Æons ago, years far beyond counting, I spent most of my youth in a high mountain valley in Colorado called the San Luis Valley. It actually extended into New Mexico, but for some reason they call it the Sunshine Valley. The oldest town in Colorado is there, named, of course, San Luis.
I don’t talk a lot about the area. Except for family events, most of my memories there were not happy ones. But I did spend a lot of time alone there, and learned to be alone.
The mountains surrounding the valley received a lot of moisture, but the valley itself was more arid than the Sahara Desert. However, artesian water sprang up over wide reaches of the valley, and until the agricultural interests began pumping water, there were wide stretches of timothy grass that is excellent horse feed.
At the north end of the valley is the Great Sand Dunes National Monument. The prevailing southerly winds piled up the sands at the base of the 14,000′ Crestone Range that forked off the Continental Divide. The floor of the valley was around 7,500′ above sea level.
The valley is part of the duck and geese flyways. Spring and fall bring a huge number of birds that stop and forage for a while before continuing their journey.
The valley also is the headwaters of the Rio Grande River. At the southern end, it cut a deep gorge through northern New Mexico. My family mined gold from the sands at the bottom of the gorge after the spring runoff.
Near the end of the gorge is the once sleepy village of Taos, New Mexico. It is now a busy artist community and resort. But when I was young, it had few tourists.
During my High School years, we lived in Alamosa. Alamosa was founded as a railroad camp in the center of the valley. It became the business hub of the valley. But the happiest day of my life was when I saw that garish art-deco horror fade away in my rear-view window. Later on, the building was demolished to build a grocery store/shopping center. Had I known, I would have taken the time to drive down and watch the wrecking-ball smash that pretentious façade.
We lived a half block away from the roundhouse, where little narrow gauge engines were tended. The once extensive narrow gauge is still alive in two small sections now, the Cumbres and Toltec Gorge Scenic Railway, and the Durango and Silverton Railroad. My house is located below the tops of the cottonwood trees over the roof edge.
My alma mater, Adams State College, now Adams State *ahem!* University is there. It was trying hard to become a university at that time. Through some very generous but anonymous donations, it built a planetarium, science building, music hall, student union and new athletic field. Alas, one of the Front Range cities got the go ahead to become a university and poor Adams State moldered for a few more years before finding its place in the sun.
Odd, isn’t it. I will share all this with you, but for me it was a meh! experience that I am glad is behind me. For me it was the bright lights, sleek wimmen, and shiny cars. Never did quite get that far in the city though.