Wednesday, May 8th – Thursday, May 9th, 2013
We passed by humping cows as we took US-50 East out of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. As we continued on, we passed by several foggy recreational lake areas surrounded by cliffs which made us think of “The Goonies.” After going through the small town of Gunnison, CO, we drove by many fields full of cows, horses, goats, sheep, pigs, and llamas. The agricultural scenery turned into marshes where you’d spot the occasional magpie or red-winged blackbird.
The scenery changed yet again once we entered Gunnison National Forest. We were surrounded by conifers, snow, and ski lifts going up massive mountains. Our elevation went up to 11,000 feet and then we worked our way down the mountain to lower elevations through San Isabel National Forest passing by several little cabin towns.
Eventually we arrived in the town of Salida, CO which didn’t seem like much of anything at first. After locating the Walmart where we’d be staying the night, we spotted our first ever Green Cross (medical marijuana dispensary).
At this time, medical marijuana had been legal in the state of Colorado for 3 years, and they had just passed a constitution in which personal possession of pot would be treated in the same manner as alcohol. This opened the doors to pot tourism, allowing those over 21 years of age to purchase and use marijuana recreationally so long as they keep it within state lines. They were still in the process of sorting out how to properly tax it, so although it passed, they weren’t allowing any recreational purchases from non-Colorado residents until the following year.
Although we weren’t able to make any purchases, we went to the “Tenderfoot Health Collective” to investigate their products. They had different strains for different highs, stuff you could smoke or vaporize (Hey, that rhymed!). Stuff you could eat, like cookies, candy, and the traditional “special” brownies. They even had stuff that didn’t get you high at all if you wanted to utilize the medicinal purposes without the “side effects”.
Personally, I don’t enjoy getting stoned like I used to in my salad days (Quite the funny expression for youth, eh? It just makes me hungry). The stuff they have out on the market these days kicks me into a panic attack. I’m the one grinning awkwardly in the corner with cotton mouth worrying if I look normal or not, questioning if it would be too weird if I hid in the bathroom for 2 hours. There’s just no fun in participating anymore. However, if they could give me a strain that gives me the giggles again, I’m in! Don’t judge. Laughter is good for you, especially for people like me who suffer from the “resting b*tch face” malady.
The shop keeper directed us to the downtown area, where we found many cute shops and good coffee at “Cafe Dawn.” We found some cheap tees at the Wanderlust Road Consignment shop and Trevor gave the owners two of the extra Frisbees that we had been carrying along with us. One of the owners chased us down the sidewalk afterwards to give us a free bar of homemade soap that his wife made and sold there. As stinky as we had been getting, we were grateful!
After returning to Cafe Dawn for more coffee, Betsy the barista suggested we check out the hot springs on our way out of town and gave us a list of ones nearby. We strolled around the residential streets at night and the river was set up for competitive kayaking. We were slowly falling in love with the little town of Salida.
I was having trouble sleeping and my restless mind eventually drifted to thoughts of terrifying the locals with my hairy legs while enjoying the hot springs. When sleep wouldn’t return, I got up at 5 am to shave off my leg sweaters in the van. After getting our coffee fix, we traveled along the Arkansas River in the pouring rain. We saw several fly fishermen and an osprey flying around as we made our way along US-50 East to Canon City, CO where they had a plethora of prisons in town. As we took Route 115 North towards Colorado Springs, we passed by Fort Carson which was an army base that was completely fenced in with several check points.
There wasn’t much to Colorado Springs that we felt was worth checking out. We killed some time wander around the shopping centers as Trevor looked for new shoes with no success. We decided to return to Salida for the night and to choose a different direction to head in for a new adventure in the morning.
Jump Back to Part 26: Wild Rose, Snow & Cannibalism
Jump Ahead to Part 28: High Altitude, Ski Towns & A Car Crash
Start Over at Part 01: The Blue Bubble, Freebies & A Rude Awakening