Traveling nearly 1,000 miles in four and a half days, The Wayfaring Band visited Great Sand Dunes National Park, Mesa Verde, the Ouray Hot Springs, and the Royal Gorge on our inaugural journey in October of 2012. Band members Cody, Mitya, Derek, David, PJ, Peter, Erik, Eli, Sophie, Preston, Zane, and Carter joined tour leaders and Wayfaring Band founders Andrea Moore, Pavel Reppo, Chris Ardelt, and Jane Moore on this exceptional adventure of a lifetime. Rounding out the group was our beloved bus driver Mike Ehmann — a matchless man with a heart as vast as the Royal Gorge itself. Anticipation was stirring inside each of us that Monday morning as we prepared to hit the road!

 

 

Because this was our inaugural tour with the band, we were especially enthusiastic to welcome our first twelve members. We loaded up the bus with our gear, waved goodbye to our families, and gave a short speech to commemorate this historic moment in The Wayfaring Band’s history:

 

 

After that, it was time to put the pedal to the metal. Our route the first day took us south on Highway 285, and we had many miles to travel before reaching our resting point at The Grizzly Inn in Alamosa, Colorado. The drive was long, but the route was stunning, marked by beautiful changing leaves and incredible vistas as we climbed in altitude. We reached the Inn that evening, settling into our motel rooms for the night in preparation for a morning tour of Great Sand Dunes National Park.

 

We loved visiting the Sand Dunes: we gave sand sledding a try, which was a big hit with the band. After a picnic lunch we loaded the bus and got back on the road heading west on Highway 160 toward Cortez. We climbed up and over Wolf Creek Pass, and not long after we enjoyed a striking view of Chimney Rock in the setting sun. We stopped in Durango to refuel the bus and our bodies (with some delicious Diorios Pizza), and then we were back on the road for the final stretch. It was already dark by the time we arrived at what proved to be our most interesting accommodations of the tour — two wonderful yurts at Mancos State Park. With eight band members in one yurt and nine in the other, we were snug as bugs and thrilled to be having such an adventure.

 

In the morning we packed up quickly, a little disappointed that our time at Mancos was so short. We definitely recommend the park (and the yurts in particular) to anyone visiting Mesa Verde. It was a great departure from the norm, and we were sad to go. But our plan for the day cheered us: in a short while we were winding our way through the incredible terrain of Mesa Verde National Park. We spent most of our time at Spruce Tree House since we could tour the dwellings at our own pace, and we had a blast climbing down into the kiva. A park ranger even taught Sophie and Preston how to grind corn… a skill we threatened to take advantage of at dinner later that night. Eventually it was time to hit the highway again, so we left the park and began driving north on Highway 550, headed for our rental house in Ouray.

 

We reached the house that afternoon, and after roughing it the night before we were grateful to have such a beautiful home away from home. We prepared a family-style dinner of ziti and salad and relaxed before heading to bed. In the morning we visited the Ouray Hot Springs, which are surrounded by breathtaking views of soaring peaks on all sides. It was a gorgeous, sunny autumn day, and we soaked in as much as we could before getting back on our beloved bus. After three nights on the road we turned east again, and we climbed the Continental Divide for the second time, crossing at Monarch Pass. We spent the night in five camper cabins at the rustic Prospectors Resort near CaƱon City. Originally we had planned to roast hot dogs over a fire, but the store that sold wood was closed, so we had to improvise. It turns out that you can cook twelve hot dogs at a time in a conventional toaster. How’s that for ingenuity? The cabins were cozy and clean, and it was nice to spread out after our long days sitting close together on the bus.

 

The morning of our final day on tour we visited the Royal Gorge, taking the incline railway down to the floor of the canyon. There we saw the famous Royal Gorge Route train rumbling alongside the Arkansas River. We took our group photo on one of the world’s highest suspension bridges, where we marveled at the depth of the canyon and the majesty of the view. After a lovely lunch in the restaurant overlooking the abyss, we loaded the bus one final time and prepared to return to Denver.

 

One of the most poignant moments of the tour was when the bus finally pulled in to the library parking lot in Denver where we were meeting our families. They had taken the notion of being band “groupies” to heart, and they were waiting with signs to welcome us home. Our favorite sign was the one that said “YOLO!” Thanks to our dear tour leader Jane, “YOLO” had been a catchphrase for the band throughout the tour. It means “you only live once,” and the band aims to make the absolute best of it. Thank you for supporting the band, and we’ll catch you on the next tour!

 

 

Check out some more videos from our tour:

 

Weather Report with PJ and David

 

Australian-accent News Report with Andrea and Peter

 

Pavel throwing a plum and Chris catching it with his face

 

Our Route


(click on the map above for more detailed information about our route and some of the adventures we had along the way)

 

Photo Gallery


The Wayfaring Band is officially ON TOUR. Two Russians dreaming of wayfaring...This big rig belongs to Mitya.Free dino rides.We made it to Alamosa. Here is a pic of the No-Girls-Allowed club.Open road and clearing skies!On the edge of the world.
Look, no hands!Sleds-up brah!Carter makes his own thought bubbles!Preston up close and personal. Can there be a happier band member?The Wayfaring Band loves you!Derek roaming high above the sand. Rest stop to fill our hearts.
The Continental Divide at Wolf Creek Pass. Best sunset ever. Pizza in Durango!Erik and Derek dig sleeping in a yurt!Curtain call for the yurt...and all. Yeah, that rhymes.Sophie and Preston model the very art of grinding corn. Visiting the Spruce Tree House.
Cody glows in laughter. We are all in the band!Now throw your hands in the air...A beautiful view of one of the most famous ancient dwelling sites in the world.Did we mention that Carter is in charge of navigation?On the way back to the bus, Chris discovered that Carter only likes to walk DOWNhill.The four founders and tour leaders laughing hard.
Mitya and Jane in a friendly but one-sided splashing war. Macho men in the hot pool: Preston, Cody, and David.Ladies, beware. EJ cheesing it BIG!Welcomed by a whole heap of warming sun. Our beloved Zane smiling for you!PJ and David.
Sophie and Preston: friendship at its finest! Peter and Cody channel KISS.Our hero. Carter and Pavel share a loving moment. Our world from a bus window.And this is how *we* do dinner.One of the cabins we stayed in at the Prospectors Resort.
PJ and David keep Jane laughing on the ride down into the gorge. The incline is 45 degrees!Cody faces his fear of heights and rides the tram with Pavel.The Arkansas River at the bottom of the gorge.The Wayfaring Band: banding together, achieving adventure!Happy family with two mer-men.Royal Gorge Route.YOLO!!