Jonna and Alan's RV trip to Florida

After we got back from our RV trip to California we decided to continue getting out in our anti-COVID bubble while the weather allowed it. We've had a few things on our "to do" list that are down in southeastern Colorado so we loaded up the RV and headed south. Jonna booked us a couple of nights at Lake Pueblo State Park which turned out to be a very nice place and we were happy to see they were limiting campers to keep everyone safely spaced out. After we arrived we walked around a bit, fixed dinner and then headed back out to watch the sunset. Wow! Good thing we did because it was beautiful, unfortunately enhanced by the smoke coming over the Rockies from big forest fires burning throughout Colorado. The next day we drove east to see Bent's Old Fort, a National Monument. There were only a handful of other visitors and masks were required so we felt safe walking through the old fort. Afterwards we did a short hike through the land around the site to check out the nearby Arkansas River. Afterwards, we returned Lake Pueblo for dinner and another nice sunset. We checked out the following day and made a side trip to the northeast to check out the Paint Mines Interpretive Park just outside Calhan, CO. We did a hike through the park but the combination of it being pretty crowded and having a bright mid-day sun bleach out the colors made it a little less impressive. We continued north to I-70, then stopped in Dear Trail to have lunch under a shade tree in a town park, and finally drove back home to Nederland. A nice little weekend jaunt.

Here are some of our favorite photos from the trip (each photo is a thumbnail linked to a higher quality picture.):

1) As soon as we got the RV parked at Lake Pueblo State Park we went for a walk around. We found a little gully we could use to get down to check out the water.

2) There weren't many trees in the park and the ones that are there are small. Fortunately, the AC in the camper works so it wsa comfortable inside during the afternoon and eventually comfortable outside as the sun started to set.

3) ...and the sunset was spectacular. The forest fires racing in the mountains to the west shifted the rays of the setting sun just enough to provide bright yellows, oranges and pinks. Then some cumulus clouds overhead caught that light and lit up like Japanese paper lanterns. It was beautiful.

4) Bent's Old Fort is just outside La Junta, CO down in southeastern corner of the state. It was a fortified trading post that was built out of adobe in the early 1800s. It was abandoned by the middle part of the 19th century and fell into disrepair. It was reconstructed in the 1970s and is now a protected monument in the National Park system. It was an interesting glimpse into the history of the area, though we acknowledge that history as having been devastating for the native peoples who were eventually subjegated by the expansion this fort represents.

5) A view down into the interior of the fort from the second floor..

6) There was a "hiking trail" marked on the map that looped around the edge of the property managed by park service. In reality, someone had just run a heavy duty mower through the grass, brush and marsh plants that lie between the fort and the Arkansas River. Still, it was nice to stretch our legs and to glimpse the muddy trickle that makes up the Arkansas in mid-summer after all the farms of southern Colorado had sucked up most of its water.

7) Sunset during our second night at Lake Pueble wasn't quite as amazing, mainly because there were more low altitude clouds to the west which blocked much of the sunlight but the sun still had the eerie color as it set behind all the fire smoke.

8) Our route back home from Pueblo actually took us the long way as we first went northeast in order to stop at the Paint Mines Interpretive Park just outside Calhon, CO. Here the local geology formed with layers of colorful pigment in a chalky soil. Erosion resulted in a small canyon with various shapes in a variety of different colors. We hiked through the prarie to the mouth of the canyon and then walked a loop within the side gullys to see some of the formations. It was quite crowded and very few people were following COVID precautions so we stayed distant from the other people and rushed through sections. We were also there mid-day and the direct sun bleached out the colors so the most colorful areas where in the rare spots where there was some shade.

9) Our favorite view was actually found by hiking up out of the canyon at the head and then looking down into it. The panorama of colorful rock was better and it was empty of people!

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Alan Fleming