Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Oasis Motel at Great Sand Dunes NP

Today was a very good day. We had a good breakfast at the Best Western hotel, where we stayed last night. It was very good—eggs, sausage, home fries, fresh watermelon and cantaloupe, and great cookies. After breakfast, we headed to the old hotel to take a picture and decided to stop at the hardware store to look for a replacement bulb for one of Gary’s Motolights. They didn’t have any, but a nice lady there suggested we visit Capulin Volcano.

We left Clayton, NM, and headed towards Capulin Volcano National Park. On the way there, we stopped at a rest stop and talked with a caretaker who gave us some history of the area. Then on to the volcano.

The ride there was good; great scenery and lots of wildlife, particularly deer, antelope, and cattle. Some antelope were together in herds, and there were some singles close to the road. Each time I saw one, I realized how easy it would be for one to dart into our path. A horrible thought.

At the park, we bought our Parks Pass, the new $80 one that gives “free” (yeah, it’s free!) admission to all national parks and monuments and such. It’s only money.

The volcano was awesome! It’s extinct, of course, but pretty high, at over 8,300 feet high. We drove to the parking area and decided to walk the rim. It was only a mile walk, but at the altitude, and with the steepness of the path, we had to stop every while to get our breath. IT WAS WORTH IT!! The view was soooo far! Other volcanoes were visible (over 100 in the area), and mountains covered with snow on the horizon. Beautiful.

After walking down the rim, we rode to a nearby village (Folsom) for some grub, but discovered that there were no places to eat there. So, we headed on towards Raton for lunch.

The ride to Raton was beautiful. A back road, with lots of dips and sweeping curves, no traffic, and great scenery, it was very, very good. Along the way, as I rounded a curve, I spotted a brown bear scurrying in the other lane. It was running away from us, and had some lunch in his mouth. Glad it was not us!! I had slowed to a slow walk pace, hoping he would stop for a picture, but he ran into the woods. Darn, no picture. We were within 100 feet of him.

In Raton, we found the White House Saloon for lunch and a cold beer. It was an old saloon, 72 years old, and looked that way inside. It was filled with what appeared to be locals—they seemed to know each other. We ordered a beer and asked for a menu. The waitress informed us that the kitchen was closed, but she could heat a frozen pizza if we wanted. We wanted, and it was actually pretty good.

After lunch, we got on I-25 into Colorado and on to Great Sand Dunes National Park. Along the way, more wildlife. We were riding along, came over a crest, and there was a black bear standing in the other lane. It was just standing there, not walking or moving. I hit the brakes, got stopped, pulled the camera out, and tried to take a picture. Unfortunately, the little knob that gives the option to review pictures had gotten rotated to review, so taking a picture wasn’t an option until I could diagnose why the damned thing wouldn’t work. At the same time, a truck was approaching, and the bear was moving towards us. About the time I got the camera in the mode to take a picture, the bear ambled into the woods. Damn! No picture.

The other wildlife was a big rattlesnake slithering across the road. He was in the other lane, so it was not an issue. But he was big!

The ride to the sand dunes was much longer than it looked on the maps. We had to stop for gas, and decided to call to see if any rooms were available in the area around the dunes. I used the GPS to call the only one listed nearby, and was informed that no rooms were available there.

So, I asked if there were other possibilities nearby. They told me that the Oasis Motel might have one and gave me their number. I called and learned that they had one. So, I reserved it, hoping it would be okay.

In talking with the lady at the Oasis, she casually mentioned that the motel was not located where she was. She told me to come to the Oasis General Store (also a gas station, souvenir shop, RV Park, and restaurant.

As we came into the park area, we passed a brown building, all to itself, in the middle of nowhere, off the side of the road. A sinking feeling hit my stomach. I knew that was our home for the night. Gary said he wasn’t staying in that place.

We drove on to the Oasis General Store, met the lady I talked with, and asked about the room. She let us look at the room. The motel consists of a grand total of 2 rooms, and we had the choice if either room. In reality, it was fine; set up as a motel room, with a TV, 2 beds, a tub with shower, commode, and lavatory. And air conditioning! No phone. No Internet (so this is being posted a day late). The room was not bad at all. So, we took it, and it’s quite adequate.

Drove only 274 miles today. Went slow and enjoyed the ride.

Stomach better, but still having diarrhea. Looking for some Immodium tomorrow.

Sand dunes and Pikes Peak tomorrow!

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