Life Lesson #1: Collect Experiences!

Traveling, exploring, and nature has always been passions of mine.  From the time I was a wee rugrat until my current mid-40 something self, I’ve always been eager to collect the experiences that life has in store for me. From the Azure Window to Landscape Arch, apple picking in New York to listening to the ghosts at Mesa Verde National Park – there is a vibrant world waiting to be discovered. However, I have some serious limitations including mobility issues from multiple autoimmune diseases.  Getting out and moving is exponentially more challenging for me than most.

While looking at social media, one of my friends posted a very compelling question.  “Do you have a bucket listIf you were told you had less than 5 years left, would you make one?”  Many of the responses were the simple, “Yes! I need to make one”, but I really had to sit and think about this. What became very evident is that very few had dealt with their mortality and most assumed they had 5 years left. Why is this important? First, because most aren’t open to genuinely collecting experiences until they have had lunch with the Grim Reaper. Second, because once you’ve met the Grim Reaper, you’ve probably already lost the ability to collect certain types of experiences.  So life lesson #1 is to collect experiences every chance you get, and live like you’ve only got 5 years left.

When we moved from Georgia to Colorado 5 years ago, we were determined to continue our regional travels and explore everything we could in the state. We still haven’t even skimmed the surface, but have seen more of Colorado than most of the folks who have lived here for decades! In our quest to collect experiences, we have been able to track moose on Grand Mesa, see Mountain Lions in Mesa Verde, touched dinosaur footprints on Skyline Drive, and watched elk herds in Rocky Mountain National Park.

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Yesterday morning, we found ourselves on the back end of a busy week with a free weekend where neither of us was working. So what did we do? We hopped in the 4Runner and picked a spot we had not explored before!  Just a quick overnight trip to our destination – the Cuchara Valley and Spanish Peaks district in Colorado!  We found a lovely little cabin rental in La Veta called Two Foxes!  Usually, we camp in the back of our car when we do these things, but since the overnight lows aren’t above 40 yet, we decided not to chance it.  Within walking distance of Two Foxes are several restaurants and bakeries, though be mindful of their early closing times. We are barbeque buffs and stopped in at Sid’s Country Barbeque for lunch and happy we did!  Thank goodness Colorado knows barbeque is a noun, not just a verb!  The pulled pork was out of this world and sides were just as tasty!

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With that under our belts, we needed some exercise! Being handicapped makes finding trails and outdoor recreation a bit difficult, but just up Cordova Pass (over 11,000ft. elevation), is the Handicapped Vista Point Trailhead for the West Spanish Peak.  This was the perfect trail for me to break in my new knee replacement and offered stunning views of Trinchera Peak and the Sangre de Cristo Range.  From the top, you can get an excellent view of the massive dykes that formed as molten lava spilled into cracks in sedimentary layers.  They make the Spanish Peaks look like they have flying buttresses to support their magma domes!   After a quick dinner in Walsenburg, we headed back to the cabin to rest.

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After a wonderful, homemade breakfast at Two Foxes, we checked out and headed out for day 2 of our adventure. We weren’t sure where the day was going to take us but decided to turn south on 159 at Fort Garland. Southern Colorado is rich in Indigenous, Spanish, and Mexican heritage, which was evident as we saw mission towns like San Luis and Garcia. Some of these have their original missions still intact, but the real adventure came when we crossed into New Mexico and decided to head to Taos Pueblo.

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Taos, New Mexico is an art center that celebrates the blending of local tribes along with Spanish/Mexican heritage. After getting out and doing some urban hiking, we headed over to the Taos Pueblo reservation and found the most amazing culinary hideout.  I’ve never been able to find a truly Tribal restaurant, and my husband happened to see Tiwa Kitchen Restaurant as we were heading off the Reservation. After an amazing lunch of Phien-tye (buffalo stuffed fry bread with beans, veggies, and wild rice), we headed back to Colorado Springs where this journey started much richer than we were the day before.  Just through this one weekend journey, we were able to see prehistoric history through geology, climb over 11,800ft to see spectacular vistas, and connect with this land’s earliest cultures on a culinary level.  And to think – we almost stayed home.

Until the next adventure, keep the Lust for Wandering Y’all!

Bridget and Harlin

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