Summer Break - Overnight Camping

It's summer break! Amanda and I took an overnight trip to Southern Colorado to get away and explore for a while. We both took shifts taking pictures as there was so much to see! We had a very good time.

Great Sand Dunes

Our original plan was to travel to the Great Sand Dunes and play at the sand castle competition. We arrived about 3 hours late as we slept in quite a bit that morning. When we arrived, it was rainy, and the competition was over. This wasn't a problem as we weren't in the mood for a second Sand Dunes adventure. We stayed for another 20 minutes at the new visitors' center and left for the alligator farm.


The alligator farm is a fish hatchery, where fish are grown for human consumption. The alligators were introduced in the 80s to eat the dead fish in the large hatchery tanks. Over time the alligators became an attraction, and they now have over 400 alligators for public viewing. Many of the alligators came from homes where they were kept as pets when they were small, but were abandoned when they started eating the house cats and children! (or maybe not children)

Transporting Alligator

While at the farm, a 19 year old alligator was being transported out of a tank where it was being medicated. Apparently another alligator bit his elbow off, and he needed attention. It took 5 men to pick him up after they duck-taped his mouth shut.

UFO Watch Tower

Our camping location was by the UFO Watch Tower! This off-the-wall attraction is dedicated to the observation of extraterrestrial activity in the area. While there, I learned about the 15,000ish cattle mutilations in the United States where cows are abducted by UFOs (or government?), cutting certain parts from the cows, and dropping the carcus back where it was found. I didn't realize there were so many!


The garden by the tower was different. psychics who stopped by said there were 2 portals in the garden area to another dimension, guarded by two beings who like to help those who sit in the gardens and ask. Trinkets have been left by many visitors such as toothbrushes, CDs, spare change, hubcaps, etc., believing that they leave their own energy with the area. I must say I am extremely sceptical of the idea. The garden was fun to walk through though.

Camp View

The view was spectacular! It was great, because Amanda and I were the only ones in the tent campground that night. The owners were very nice. It was quiet. We were able to sit at the tower and relax, set up camp, and enjoy a nice meal on a campfire (loosing 3 hot dogs, 2 corn cobs, and 3 marsh mellows to the fire).

During the night, we both were scared to death when an animal was making lots of racket against the tent! We both had a moment wondering what to do about it. It turned out that it was a farm cat flailing itself against the tent, rubbing against it. Amanda played with the cat through the tent and talked to it. When it saw us though the tent screen however, it perked its ears up and ran away.

San Luis We packed up in the morning and headed for San Luis, the oldest town in Colorado. Most of the buildings were made from adobe, including the new houses.

San Luis Cultural Center

While it began to rain and hail, the museum was our first stop in San Luis. Spaniards/Mexicans explored the area and settled there. Tight-nit families and community made the farm town possible. As the climate was very similar to the Spanish southern peninsula, similar irrigation was built and much is still used today.

R and R Market

What is now the R and R Market, was originally the first business in Colorado. It is still run by the same family.

Stations of the Shrine

One of the most unique places on the trip was the Stations of the Shrine at the edge of San Luis. We walked up a path where we passed "stations" of the Christ's last hour. Each station was a bronze set of statues with a plaque describing the scene.

Amanda takes a picture

Amanda takes a picture of a bronze scene. San Luis sits in the background.


At the top of the hill stood a beautiful chapel and garden. On the way back home we stopped at Fort Garland for a short visit. It was built to keep Confederates from taking over the west, protect travelers, and to herd Native Americans around to reservations. :(

The trip was definitely a great time. There is much to do and see in the area. We already have our next camping trip planned around the four corners, where the Indian cliff dwellings and many other things can be found.

Posted: 2005-06-27