Day 56 – Dolores CO to Blanding UT

I lucked out at the Cozy Comfort last night and my host invited me inside for the night. It turns out that there have been bears raiding in town for food and they were concerned about me sleeping outside. So I got the “yoga room” for my own last night, which saved me pitching a tent and was comfy indeed. It also meant it was easy to get out and on the road this morning.

Brenda also told me about how they came to run a campground in Dolores. I’ve stayed in a lot of campgrounds in my day and Brenda and Tony don’t exactly fit the mold. Actually, they run it really well, which is kind of what’s unusual. So many campgrounds are run really half-assed – poor hygiene, a lot of things in disrepair, and generally kind of low class. So I was curious to hear about how they came to be there. It seems that Tony and Brenda both have successful businesses in the Phoenix area awhile back. They summered in Colorado and bought the campground as a way to help pay for their home away from home. But both of their careers were tied to the real estate market and in 2008 when the market crashed they were hit hard. They worked for awhile to run the campground in the summer, and were working on restarting their businesses when they decided that the campground was really enough for them. It’s low stress and they get to spend all of their time in their “vacation house”. So they made a conscious decision to put lifestyle ahead of the rat race and have been happy with that choice. Their story echoed in my mind all day today as I headed out into the high desert of western Colorado and eastern Utah.

Today was a gorgeous day from start to finish – perfect 70 – 80F temps for riding, and few breezes to contend with, and mostly at my back when they were up. Sweet Mariah has been very good to me this trip. The good weather put me in good spirits and the 80 miles today went quickly.

And what a difference a day makes. The landscape this morning hardly seems from the same planet if you compare the view at 9:00AM yesterday to 9:00 AM today. As I pedaled west out of Dolores, the mountains can still be seen to the east but they’re already a memory. Today most of the landscape is sage, mesas, little canyons and dusty soil.

I saw a lot of agriculture today on the Colorado side. No coincidence; where there’s water for irrigation, there’s agriculture, with a few exceptions (see pinto beans below).  I even saw an “historic apple orchard” for sale with “awesome Mesa Verde water rights.”
In CA we’ve gotten rid of most of these old irrigation systems. No need to throw water everywhere when you can drip it where you need it. They are pretty though.
I’m a sucker for old junky cars and trucks. The shapes of the older models just have so much more character than modern cars. Their more organic. This one more organic than most.
I just love the colors and textures of this old Dodge. They match today’s landscape.
I swear I didn’t set this up.
My new favorite ranch name – the flying wheel. Those clouds kept it cool today too.
Fields of flowers look too dense to be wild.
View from the handlebars on the Colorado side. The roads were great today with big, wide shoulders and rumble strips to warn if anybody was in my “lane”.

I passed through the little town of Dove Creek Colorado this morning. Dove Creek’s distinction is that it is the self-titled “pinto bean capital of the US.” Indeed I saw several “bean mills” where beans are traded and stored. They don’t claim to produce the most pinto beans, but the best pinto beans. Apparently they’ve revitalized some heirloom pinto bean strains here. The soil is perfect for them, they don’t typically need irrigation, but the early farmers had to fight the sage from reclaiming the planted fields. Nowadays there is some concern that the area is even drier than it used to be, so the pinto bean crop maybe in jeopardy.

Adios Colorado – buenos dias Utah. Utah, Nevada and then California. I’m feeling close to home.
The biggest welcome sign yet, and the most decorated.
Enjoying the skies on the Utah side. The turbines of Monticello are already in view.
Remembering a sculpture in the Oakland museum… Oh and yes, those ARE bones laying nearby.
The rolling hills were broken up with lots of these little rocky canyons.
Monticello had a big zephyr power farm to the north of town.
In Monticello (my first town in Utah) I immediately start to see Utah icons – Maveriks stores, Zions bank, and the angle Moroni atop the local LDS temple.
One of the old places in Verdure, a little town that is all but gone.

All of this scenery and adventure and I spent about $50 today – $15 for my campsite, another $35 for food and snacks. The correlation between money spent and happiness breaks down once your basic needs are met. One of the lasting (I hope) adjustments to my attitude as I continue on this journey is that my time is getting more dear, more precious to me. It’s a cliche, but it’s really all we’ve got so don’t waste it. Thanks Brenda and Tony for that gift to ponder today.

13 thoughts on “Day 56 – Dolores CO to Blanding UT”

  1. Once again the landscapes are amazing, but my favorite photos are that Dodge and the trailer with bones. Human interventions! Stay hydrated! And keep up the philosophizing!

  2. Red sand, high elevations and Moroni statues? Now you’re just making me homesick. 😉 Great photos, great skies too.

    Stay in the moment and be amazed by the red rock, but I can’t wait to see you dip those wheels into the Pacific. Really enjoying the journey.

  3. Hey ‘Druther fans, Jim is completely off the grid tonight in the wilds of Utah canyon country. He says he has plenty of food and water, and is looking forward to the adventure. We’ll see about tomorrow!
    Thanks for all your encouragement of Jim, it means so much.

    1. Thanks for the update — good to hear he is well stocked for the off grid travels — quite a change from Telluride and look forward to hearing about it when he reconnects.

  4. Great photos (as always) and love how the Dodge matches the landscape. Amazing to see the transition from the mountains to the mesas with your stories and reflections!

  5. Hi Megan,
    So nice to read your words, we’re all so proud of Jim & his ride! I know you & Jonah will be overjoyed to see him, what an accomplishment. His posts have been fun to read, I look forward to them.
    Best to you & Jonah, and good that you’ll be seeing Jim soon!

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