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  1. #1

    Default Brits on Tour Sept 2017

    Hello Everyone, back in the UK after another fabulous road trip and as thanks for your helpful advice during the planning stage, I thought I would provide a report which I hope may be helpful to other road trippers in the future.

    Fri 1st Sept
    Up at 5am for a quick taxi ride to the airport, then a 9 (ish) hour Flight from London Heathrow, got us to Detroit Metropolitan Airport at around 1.30 in the afternoon (USA time) where we had a 3-hour layover. Long enough to enjoy a huge meal at PF Chang’s near gate 38. With hindsight, we should have ordered one dish between us – we had forgotten how huge the portions can be in the States when compared to the UK standard offerings.

    We then had a 3.15 hour second flight onto Colorado, which due to time differences between the two states, meant that we arrived at Denver around half five in the evening and were collecting our car (Nissan Rogue) by 6.30. We had considered staying overnight at Denver airport as advised on this forum, but we felt fine, and so following advice regarding the traffic, we took the US-36W towards Estes Park, arriving around 9pm.

    We checked into Ridgeline Hotel which is just outside the downtown area and has recently been refurbished to a good standard. There was free hot coffee in the lobby, a nice bar area and a welcome reception from the check in staff. After a quick drink in the bar to celebrate our arrival, we headed for the comfort of our room (huge room with 2 double beds) and a good night’s sleep.

    Sat 2nd Sept
    Up early and as no breakfast was included within our room rate we headed into downtown Estes.jpgEstes Park for a mooch round and a feed. Downtown Estes Park is full of tourist shops, galleries and restaurants and we wandered along the Estes Park's Riverwalk, under lovely blue skies and enjoyed a beautiful scenic stroll that meanders along the river all the way through town.

    We became so distracted by the sight of two Alpaca’s (Honey & Suzanne) at the start of the walk, that it was after 10am when we eventually sat down to eat breakfast. RTAz.jpg

    After a considerable amount of wandering in and out of the tee shirt and gift shops, and stopping for photo’s etc we made our way to the Ariel Tramway. There was quite a long queue and it took about 35 mins for us to be able to pay our $14 each (well worth it) and board the little red cable car which took us to the top of Prospect Mountain. From there we had wonderful views across the Park and there were lovely trails for wandering, plus lots of picnic benches strategically placed for simply sitting and enjoying the peace and the scenery. We spent several hours up there, and managed to become pretty friendly with some of the local wildlife, especially the chipmunks.

    Alvin.jpgBack down off the tramway we again wandered along the Riverside and wished we had more time to spend in town but we had to rush back to our hotel to change for dinner and a show at the Stanley Hotel which was scheduled for 7.30.

    The Stanley is lovely, very stately and grand with a nice outside bar area and a true sense of history is felt whilst sitting there enjoying the atmosphere. We walked around the hotel and grounds and enjoyed a quick drink on the hotel's iconic porch with a spectacular view of the mountains. Although we didn’t enjoy the show (Aidan Sinclair – Master of Illusion) we left partway through the performance. He was entertaining (I guess) but it was too much talking and not enough action for us, essentially if you’re interested in the history of the Titanic this might be the show for you. Tickets were $45 each and for that we got a front row seat and a signed poster. With hindsight, we would have had a nicer time staying on the Porch and enjoying the ambience a little longer.

    Sun 3rd Sept

    Up early again, showered, dressed, fed and on the road to Keystone South Dakota by 10am.

    honi & Suzanne.jpgalvin 2.jpg
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 09-28-2017 at 04:08 AM. Reason: added link to planning stages.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,747

    Default More, more.

    Hi Scruffygirl and welcome back !

    It looks as though you got of to a good start and I look forward to reading more and seeing more pics. When we are not on the road our self we love following other peoples adventures to keep us sane ! Thanks for coming back and sharing.

    Dave.

  3. #3

    Default

    Sun 3rd Sept
    Up early again, showered, dressed, fed and on the road to Keystone South Dakota by 10am.
    We had a good breakfast and took route US-85N via Cheyenne and didn’t really stop again until we reached Custer State Park. $20 entrance fee for the car. We had a lovely stroll around Sylvan Lake and took a spin on the Needles Highway which was delightful. The scenery was gorgeous and we managed to squeeze in a visit to the Crazy Horse Memorial, finishing our day with a meal stop in Hill City and some dinosaur chasing before checking into the Holiday Inn Express in Keystone. After check in we took a walk into town, had a quick drink in the Red Garter Saloon and then retired to our comfortable room where we had two queen size beds, and a really good powerful shower for the “road grime” we were both feeling.
    Needles.jpgcrazy horse.jpgsylvan lake.jpghill city.jpgNeedles.jpg

    It cost $22.00 for the car with 2 of us in it to enter the Crazy Horse memorial grounds, then $4 each to get on the bus that takes you to base of the mountain for better views and pics. The bus driver provides a narrative during the short trip and he was good value for the money. Tips are welcomed.
    Last edited by Scruffygirl; 09-28-2017 at 05:04 AM.

  4. #4

    Default

    Mon 4th Sept
    Tiredness had begun to catch up with us by this stage so we had a lazy morning and took our time over breakfast before heading out to Jewel Cave. (third longest known cave in the world currently) Entrance tickets are $12 each for an adult, and the tour is about 2 hours of moderately strenuous activity. The route includes walking up and down 723 stair steps along a dark and uneven paved trail. One family who were on the tour with us quickly realised that it wasn’t an ideal activity for their young children (2 of which were under 5) and almost immediately they requested a ranger escort to get them back up to ground level. We had Ranger Brad guiding us, he was very knowledgeable and provided a wealth of history prior to descending into the darkness. It was a fascinating glimpse into the cave chambers which are decorated with calcite crystals and other beautiful, formations. The temperature was a little chilly, 49 degrees Fahrenheit (9 degrees Celsius) so a light jacket or hoodie is probably a good idea, along with flat shoes. There is a gift shop on site and after a quick visit to the Loo we were back on the road.

    Mount Rushmore, was next on our to do list and we were pretty excited to finally see the iconic mountain up close and personal. We had watched a documentary about the history of the memorial whilst back in the UK and for me especially this was one of the items that has been on my “bucket list” for a long time, so it was with real pleasure that we parked up and walked along the avenue of the Flags to stand and contemplate the dramatic scene in front of us. The Presidential Trail (0.6 miles long, 422 stairs, also provided a glimpse of some of the area’s wildlife, and we spent an hour or more browsing in the gift shop before leaving with our usual collection of Magnets, Tee Shirts and on this occasion even a ranger style hat ($49). Entrance to the park was free but we had to pay$11 for the parking on-site, which again we thought was well worth it for the experience we had.

    jewel cave.jpgMRushmore.jpgrushmore.jpgranger brad.jpg

    After we went to Custer for something to eat, but not much was open so we had to settle for Pizza (which was pretty good) followed by Ice Creams whilst walking around the town. Given the relative closeness to Sturgis and Hill city we were not surprised by the high volume of Harley's and Bikers in Town and we enjoyed our wandering before heading onto Rapid City where i had a photo opportunity with JFK himself
    rapid city.jpg

  5. #5

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    Tuesday 5th Sept
    After a second night at the Holiday Inn Express day 4 began with a flying visit to Bear Country USA, which is just outside Keystone and we had noticed on our return from Rapid City the previous day. We found it a little sad seeing the wildlife in this environment so we didn’t spend too long here, about an hour in total but I must admit it was still a “buzz” seeing the animals so close. It was $17 each to enter and it’s a self-drive tour around the park.
    bear.jpg
    We then took another loop drive around Custer State Park where we saw lots more wildlife, before heading back on the road towards Sheridan Wyoming where we were planning an overnight stop. We took route 14 which was very scenic and our next stop was Devils Tower, which we loved. As you enter the park there is a wide plain which to our delight is absolutely full of Prairie Dogs. I must admit that prior to this trip I had always pictured a Prairie Dog as a kind of Coyote, (duh) so I was surprised to see they are more like squirrels than dogs, but the sight of hundreds of them at once, all peeking out of their little holes for danger, and yapping away to each other was a joy to behold. We must have spent 2 hours just watching and photographing them before moving onto the main attraction. We bought a national parks pass for $80 dollars which was amazing value for money.
    Devils Tower.jpgPrairie Dog.jpgpronghorn.jpg2 PD.jpg

    More tomorrow - i need to check my diary.

  6. #6

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    Tuesday 5th Sept - Continued
    It was getting late when we parked up at Devils Tower and we were tired and hungry so we had a quick stroll around the base, and a browse in the gift shop before heading back to the car for our onwards (quite long but enjoyable) journey towards Sheridan where we had a room booked for the night at the Hampton Inn. We didn’t have much time to spend here, so it really was just a sleepover and I would like in the future another opportunity to spend some more time in this area.
    Weds 6th Sept
    Next morning, we headed to Cody via the very scenic Bighorn Mountains. We took route 14 via Greybull as we wanted to see Shell Falls, but the entire journey was simply gorgeous. We took forever to reach our accommodation at Buffalo Bills Cabins in Cody because we continually pulled over to enjoy the views and just appreciate being there. We heard on the radio that Wyoming is 3% bigger than our entire country. Our pictures do not accurately convey just how stunning the drive was, it really is America the Beautiful.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Cody, Wyoming native

    Quote Originally Posted by Scruffygirl View Post
    Our pictures do not accurately convey just how stunning the drive was, it really is America the Beautiful.
    I was born in Cody. I am really enjoying your field report.

    Mark

  8. #8

    Default

    After arriving in Cody and checking into our cabin we quickly headed into town for food and a wander. We enjoyed a reasonably priced meal at the “Proud Cut Steakhouse and Saloon” on the main street before bagging a front row seat (for $2 each) in front of the Irma Hotel for the “Gunfight” at 6pm. This was a bit cheesy but good fun, with a bunch of actors supposedly recreating a scene from the old wild west days.

    “It was a crazy night in Cody. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance kid rose from the dead to drink whiskey and play cards in the high street, before robbing the bank and giving some of their loot to us. Then Wyatt Earp (also back to life) came along and shot them both dead right in front of our eyes. Buffalo Bill was there too but he stayed away from all the trouble".

    After the show, we bought $6 poster which all the actors sign (in character) and we snapped a few cheesy pics with them.

    Then we headed slightly out of town to the “Old Town Trail” to see the original cabins used by Old West outlaws Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and a Wyoming saloon frequented by Cassidy's "Hole-in-the-Wall Gang". Also on this site is the log cabin home of "Curley" a Crow Indian army scout who helped guide Lt Col. George A. Custer and the U.S. 7th Cavalry to the battle of the Little Big Horn in 1876.

    To round off our evening we visited “Buffalo Bill - The Scout”.This is a bronze statue of a mounted rider outside the Buffalo Bill Historical Center The statue was dedicated on July 4, 1924 and it stands on a large stone base, meant to represent nearby Cedar Mountain, which is where Bill Cody wanted to be buried. (his wishes were not heeded apparently) the statue was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.

    We slept well in our little cabin and next morning we were delighted to have the company of a deer and a rabbit who were wandering around outside our door presumably hoping for some food.

    Pics to follow
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 10-05-2017 at 02:02 AM. Reason: Removed repeated information.

  9. #9

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    A few pics mountains en route to Cody, the old town trail.
    old town.jpg IMG_0937.jpg
    Last edited by Scruffygirl; 10-05-2017 at 05:01 AM. Reason: Pics

  10. #10

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    Thurs 7th Sept
    We had another lazy morning and didn’t check out of our cabin at Buffalo Bill Village until 11am, and then we spent an hour or more just wandering around the Walmart and picking up supplies (junk food and candy for the car) before treating ourselves to an early lunch at Annie’s Soda Saloon & Café on the main street.

    We each had a grilled cheese with a coke float, (not healthy eating but yummy) and then took a walk up and down the main street checking out the gift shops and buying the by now obligatory tee shirts and magnets. We went into the Irma Hotel for a drink and to check out the décor in the restaurant, it has lots of historical character and for us Brits it was cool to see the historic Cherrywood bar which had apparently been presented to Buffalo Bill by our very own Queen Victoria in 1900.

    By about 3.30 we had to reluctantly leave Cody, (as we knew there is lots more to see and do there) but we were excited to be heading for Yellowstone, which has long been on the list of places we both wished to see.

    We got into our car and followed Buffalo Bill Scenic Byway (U.S. Routes 14, 16 and 20) all the way to the eastern gate at Yellowstone, stopping en route only for photo opportunities at some really pretty spots and a loo break. The driving was a pleasure, just admiring the scenery and relishing the lack of other traffic on the road. This is one of the biggest joy’s for us when we are in the states.

    UK roads are so congested and snarled up with cars that to have the pleasure of an open road, with beautiful scenery and the luxury of time is the most freeing of emotions. I genuinely love the sensation of freedom I get whilst cruising along on an American Road Trip. Arriving at Yellowstone was a huge buzz for us, we had grown up watching so many documentaries about this famous park, and so to physically be there ourselves (little ole us from Watford) was a pretty fabulous moment.

    comic.jpgYellows.jpgGeyser.jpgBuffalo.jpgSuzy.jpg

    After taking our picture at the entrance gate we stopped for a walk around the Paint Pots area, ( i think thats what it was called) we got some really fabulous pics of the differing colours, the vibrant blues and oranges, the bubbling geysers were fascinating, but i must admit the aroma was not so pleasing. We kept pinching ourselves that we were actually in Yellowstone NP. We also got our first sighting of the Bison / Buffalo - can somebody tell me, what is the difference between Bison and Buffalo? Is there even a difference? and that was very exciting for us.
    Last edited by Scruffygirl; 10-06-2017 at 09:34 AM. Reason: add pics

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