On July 2, at 3:15am, my alarm sounded and the adventure began. We were on the road by 4am, though our group of eight (6 teens and 2 adults) might have been short two pillows and a sleeping bag. Our destination was Noah’s Ark Rafting in Buena Vista, Colorado.
As we made the predawn journey through the rural panhandle of Texas, we noticed the smell of money was quite different for our fellow Texans the closer we got to Interstate 40. In the Permian Basin, the smell of money is a pungent sulfur or rotten egg smell. It can be especially strong on cold mornings. It’s the smell of the oil patch. In the panhandle, money smells like urine mixed with poo. They have cattle in the panhandle, lots of cattle.
Exiting the nation-state of Texas through it’s northwest corner, we entered New Mexico. It was there that we began to notice a change in elevation. The ground seemed to have pimples. There were large mounds rising up from the surface. West Texas is known for its flat landscape. We joke that it’s so flat, you can watch your dog run away for five days. These pimples turned out to be volcanic mountains. That’s right, there are volcanos in North Eastern New Mexico. We took a short, unplanned expedition up the Capulin Volcano National Monument. After walking the rim of this once active volcano that reached nearly 9700 feet above sea level it began to feel like we were really on an adventure.
The walk around the rim turned out to be more challenging than expected. One of our teens became overwhelmed by her fear of heights. Others expressed the challenge of walking the near one-mile circle of varying elevation points. Outside of the little gnats that followed you from the top into the van, it was a remarkable view and a neat find on our journey.
Our trip still had several hours of driving before we reached our resting stop. As we made our way into Colorado on Interstate 25, we knew we were in a foreign territory. The road was surrounded by mountains and along the way there were warning signs. I am familiar with the deer warning signs. I was not surprised by the elk sign. But when we saw the yellow diamond with a black bear in the middle of it, I knew this was a different territory! I wish I had been able to get a picture of the sign, but there was no shoulder and the cars were whizzing by us.
After 13 hours of traveling (including our stops at Capulin, Wendy’s, and the restrooms) we arrived at Noah’s Ark Rafting. This simple camp was right on the bank of the Arkansas River. We unloaded our bedding, enjoyed the meal of chili, played some “ninja” and volleyball, and then went to sleep not long after sunset. Our physical challenges of the adventure awaited us in the morning.
Day 2 will post tomorrow.