Summer 2016 – Day 13, Colorado to Oklahoma

I began the day by backtracking a few miles in US 50. No sooner was I out of town than traffic came to a complete stop in both directions. There were cattle in the road. I don’t know if this cattle drive was intentional not. Regardless, there were cowboys on horses trying to keep the cattle together. These bulls looked like they had been fed a steady diet of steroids. Several passed me on the shoulder and one looked like he was giving me the evil eye. “Just move along” I thought to myself, “there’s nothing to see here”.

Cattle drive on CO 50 in Gunnison CO
Cattle drive on CO 50 in Gunnison CO

Feeling exposed
Feeling exposed

At the beginning of the reservoir, I turned south on CO 149. This was a dream road that was in beautiful shape – no gravel or rough sections and the scenery was gorgeous. This route took me through the Rio Grande National Forest and near the headwaters of the Rio Grande.

Around mid-day I was thinking good thoughts about a coffee shop and as luck would have it, I rolled into Creede which is a lovely little town. I stopped to take some photos at a store on the outskirts of town surrounded with historical mining junk. It was a bit cliched I decided and I didn’t stay long.

In town was a wonderful combination coffee shop and fly fishing shop. Perfect! After enjoying a cappuccino and cheese danish, I explored the remainder of the town and then continued south on 149.

Leaving town I crossed some railroad tracks that pretty much paralleled the road (or vice versa). The tracks looked unused, yet a few miles outside of town I passed maintenance-of-way equipment parked on a siding. Long forgotten and left to decay? It was hard to tell. The tracks ran through beautiful meadows and fields, crossing the road occasionally and I thought that this must have been a beautiful train ride in its heyday. The road rose and I was looking down at the tracks as they continued to parallel a river, approaching a steel truss bridge that carried the tracks to the other side of the river. It was so picture perfect, it almost looked like a scene from a model railroad. I was on it and passed in flash and again felt frustrated that there was no safe place to stop for photos.

As I approached South Fork and the end of CO 149, I came across some parked rail equipment. Ahah! Turns out that this is the Denver and Rio Grande RR and this section is being slowly restored by rail buffs for scenic excursions.

As I left the Forest I knew that was it for cool, comfortable riding until Fall when I would head up to the Blue Ridge Mountains. I headed south to Taos, NM. My next planned stop was the
Rio Grand Gorge Bridge. There was a somewhat disheveled guy trying to play the guitar while singing “Green Eyed Lady”. Unfortunately, he could neither play the guitar nor sing. Tough gig. There was a bus parked near the overlook that had been converted to a food truck and painted such that it reminded me of the Electric Mayhem bus from the Muppet movie.

From Taos I continued east on US-64 through the Carson National Forest to the Oklahoma border. I was in ski country and enjoying that last of the hills. East of Cimarron I picked up NM 58, then went one exit south on I-25 to Springer where I picked up US-412 that I would ride all they way across Oklahoma. I stopped in Boise City, OK around 9 pm and called it a a day.

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Matthew Dragiff

A Goldwing rider from Jacksonville, FL.

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