The Durango Bike Trip

 Posted by on 23 May 2005 at 12:36 pm  Uncategorized
May 232005

I’m pleased to report that Paul and I very much enjoyed our bicycling trip to Durango last week. We left on Saturday, then returned on Friday. We drove there, we biked, we biked, we hiked and rested, we biked, we biked, and we drove home. It was good.

We stayed at the Blue Lake Ranch, a fabulous bed and breakfast outside of Hesperus, about 15 miles west of Durango. We ate a yummy and plentiful breakfast every morning in the main house, surrounded by its gorgeous gardens. Here’s the amazing view upon entering the property, as well as a shot of the main house.


We were housed off by ourselves in the Historic River House, a small cottage with two bedrooms, living room, and a kitchen, about a mile from the main house, right next to the La Plata River. After a hard day’s ride, it was nice to be so totally secluded. Here’s the River House, then a view from the house toward the road.


On our first day, we biked the Baker’s Bridge Loop, about 27 miles of beautiful country north of Durango. (I didn’t even think to take pictures on the first and best leg of the route, East Animus Road.) On the left is just a boring view from US 550. On the right is a massive waterfall — in someone’s backyard in a fairly suburban old neighborhood. I kid you not.


On our second day of biking, we did a long loop of 56 miles through both Mancos and Cortez, west of Durango. The first leg (on the Domingo-Escalante “Highway”) was utterly lovely, but the rest was mostly just grueling, with way too much traffic. We were pretty dead by the end. These are just two sights from the first leg.


We rested on our third day with a leisurely drive through and hike in the Mesa Verde National Park. Hey look, it’s us!


Here’s a view from a lookout point, with a cool picture of some scrub oak.


On our hike, we passed by various cool water carvings in the rock, such as these two.


Here you see a mineral stain, a set a narrow stairs, then a very cool grove of oddly-burned trees.


On the fourth day, we biked 40 miles from Bayfield (east of Durango) up to the Vallecito Reservoir and back. We stopped to watch the mules and horses in this dandelion-studded pasture playing. The mule foal in the left-hand picture was absurdly cute with strong stance and big ears. On the right is just an ordinary view of countryside through which we traveled. (Oh, to have to endure such painful sights for hours on end!)


On the left is the Los Pinos River. On the right is the Vallecito Reservoir, with the stark snow-capped mountains in the distance.


On the fifth day, we biked from Arboles to CO 160 and back, all on CO 151. It was an easy 36 miles, except for a killer hill at the very end. First we’re headed into some cool rock formations, then we have an extra-cool one.


Overall, I was very pleased by our choice of routes. Some were prettier than others, some were more difficult than others, some had more traffic than others. But all were fairly well-described in the book I used, Road Biking Colorado. I’m certainly looking forward to finding other cool places to bike in Colorado with it.

I was also pleased that my leg muscles were only the slightest bit sore on occasion. That’s substantially due to my 40-60 minutes of running and/or rowing per day. However, my new clips also definitely helped distribute the work between my quads and my hamstrings. (I’m pretty sure that the clips made a difference, since Paul’s legs tended to be sore, even though we run and row almost identical distances these days.) Unfortunately, I did also have some fabulous pain in my right foot while biking that required occasional stops and massages. That was probably because I needed to break in my shoes beforehand, but didn’t have time.

Of course, this trip wasn’t all about physical exercise! While bicycling, I listened to the whole of Homer’s Iliad, thanks to my not-so-new iPod and my new Audible subscription. (It was Samuel Butler’s prose translation. I’m sure that it has various defects qua translation, but it did have the overriding virtue of being available as an audiobook. It was also well-read.)

Pathetically, I’ve never studied any Homer before whatsoever. Both The Iliad and The Odyssey have been on my long-term reading list for a while, but they were bumped to the top after listening to Elizabeth Vandiver’s fantastic Teaching Company course on them late this spring. (I’ve also heard her Classical Mythology course, which is excellent. She is the topmost cream of the generally excellent Teaching Company crop, I think.) I enjoyed The Iliad immensely, in substantial part thanks to the background context provided by Vandiver’s lectures. (I also think that it was good to listen, rather than read.) Obviously, The Odyssey is next on my list.

Since I’m an integrated kind of girl, my back-at-the-River-House reading was Victor David Hanson’s and John Heath’s book Who Killed Homer?. I hope to blog on it soon, since his criticisms of academic classics really helped me crystallize my understanding of the essential ills of academia (in humanities) at present. It’s far worse than even most Objectivists realize, I suspect.

Overall, I must report that our Durango Bike Trip was a fantastic vacation. Now it’s time for me to get my nose back to the grindstone, as I have far too many incompletes to finish up — not to mention a ton of independent studying and learning to do.

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