My pup Kaladin and I just experienced our first expedition in Hades (my 1996 Ford E150 econoline van).
We packed up the van Friday afternoon and headed to Colorado Springs.
After a few hours of sniffing Kal got bored
I had every intention of slumbering in the Walmart parking lot in Co Springs, but there are signs posted everywhere stating ‘no overnight parking’… they even had a security guard trolling the space in his little white car complete with a flashing yellow light bar.
Kaladin and I decided to make dinner and weigh our options in the Walmart parking lot
After much deliberation, we decided to venture on towards another Walmart about 30 minutes away (I called to confirm that they allowed overnight parking). The van Gods smiled down on me though, because in the next parking lot over I saw a few campers, an RV, and a few vans. I decided to join my people and pulled into that lot to settle down for the night.
Kaladin was a little restless at first; I think all the traffic noise had him riled up. He eventually calmed down and we slumbered.
For some ungodly reason, I was wide awake at 0600 so I decided to make some java.
I changed, Kal stretched, and we began the 20-minute drive toward Garden of the Gods.
The visitor center wasn’t open, but the parking lot was so we parked and readied our gear.
I looked over at Kal and he yawned in my general direction, which I took as a sign that he was ready to depart. We drove into the park and putted along until I saw a promising mini parking lot with a great view.
Kaladin and I began the little ‘hike’ to the top of the formation.
We sat on the rocks and watched the sun come up for a while then went back to the van for a snack of boneless wings.
We drove the rest of the way through the park and then decided to move on to our next destination, hanging lake.
The drive through Colorado was beautiful. I love the mountains and I was pleasantly surprised by how well Hades did tackling the steep inclines.
The exit to hanging lake was closed. I guess it’s a crazy-popular place and they’ll close the exit when it gets too crowded. I took the next exit No Name rd and was happy to find an RV park (Glenwood canyon). I figured I could camp there for the night then check out Hanging Lake in the morning. Sadly, the park was full. They did have a little outdoor bar/restaurant that overlooked the river so I decided a margarita was in order and Kal looked like he wanted to partake in a nice bowl of water.
Our view from the bar
After consulting the Google and a few locals, I decided to make my way toward Rifle Falls park.
I got to the park and asked Kal if he was ready to walk to the waterfall (it’s about 30 yards from the parking lot). He wagged his tail in acknowledgement and we set out.
We walked up a little trail which led behind the falls and sat at the bench for a few minutes. We walked back down and decided to jump in the water to cool off. This was Kaladin’s first swimming experience and he was mildly freaked out, but he did a great job.
We headed back to the van to dry off and set out for Taos, New Mexico. Kal was being so good that I decided to get him an ice cream from the McDonalds next to the gas station we stopped at.
I’ve been to Taos a few times now and I love it. Plus, it’s about an hour away from Santa Fe which was where we were headed next. It’s about a six-hour drive from Rifle Falls to Taos, but the scenery was amazing. I pulled over to take a picture of a sunset. The picture doesn’t begin to do the sunset justice.
I drove by a nice-looking rest stop just outside Taos and briefly contemplated stopping there, but in the end, I decided my trusty Walmart parking lot would be suitable. In hindsight, I wish I stopped at the rest stop. Someone decided to shoot their gun in the parking lot and the cops showed up. It was all very dramatic and Kal was ready to attack anyone who came toward the van. I also had my axe at the ready. After a little while everything settled down and we were able to fall asleep.
We woke up the next morning and set off toward the Santa Fe ski bowl. The parking lot at the top of the mountain was packed so we parked off to the side of the road.
I put some chicken for Kal and a pasta salad for me in my pack and we began our hike on the Windsor trail. I’ve done this hike a few times before and I knew that my current level of fitness was going to inhibit me from conquering the mountain so I decided that we’d just hike to the first stream crossing and have a late lunch.
After the hike, we drove down the mountain and decided to splurge on a restaurant meal. It was well worth it.
With our bellies full we began the 3.5 hr drive home.
I love the van life!