Southwest Colorado is often deemed liminal, for it is the transition between the wet, green, mountainous terrain of Colorado, and the dry, red, desert landscape of Utah. This picture pretty much captures what I’m talking about: a nice mix of green trees trying to hold on as they grow on..red rock. You can do it trees!
My cousin Rich told me there is no point in sleeping past 5am in the desert, and waking up in Grand Junction made me realize why. Turns out the desert is HOT, and waking in a tent when the sun has already been up for a few hours is, well, not pretty. We woke around 7am, wiped the sweat off our faces, moaned and groaned, and had our breakfast. Turns out that hot oatmeal is not the most refreshing of breakfasts, but what can ya do? We opted out on the hot coffee and chugged water instead.
So slowly, very slowly, we started walking to a trail head we saw when we drove in the night before. We wanted to get our bearings, see what this whole “national monument” thing was all about. We sat in on a French tour-group info session, where we learned about the geology of the area and its first explorer, John Otto. Once we got weird looks from the tour guide for obviously not being French, we took some complimentary strawberries that were out for the Francophiles, and wandered around ourselves. Here is some of what we saw:
Once it reached noon, it was way too hot to do anything, so we went to the Visitor Center to talk to some park rangers to inquire about Grand Junction being “wine country.” They happily suggested a vineyard for us to go to that had free wine tastings. FREE!!! Of course we had to go.
We walked back to our campsite and decided to eat lunch and read before heading to the winery. Now, the only complaint we had about Colorado National Monument is that it is infested with gnats. Even as you sit in the shade, escaping the heat, there will be a constant buzzing in your ear. These little guys are quite persistent. I remember having to chose whether I wanted to read in the shade with these horribly annoying creatures, or read in our tent, vulnerable to the cruel desert sun, but at least free of bugs. I chose the latter and accidentally fell asleep, which was NOT good. I woke up burning, full of sweat, dehydrated, delirious– all very, very bad things. I hobbled out of the tent and immediately into our car. I turned the AC on. We left to drink some wine.
Here’s the winery: a gorgeous house plopped down in the middle of red rock.
And here is Nicole after the tasting. She was drunk. I love my lil light weight.
After the wine tasting, we went into the town of Grand Junction to explore the shops and get a feel for the Grand Junctionion vibe. Apparently GJ is known for their peaches, so we tried free (!) samples of their peach fudge, with pieces of real fruit inside! Healthy! We also went into an antique shop and a knitting store. Afterwards we headed back “home,” and decided to clean our dirty laundry in the sink. We washed them with shampoo (a trick we learned from Rebecca’s mother) and then laid them out to dry on our respective-campground-picnic table. Turns out that night there was a wind storm, and we woke up to all our once-clean clothes in the red dirt. Oh well. We put the clothes baaaaack into our laundry bag, and left for Utah. Goodbye Colorado!