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getting in touch with my inner colorado girl

Land of enchantment

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Since April, my friend Claire and I have been planning an epic camping trip with her extended family in New Mexico over Memorial Day Weekend.  The timing of the trip probably couldn’t have been much worse.  Claire and I were and are still in the midst of finals.  Graduation for the second years is this Friday.  Still, Claire and I are not ones to choose responsible life decisions over camping and adventures.  We somehow managed to pack, go grocery shopping and pull ourselves together for the trip.  Of course this meant we did not leave Denver until after 2:30 p.m.  Nonetheless, a weekend of unplugging from the real world and reconnecting with nature really couldn’t have come at a better time.

Our route…more or less.

Our route basically took us across the entire state of Colorado.  Claire and I joked after the fact that we should have just started in Fort Collins so we could say that we had driven the entire state.  We ended up just north of the New Mexican border in SoCo by sunset.  (I don’t know if people call Southern Colorado “SoCo” but they should.  I do.)

Sunset in SoCo

Claire and I only got lost once, which I thought was impressive given the fact that we were driving around dirt roads in the New Mexican darkness.  We set up camp, made burritos and went to bed.  Because we had arrived at night, the next morning was like Christmas morning.  We had no idea what the landscape around us looked like and waking up to the beautiful sage brush desert was like opening a Christmas present from Jolly Old Saint Nic.

Claire’s wildflower bouquet against the New Mexican landscape

In fact, it was so pretty that Claire and I took a few hours in the morning to have some art time.  Don’t worry, we were the first people up in the entire campsite.  The 20-something year olds woke up earlier than the six year olds.

Oil pastels

Finished products.

The rest of the trip consisted of exploring canyons, climbing on top of Navajo lookouts, playing in caves, burning our dinner and being given a coyote wake-up call at 4:30 a.m.  It was awesome.

Simon Canyon

Navajo pueblito from the 1700s

Scaling the pueblito, not dangerous at all!

Hanging out

Walking in a riverbed

Perrier and lime in the sage brush.

Claire and I responsibly decided to leave Sunday so that we could have all day on Memorial Day to work on homework.  However, we took our time on the drive back, making several stops along the way.  The drive back to Colorado was basically a religious experience in the daylight.  Highlights included homemade ice cream in Pagosa Springs and hanging out in the valley below Wolf Creek Pass, one of the most beautiful parts of Colorado that I have ever seen.  And that’s a strong statement coming from me.  I can’t really explain how intensely beautiful the valley was and pictures don’t do it justice.

The most amazing valley ever

One love.

The valley from above.

Our drive was also timed perfectly, as the aspens were in full bloom through Wolf Creek Pass.  The dark green from the pine trees and the neon green from the aspens contrasted beautifully.

I love aspen trees.

I really couldn’t have asked for a better weekend.  Before the trip I was stressed, busy and tired.  Now I feel content, happy and recharged.  Nature cures everything.  Always say yes to an adventure.

Colorado/New Mexico border > Colorado/Kansas border

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Author: paulamahla

Typical Colorado girl that can't make up her mind. Trail running, hiking, climbing, camping, CrossFit, ultimate frisbee, and skiing? E, all of the above.

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