We gleefully fled our mountain home to the desert, barely dodging a snowstorm that I'm told dropped almost 18" of heavy wet snow in our forest. We drove west, through wind-driven snow on the Continental Divide, and then descended into the warmth of the Colorado Plateau.
Our first stop was in western Colorado, among the cliffs lining the mighty Colorado River. In places, leashes were essential for preventing any crazy Labs from chasing a lizard off a cliff.
I'm not kidding about the lizards. We saw a huge variety but this Collared Lizard won the prize for most colorful.
Early on our first morning in the desert, we immediately noticed brilliant splashes of color throughout the the landscape. As K and I set out on a bike ride, mounds of crimson caught my eye. Below, K stood next to a half-bloomed colony of Claretcup cactus colony.
Believe me, our dogs know from past experience to give cacti a wide berth! A cactus spine piercing a paw is no fun.
Soon, we found a cactus colony that had blossomed in all its glory.
Each flower was an intricate marvel of nature.
K and I rode on a trail that followed the rim of a cliff, winding among the labyrinth of side canyons eroding pockets into the cliff.
The trail wove among sculpted boulders barely defying gravity to remain perched high on the cliff's edge. Yellow flowering bushes, snakeweed, flourished among the boulders.In the more fertile soil just feet away from the sandstone, intriguing plants, like this milkweed, blossomed.
Familiar plants, like the Sego Lily, completely covered the red-soiled hillsides. I was struck by the similarity between the desert-adapted Sego Lily and the mountain-adapted Mariposa Lily that will blossom in our meadows later this summer.
By the end of our ride, the sky loomed dark, threatening rain. K stood silhouetted against the gray roiling sky, waiting for me at the top of a rise.
The threat of rain seemed harmless compared the depths of snow that we knew were falling at home. That knowledge made our warm desert vacation even sweeter.
And, the feeling of spinning my pedals along sinuous desert paths with K by my side overjoyed me after a winter of uncertainty while my neck healed.