Fort Collins to Silver Lake, Wyoming
What an incredible drive! I couldn't resist cruising Rt. 14 again after I picked up the tent parts at the KOA. This time I drove it all the way to Walden, Colorado, where I picked up Rt. 125 north. 125 turns into 230 for a little while, and then I went east on 130 into Medicine Bow. This stretch definitely goes on my top ten drives in the U.S. list. First of all, Route 14 is just so delightful. The river and the canyon shift about a hundred times from one look to another. The canyon gets narrow and then it widens. The river races and then it drifts. It's rocky and then pastoral. My favorite part is about the first 20 miles in from rt. 287. The outcroppings are phenomenal, and I kept thinking claymation ... like they were going to transform into enormous people and walk down out of the mountains. I was so tempted to just stop and spend another week in there. The last part of 14, before Walden, is mostly pines and firs. It feels closed in. Beautiful, but not my favorite.
Then, north of Walden, it's open and gets really desolate. I loved it. It's Sand Hills territory, and looks very Dune-ish. It also started raining, the first strong rain that I had seen in months. I cranked up the stereo, ate the last of about 42 pounds of Colorado cherries (which were delish, and have become my new favorite driving food), put the cruise control on 75 and enjoyed the storm. There was an excellent lightning show over the mountains and I was about the only car on the road. I drove over the Platte; it is pretty dinky right here. And I detoured over to Encampment, but the museum was closed. There was a visitors' TENT set up in town with a really really, really old man attending, but he was reading a book or sleeping (I couldn't tell; maybe he was dead), and I didn't want to bother him.
When I turned onto SR130 and entered Medicine Bow, the scenary changed again. After a little stretch of farmland, I went up. Fast. And the Eurovan was cruisin'. I swear, it was like she was happy to be Alpine again, or something. It was really cold. I stopped and put on sweatpants and socks and a sweater and a polarfleece jacket. I couldn't find my gloves, or I would've put those on, too. Florida blood is pretty thin, you know. I passed 5 or 6 signs for campgrounds, but I had read that Silver Lake was stupendous, so I kept going. I should've stopped. Silver Lake is beautiful, but the campsites sit up and away from it in pines. You can't really even see the lake from the campground. (Well, I can see a sliver of it.) It's a little more developed than I like, site-wise. Like they have moved big rocks all around to tell you where to walk and park. And some over-ambitious Mr. Ranger built about 10 miles of split rail (only the uprights are X's; I forget what it's called) fence all over the place. And the bathroom is smelly. (This is probably PMS talking.) The hike down to the lake is quick, but NOT easy; we're at about 11,000 feet here, and I feel it. I went really slow coming back up. I had an ear infection and some vertigo, which didn't help matters any. And I had a little fever. Fortunately I hiked yesterday when I got in, because it's been raining since. And it's still cold. There's snow all over the place here. I couldn't get my furnace to work last night and I was pissed. Today I discovered that I had turned the gas off at the tank. Obviously, I had done that in the afore-mentioned fevered state.
Most of the people here in the campground are locals who came to fish. In the site next to me are four men about my age with their sons. They're all from Nebraska. I don't think that they've had much luck fishing, though ... one of them came over tonight begging for food. I wasn't much help; All I have left is a bag of organic almonds, miso soup, some soy milk, a little granola, an apple, an orange, and some dehydrated mashed potatoes. He passed on the feast.