We left with hugs and tears saying goodbye to Dale, Jonna, and Joe. They were so uplifting to us and really lightened our hearts and spirits. But we got one more laugh in with Joe before we left- playing with a green wig……
Joe had to come catch their little dachshund dog as it followed us down the road. It was pretty funny to see the little guy, tiny legs flying, trying to keep up with us- on a cross country ride! We followed the Rainbow Trail for the day until it came out to another trailhead. It was pretty but frustrating. It went south along the Sangre de Cristos- following in and out of all the little valleys, but not before climbing up at least a thousand feet to the elevation where the trail stayed. It was cold and in the shade most of the time, very rocky, and we had no intentions of climbing the mountain range again after already climbing it the first time! We had contemplated following it all the way to Westcliffe, but after spending all day in the shade looking down on the sun in the valley, we decided that was enough and we were heading out into the valley the next day!
Our stop that night was at a barn where we had the luxury of putting up our tent inside the barn where it was at least 10 degrees warmer. I know you are wondering “why bother putting up a tent under a roof?” But the simple fact is that we are both allergic to hay! The tent screen keeps out the hay dust so we don’t sneeze all night. The horses were allowed to stay in a corral, and we were invited to feed them hay from the barn. The man who showed us in had worked at this ranch for many many years, and he even worked at a ranch down the road before it became a historical landmark for tourists! He told us a story about his barn cat and how its mom and siblings were presumed eaten because they never came back one day and as a baby kitten, he acted utterly terrified. The cat was shy but wanted to be friendly, and we spent some of the evening playing with him.
The following day, we were very pleased with our decision to get off the mountain and come down to the sunny valley! It was warm and pleasant, and we made really good time in comparison. There were men out working on a dirt road, and one of the truck drivers was apparently getting loads of some sort of material, because he passed us many times that day- each time waving enthusiastically. It made us smile every time! We were getting close to the town of Westcliffe, and little did we know how much of a surprise we had waiting for us there……….!