Pagosa Springs is a beautiful, small, quaint town nestled on the western side of Wolf Creek Pass. This part of Colorado is, in my opinion, the most beautiful in the state. I always love the drive to Pagosa Springs. It’s only a little ways further to Durango, a town where I spent a lot of time back in 1996 when I attempted to maintain a long distance relationship during my first year of college in Boulder. Every other weekend I would load up my trusty Toyota Camry with all my favorite CDs, leave Boulder at some point after classes on Friday, and drive as fast as I could (surely faster than I should have) to Durango. I was running from my dissatisfaction with what I found that first year of college in Boulder, and I was running to what I knew (the boyfriend) and what I wanted (outdoorsy, adventurous, accepting, interesting hippies who weren’t cliquey and judgmental like they seemed to be in Boulder). It was all there in Durango, and I spent as much time as I could there. Needless to say, I did the Boulder to Durango drive a lot! And I knew those roads like the back of my hand.
These days I only do the drive once a year, and although the actual music festival is my favorite part of the adventure, oh how I love the drive…lots of memories flooding back while driving that pass.
We’d parked the Scamp for a few short days after returning from a festival the previous weekend. Those few days were full of grocery shopping, cooking, prepping, packing (oh and working too…). We woke up early Thursday morning and were on the road to the Great Sand Dunes National Monument by 9 a.m. It felt great to have the Scamp out on the open road, and we were feeling confident after a local trailer/RV mechanic had given us a shining report card the previous week.
We anxiously pulled up to the park entrance, crossing our fingers that there would be a camping spot available for us that night. We found a spot on the main campground loop, set up camp, had a nice lunch, and after some pickin', reading, and getting to know our neighbors, we packed up for a short hike to the sand dunes. It was great fun to play in the creek at the base of the dunes. Another setting that was bringing lots of childhood and young adulthood memories back, and so much fun to share with my family.
Dinner and a campfire followed, and then a short walk to the campground pavilion where we were treated to modified folk songs and a slideshow teaching visitors about the history of the sand dunes. It was a relatively early night to bed for all of us since the wind was blowing too much to make sitting around a campfire enjoyable.
We were up and out by 7:30 a.m. This set-up and take-down thing with the Scamp continues to amaze and delight me with how easy and efficient it is. That early departure would have never happened with a tent.
We enjoyed a peaceful morning drive to Del Norte, and a stop at our very favorite eating establishment in that part of the state, the Peace of Art Café. It’s part of our Pagosa tradition, and we look forward to it all year long. After filling our bellies and hearts with the goodness of the café, I jumped into the driver’s seat, full cup of coffee in hand, and we were on our way up Wolf Creek Pass. I couldn’t have been happier with how the Durango performed pulling the Scamp up and over the pass. We’d been wondering how this part of the drive would go, and I was so proud of our old truck!
We pulled into the line to enter the festival just before noon, jumped out of the car to greet those around us, and rejoiced that we’d finally arrived! Once it was our turn, we carefully drove the Scamp up the bumpy, dirt road to the festival grounds, and pulled right into our preferred camping spot. Within an hour, camp was set up, and we were snuggled up in the Scamp with lunch while we watched the first (and only) rainstorm of the weekend pass overhead.
After the rain had cleared, I grabbed a chair and headed up the hill for the mandolin workshop. Perhaps I'll talk in another blog post about the huge amount of mandolin-flavored inspiration I got out of this festival...but suffice it to say, I came away from the workshop and the festival in general feeling a renewed excitement about my mandolin playing!
Brian got Sadie to take a nap, and waited patiently to greet our dear friends, the GreenHills, who would be arriving from Arkansas for the weekend.
Back in 1996, when I was driving to Durango every other weekend, I spent the opposite weekends at Bay’s house in Parker, Colorado. Bay and I have known each other since we were 15, and she’s one of my very dearest friends. We’ve seen each other through love, loss, heartache, adventures, marriage, motherhood, and more. I love her like a sister, and I love her children like they are my own. And yet, we never get to see each other; the last time was when Sadie was less than 9 months old! Her two oldest have grown so much since I’d last seen them, and I would be meeting baby Hazel for the first time. Needless to say, when the text came to me at the mandolin workshop that they were at camp, I couldn’t get down the hill fast enough. And I love a good reunion…one where you can’t help but just cry and cry as you hold each other. Nothing better.
And once all the hellos, how was the trip, oh my gosh look at the beautiful children, etc. was done with, we did what we do best. We settled into festivating and camping.
For me, the weekend was invigorating, rejuvenating, relaxing, joyful, peaceful, and idyllic in every way. Brian, Sadie, and I slept peacefully every night in the Scamp…I woke up each morning feeling rested (which isn’t always the case at festivals). Bay and I got to spend a lot of time chatting, catching up, and even had time for one of those sit-down-around-the-fire-and-settle-in-for-the-night conversations that it’s so hard to find time for these days.
The kids were SOOO great together.
Sadie and Mosely are the closest in age and played so well. Mosely is funny and fun and rambunctious and sensitive. A perfect little boy.
Stella has grown up so much, and I treasured the opportunity to get to know her more.
She’s a big kid with thoughts and ideas and interests and plans of her own, and it was so lovely to get a little glimpse into her world. She sure has changed a lot since she preceded me down the aisle on my wedding day 7 years ago!
Oh, and that baby Hazel….what a joy it was to hold and cuddle her for a few days.
And before we knew it, it was time to pack up and head home. The Petersons were surely feeling the effects of 3 straight festivals in a row. By the end of the Pagosa festival, we had slept in the Scamp more nights than in our own beds over the prior few weeks. We were loving it, but we were dirty, and tired, and run down.
So, we sadly hugged our friends goodbye, promised to do it again next year, threw our newly purchased CD from our favorite set of the weekend (Della Mae! Yeah!) into the stereo, and hit the road. As we drove back over Wolf Creek Pass, Sadie sang quietly in the back seat while Brian and I took some time to talk about the weekend. The good parts, as well as the emotional/sad/difficult parts. We didn’t talk about what waited at home yet. Work, and laundry, and groceries, and lists. Those conversations would start up as we got a bit closer to home. But for now we just soaked in the beauty of the pass, and soaked up the afterglow of three weeks of festivating. One last stop at the Peace of Art Café, another cup of coffee, and we headed home.
Yesterday brought the beginning, tomorrow brings the end, and somewhere in the middle we became the best of friends. ~Author Unknown