Sunday, June 2, 2013

Buena Vista, CO

Settled in for the night in the small aptly-named town of Buena Vista, CO.  I’m in position to watch the sun set over Mt. Princeton, one of the many 14,000-plus  peaks overlooking the valley. 

I knew I was back in the Arkansas River valley when I crossed Wilkerson Pass and this heart-stopping vision greeted me on the other side.

Happy ending, but the day started with more horrific bumper-to-bumper traffic all 50 miles from Centennial to Colorado Springs.  And another accident, which is not surprising with the combination of speeding + tailgating.  The same thing happened yesterday through Denver. 
There was some diversion, though, as I watched hundreds of cyclists competing in some event.  The line went on for miles and miles.  

After about 2 hours, I landed at Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument.  One of my favorite NP sites yet on this trip. 

Fossils not only offer fascinating glimpses into the past, they are exquisite works of art.

It's hard today to imagine this landscape once housing a 12-mile lake, rumbling volcanoes and giant redwoods! 
Yet, here’s proof.
Once over 230 feet high and about 750 years-old, volcanic mud buried the base of this Giant Redwood
During the Eocene Era the climate was much more temperate, similar to coastal California today.  Thanks to the volcanic eruptions, this is a prime fossil spot.

I walked the Petrified Forest Trail.  Hmmm .... looks like wood, feels like rock.
Tree stump
This yurt serves as the ongoing fossil research lab.

And this is Ranger Amanda patiently going through pieces of shale.  While I was there, she found a beautifully preserved pine needle.
We got to examine the specimens under microscope, giving an appreciation for how difficult the search can be. 

It was a pleasant day to be out walking.  I just love the rust-color of the Ponderosa pine bark, and the pines' sweet scent. 

And the glorious mountain sky.

And the comely Mountain Bluebirds.

Back on the road, about the time I reached Buena Vista, I suddenly felt like I didn’t want to drive another mile.  Maybe because I covered 168 hard miles today.  Mountain miles.  Twisty up and down, 2-lane miles. 
Maybe I just tried to do too much today.  The problem with that is you don’t realize it until it’s too late.  Anybody else experience this kind of burn-out? 
If I have to experience road fatigue, I'm glad it's here.  I looking forward to visiting some favorite spots and favorite trails.  But otherwise staying put.  And the weather looks agreeable.

BTW, this marks my 100th night in the GDB.  Hard to believe in 10 months .... but there it is!


  1. You are in another one of our favorite places in the Country. If the roads are open, try and get up to Cottonwood pass, and also the ghost town of St. Elmo. There's a great little museum in the old courthouse, downtown Buena Vista. And of course, Leadville just to the North. Somehow, we missed the fossil beds. Guess we'll have to go back. Too much to see....:-)

  2. What flavor was the Ponderosa pine? Vanilla, I hope!

  3. Road fatigue--like not noticing you need food until you are so hungry you can't think. Good thing we drive self-contained RVs. :)

  4. Wow, 100 nights! Seems like just a short time ago you were still dreaming.

  5. Beautiful beautiful beautiful! Just amazing views. Hope you get some rest and enjoy your 100 and 101 and beyond nights!

  6. Beautiful beautiful beautiful! Just amazing views. Hope you get some rest and enjoy your 100 and 101 and beyond nights!

  7. Thanks for the posts. There are so many wonderful places to visit and see in our great country. 100 nights is quite a milestone...carry on and show us the way to more adventures.


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