Thursday, June 26
Steamboat Springs to Walden
As the people migrated eastward, they found a plain in the land
The day of the dreaded climb out of Steamboat. Although, as mentioned in the post about our day off, I wasn't really all that concerned. And rightly so. It was a great morning and the climb was quite enjoyable. This morning I had a chance to enjoy the views that, had I looked up, would have been but a blur on the rapid descent. Blue sky with a few white clouds, snow capped mountains and dark green fields provided a backdrop to a large lake below. I stopped several times to take pictures, each turn and altitude change providing a different perspective on the landscape.
Climbing Out of Steamboat Springs
After the climb which carried us south, we head east, back over the west and east summits of Rabbit Ears to the top of Muddy Pass. Here, we turn off on HIghway 14, drop down and ride through the high plains. It's about 35 miles of flat to slightly downhill riding. Once again there are the sprawling ranches, buildings showing themselves only occasionally. As I'm cruising along, enjoying the tailwind, a coyote dashes across the road, bounds up the slight rise on the side of the road and stops. The perfect picture. I slow down and get my right foot out of the pedal, this bringing the familiar "click" of the unclipping action. The click may have sounded familiar to the coyote too, a not-welcomed sound in this case. He was off like a shot. I had no shot. And he was glad he wasn't shot.
The other wildlife encounter on this day was with two of the many, many prairie dogs that patrolled the highway. As I came up on this pair, one darted in front of me and disappeared into the short grass. I watched the second one closely, being quite near now and fearing that if he bolted in the same direction, I'd go right over him. Sensing this himself (I'm supposing), he adopted another tactic...hide. You might think that there was little cover there on the paved shoulder, but he made do. He absolutely poured himself into one of the grooves in the rumble strip, filling it almost perfectly. I rode past and looked down at him looking up at me. I pretended I didn't see him. He thought he'd pulled one over on me. You never know just what you are going to find as you follow the long white line.
This encounter did cause me to think that, if I could, I would get all of the prairie dogs together and tell them, "Listen. You guys on the right side of the highway take care of the things on the right side. Left side guys, take care of the left side. This constant running back and forth across the road is just killing you. Literally." I don't suppose they'd listen though, being prairie dogs.
Walden declares itself to be the Moose Viewing Capital of Colorado, but' I'll tell you now that save for the head on the wall of the cafe, there was not a moose to be seen on this day.
That's Moose VIEWING, Bill!
After a hamburger and a gallon or so of diet Pepsi, we take in the sights of Main Street. This includes a stop at an ice cream parlor in a building whose sign announces the following services are available:
Subs Sandwich (sic)
Ice Cream Parlor
Antique's (sic again)
It is a small town, after all. The young lady serving up the ice cream says that there are 2,400 people. In the county. About 700 live in Walden. We meet Christine who tells us we should visit the local museum, tucked away behind the city hall. Checking our calendars, we see we do have the afternoon open, so we mosey on over. People mosey here. It's the west.
The museum is like a city wide garage sale except you can't buy any of the thousands of items set out in the many rooms scattered over three floors. People bring stuff that they have as donations or loans. Clothes, furniture, saddles. The old schoolroom. A car. In one room was a display of every sort of barbed wire you could imagine and a few you couldn't. BIll and I realize we recognize many of the items; we'd used a few in our younger days in fact. It is a sobering thought. There was the dynamite thawer though. Neither of us had ever used one. Dynamite thawer?
My favorite? The racks of old photographs. A giant family album. What made it so special was that there was nothing special in that "there must be a reason why your picture is on public display" sense. Just pictures of people. Families. Cowboys with their horses. Birthday parties. People at work. Hard at work - a recurring theme. Absolutely spellbinding.
3,906 feet of climbing