“Go West, Young Men!” Those were the words written by Horace Greeley, the man the town I live in was named after. Still true for the modern immigrant, though not a young man, I went to the West and discovered the great beauty of US landscapes. Please, come visit some time and see for yourself. Colorado is amazing and beautiful and did inspire the song America the Beautiful after all. I often forget though, since I don’t leave town as often as I should to visit the surrounding areas.
But recently, this old lady was forced to go on a field trip with her daughter’s 5th Grade class. A group of 39 children and 20 adults partook in this adventure. Some parents traveled by car rather than the big tour bus. Along the way we slept on the floors of school gymnasiums, offered generously as accommodations by various schools (Alamosa High School, Durango High School, Moab Middle School, Grand Junction High School). So I want to thank the kind principals, janitors, and lunch ladies who gave us shelter and nourishment (breakfast and packed lunches). Our trip spanned 1192 miles according to Google Maps. I hope you enjoy the photos I took along the way.
When people think of Colorado, they usually think of the Rocky Mountains. Celeste and I stopped in one of the many mountain valleys to take a photo for you. Celeste was so happy to get out of Greeley and smell the fresh mountain air. Much better than the smell of feedlots that people told me I would get used to after a while…
Our next stop was at the Great Sand Dunes. They are a truly amazing geographical feature unique to the US. Don’t miss them if you visit the State of Colorado. The largest dune towers 750 feet high. You need to bring lots of water and strong legs to hike to the top. When high winds kicked in, our group had to turn around. The sand got into our eyes, and it became hard to see where we were going.
Still the children enjoyed rolling around and playing in the biggest natural Sandbox of the US. The large, main dunefield covers approximately 30 square miles, but there are many more square miles of smaller dunes in the sand sheet surrounding the main dune field.
We all rolled down one hill and then hiked up another. Unfortunately Celeste lost a shoe in the process. So we decided to go barefoot for the rest of the trip.
Our next stop was Mesa Verde. If you love history, you must take a tour of the cliff dwellings. In order to get the full picture you need to have the courage to climb up to 32 feet tall ladders to see ancient houses built by the ancestral people who lived here over 800 years ago.
For our last stop we hopped across the state line to the Moab Desert, Utah. I can’t believe I have never visited there when it is practically around the corner from our house. For many folks in our group, getting to see this beautiful National Park was the highlight of the trip. We all know the images of the arches from commercials and iconic photographs. They are famous in Germany too. So for me getting to see them with my own eyes was a real treat.
Celeste even tried to climb Delicate Arch. She didn’t quite succeed but looked very cute trying.
Celeste says she had a lot of fun on this trip but she was glad when we arrived home again. Traveling is fun but takes a lot of energy. I hope you get a chance to visit beautiful Colorado and the West of the US some time. It’s much more beautiful than any photograph or painting can convey. You must see it with your own eyes!