I Spy The Rockies

Date: March 27th, 2017

From/To: La Junta, CO/Pueblo, CO

Daily Mileage: 65 miles

Total Mileage: 1655 miles

Conditions: Sunshine, no wind, mid 50s. Cruising weather

Today marks a month on the road. A lot has transpired between now and then, I feel like a different person than I was on February 27th. Today was a perfect day for the one month anniversary. My legs spun like clockwork. Sure I was soar from yesterday, but there’s something to say about the newborn mentality I had on Highway 50. I had shoulder room, smooth pavement, and no wind. What could I complain about? It could definitely be worse, and I’ll aways say that as long as I have road to ride on. I could’ve gone all 65 miles without setting a foot down, then I saw them.

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Todays trek from La Junta, CO to Pueblo, CO.

I was up around 7:30AM to do laundry and grab breakfast. I knew I didn’t have a long trek so I had some time to kill. I had to reassemble my bike, I neatly placed everything back together before setting off on my trek around 10. I thoroughly examined my ride to Pueblo on Highway 50 (a new habit born easy). I’d be passing through towns or small communities every 5 to 10 miles along the way. It helped me feel good about hitting the road. I set off a quarter after 10 practically flying on the pavement. That feeling never felt so good. I knew I’d arrive to Pueblo in no time following the Arkansas River all the way there. Part way through the ride I looked up to my left and saw mountains along the western horizon. Wait…MOUNTAINS?! I thought to myself. I couldn’t believe it. The Rocky Mountains were right there. I’d been waiting for this exact moment long before I set off from Jacksonville a month ago.

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They were far off in the distance, but nonetheless within view! 

I couldn’t wipe the smirk off my face. To my left were the mountains, and to my right the Great Plains. I paid no attention to my right, my eyes were focused on the white caps far off ahead of me. Their majestic appearance along the horizon was a sight I needed after weeks on the flats.

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Here’s an overview of my next few days. The distances are relatively short, no more than 60 miles from town to town. This will help me time my rides according to unexpected weather, and any other factors that may play a role. 
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The only picture I took facing east. I couldn’t help but agree with the sign placement. 
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Another sign I agreed with, although this one was beaten up and clearly not rightfully placed on Highway 50 where people drive 80mph. I saw it laying in the grass as I passed by. On my bike I usually average anywhere from 12-15mph. It’s the perfect speed to take in the surroundings and see things that would otherwise be invisible by car. 
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I came across this historical replica tipi and wagon on my way to Pueblo. Next to them were two alpacas. Why? I’m not totally sure. I asked them to hold off on the Rain Dance for a few days.
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Some true longhorns grazing in a field off Highway 50.

I arrived around 3:30, making great time despite all my routine photo stops. I coordinated with a Warmshowers host to stay the night in southern Pueblo. His name was Mike, and he showed me around town after I cleaned up at his house. It turns out Pueblo has quite a history dating back to 1842 (Here’s your history lesson warning). It’s one of the largest steel-producing cities in the United States, and at one point earned the name “The Melting Pot of the West,” having over 40 languages represented at one point. Most of this diversity was due to the inflow of migrant work for the steel industry. Pueblo thrived for many years as one of the major cities out west until Mother Nature got involved. Many people say the city never recovered after a devastating flood wiped it out in 1921. Despite it’s reputation prior to the flood it looked great to me when I rode in. Many businesses, shops, bars and restaurant now thrive throughout this city of just over 108,000 people (estimate based on a 2010 census).

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Welcome to Pueblo, Colorado.
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Mike told me this was a kayaking park that has been set up on the Arkansas River.
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A Native American monument along the Riverwalk in downtown Pueblo.
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A spray paint mural on the side of an old 18-wheeler. There’s plenty of murals throughout the city. Pueblo is a hotspot for many different forms of art and sculpturing as you’ll see below.

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He’s known as the drunk monk.

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The brick building on the right is the Pueblo Union Depot, one of the finest railroad depot stations west of the Mississippi River. It was build to handle large quantities of people, and served that purpose well in it’s time.

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Inside the Pueblo Union Depot. Much of interior is authentic, dating back to 1889-1890, when it was built in a Richardsonian Romanesque style. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.
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To this day the depot is used to host ceremonies, weddings, and other upscale events.
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I couldn’t help but notice good ol’ JFK hanging up on the wall in the main lobby. I could tell you a story or two about that guy.

I enjoyed my time in Pueblo. It’s an interesting place with interesting people. It’s small enough where you don’t feel overwhelmed, but large enough that you can explore around town for an entire day without hitting all the major sites. It possesses a mixture of culture from a many places, and I enjoyed the exposure I had in the short afternoon I was around. I’ll certainly be exploring more unique cities in the coming weeks as I venture through the northern parts of Colorado. I’m looking forward to the experiences that lie ahead. Thanks for reading!

Enjoy The Ride,

-Matt

One thought on “I Spy The Rockies

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