Saturday, August 14, 2010

Spa Treatment

Saturday, 14 August
Today we leave Santa Fe and New Mexico and travel to Bayfield in Colorado. Our route is more or less directly north. As we leave Santa Fe we stock up on supplies, mainly food, for the next two days. Where we will be staying in Bayfield is a long way from any shops or restaurants.

With a breakfast of bagels in the car, we set off. Somehow we lose our way and instead of being on a main highway we find ourselves on a back road. The towns we pass through consist of trailers, static caravans, that serve as people's homes. Eventually we manage to get back to our route. The scenery is stunning with cliffs of different colour rock, sometimes close to the road and sometimes further in the distance. Different sedimentary rock layers can be seen in varying colours of white, red and gray. The landscape is dry and scrubby, only small bushes can be seen for miles in every direction.

Eventually the road begins to climb and the scenery becomes alpine as we enter the foothills of the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. Undulating meadows stretch on each side of the road and mountain tops are in the distance. There is no sign of human habitation. At one point we cross the continental divide. We leave the side of the continent where water and rivers flow into the Atlantic and cross to the side where water and rivers flow into the Pacific. We stop to take a photograph as we leave New Mexico and enter Colorado.

As we begin to descend in altitude, we come to Pagosa Springs. Here we take a break in our journey to soak in the natural hot springs. At this resort the springs have been channelled into over twenty pools of water of differing temperatures. We pay our entrance fee, collect towels, apply sunscreen and swim wear. In between the pools are sun beds, all facing towards the San Juan River on the edge of the resort.

Hot water bubbles up into the pools and excess water flows in channels towards the river. The smell of sulphur is strong. But the minerals in the water are evidently very good for the skin. We start off by soaking in one of the cooler pools that is signposted as being 97 degrees fahrenheit. The water feels warm. We move to pools where the temperature is given as 100 and 107 degrees fahrenheit. The water is nearly unbearable. One pool is 118 degrees fahrenheit but this pool is closed as it is too hot. The sunny weather of 87 degrees seems cool as one exits the pools. George and Max and Phoebe are tempted to go in the river but the water is cold. George's desire to swim in the rapids is greater than cold river water. He decides to join others who are floating down the rapids into the fast flowing river either using tubes or their own bodies. He quickly learns it is important to keep his feet up from the rocky bottom of the river to avoid scraped toes. We watch him from our sun beds.

Bayfield is approximately an hour from Pagosa Springs. Once we reach Bayfield we turn off onto a partly made up road and drive for another 15 miles. Our destination for the next two nights is "de goats 'n' sheep ranch" owned by a couple who raise Wensleydale sheep and goats for their wool and who rent out a cabin on the property. We're not quite sure what to make of it when we arrive, it seems rather ramshackle but the owners are very hospitable. The cabin is immaculate and set at the back of the property against a background of trees and hillside. After unloading the car, we go to meet the animals. Amongst the sheep and goats in a llama. He eyes us from a distance but eventually joins the sheep and goats who have rushed to the fence as we come to look at them and feed them with grass. Some of the sheep are wearing coats to protect their fleece. They are woolly! Even their heads are covered in long shaggy wool so it is difficult to see their eyes.

As dusk arrives, a deer appearing in the clearing near the cabin with others on the hillside behind the cabin. As darkness comes, numerous stars and the Milky Way can be seen in the clear night sky.

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