Friday, December 4, 2009

Colorado High. Down Route 17

ALAMOSA, Colorado, December 4, 2009. Some places are glamorous. Some places are just good people. Sometimes both are attractive.

You cruise down route seventeen to get here to Alamosa. Down from Denver, down from Vail and other points north. Down through Moffat. Paved. Dirt roads off to the side.

There is no cell phone traffic along much of the way. No noise except the engine of your car. Hawks fly overhead.

The telephone poles to your right are equally spaced. Placed by a rural telephone cooperative. One mile exactly between each pole. So if you go sixty miles an hour, you see a pole every single minute. It’s like clickity clack, click, clack on your way here.

And that’s about all you see or hear. Except for some blossoming blue thistle and wild orange sunflowers, and then, getting close to Alamosa on the right, you see a solar electricity experiment in the thin high-elevation Colorado sky-blue sunlight. You see signs for viewing UFOs at night.

You see signs to get to the Sand Dunes National Park, bigger than any Atlantic sand beach I’ve ever witnessed. Pressed up against the Rocky Mountains by a prevailing wind blowing off the western desert.

You cross the Rio Grande River, up-stream. Then roll into town. Civilization. Cozy. Barbershop on the left. Nice small town main street stretching east to west. Everything you need and want is here.

Some places are glamorous. Alamosa isn’t. In Vail, Lionshead Ski lift to the mountaintop at eleven-thousand feet or so. Stayed with hospitable, creative people in Edwards, a gated community, Arrowhead. Sunning by the pool. Cocktail party at the club. Jolly dinner at the Saloon at Minturn, a little town just south of Vail. A viewing of a movie provided by my host, Norm, who produced it. The movie: “Under the Same Moon.” A hit (information below). And so was my pleasant stay in Vail a hit.

I rode to Alamosa to get our Lincoln Town Car serviced after a transcontinental trip from Washington, DC. The service. Town and Country Ford and Mercury dealer on Main Street. What do you see when around here? People riding bicycles for transportation. The dealer said there was a right rear tire leakage. While other mechanical car things needed some attention.

So we were chauffeured into the center of town by Rodriguez.

As we were escorted by our dealer, he recommended a tire shop. Our driver said, “Jim’s Tire Store is the best guy for tires in town. You’ll like Jim.”

“Oh,” and he continued, “And if you need to be taken anywhere in town while we fix your car, please just call and we’ll pick you up and take you wherever you want to go.”

So I was waiting for my new tire purchase. Jim has a braided pony tail reaching down to the middle of his back. As he processes my credit card order, a couple pulls their car into Jim’s parking lot in a heap having a nearly flat tire.

“See what we can find,” Jim announces.

Jim rummages around his shop to find a used tire that, with some help, would work. This interrupts his sale and service to me. It was clear I had to be patient. For I was not first in line. When the couple asked, “How much?” Jim answered, “$2.00”

I am on hold about my tire, I walk down toward Main Street. I pass the rail station that offers and takes tourists on steam engine rail rides from Alamosa to La Veta through thrilling Rocky Mountain countryside. I cross the tracks. In that Alamosa neighborhood there are many bars and clubs for about three blocks. Somehow that is very comforting to me. And yet really not that different from the cocktail party in Vail.

My friend and I, later, bought some car/cleaner wax and buffed our car down at the city park, Cole Park. Many walkers came by to chat with us about trivia, life, cars, and the universe.

A contrast. Vail and Alamosa. I like them both.


NOTES: Alamosa is 45 miles north of the New Mexico border. The town is 31 miles south of the great Sand Dunes National Park off route 17. Alamosa is the county seat of Alamosa County in the San Luis Valley region. The town’s population is 9500. Fly into San Luis Valley Airport from Denver. Home of Adams State College which has a great theater department.

LINKS: Basic Alamosa information: Information on the movie Under the Same Moon, Norman Dryfus, producer, Places to stay in Alamosa Basic information on vacations in Vail  Of interest on energy issues, Gender, Energy, and Development at

Copyright © Russ Barnes. Bethesda Maryland, 20814. All rights reserved.

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