Pete & Lorna Go
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Day 3, Monday, May 22, 2017:
Pueblo, Colorado -> Beulah -> Colorado City -> Walsenburg -> Trinidad -> Raton, NM -> Cimarron, New Mexico

We left Pueblo with plans for a meandering country drive through the mountains to Cimarron Colorado for the night. Before long we were on roads designated as Frontier Pathways. On Rte. 78 we came to a rest area that included the grave of Solid Muldoon, the seven-foot tall "petrified human body" with a tail, was discovered by William Conant while he surveyed the area for fossils. There were also several monuments to local history and a time capsule. As we approached the village of Beulah there was a lot of excavation going on to repair damage from recent heavy rains including some detours we needed to work around. We visited the village with the usual quaint post office, general store, history center and carved wooden totem pole.

Our journey on Colorado 78 continued and transitioned into a dirt road. We didn't expect the dirt to continue on a state highway so off we went for the 19 mile drive into the hills. The dirt did not end, the road got steeper and was wet, rutted and muddy in sections. In a few spots I needed to slow down and carefully deal with rain damage or mud. I was glad to be in a 4 wheel drive SUV. Other than that we made pretty good time on the red gravel road. Opposing traffic was virtually non-existent. I think we saw one vehicle on the whole road plus a mother and children camping in a field. As our ears popped with the climbing I had to wonder what the descent would be like. 40 minutes later we spilled out onto the paved road just where we expected to be. The GoPro camera in the windshield got some nice back country shots!

The skies were partly cloudy with puffy, low clouds. Maybe the clouds were normal and we were high. In any case it was pretty and we got a few pictures.

We headed to Colorado City in search of lunch and ended up at Viktorios Pizzeria & Bar. I had a really hearty Chicken Caesar wrap. The ingredients had been integrated before wrapping, not just placed separately on the wrap and rolled. Traffic was light, we were surly not there in peak time.

We got on I-25 to cover some southbound miles and stopped at the El Moro rest area. The views were nice and large rocks with petroglyphs surrounded the facility. This was a basic unattended rest area, restrooms, a few picnic tables and parking.

We latter pilled off in the town of Trinidad Colorado. A sign high on the mountain tells you you're getting close. This was a nice small city formerly supporting coal mining in neighboring communities. One attraction was a giant Canary in a cage paying homage to the "Canary in the coal mine". It was in a small park where a statue also commemorated the mining history and a plaque told the canary story. Buildings had gorgeous architecture. The Trinidad History Museum, The First National Bank and a repurposed filling station with old school decorative pumps were examples. They even have an old school roller skating place on the main street, Skateland. There were a good number of old wall signs painted on brick walls. We spent about an hour walking around and Lorna visited a shop where the lady talked her ear off.

We headed down I-25 and pulled off in the town of Raton. The main drag reminded me a lot of towns on Route 66. There were many motels and establishments in various states of repair. It had that feeling of a town that lost some relevance in the world when most of the traffic began to fly by on the interstate. We considered eating or even finding a room but Lorna had her sights set on Cimarron and a quick check of Hotels Tonight showed lots of rooms. She felt it was a big destination town with a lot of movie history but rooms seemed readily available.

US Route 64 was pretty much a beeline to Cimarron and transitional. On this road the mountains moved to the distance and the sky opened up on the broad plains. Trees were rare and small with some brush on the dry grassy fields. We were heading toward stormy skies and the dark clouds ahead painted dramatic streaks in the sky. We were still under sunny blue skies and it looked dramatic in the early evening light. Lightning bolts began to appear ahead and eventually nearby. The storm had split and we had moderate rain as we drove between the halves. It didn't last long and soon a bold rainbow appeared to the side ending in the clouds. As the western skies cleared, we drove toward the sunset and the sun streamed in I could see rainbows in the spray from my rear tires.

Driving along a lone tree struck me as photogenic. I got the idea of photographing it from both sides with the western blue sky background in one shot and the dark eastern storm skies in the other. The pictures have an interesting contrast.

We rolled into Cimarron and found a wide open ghost town, no lodging was in sight. We were getting hungry and concerned. We went to the phones and the Hotel Tonight app again. The Cimarron suggestions were actually Raton hotels! Tucked into the listings was the St. James Hotel, good ratings and 4 blocks in from the main drag. It is known for its legendary status of being haunted by the spirits of men murdered there in the 19th century during northeastern New Mexico's "wild west" days. We went down the road and there it was, an old Spanish colonial painted stucco establishment with a very old school wild west look. Lorna recognized the place as legendary in outlaw history. So, we walk up onto the porch, through a time warp and into the spacious lobby. A significant sized space with a caged off front desk / office was in the back corner. Plush couches and chairs and wild west décor everywhere. Not knowing what to expect we asked about the chances of a room tonight. Did we want to be in the historic or modern section? Well, historic seemed to be the full in choice. Would we like first or second floor? For no real reason we chose 1st we were offered the Jesse James room at the end of the hall. After talking about AAA discounts and such we landed at a reasonable rate and registered.

Still hungry we asked about restaurant options, the dining room would be open for a while. I had enchiladas with red and green chile sauces. I can't say that either chile was up my alley but it was still tasty and interesting. Over the next few days it became clear that chile, especially green gets slathered on nearly everything. On the other hand good luck trying to find Buffalo sauce. Service was very friendly an people were wandering I to eat or head to the bar. The bar was a really cool space. It was all done in dark wood, mounted game on the walls and a majestic dark wood bar owned the end of the room.

With dinner under our belts we settled into our room. The bed was high, real high. It almost took a vault to get in. Some Jesse James paintings hung on the wall. The plank floor creaked tastefully, especially at the small wash basin in the corner of the room. The shower/ toilet room was functional and vintage. The toilet never quite shut down with the ballcock moaning through the night. Overall the room was really nice while remaining historically genuine. I downloaded the cameras and backed it all up.

The bar was doing a steady business and WI-FI did not extend back to our room. The dining room was closed but they were OK with us camping out there to do some planning on our laptop. The crowd was getting pretty loud. When we were heading to our room the corridor door was closed and there was quiet at our end of the hallway. I had a hard time sleeping well on the soft mattress but Lorna slept fine except for a legendary ghost inspired nightmare that I did manage to sleep through.

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Created May 30, 2017