Tag Archives: travel

sand dunes and mountain side

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I went out at the crack of dawn to Sand Dunes National Park and the dunes had great shadows. First I walked out to the grassy knoll to have a look at the view from there. It’s fantastic! I went back to the car and got my watercolor paper and color swatches because it’s too far to lug even watercolors over the sand. I got plenty of exercise at the high altitude walking on the sand today. People go the whole way to the top and walk on the ridge. They surf down on boards too.

I thought it would be less weight to carry if I picked a few colors of Inktense pencils. As I was working on my charcoal sketch the light changed and the shadows were gone. It was getting close to lunch time. I decided to go back this afternoon and see if the shadows looked better a few hours later.

I wish I could draw a more panoramic view. This doesn’t give you the perspective. If I drew people on the ridge they would be tiny. This isn’t as much of the mountain as I’d have liked in the sketch, but at least I got the tree line in so the altitude is showing a little.

When I left the dunes a little while ago the shadows looked dramatic again.  I have one more full day that I can spend up there, then I’ll have to move on again, so I hope I can get another sketch tomorrow.

pix from the Great Sand Dunes National Park

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I have a new favorite road, 160. I’m in Alamosa, CO. IMG_2321 It was a longer drive from Pueblo than I thought it would be. And so amazingly beautiful all the way. I guess if you live up here you eventually get used to it, but I keep slowing down to enjoy it and the speed limit is 65. Everyone’s passing me. I want to sketch in the Sand Dunes tomorrow. Today when I got there it was lunch time already and I was hungry. They have a restaurant but I wanted to find a motel for tonight too. I’m not drawing or hiking on an empty stomach. So I left the dunes to get a sandwich in Alamosa. The towns are so few and far between, I don’t want to go all the way back to the dunes today. Tomorrow I’ll take something to eat and stay a while.

I’m at 7500 feet now, I think. This is the high road. If I had a 4 wheel drive I could go up past the tree line, but the Taurus can’t go there.

The motels here are booking up early so it’s good I left the dunes when I did because there might be no vacancies later. It’s early and the Motel 6 only had suites available so I took one for $135 or something like that. It’s a huge room.

I might go out and try to find this park the guy at the desk told me about, see if I can do a sketch this afternoon of the mountain. It’s only a few blocks away.

a view from the Sky Line Rd. Canon City CO.

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This morning I was talking to a guy and when I told him I’m an artist he gave me some great info on the most beautiful places. Canon City is around 40 miles west of Pueblo on 50, my favorite road. I was looking at it on the map last night. I drove through it going east long ago but I didn’t know about the Sky Line Rd. I was glad the young dude told me to check it out.

Pueblo is at 4600 ft. and it seems fine to me. Canon city is at 5500 ft and the Sky Line Rd. runs on top of one of the ridges up higher. When I pulled off 50 to the Sky Line Rd. at first I thought I was driving on a paved foot path, it’s that narrow. The guy asked me if I was afraid of heights. I’m not. But screw up and you could go down like Grace Kelly.  The road is one lane, one way and when I got back down I was on the other side of the hill from where I started and I got kind of lost in Canon City. After a mile or so of driving next to the ridge in a residential neighborhood I saw some guys working and asked how to get back to 50. I was going the wrong way on the right road. After that I was confused which way was east for a few minutes.

Then I got a sandwich in Canon City and went back up to sketch. I got too much sun. Darn, I bet there’s not much shade at the Ghost Ranch either. Maybe I should get some sun tan lotion. I didn’t pack it.

I might go back tomorrow morning. I bet the light will be better. Then I’m thinking of leaving Pueblo and moving to the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Pretty sure I’ll be able to find a room.

When I’m traveling I think it’s good luck to give the spirits what they ask for. I’m not really superstitious, but if someone who looks like a bum asks me for money I give them a buck, if they ask for food or tobacco I give it to them. Tobacco especially, spirits love that stuff. Yesterday I a guy who was sitting outside my motel said excuse me ma’am, then started telling me his misfortunes. I gave him a couple bucks and a banana. Tonight a girl told me she’s homeless and hitchhiking with her boyfriend. She wanted a cigarette so I gave her one. She didn’t ask for money. Then she wanted food so I gave her a couple muffins and a yogurt. I hope this keeps me and my car safe.

Dodge Kansas stock yard “Dodge, Queen of Cowtowns”

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I drove the whole way out here to Pueblo CO. through some of the most beautiful parts of the country and this is the first overlook I came to.

The first day when I left VA Beach it was misty and rainy most of the way through VA. Traffic moved fast on 64. When I got to the place where 64 runs along with 81 in the mountains the road was dry but it stayed cloudy until I got through West Virginia. It’s so beautiful up there in the Blue Ridge Mts. and it really looked blue gray in the gray clouds with some clouds covering the tops of the mountains and making the ridge line look fuzzy.  It’s a whole different atmosphere than the beach. I couldn’t stop to take a photo. There’s no place to pull off safely. 64 is an amazing drive but you have to pay attention to the road because it twists and turns so much for an interstate. It goes up and down hill, I mean way up then way down. I kept my car between the lines and looked around as much as I could. I don’t think a photo could do it justice because there’s nothing like actually driving through it and being surrounded on all sides by the Blue Ridge mountains.

After West VA, Kentucky seems boring from 64. I know it’s another beautiful state but you have to get off the interstate to see the beauty and I wanted to keep driving. I made it as far as Shelbyville KY. I said I wasn’t going to drive for more than 8 hours but I didn’t want to stop. I didn’t run into any traffic jams. I drove more like 10 hours every day. I’m not tired.

The 2nd day, I hauled ass right through the rest of KY then southern Indiana, Illinois and Missouri. IN and IL were both beautiful from the interstate. MO is boring from 70. I made it past Louisville with no problem. Twice I wanted to stop for gas and got lost off the exit and drove for a few miles through corn because there’s no place to turn around. No big deal, I’m lost a lot of the time.

I got through ST Louis with no problem on 70. Traffic was heavy. ST Louis doesn’t look so good from the road.

When I got close to Kansas City there was a detour off 70 onto 270. 70 was closed. The detour ran you through the city and funneled you back onto 70. I was on the interstate for 2 whole days trying to get west fast. When I wanted to get off the road last night to find a motel I came to an unmanned toll booth that wanted me to insert a ticket but I didn’t have a ticket! The gate was down, cars were backing up behind me. I was STUCK! at the freakin toll booth! Why don’t they let you use EZ pass there! I used it on the other tolls! So. there was a call button and a voice asked me how long I drove on 70. I said, long time. She said from Kansas City? I said yes. Then a $2.50 toll showed up on the screen and I paid it with my credit card. I was in Lawrence KS.

I’m blaming my lack of a ticket for the turnpike on the construction at Kansas City, MO. Yeah, MO, you need to fix that. I rarely have a scary thing happen to me on my drives, but that made me a little nervous so I didn’t want to drive the interstate today.IMG_2319

Here’s another view of the stockyard. It’s huge. Those tiny gray dots in my photo are cows. Today I found my way to rte 50 which I remembered from a previous drive. It was so beautiful all the way through Kansas and I had the open road all to myself for long stretches. It’s mostly flat and straight so easy to drive and look around. The fields go on forever to the horizon. I saw a lot of cattle, farms with fields of grain for the cows, I saw a lot of cows out grazing in their beautiful fields. I saw a bunch of smaller stock yards. I saw amber waves of grain out there! Once again a camera wouldn’t do it justice because with the wind blowing over the fields the tops of the grasses blow like a wave.  Just like these shots aren’t showing the stockyard well, those are cows waiting to be killed. They will be in your grocery stores this week.

I saw around 1000 wind turbines that go on for miles as you get close to Dodge.

And I saw oil rigs in fields pumping and lots of grain elevators all the length of rte 50. I was on the flat plane most of the day.

Now I’m in Pueblo and I will probably stop driving so much and do more sight seeing.

Driving is a zen thing. A photo can’t give you the feeling of freedom you experience by driving. You see some beautiful bridge coming up and next thing you’re going across it trying to glance down over the side. Or, you see the road up a few miles ahead snaking around some beautiful mountain and a few minutes later there you are.

There’s no place to stop and take a picture, you have to enjoy it that minute and try to remember it because then it’s gone and you’re looking at the next thing.

I think I’ll be able to stop driving all day and do some sketching now that I made it to CO.