WanderlustBy Sam Lepore
(Click map for full size)
Montrose to Paonia
Subject: Wanderlust 39 - Paonia, Colorado
Date: Thu, 15 Jul 1999 20:59:36 -0700

        The Colorado sky fought its own civil war all day, with the grey and the blue battling for supremacy. Great columns of grey soldiers attacked in wave after wave from over the top of the hills, but the blue reserves threw in artillery from beyond the mountains and left gaping white puffs in the grey line of advance. Slowly the blue clusters gathered into a solid defense, and swept the grey from the battlefield. Grey won several of the battles, but as in the other great conflict, it looks like blue will win the war.
        Despite the sun and its warmth, it is just barely spring in the high country. The roadside blue and white wildflowers are still blooming as though in a hurry to beat the frost. Mornings are cool enough to require a warm jacket. Yet again it is a good day to ride.
        Up around the Blue Mesa and above the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, I climbed through the aspen forests past spectacular views of central Colorado. Rounding one corner, I was reminded in a uniquely western way that this was indeed "spring". The woman on the horse in the middle of the 2-lane road waved me to slow down ... for I was about to be face-to-snout with a cattle drive. I shut off the bike because of the obvious wait it would take for the 100 or so cattle to pass (and so not to be the cause and the target of a stampede). Being driven by half a dozen herd dogs, the cattle eyed me warily as they squeezed past taking up the entire road. First time I ever had a cow throw a full head back mooooo inches from my face. Wow. Get horns like that on a bike and traffic sure would notice.
        The dogs were confused because I would not turn and follow the herd despite their barking at my tires ... ok, so a BMW is sometimes nicknamed a "rubber cow", but come on ... :)
        The dogs weren't mad, but only a few miles down the road from Black Canyon is the Mad Dog Ranch Fountain and Cafe. Joe Cocker and wife Pam liked the area so much, the rumor is they bought the entire town of Crawford. The food is decent, but it is a namesake destination more than a culinary one. It is, however, very motorcycle friendly. If you tell them you arrived on a bike you get a free gift - usually a souvenir scarf.

        Only a hundred and fifty miles to the wonderful little sophisticated but unspoiled town of Paonia where the Top Of The Rockies Rally is held. This is a near perfect location. The city park is completely covered with shade trees, the entire town gets involved in the rally ... and yes, they have a gourmet coffee shop and organic bakery :)
        No report for the next several days as I take a break, talk bikes, maybe catch the annual softball fiasco between the Beemers and the always victorious Paonia Fire Department, and just enjoy the rally.

Montrose US50 CO92 CO133 Paonia

Sam Lepore, San Francisco
Wanderlust Rider

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