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Day 1: Through Capulin Volcano to the dunes

We postponed our trip by one day, partly because of very high winds that were forecast for the entire region. It did not help much as there was little relief from the wind in the following days. The first day of our trip took us to northeastern New Mexico, then north through the prairies of southeastern Colorado, and west to the other side of Sangre de Cristo Range into San Luis Valley where the Great Sand Dunes are located.


Capulin Volcano

A mostly flat landscape of the northeastern corner of New Mexico is interrupted by hills that can be seen for many miles from any direction. Coming from Texas, they are the first feature of any size that one can see after traveling for hundreds of miles. At least that is how I got to know them many years ago. They rise starkly out of the surrounding prairies. Capulin Volcano is one of them and it is protected inside a national monument that bears the same name. There is a road to the top and a trail circumvents the crater rim. The rim, at over 8000 ft, was a particularly windy place that day, but the views were great.

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I-25 Rest stop Blowing dust A house and a cloud Little house on the prairie
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Horses Sniff Come on Western tent caterpillars Skeleton Irina
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Tent caterpillars Tent caterpillars Path Park sign and the volcano


Prairies and mountains

Just north of Capulin NM is a tiny town by the name of Folsom, known for its paleontological site. There is a nice little museum that features household items from the late 19th and early 20th centuries when the town prospered. That was before it has shrunk to its current size of some tens of residents...

Continuing north, it does not take long to reach Colorado. The hills give way to a flat prairie and the vastness of it is humbling even in the car age. Turning west, the peaks of Rocky Mountains could vaguely be seen in the distance. They got bigger as we got closer. After passing Trinidad and Walsenburg, we stopped to take in a view of Spanish Peaks, the most prominent peaks in the area. Hwy 160 then crosses Raton Pass before reaching San Luis Valley. Like two years earlier, passing under the massive Blanca Peak, I could not help reminiscing about the longest of hikes that put me on its summit back in 1997. I felt home again.

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Honest weight taking scale Swastika Sears catalog - Amazon of 1900s Museum ticket office Ghost town Phone call
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Museum Welcome to Colorado Telephone poles forever Classic car Outpost Hwy 160
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Cross Spanish Peaks Irina and her Focus Focus


Sunset in the sand dunes

When we reached the sand dunes, the wind was gusting at close to 50 mph. The sky was colored by smoke from the Gila fire, hundreds of miles away in New Mexico. The sand was blowing everywhere. It did not stop us from having fun and Irina even attempted flying in the primal conditions. On the way to our motel in Alamosa, the visibility dropped to a few hundred feet in the smoke and blowing dust. A relaxing dinner with live music playing Beatles songs was a great way to end the day.

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Great Sand Dunes Drifting sand Flying:-) Layers Shapes in BW Shapes
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Crotch Curves Drift wood Tracks
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Feather Sunset Sunset over Modano Creek Irina Dinner She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah


Last updated: August 15, 2012
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