Sunday, January 17, 2016

Walsenburg & Spanish Peaks in Colorado

 There are few places to go around La Junta without driving for an hour or more. Today we chose Walsenburg, about 75 miles southwest of us. On the way out of town I noticed a field with easily a thousand or more large white birds, some circling, most resting amidst the old cornstalks. We braked and turned around so we could go up a side road closer to the birds, hoping to identify them. When we got there, going very slowly, the birds suddenly rose up in the air and we heard gunshots and saw hunters right by the edge of the field. Several birds hit the ground. We quickly turned around and got out of there, very upset. Later I saw a poster talking about licenses for hunting snow geese, so I googled them and, sure enough, that's what we were seeing.

 Traveling anywhere out on the eastern prairie can be a little boring, but going west one begins to see the Rocky Mountains in the distance. I did not figure out the name of these far away peaks.

 The Spanish Peaks in southern Colorado stand out, much like Pikes Peak does farther north. One is called East Spanish Peak and the other is named, appropriately, West Spanish Peak. I could hardly wait till we got to Walsenburg to be able to see the Peaks close up.

 Walsenburg, its Courthouse to the left, was established about 150 years ago, back when southern Colorado was still part of Mexico. It was called La Plaza de los Leones. In 1870, years after the War of 1846, Fred Walsen settled there and opened up a large merchantile which attracted many German emigrants. He opened the areas first coal mine, which supported the town for 100 years. The population today is around 3,000. We enjoyed a good lunch at The Alpine Cafe´, a local downtown restaurant that served Keith the best biscuits and gravy he's ever had! I loved my cheeseburger, too. Robert Ford, the assassin of outlaw Jesse James, operated a combination saloon and gambling house in Walsenburg. Of course, we had to look that up. The house is now a boring insurance office.

Because of buildings and power lines we had to drive a little out of town to really see the Spanish Peaks. They are awesome! The sun was in the wrong place to get a really good picture.  This photo we took from the Lathrop State Park, a couple of miles west of town.

These mountains are Rough Peak and Silver Peak. There are 50 some mountains within the Rockies that that are over 14,000 feet high! These two are nicely framing the snowy pasture with grazing cows. I snapped this picture as we were heading for La Veta, a tiny town higher up in the hills that was more geared to tourists than Walsenburg.

 On our way back home once more on the dry prairie we passed this old cemetery way out in the middle of nowhere. We wondered if it once serviced the folks from the ranches spread few and far between around the area.

 One last backward look to see the Spanish Peaks fading into the distance.

We learned that the Huerfano River Wind Farm, Colorado's largest producer of distributed generation (DG) power, is located ten miles north of Walsenburg, just off of Interstate 25. I always love seeing these windmills marching across the land. One of the pamphlets we picked up at the State Park stated that the nearby Spanish Peaks are a national landmark and named one of Colorado's Seven Wonders by the Denver Post. The Highway of The Legends, connecting Walsenburg with La Veta, other historic mining towns, and Trinidad, is a National Scenic and Historic Byway. We hope to take that trip someday, hopefully in the spring before we leave Colorado.