Highway Of Miracles

It doesn’t take much for my equanimity to be disturbed, sad to say. During my return from a birding trip to New Mexico in late April, where I had been caught unawares when the thermometer climbed above 85 degrees Fahrenheit (30 Celsius), I was taken equally by surprise by a gathering bank of clouds that eventually spanned the entire firmament from Albuquerque to the state line, before it released squalls of rain and billowing clouds of fog. Associated gusts of wind and an unpropitious weather forecast for the coming night made me choose a motel in southern Colorado over a cold, wet night in the tent. Big mistake!

After a week of camping, I underestimated the horror of replacing a billowy tent with an enclosed room, a constant flow of fresh air with sealed windows, the nocturnal hooting of owls with the constant drone of trucks on the nearby interstate, my firm sleeping pad with an overly soft mattress. I tossed and turned during each expensive hour and could not wait to hit the road again by 6 AM.

I was still squabbling with myself for having overpaid for my uninviting accommodations, and berating myself for being a fair-weather camper, not quite sure how to get over myself. Leave it to southern Colorado’s Highway Of Legends to put me to shame, and pull me out of my foul, sleep-deprived mood by gently but insistently reminding me of nature’s beauty and grace, in a way that even my curmudgeonly self could not ignore.

Early into the 82 mile (132 kilometer) route between the towns of Trinidad and Walsenburg, one of the West’s most striking woodpeckers, a Lewis’s, which I had not seen in ages, clang to a utility pole right next to the road, but my brain registered its presence only after I had already passed it. A quick glance in the rearview mirror revealed no cars. I engaged the brakes, shifted into reverse, then pulled over to take a few photos, unable to prevent a smile.

Not long after my woodpecker surprise, complemented by additional animal appearances, I happened upon a herd of at least 100 elk crossing the highway. Seemingly without effort, they leapt across the fences that lined both sides of the road. Most of them threw me wary glances while they kept trotting, but one bull stopped to show himself in his regal stance. I alone witnessed their move from a wintry meadow to one clad in vernal apparel.

My rainy day in New Mexico had translated into a brief burst of winter in this part of Colorado, as I experienced mile after scenic mile on my way to Cuchara Pass at nearly 10,000 feet (3000 meters). By then, my real or imagined grievances were forgotten and I realized that the timing of the day’s encounters only worked out because of where and when I had started out that morning. I was entirely enchanted and utterly happy to be present right there and then, on my Highway of Miracles.

To enlarge a photo, click on it. To read its caption, hover cursor over it.

I will take a break from blogging for at least three weeks as I will be traveling abroad. My apologies if I won’t get around to reading and liking your posts. Thank you for your understanding and Happy May to all of us!

49 thoughts on “Highway Of Miracles

  1. You’re a legend to leave your readers with such a wonderful post.. it’s awesome! All of it is fascinating to me but I’ll specially mention the Mountain Bluebird – so utterly gorgeous. My best wishes for your three weeks away Tanja, take care! And thanks again for sharing the highlights of your amazing day!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Have a wonderful trip abroad. We look forward to perhaps reading about it when you return.
    Your post reaffirms several of my prejudices: I have been known to back up on a highway [when at least I, if not Alie, think it is safe] to see an animal; I am a morning person too; I love driving the older less traveled roads; and finally, it seems that there is always something good coming even when the day is stormy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for the good wishes, and for distilling my experiences into some general ideas. I think nature has all the cures for our woes we only need to give it the chance to show us.
      And yes, there might be a post (or two ) upon my return. 😊


  3. Ein schöner und interessanter Blogeintrag, wie immer halt!!
    Und um das Erlebnis mit der die Strasse überquerenden Wapitiherde beneide ich dich glühend! Das heisst aber nicht, dass ich dir dieses Erlebnis nicht gönne!
    Ich wünsche dir eine gute Reise, wo immer sie dich auch hinführen mag und hoffe nur, dass sie aus einem angenehmen Anlass stattfindet!
    Viele Grüsse

    Liked by 2 people

    • Danke für den netten Kommentar, liebe Christa, und für die guten Wünsche. Gibt es in Kanada keine Wapitis? Oder vielleicht gibt es sie nur im Westen des Landes, ähnlich wie in den USA auch?
      Anlaß unserer Reise ist angenehm und Ziel ist die alte Heimat, wo wir bereits angekommen sind. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      • Liebe Tanja,
        dann wünsche ich dir einen sehr schönen Aufenthalt in der alten Heimat!
        Das ist so eine Reise, die wir von Zeit zu brauchen, auch wenn wir uns auf dieser Seite des Atlantiks sehr wohl fühlen! „Back to the roots!“
        Was die Wapiti anbelangt, die gibt es nur im Westen. Hier bei uns kenne ich sie nur aus einem Zoo… dem Park Omega, das ist eine Art Safaripark für in Kanada heimische Tiere.
        Viele Grüsse und bis zum nächsten Treffen im Blog!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Du hast recht, liebe Christa, von Zeit zu Zeit müssen wir zurück, um liebe Menschen wiederzusehen, und die Muttersprache nicht zu verlernen!
        Genieß Deinen Frühling im hohen Norden! Hier ist alles unglaublich grün, verglichen mit Colorado. Eine reine Augenweide.
        Alles Liebe,

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Der Mountain Bluebird scheint geradewegs einem Märchenbuch entflogen; solche zarten Blautönungen habe ich zuvor noch nie bei einem Vogel gesehen. Ich bin immer wieder entzückt, liebe Tanja, welche kostbaren Naturschätze Du uns hier zeigst.
    Ich wünsche Dir eine angenehme Blogpause und eine gute Reise mit vielen schönen Begegnungen.
    Herzensgruß von

    Liked by 1 person

    • Es freut mich, daß Du meine Liebe zu den Bluebirds teilst, liebe Ulrike. Es sind nicht nur ihre himmlischen Farben, die mich bezaubern, sondern auch ihre Rolle als Vorboten des Frühlings.
      Ich danke Dir für Deine lieben Grüße und erwidere sie von ganzem Herzen.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the good wishes, Steve.
      I think my first encounter with Walsenburg was also en route to the Sand Dunes. I have since been through it several times, either en route to Lathrop State Park just west of town, or to the San Luis Valley, both great birding destinations.
      I hope May will be full of memorable wildflower encounters for you.


    • Ganz tolle Begegnungen, liebe Brigitte, Du hast recht. Ich war dafür sehr dankbar. Und meine erste Auszeit seit Blogbeginn vor 3 Jahren wird mir sowohl gut tun als auch etwas schwer fallen. Auch Dir eine gute Zeit.
      Sei herzlich gegrüßt,

      Liked by 1 person

  5. A not-so-pleasant night before turned into an awesome day of adventure, how wonderful, Tanja! Timing is pretty cool on sightings, I especially love your ‘put in reverse’ for the Lewis’ Woodpecker, which by the way is an extra treat to me as I’ve never seen one or even possibly never heard of it before. Great shots, and I can see that grin! I hope you have a wonderful, safe trip abroad. I’m looking forward to what you share with us through your lens!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You summarize my experience perfectly, Donna. That grin, once there, never left me again, thanks to the lovely surroundings and appearances.
      Thank you for the good wishes, I might have a few impressions to share upon my return. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Lovely, Tanja. A reminder of some of the reasons we travel: to be rattled loose from our schedules, habits, opinions. Your images capture the contrasts of springtime in the mountains beautifully. I wish you safe travels during your break, and hope it gives you the opportunity to enjoy some of the other advantages of travel: to connect, and re-connect.

    Liked by 1 person

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