Zapata Ranch

zapapta-18zapapta-2zapapta-1zapapta-11 zapapta-3zapapta-4zapapta-15zapapta-7 zapapta-6zapapta-8zapapta-10zapapta-9zapapta-17 On our way to New Mexico this past weekend, we stopped at Zapata Ranch, a dude ranch operation in Southern Colorado that borders the Great Sand Dunes. We finally had the chance to meet, Kate (@kateloveshorses) and Jessie (@owlfaceowlface), who both work on the ranch and have been Instagram friends for the past year. Always a treat to connect with digital pen pals! After we arrived, they saddled the horses and we had the great fortune of riding horseback through Medano Creek and into the dunes right at dusk–hands down one of the most amazing rides I’ve ever had. I was screaming and laughing with delight as we loped full speed through the sand. Later, we made tacos and drank whiskey by the fire.

The last couple of images are from Zapata Falls, just up the road from the ranch, where we hiked in before heading to Santa Fe for the week.

Flat Tops Wilderness: Part Two

FlatTops-part-two-5FlatTops-part-two-12FlatTops-part-two-v2-1FlatTops-part-two-v2-7FlatTops-part-two-v2-8FlatTops-part-two-v2-5FlatTops-part-two-v2-3FlatTops-part-two-v2-4FlatTops-part-two-11FlatTops-part-two-v3-1“The idea of wilderness needs no defense, it only needs defenders.”   Edward Abbey

What makes wilderness so special is that the only mode of transportation is by foot, giving the hiker unique access to raw, wild land, with minimal impact from humans. The Flat Tops Wilderness is the second largest wilderness in Colorado and was formed from volcanic basalt lava that flowed in the region and cooled millions of years ago. Over time, glaciation eroded the mountain range and formed their unique flat look. Geology is fascinating!

Devil’s Causeway is a narrow land bridge that gained its unique feature from two countering glaciers eating into the tough basalt rock from either side until almost meeting. The narrowest point of the trail is only 3 feet wide with a drop of hundreds of feet on either side, debilitating even the most seasoned hikers.

We intended to cross the Devil’s Causeway, continue to Causeway lake and connect with the trail creating a 10 mile loop. However, the approaching storm held us at bay, eventually forcing us to turn around and travel home the way we came. The trip out and back to the Causeway is only 6.5 miles and is now one of my favorite hikes in Colorado. We look forward to returning next summer for an extended backpacking trip.

You can see our fishing photos in the previous post, here

Flat Tops Wilderness: Part One

FlatTops-13FlatTops-1FlatTops-2 FlatTops-6 FlatTops-5FlatTops-7 FlatTops-8FlatTops-10FlatTops-12FlatTops-11FlatTops-9Last weekend we headed to the Flat Tops Wilderness in NW Colorado for four days of camping, hiking, fishing and being eaten alive by black flies. The Flat Tops are a unique range of mountains and is home to my now favorite hike, the Devil’s Causeway, a narrow land bridge with a sheer drop off of hundreds of feet on either side. Definitely, not for the faint of heart. I’ll post images of the hike in part two. Our first night, we fished the Bear River, a sweet little patch of meadow fishing below Stillwater Reservoir. I’m growing more confident with fishing and was able to practice my long casts and some roll casting. Fish didn’t take too much the first night, but any time on the river is a good time.

 

Santa Fe

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Santa Fe is a magical time over Christmas. Snow blanketing the ground, piñon in the air and Farolito lined streets. December 24th is the big walk down Canyon Road however, we prefer the smaller less traveled streets. Luminarios, or small street side bonfires, are like beacons  in the night and keep us warm every few blocks during our walk.

We spent our anniversary at 10,000 a waves, a Japanese spa nestled in the foothills of Santa Fe. We soaked in the Ichiban tub, which has been completely remodeled. I highly recommend it. We also made reservations at Iznami, the long awaited Japanese inspired bistro. The meal was delicious and I love how they pour their sake. Always cold and spilling from the lip of the glass into a small dish to signify prosperity.

On our way home we stopped for a sunset hike in Salida, one of my favorite small towns in Colorado. We hiked  a couple of trails on the Arkansas Hills Trail open space. I’d like to return in the Spring and mountain bike the single track there. Looks exceptional.

Viva Mexico

Processed with VSCOcam with m5 preset Processed with VSCOcam with m5 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with m5 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with m5 preset Processed with VSCOcam with m5 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with m5 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with m5 preset Processed with VSCOcam with m5 preset Processed with VSCOcam with m5 preset Processed with VSCOcamProcessed with VSCOcam with m5 preset Processed with VSCOcam with m5 preset Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with m5 preset Processed with VSCOcam with m5 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with m5 preset Processed with VSCOcam with m5 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with m5 preset Processed with VSCOcam with m5 preset Processed with VSCOcam with m5 preset Processed with VSCOcam with m5 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with m5 preset Processed with VSCOcam with m5 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with m5 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with m5 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with m5 presetTroncones is a small fishing village of 600 people just 20 miles North of Zihuatanajo in the state of Guerrero. Known for its surfing and laid back feel, Troncones offers relief from tourist heavy towns like Ixtapa and Acapulco. I prefer the Pacific side of Mexico and after some research, found Troncones. We couldn’t have chosen a better spot. Long stretches of beach, hardly any tourists and amazing food cooked over open fire pits. We rented a villa about a mile out of town with a private beach and infinity pool. We napped during the day, read our books, soaked in the pool, and cooked fresh lobster.

The  house we rented had a donkey named El Chapo. We took him into town one day and were quite the spectacle. All the locals came out to point and laugh at us crazy Gringos leading a donkey through town. At one point, we were at a shop buying groceries when the cartel drove up. Ben was outside waiting for us in shorts and flip flops with El Chapo and gave a nod to one of the men in the cartel. What a sight… fifteen heavily armed young men with Ak-47 machine guns and enough ammo to supply an army. We learned later the cartel we encountered is the “good” cartel known as New Generation. They operate as any cartel does, selling drugs, but  supposedly don’t kidnap or murder citizens. The state of Guerrero supports the cartel in exchange for keeping peace within the tourist-centric communities.

Perro Rojo followed us home one night and slept in one of the hanging beds on the lower floor. We fed him rice and queso fresco. Shae gave him a bath in one of the outdoor showers. We were close to taking him home with us but after inquiring we discovered he indeed had a good home. Rojo loves to hang out at the local Gringo spot, Present Moment, and is cared for by some of the yoji residents. Rojo belongs on the beach. We tried to envision him living in the Rocky Mountains and soon realized we would be the cause of his misery if we removed him from paradise.

We were told of a crocodile that lived in the swamp by our house, though we never saw him. May just be a legend. We did stumble upon the largest snake I have ever seen in the wild. A fifteen foot Boa with a rodent resting snug in his mouth. He must have been twelve inches in diameter and stood three feet from the ground as he lifted his head. He was just as frightened by us and not wanting to share his meal, slithered off into the jungle. Very exciting!

Highlights from our trip:
Piña Coladas at Present Moment
Fresh Tortillas by Mary (Just ask around)
Pescado Mojo de Ajo at Doña Nica
Turtle Release at Roberto’s
Walking the beach after sunset
Cucumber and Jicama with chile powder (We made this at home)
Fresh Grilled Lobster (You can approach any fisherman and buy direct lobster, oysters, mussels and fish)

Movies I watched on the plane:
The Grandmaster
The Sapphires
Therese

Books I read:
The Art of Traveling by Alain de Botton

Can’t wait to return to paradise!