in Taos
Red River
As it turned out, Enchanted Circle refers to a drive through Northern New Mexico that includes Taos, Quista, Red River and Angel Fire. The area is beautiful and I definitely plan to return (with a group of the most fun people I know), and spend at least a week hiking, rafting and exploring the region. Taos and Red River were my two favorite places on the drive but after learning more about Quista, I can't wait to hike that part of the Guadalupe canyon.

After leaving the circle, (in true road warrior fashion), we continued North toward Colorado. As I mentioned on the first day's post, we had no plans as to where we would stay nor when we planned to be anywhere. So, mom looked at the atlas and found a "grey-line" road that would allow us to shave several miles off of a trip to Canyon City via Walsenburg. Well, it sounded like a great idea to me so we turned east to find our "grey-line" road. This would be a great time give you some information about "grey-lines" used in Rand-McNally's atlas. According to the legend in the book, the condition on these roads may change often and drivers should check with locals before attempting to navigate these roads. As it turned out, we didn't find that particular grey-line road, but the above information will become important in just a minute. Since we couldn't find the grey-line, we found ourselves in Walsenburg (where we stopped for limes for our vodka-tonics we intended to drink as soon as we stopped for the night...didn't happen) much earlier than we thought we might. So, we checked the atlas again for our next tourist attraction and decided to head toward Canyon City and ultimately to Cripple Creek. That meant that we turned once more to the Northwest.

dirt "grey-line" road
Just about five miles (+/-) before Canyon City, we found "Colorado 65 N.--SCORE! 65N was exactly the road we were looking for (we thought). So, we turned due North...this is where the information about the grey-line roads is important. Colorado 65 South is a perfectly great road. It is paved and goes to a perfectly nice little town, Florence. Co 65 N, however, is not anything like that as we discovered. Soon after turning north, we began to see signs that read: "No trucks, no campers longer than 25 feet..." The signs should have simply read: "TURN YOUR DUMB BUTT AROUND AND FIND ANOTHER ROUTE!!!" The next thing we noticed is that the pavement ended. Then, mom noticed that the name of this area was "Phantom Canyon" and it was starting to get dark. Now...those of you who know me well know that being in a place where phantoms may exist, in the dark, is not something I would normally do while conscious and completely sober. Still, we continued.

Guardian Angel
Almost immediately, however, God, (who loves me very much,) sent my guardian angel (who was driving a brand-new, complete with paper plates, red Cadillac). As soon as I saw this beauty behind me, I pulled over and let it pass. Then, I stayed with it like I was at the end of a tow-rope tied to it's bumper. As mom said, "Don't lose that car, we have no service on our phones and that car may be the only hope of our dead bodies ever being found if you go flying over the cliff in the dark and we go hurdling through time and space and end up splatted at the bottom of the abyss...thanks for the confidence mom. OK, maybe she didn't really say all of that but, we were both thinking it! This road was so narrow and windy that at times, I swear we were chasing our own tail-lights!

Now it's dark and we get to a tunnel...not just a regular tunnel...a tiny, narrow, short, "are we even going to fit" tunnel. Well, we watch my guardian angel creep through and we decided to give it a shot. First, though, we pulled in the side mirrors, just in case. Boy, did we breathe a sigh of relief when we emerged to the other side in one piece. So we continued navigating switchback after switchback and one more tunnel for THIRTY NINE miles! When we finally emerged from warring with the phantoms and made our way to Cripple Creek, all I wanted to do was give the Caddy's "Guardian Angel" a big hug and buy him/her a drink...they disappeared!

Well, unfortunately, the only hotels we found in Cripple Creek were,
 what we affectionately named "Whortels. Cripple Creek has reinvented itself into a remake of a historic gambling town. The buildings are very old but most have been reinvented and refurbished into copies of what saloons and gambling halls would have looked like during the 1800s. Mom and I decided that since we escaped the phantoms, we probably didn't want to test our luck with staying in what could be rooms haunted by long-dead saloon girls so we decided to continue on and found ourselves in Manitou Springs for the night.

It was, obviously a very long but very memorable day.
Stay tuned for more from the road.




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