At San Luis Valley Brewing Co.:
July 4, 2016
It seems as if we are always on the road on the Fourth of July. Last year it was the endless day to Durango. This year it would be a full day on the road again, but much less stressful.
Slowly, we packed up to leave Winter Park, then bid it good-bye as we hit the road and left it behind. If we’d known how nice it was going to be, we would have planned to stay another day, but in the jumbled plan that ended up being our summer trip, we were lucky to have the days there that we did. It was about 60° F. and partly cloudy as we left town on Hwy. 40, the same twisty road that had led us here two days ago.
Once we got on I-70, we flew along at a quick pace, keeping up with all the other traffic. There were several steep grades, and we went through the Loveland Pass tunnel, properly called the Eisenhower Tunnel, or, the Eisenhower Memorial Bore. It is quite a feat of engineering, and you can read more about it here: https://www.codot.gov/travel/eisenhower-tunnel
Then there was a long descent, an 8% grade, for several miles. We finally got off the interstate at Copper Mountain, where we fueled up at an amazingly convenient (for once) gas station.
We rode through a bunch of little towns, Leadville being one of them (lots of mines in this area). We rode through towns that were getting ready for their Fourth of July parade, and one that had a crafts fair in progress. We saw towering peaks with snow, saw reservoirs for water management, and we rode big sweeping turns. We climbed and descended, and finally, as Hwy. 285 headed south, the route flattened out and we were back in familiar, well-traveled territory. We didn’t stop until we reached Alamosa.
In Alamosa, we stopped at the same brewery and restaurant where we stopped last year, San Luis Valley Brewing Co. The town was very quiet for the Fourth of July, I thought, and we were glad to see that the restaurant was open.
In fact, I thought the brewery was the liveliest place in town. We got a delicious sandwich, I got a bottle of beer to go for my husband (as I did last year), and Hal and I took a break for a while.
It was warm, and aside from the people in the brewery, the town seemed deserted. Then, we re-packed the bikes to accommodate the bottles of beer we were taking home, and headed down the road to another small town between Alamosa and Antonito, where we fueled up.
From there, we stayed on 285 to the 64, and that is when I knew how close we were getting to Taos. 64 is the highway that we almost always take into Taos when we go in September. This time, we had time to stop at the Rio Grande Gorge bridge, which we’ve ridden many times but never stopped to really look at how deep it is. We got off the bikes and were able to take photos, but it is impossible to capture the vertiginous drop from the bridge, an almost unbelievable sight.
Rio Grande Gorge:
The ever-present “love locks:”
I hope this helps any potential jumpers:
I looked into the distance, and saw a familiar and inspiring sight, Taos in the distance,the Sangre de Cristo Mountains behind it. I was ready to be there.
We got to Taos, to our favorite place to stay. I was very disappointed when I found out that they stuck us way in the back of the hotel, in rooms that I always thought seemed ugly and looked abandoned. That evening, however, we did get a glimpse through the trees of some fireworks in the center of town.
The rooms were very creepy, and I couldn’t sleep at all during the night. It turned out to be the “lowlight” of the trip, when usually it is the best. That’s what I get for wanting to be in Taos, always and again. It’s such a beautiful place, though, and I had hope that things would improve the next day. Taos is one of our “homes” on the road, and I didn’t want to be disappointed.
Next: Riding some of our favorite roads