No Agenda Vacation Day 1 — Drive to Westcliffe

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This is the first of a series of posts about what I have dubbed the “No Agenda Vacation.” I’ll chronicle our 13-day road trip through the southern Colorado mountains with stories and photos. With luck you’ll see a new post on roughly a weekly basis.

For most of the year, we knew that our family vacation was going to be in southwest Colorado. We knew we were going to camp and hike and take the Jeep. I started planning the trip, and quickly got overwhelmed with all the different options. Dorinna finally asked me “What do we need a plan for?” I had no good answer.

So on August 6th we loaded up the Jeep with a big pile of gear. Too much gear, which was hard to judge, since we didn’t know where we would go or what we would be doing. It took a while to sift through the pile and figure out what could we left behind. We left some comfy (but big) sleeping bags for car camping. In retrospect, we brought much too much food, and we would have been better cutting back in that area.

Nonetheless, we rolled out of town around 1:00pm, bound for Westcliffe, Colorado. The Jeep was packed with plenty of food, fuel, water, clothing, tents, and other gear. We had a big pile of maps and guidebooks. We had a hotel reservation for the first night, and a general plan for the first few days, but nothing amounting to a real agenda. Nate had to start school in a few weeks, but that was our only real constraint.

As we drove south, we stopped at the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs to take a break. Rain was pouring down so we watched a movie and looked at the visitor center exhibits rather than hiking. Other than being crowded, it seems like a nice place to spend a day.

Westcliffe, CO is a small little town in southern Colorado. It lies in a long north-south valley southwest of Colorado Springs. To get there, you first have to climb up and over the Wet Mountains, a small but lovely range of hills. Once you cross over, the Sangre de Cristo (“Blood of Christ”) mountains dominate the landscape and helped to get us excited for the trip.

Our room was fine, and dinner at Chappy’s Mountain Pub was as good as a town this size can offer. We went to bed dreaming of mountains and looking forward to the adventure ahead.

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