Breathing the San Luis Valley
the mestdagh family living in the SLV and unearthing the region
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
San Luis Valley Photos

There is now a San Luis Valley Flickr photo group. Check it out here. There's some excellent shots. Here's one of my favorites by RWayne.

Thanks to slv dweller (blog, Flickr) for setting up the group.
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
Sangre de Cristo Mtns: A hike to Willow Lake
I was excited to hike to Willow Lake. Last time I was there was in the early '80s via a N to S Sangres backpacking trip. This hike was different. We hiked up the Willow Lake trail from Crestone.

Julia walked well but 4.8 miles uphill with 3250 ft elevation, according to my GPS, was a bit much for a 4 year old. We helped out when she was tired.

As we closed in on the lake, my eyes were glued on possible climbing routes. More on this only after I climb them.

The lake was beautiful, as was the hike. We were beat. We relaxed while Julia took off her pants and waded around the shore. She fell off a log, dunked herself and started crying. Mia, luckily, brought extra clothes. Here's Julia relaxing, at the lake, before we head down. Yeah, me stump was sore by the time we got to the truck.

Heading down, the clouds built up but no action. Rain is needed! Fire away skies, please!

Driving out we saw saw a Bighorn sheep next to the road. Mia took at pic out the window. The Bighorn looks like a statue.

More pics here.
Monday, June 05, 2006
Vintage Valley Trucks
I've been driving past this gem of a truck for a long time. I'm not up on military trucks but I'd guess it's a 2-1/2 tonner, a deuce and a half as they say. Nameplate says GMC. The for sale sign is so faded I can't read what it says ... at least without crawling through the fence. I wish I had a need for it. Pretty cool. It's sitting a few miles south of the 285/17 junction if anyone wants to check it out. As always, click on the images to enlarge.

This next one is less of a gem. An old International Harvester sitting next to Mac's diner (good food, btw) in Crestone. It's seen much better days. The door is roped closed. Front windshield busted. Priced at $700 or best offer. I think it'll be sitting there for awhile.
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Our Crestone House
As we drove away from our Crestone place, Monday, both Mia & I were depressed. We wanted to stay down here not drive home. (Actually, we were heading across the valley to Penitente Canyon to climb, then driving home.) We were more or less done w/ furnishing it for rental and for us. We love it.

Mia put up a quickie web site today for the rental. Check it: Crestone Rental.

Click on the picture to get a better view of the Prow of Kit Carson soaring above our house.
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Sand Dunes, Hot Springs & Alligators
(Warning: retro post ahead. Reworked from this spring's family blog post.) Julia was a great excuse to visit the Great Sand Dunes NP. It's been a few decades since I've roamed that area.

It was windy at the dunes but it was a riot watching Julia run and run and run - barefoot.
Did I say it was windy? Julia would have hiked us to the top of the highest dune before understanding she was freezing. We headed back after sliding down some steep dunes.

We camped in the park campground. Julia got bored of us and carried her folding chair to the neighboring camp and proceeded to entertain them ... I think. The night held the joys of the campfire and roasted marshmellows. She invited the neighbors over for marshmellows too!

The next day was big fun. We went to the alligator / fish farm between Mosca and Hooper. The local hot springs make possible to pump warm water up from below ground. The warm water, allows for the raising of tropical Tilapia fish. They ship 1 ton / week to the Asian market in Denver. What to do with the fish innards and bones after cleaning the fish though? That's when they brought the gators in to clean up the fish remains. Alligators like the warm water too.

At this point, it appears the place is basically a zoo for rescued animals + a fish farm + a gator display. Snakes, tortoises, ostriches ... Great place for kids and big kids! I'd like to try the gator wrestling but it costs $50. On the other hand, I don't need to lose another limb ...

When you enter the alligator farm, they force a little gator in your hands. I had NO idea they were going to do this! Then they give you a certificate of bravery stamped by the same gator's jaws you were just holding. This place is definitely a must see.

Then we hit the Sand Dunes hot springs pool in Hooper. There's a small kids pool, a small pool for the big kids and a large pool for everyone. Very clean and supposedly the best concessionaire in Colorado. The food smelled good but we brought our own lunch. It was fun! Especially for Julia. Margit did a passable dive on the low diving board and a non-passable job on the high one. At least she tried. I wish I had brought the camera in to show the view of the Sangres from the pool ...
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Why does this blog exist?
My wife, Mia, and I (Steve Mestdagh) have enjoyed the San Luis Valley off and on, for the last 2 decades. Mia worked an Outward Bound couse in the Sangre de Cristos in the mid '80s. I've mountaineered in the Sangres in the early '80s through the '90s. We've also climbed at Penitente Canyon numerous times.

Last spring, we entertained the bright idea of looking for a place in Crestone. A second home that we could stay at as much as possible between renting it out. We knew we couldn't afford it outright. At least not yet. Sure we could sell our Boulder place, but that would be financially irresponsible. Hah! Boulder properties are future goldmines. It took about a year for us to find AND close on a small but beautiful Southwestern designed house.

We're not quite settled in yet but we love it like we love the SLV.

The purpose of this blog is to document our SLV discoveries, joys, tribulations and hopefully give back something positive to the SLV community.
Steve, Mia & Julia, my daughter