Camping in the Snowies

Camping in the Snowies

Friday, September 19, 2014

Leaving Laramie and Sand Dunes National Park

We left Laramie on Tuesday, September 16 just as the sun lit the trees on 24th Street.

Our route was decided so as to get us south into Colorado as fast as possible. Interstate travel isn't fun but we made good time until stop and go travel outside of Longmont because of a crash that we never saw. The rest of the way was smooth sailing down through Denver to Colorado Springs where we ate a great lunch at the Caspian Cafe, Exit 146. 
West at Walsenberg over a scenic highway following the Cuchara River part of the way and then up and over LaVeta Pass. North several miles and we arrive at Sand Dunes. Our Senior Pass got us in free and allowed a reduced camping fee for our two night stay.

This was the view from our campsite overlooking the amazing dunescape.
The campground is called Piñon Flats. There were plentiful sites to choose from and we think number 86 was the best. Many piñon pines populated the campground and all had pine cones dripping with sap.

These pine ones were no match for the Clark's Nutcrackers whose long, sharp beaks stabbed between the sections and pried them apart, releasing the seed. The Nutcrackers have a pouch below their tongue that can hold as many as 99 seeds which then get deposited in a cache the bird has drilled into a pine tree higher on the mountain slope. This cache of seeds allows them to overwinter and nest earlier than most birds. Unlike most birds the eggs are brooded by both parents, so the literature says. The Nutcrackers are very vocal, fun to watch as they hunt and peck and gather and fly off laden with a full craw then swooping back for more. 
We also saw many ravens, some gray jays, Stellar jays, chickadees, sparrows, bluebirds and more. 
We climbed the dunes but not to the top which may have taken us all day due to the softness of the sand. Dave did climb up one larger dune and complained the next day of muscle soreness.
My Airstream decor situated on the propane tank cover. A solar chicken graced our "patio" and lit it nicely. 
Up early Thursday morning we needed to drive an hour to get to Antonito to the Cumbres and Toltec narrow gauge train excursion.
A last look at the dunes as we stop at the RV dump station. Onward and southward we go. 

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