Saturday, February 01, 2014

Wolf Creek Pass and Alamosa, Colorado

On Friday, September 27, day 13 of our western trip, we left Blanding, Utah and drove to Alamosa, Colorado, where we planned to stay for a couple of nights while visiting the Great Sand Dunes National Park. It had rained overnight in Blanding, and the morning was overcast.

Our route took us over Wolf Creek Pass, a high mountain pass (10,856 feet) where we encountered snow and a drop in temperature to the freezing mark of 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

Between Pagosa Springs and Wolf Creek Pass, there is a parking area and a hiking trail to the base of Treasure Falls. Unwilling to hike in the cold and wet weather, we settled for taking photographs from the parking area.

Treasure Falls

The scenery in this area was stunning. Unfortunately, my photos aren't. Let's blame the weather.




At a rest stop, Doug was able, with the camcorder, to capture a photo of a magpie. I've never been able to get a decent shot of these colorful birds, but I thought Doug did a good job.

Black-Billed Magpie

Before we left home to begin this trip, Doug had taken our vehicle in to be serviced. He told the service manager about a noise we were hearing and suggested that it might be a wheel bearing. The service manager brushed off that idea. He even gave us a checklist of items that had been checked on the vehicle, and the wheel bearings were checked off as being fine.
Well, the noise had been continuing to get worse as we travelled, and it was peaking as we drove into Alamosa on Friday afternoon. Saturday morning, we took it to a local garage to get it checked out. The bearing was completely shot and a second was nearly so.
Fred, the mechanic, had to order the parts from Denver, and they wound up not being delivered until Tuesday, October 1st, the start of our government's shut down and the closing of all national parks. So there went our visit to Great Sand Dunes National Park.
We tried to rent a car, but Hertz in Alamosa was closed until Monday; and the only other car rental place in town, Budget Rent-A-Car, had only pickups and sport utility vehicles available, which would have cost nearly $200 per day.
So we were stranded for four days without a vehicle.

Our room at the Best Western was to be our home for the next four days.

If we had to be stranded, Alamosa turned out to be a good place for it to happen. From the Best Western, restaurants and grocery stores were available within a half-mile walk. People were so friendly. And boy do they love their Denver Broncos! Of course, the Broncos' quarterback is none other than Peyton Manning who, until two years ago, was the quarterback for our Indianapolis Colts. Doug wore his Colts baseball cap everywhere, and it's surprising how many people struck up conversations with us because of that cap.

Sunset from the balcony outside our second-floor room at the Best Western

The lobby and breakfast room are in this building.

This little park is behind the building where the lobby is.

As it turned out, Fred wasn't able to finish the repairs to our vehicle until 4 PM on Tuesday. By then, we just wanted to be anywhere else. So we had packed up and checked out of our room, then spent the day in the little park pictured above, waiting for the call from Fred that the vehicle was ready. When the call came, we called a cab to take us to the garage, loaded our things into the van, and headed for home.
Thus ends the saga of our Trip West 2013.

Go Broncos in tomorrow's Super Bowl!!!


  1. Linda, I practically felt like I took this walk! How lovely are your photos. The room at the Best Western looks pretty nice and cozy.

  2. wow, we left the desert & i love sure love all the green ... so pretty. lush. gorgeous sunset. i love magpies ... they sure are amazing birds. we don't do hotels/motels so it is nice to see what they look like these days. ( :

  3. Well, that was quite an experience! Too bad about the wheel bearing, and also too bad your local service manager brushed you off. When there's a noise, there's usually a reason for it!

  4. awww. sad about the bearing (i'm sure you wanted to smack that other mechanic!) at least you had a few things to do around town, but i know you were ready to move on. loved the scenes you shot from the parking areas. beautiful country!

  5. Tough to be in the shutdown, disappointing in many aspects

  6. It's wonderful how you can take a disappointment in stride. Many people can't handle a car breakdown or change of plans but you took this in stride. Good for you.

  7. I agree with Stephen. What else can you do? I'm glad the area was visitor friendly though. I'm also thinking that it's far better to be inconvenienced than to have had the car trouble cause an accident. I love the Magpie. They always make me think of Heckle and Jeckle. :)

  8. Oh My Goodness... I didn't know about your car trouble and your getting stuck for 4 days.. I'm so sorry--but it sounds like people were very nice to you and that it all worked out... Love that waterfall... There are so many places we want to visit in Colorado--but that will be another year/trip... ha

    Great set of photos.. Have a good weekend.

  9. I'm sorry to hear that your vacation ended on a frustrating note, but it was still a great trip. You've given us another waterfall to add to our 'must see' list.

  10. I hope you gave your local mechanic a piece of your mind when you returned. What a great attitude you had, though and made the most of your time there.

    I had a chance to shoot the magpie in Oregon, but my photos did not turn out as good as Doug's camcorder version. It is such a lovely bird. Your photos of the falls area are beautiful. Maybe the sky didn't turn out as you hoped, but it only served to highlight the gorgeous foliage. I love Colorado, but I've never been in the fall; only summer and spring.

  11. Love the falls and those trees are just beautiful.
    Yeah, the problem with going to the doctor comes when you mention what you think might be the matter with you, and the same thing goes for mechanics. They think they're the doctor, and the rest of world knows nothing, lol. They will diagnose anything but what you suggest might be the problem.
    Your room at BW was nice, and I'm so glad you had stores close by. I'm not a football fan, but if I were I'd cheer for Peyton. He's a nice guy. Hope your team wins. :) Have a great weekend.

  12. Hi Linda Wonderful shots of the scenery. Sorry to hear about your car troubles but you had a lovely place tostay for the 4 days and that sunset is stunning.

  13. Too bad your vacation ended this way,but you do have great pictures along the way.

  14. Hi Linda! Stunning photo of that magpie. You should submit for a contest or something?
    Love the photos of Alamosa! I have been there several times, as you know. I'm glad the stay turned out so well. The sunset pic is gorgeous. Those wide-open skies are so inspiring.

    I guess you are for the Broncos today? I know my sister is!

  15. An abrupt ending, but nevertheless fantastic images and a lovely read. I really like the Treasure Falls waterfall, and those landscapes in general, covered in mist. That sunset is fantastic too.

  16. It's never fun having a car breakdown on a road trip. That happened to hubby and I before we were married (actually, that led us to get engaged). We made the most of it though and the garage that was working on the car was nice enough to give us a ride to a nearby mall so we'd have something to do while they worked on the car.

  17. It was interesting to follow you on your Trip West 2013, Linda. The car issue might have been disappointing but in time it will become just a part of that story and all those wonderful captures will prevail. :)


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